Motor Mayhem

Purist, hardline Meccano hairshirtists pride themselves on building models that use only authentic Meccano parts. If it ain’t got ‘Meccano’ stamped on it it ain’t Meccano.

Most of the rest of us I suspect have a growing pile of non-Meccano bits and pieces at home, one word for which is junk. We tell ourselves we’d better not throw it out because — one day, maybe, you-never-know — it might come in handy for use in a Meccano model we’re building. It often does, but so does the pile grow.

Sewing machine motors
Sewing machine motors

My ‘pile of junk’ includes two sewing machine electric motors. The sewing machines were thrown out years ago. The mains AC-powered motors remain. One or other would be great for driving something that requires a lot of oomph, for example a loom, one of my ultimate Meccano goals.

The motors are powerful, they’re compact, they’re hunky, they’re neat, they’re trim, they’re fit and feisty, they’re full of get-up-and-go and the right stuff (sounds like the ideal man). That’s them in the picture with the steel rule and 50p piece.

And they’re fast. Too blankety-blank fast. That’s the trouble. The driving axles whiz round at a hell of a speed, far far far too quickly for driving Meccano mechanisms.

Does anybody have a neat, tidy, clever, compact, sophisticated way (either mechanical or electronic) to give an output axle speed compatible with Meccano usage?

Another bit of my junk pile is the motor and drive salvaged from a paper shredder we threw out. As you can see in the picture below, I’ve converted it to Meccano usage. Excessive speed is not a problem here because of the shredder’s reduction gearing — a slim, spindly worm driving a relatively large helical gear.

Paper shredder motor and switch gear
Paper shredder motor and switch gear

And I salvaged the shredder’s internal forward/reverse switch gear so that the motor can run in both directions. But that said, what an ungainly, inelegant mess? (Would you ever believe it takes so many wires to reverse an AC motor?)

And, yes, I do know — the whole thing needs securely encasing because MAINS POWER KILLS.

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