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International Meccano Model Show 2012

Sue and Ralph's adventures at the Meccano world's biggest event of the year held over four days in July at the Embassy Theatre, Skegness.

Report by Ralph Laughton

Now before you correct me, I know the event is advertised as a three day event but the Thursday, which is really setting up day, has turned into one of the most important days to be there as this is when the dealers bargains are to be had. It is also a good opportunity to catch up with other modellers from around the country and indeed from around the world.

The show, fondly known as SkegEx in the Meccano world, does not have the largest public attendance at around a thousand visitors over three days (Meccanuity 2012, held at Enginuity in Coalbrookedale, had over 2,300 visitors this year). It seems to attract modellers from around the globe and this year was no exception. There was a strong contingent from South Africa, this year, as well as modellers from Europe and as far away as New Zealand. Trade support is very good with both Dave Taylor and Mike Rhoades displaying vast amounts of stock usually unseen anywhere else. Several other traders were present including Ian and Mark Wilson from Northern Ireland with stocks of his superb reproduction Meccano parts. Ian's standard of workmanship is far better than a lot of the Meccano originals. He makes some special parts like caterpillar tracks and small hub discs. As this was not our first year attending the show we know what to expect and managed to moderate our spending. However, I know for a fact that the temptation of all those Meccano parts was too much for at least one SELMEC member!

An overview of the Show floor from the balcony
An overview of the Show floor from the balcony

For Sue and I SkegEx is far more than just a three (or four!) day Meccano show. There is plenty to do in the evenings, as there are lots of restaurants and bars to frequent. We (SkegEx exhibitors) also have an open invite to the New Park Club where on the Friday night the North Midlands Meccano Guild committee and organisers of the show put on a super buffet for exhibitors at the show. The best bit is the price of the drinks — you usually get change from a single note!

The show officially kicks off on Friday and the public start to arrive. This year we took our model of a handloom that we restored back to life after sitting around in a loft for the best part of thirty years. Originally built by the late Bill Roberts, it got us looking into looms a bit further and as a consequence we were showing our part built Super Model 16a loom and the enormous beaming frame. It is just amazing how much interest looms at a show create; especially when the viewer realises they actually work!

This year there was not one model that overshadowed the show. The guys from France, who usually attend with an enormous model, went to Meccanuity in May this year and I suppose decided to give SkegEx a miss. We felt that this was a refreshing change as the model selection was much wider and there were a lot of smaller models. There were a couple of big cranes; Richard Payne was showing his Takraf Level Luffing Crane built from immaculate late Binns Road dark blue Meccano with a selection of modern light grey flexible plates. Last year's Issigonis shield winner John Ozyer-kay was showing his version of the Eric Taylor level Luffing Crane with its sophisticated radio control. Many other cranes in various shapes and sizes were in evidence too. But for us, it was the variety of models on show that was striking. Clocks of all shapes and sizes, ball rollers and trucks, bridges and locomotives: it was all there to see.

The SELMEC contingent was there in force this year. Most of the usual rabble of good old South Londoner's venturing north, model under their arm and not a knotted handkerchief in sight!

This year the Issigonis Shield was awarded to Michael Whiting for his very unusual model of Noah's Ark complete with animals two-by-two. It does make a change for something other than a mechanical-heavy model to win this prestigious award. There were a few mutterings around the hall and subsequently on the web regarding this result but at the end of the day the award is given based on votes from other exhibitors — a very worthy winner in my book!

Michael Whiting with his Issigonis Shield winning model of Noah's Ark
Michael Whiting with his Issigonis Shield winning model of Noah's Ark

Other models that caught our eye included the Scammell push–pull combination; a joint effort between Richard Payne and John Hornsby.

Richard Payne and John Hornsby's Scammell

Richard Payne and John Hornsby's Scammell

Richard Payne and John Hornsby's Scammell

Richard Payne and John Hornsby's Scammell

Richard Payne and John Hornsby's model Scammell

SELMEC's Cathy Claydon exhibited her superb model of a WWII Austin K2 ambulance built mostly from Meccano Army Multi-kit parts. This was one of my favourite models of the show.

Cathy Claydon with her model of a WWII Austin K2 ambulance

Cathy Claydon's model of a WWII Austin K2 ambulance

Cathy Claydon's model of a WWII Austin K2 ambulance

Cathy Claydon's model of a WWII Austin K2 ambulance

Another good reason for attending SkegEx is that you will get to see models that are not seen down here in the South East. One such model is Joe Etheridge's huge model of Newport Bridge, Middlesbrough as featured on the front cover of the April 1935 edition of Meccano Magazine.

Joe Etheridge's model of Newport Bridge
Joe Etheridge's model of Newport Bridge

Terry Allen's 1925 Brough Superior SS100 was an example of just what can be achieved with careful modelling and attention to detail.

Terry Allen's 1925 Brough Superior SS100
Terry Allen's 1925 Brough Superior SS100

Roelf Valkema from Holland is a regular visitor to SkegEx and this year brought along a Meccano classic 'The Meccano Limousine' built from nickel finish Meccano, the model is based on the 1923 'New' Meccano chassis.

'The Meccano Limousine' by Roelf Valkema
'The Meccano Limousine' by Roelf Valkema

Finally I just had to show you these two fine models by French modeller Jacques Vuye. He has built several miniature versions of the super models and I have included a couple here; the Steam Excavator and the Pontoon Crane.

Jacques Vuye's Steam Excavator
Jacques Vuye's Steam Excavator

Jacques Vuye's Pontoon Crane
Jacques Vuye's Pontoon Crane

There were many more models to see and discuss but I hope this small selection of our favourite models will give those of you who were not able to attend a flavour of the weekend.


» This article appeared in the September 2012 issue of SELMEC News.

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