The Meccano Society of Scotland

Menstrie Meeting 2012

In May 2012 we held our annual Menstrie Meeting and Challange.
The Challenge this year was to construct a hill climb vehicle. See the Challenge Rules page for more details.

Menstrie Challenge - Report

The challenge this year was a hill climb to be powered by an M0 motor. The model had to get the top of a plane involving a travel of about 3 feet. The slope of the plane was progressively increased for each run. Competitors were eliminated if their model did not reach the top of the hill within the allotted time or did not get to the top at all, having failed either through slippage of the wheels/tracks or having deviated and run off the side.

The hill was a length of shelving from B&Q which was four feet long and 7½" wide. It was plain unvarnished wood but sanded to a smooth finish. The start line was marked 12" from one end. The board was supported on a framework on 24½" angle girders by a Meccano rod. This allowed the slope of the board to be adjusted anywhere from horizontal to vertical.

As far as the competitors were concerned, it had been realised that the main challenge to be overcome was one of grip and a number of approaches to this were on display. Most of these involved the soft tyred wheels and rubber tracks from the modern 20 model set (the set that also contains a Bowden cable). Two people tried Meccano Circular Saw Blades as driving wheels, no doubt in the hope that they would dig into the wood and provide a positive drive. Much to the relief of the board supplier, this did not work. These models did not climb a significant slope and left the track undamaged.

Several competitors took the view that a high torque on the driving wheels would be essential (presumably taking in to consideration the total weight of their model and the limited power output of the M0 motor). They therefore installed very large reduction gear trains between motor and driving wheels.

This resulted in very slow progress and reminded the writer of a line from hymn, dimly remembered from childhood, which went “labor up the heavenly hill with weary feet and slow”. Two competitors eventually failed on time.

Several competitors produced two models, mostly one tracked and one wheeled. Although a tracked vehicle eventually won, both types of drive seemed equally effective with some losing their tracked vehicle first and others the reverse. Two entries fitted with wheels survived till very late, one failed on direction, running off the side of the track very near the top of the run.

Eventually there were only two entries left – both by George Roy. The wheeled one failed on direction running off the track (by now at quite steep angle) late in the run. The other entry, running on a single track easily dealt with the steepest inclination used.

A close up of the winning entry shows that it could have been disqualified as the driving band being used is not, apparently, a Meccano one. However no objections were raised and George was acclaimed as a worthy winner.

So what slope did his model eventually conquer? The rod supporting the board was in the 58th hole up of the framework making it 29" from the floor and the track was 48" long. So the angle of the track was sin-1(29/48) or 37.2o . If you think it looks more in the photograph, remember that the angle appears distorted by the view point of the camera.

Pictures from Menstrie 2012

High resolution versions of the photos are also available for download if desired.

Tip - You may find it better to view the pictures in 'full screen' mode - For most browsers F11 will toggle this on and off.