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A Short History of the Meccano Braced Girder

By Chris Warrell

To coincide with the new club badges, here is a short history of our adopted symbol: the Braced Girder. Most of the information in this article is taken from the Hornby Companion Series book The Meccano System by Bert Love and Jim Gamble.

Meccano Braced Girders

Anti-clockwise from top: nickel double braced,
pea-pod green double braced, blue/gold double braced,
red double braced, yellow single braced,
yellow single braced with radiused internal corners

Before we start, let's point out that the term 'braced girder' is really the wrong name for this part. When built up with angles to give top and bottom flanges it would form a Lattice Girder. Like a number of Meccano parts, an incorrect engineering term has been used - but don’t let that put you off using them in your models!

The braced girder was introduced in 1915 and available only in the Meccano Inventor's Accessory Outfit in 12½" and 5½" lengths. This design was double braced with open ends and initially was called the Meccano Girder Strip. The colour of these parts was nickel finish. The outfit was available until the mid 1920s. In 1918 two additional lengths of 3½" and 2½" were added, but were till not included in any regular sets.

Circa 1921, a minor design change was the rounding of the girder ends, in keeping with strips and other parts. In 1922 some sizes were included in all sets except nos. 0 and 1, and with set no. 2 being supplied only with the 5½" length. A 9½" girder was added that same year, and two years later 7½" and 4½" lengths were added to the spare parts range. In 1924 a 3" girder was added, giving eight different lengths available.

Colour was introduced to Meccano parts in 1926, and the braced girders were supplied in pea-pod green (or nickel if you preferred). This was short lived and dark green was applied from 1927. This coincided with another design change with the girder ends being closed off. Generally all sets apart from nos. 00 and 0 had at least one size of braced girder.

In 1934 another colour change to blue/gold also saw all braced girder being dropped from the sets until the following year, and then in only the three largest sets. The 4½" and 3" sizes were not in any sets. In 1937 only the largest two sets had any braced girders, and then in only in the 5½" length.

In 1945 it was back to a red and green colour scheme (but a lighter shade than the pre-war colour), with the braced girders appearing in red this time. In 1958 this was changed to light red. The design had not changed, but the only length supplied in any sets was the 5½", and then only in sets 9 and 10.

A major change happened in 1962 with the single braced girder replacing the double braced one. A number of lengths were withdrawn because the new pattern suited only certain lengths. The 4½", 3" and 2½" sizes were the casualties. Only the 12½" and 5½" lengths were supplied in any sets, but not in nos. 0 to 4. In 1970 the colour scheme was changed to yellow, but there was only minimal change to set contents (notwithstanding a change to the set numbering). The 1972 Crane Kit saw the 9½" braced girder included in a set for the first time since the mid 1930s.

In 1978 was the final change to the Binns Road Meccano sets with the small sets being redesigned and not including any braced girders. The old sets 9 and 10 remained as before.

The current lists of Meccano parts now show that the braced girder has lost its ends, but still single braced. There are now eleven sizes available from 24½" down to 2½", with some of the smaller sizes being asymmetrical in design. They are available in yellow and red.

For those interested, I have produced the chronology of Binns Road braced girders shown below.

Date Finish Style Outfit Lengths (")
12½ 3
1915 Nickel Double braced, open ended (square cut) Inventor's outfit (until mid 1920s)            
1918 Nickel Double braced, open ended (square cut) Spares        
Sets 1 - 6 not included in sets
Circa 1921 Nickel Double braced, open ended (rounded ends) Spares        
Sets 1 - 6 not included in sets
1922 Nickel Ditto  (◊ 7½" and 3" added in 1923) Spares  
Sets 0 - 1                
4 - 5          
6 - 7        
1924 Nickel (pea-pod green from 1926) Double braced, open ended (rounded ends) Spares
Set 00                
0 - 1              
3 - 5          
6 - 7      
1927 Dark green Double braced, closed ends (◊ 7½" in set 7 from 1930) Spares
Sets 00 - 0                
3 - 5          
1934 Blue with gold hatching Double braced Spares
Sets 0 and A - L not included in sets
1935 Blue with gold hatching Double braced Spares
Sets 0 and A - F                
G, - K            
1937 Blue with gold hatching Double braced Spares
Sets 0 - 8                
9 - 10              
1945 Red (light red in 1958) Double braced Spares
Sets 00 - 8                
9 - 10              
1962 Light red (yellow in 1964) Single braced Spares      
Sets 0 - 4                
5 - 8              
9 - 10            
1970 Yellow Single braced Spares      
Sets 1 - 5                
6 - 9              
Crane kit (1972)              
1978 Dark yellow Single braced Spares      
Sets A & 1 - 5                

» Information obtained from The Hornby Companion Series book The Meccano System, by Bert Love and Jim Gamble.
» This table compiled by Chris Warrell.

» This article appeared in the March 2008 issue of SELMEC News without the chronology, which was available separately.

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