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Greenwich Great Get Together 2015

Report by Peter Clay

The annual Great Get Together, held as usual at the Royal Artillery Barracks, provides fun for all — once it is up and running.

The latter clause provides the trepidation since any number of problems can bug us before we are set up. This year fortunately seemed to go reasonably well. Of note — the electric supply, which normally fails early if it works at all, DID run smoothly throughout the entire day. Furthermore, the manic drumming class, which was in our marquee for the third time running, was not too obtrusive, due to fewer people attending.

So what did our display look like, approaching the marquee? First in view on the right was an enormous banner, supplied by Spin Master. Other banners and signs inside and outside the tent left no doubt as to what the show was about. Grabbing attention at the back in the middle of the models was Santiago Plicio's stunning fairground ride. Based on a big wheel it left no doubt as to what we were showing and provided the 'Wow!' factor. I think he called it 'The Awful Tower'.

One of the 'Make It With Meccano' tables
One of the 'Make It With Meccano' tables

To the right was our 'Make It With Meccano' section. Children could, under supervision, make a 'bug', a skier, an aircraft or a sunbed. The bulk of the work on this must be attributed to Tim Surtell, who was also responsible for the overall layout, banners, etc. Those who made a model got a certificate. I had a go at helping and I must confess it is not as easy as it looks, to keep a child's attention and get them building — the latter I ended up doing myself! I also found the new parts (supplied by Spin Master) with their ¼" hole spacing somewhat fiddly to use and had to count the holes carefully — it is harder to distinguish, say, a five- from a four-hole strip when you are used to ½" spacing. This aspect of our show was popular with children (and their parents!). We handed out 35 certificates to children who took part.

» See all the Make It With Meccano photos on Facebook

Peter Clay helping out with 'Make It With Meccano'
Peter Clay helping out with 'Make It With Meccano'

At the left was Chris Fry's seasonal challenge model cricket pavilion which captured a good deal of attention. Many little hands were caught moving the players around. On the opposite end table Chris had a wind farm of three windmill generators powered by a gearbox which caused them to start, speed up, run, slow down and stop.

Back to the left, next came Peter Clay's van with remote steering, Huff-a-bolt game, O gauge railway crane and Dad's Army butcher's van.

To his left Brian Elvidge showed the SML 11a single cylinder horizontal steam engine in yellow/blue/zinc powered by a PDU. A popular model always worth a showing — I like the simple cylinder using double angle strips which enable the piston to be seen working inside. Brian also had a car built from the 2014 off-road set.

Les Chatfield entertains the kids!
Les Chatfield entertains the kids!

To his left Les Chatfield presided. A born showman, Les is not one to just sit beside his many models. He drew spectators' attention to his multi-model display, making them designs on his Schmidt Meccanograph. His power hacksaw finally managed to cut though a piece of wood! An infinitely variable speed drive fascinated onlookers. He also had his Geoff Carter Cup winning mini traction engine, autogyro, rowing skiff and plate bender.

To the right of Santiago's big wheel and on the side was Tim Surtell's familiar Lighting Leap game of skill, drawing spectators (and their money — to go to Foal Farm). His Spanish Knight ran smoothly throughout the day and his walking cat aroused interest. Also on display he had a maraca (unfortunately it couldn't compete with the drummers!) and an ice cream cart. He also displayed the four 'Make It With Meccano' models — see above.

These girls had fun building all four of the 'Make It With Meccano' models
These girls had fun building all four of the 'Make It With Meccano' models

Chris Warrell and Brian Leach came along. If I've missed anyone else, or made mistakes in the model report, please accept my apologies.

All in all a good day with fine weather and various other attractions to see. According to local press, tens of thousands of people turned up to the event, but we seemed to have fewer people than in previous years.


» This article appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of SELMEC News.

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