The Meccano Society of Scotland

Menstrie Meeting 2017

In May 2017 we held our annual Menstrie Meeting and Challange.
This year the challenge was to build a ball roller. See the Menstrie Challenge Rules page for more details.

Menstrie Challenge - Report

In a departure from our usual competitive event, the Menstrie Challenge this year was an experiment in co-operative building. The challenge was for each member to build one or more modules that would accept ping-pong balls at one end and then eject them at the other end. Each module would feed the next module and specifications were issued concerning the height at which balls would be accepted and ejected. The idea for this had been formed over dinner and drinks one evening at Skegness last year.

Andy, Douglas, Gordon, Dave and Robert Jones had brought modules and at the appointed time these were duly arranged in line, ready to go. Dave had actually brought three modules but in the event deemed only one of them to be sufficiently reliable to take part. We had an abundance of ping-pong balls and the spectators were stationed ready to recover any that might go astray.

Andy's moving ladder mechanism kept a regular flow of balls dropping into Douglas's simple caterpillar track lifter. This in turn fed Gordon's riser made from auto seats attached to caterpillar track which deposited the balls onto a curved descending track that fed the balls to the next stage. Dave's module lifted the balls high into the air (also using caterpillar track) before they descended again through an ingenious arrangement of sector plates. The last stage was Robert's module. This resembled a windmill with four arms, each of which collected a ball released by a gate, cleverly synchronised with the windmill arms. At the top of the wheel balls were dropped into the exit funnel. A Meccano man appeared to be turning a crank to keep the mechanism moving.

This all seemed to be working reasonably well until it was realised that Robert's module was being overwhelmed by ping pong balls that were arriving with greater frequency than his mechanism could cope with. This resulted in a lot of balls having to be returned to the start before completing the last stage.

The return process was manual – involving a runner with a Quality Street tin! If Robert's module had been first then this problem would not have arisen but, on the other hand, it may not have been as much fun.

Everyone present was invited to vote for their favourite using whatever criteria they deemed appropriate. The winner was Gordon Stewart and Robert Jones was a worthy runner up.

Pictures from Menstrie 2017

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

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