The Meccano Society of Scotland

A Vehicle to Travel a Set Distance and Stop

Menstrie Challenge 2022

This challenge was originally planned for 2020. However due to the Covid pandemic, it wasn't able to take place. It is now intended to hold it at this year's Menstie meeting in 2022.


The challenge this year is to build a machine from standard and/or compatible Meccano parts that is able to stop itself upon reaching an objective point on the Menstrie Scout Hall floor. The machine can be self-powered using any suitable means by parts recognised as a component of the Meccano system: Spring Cord, Compression Spring(s), Tension Spring(s), Drive Band(s), Falling Weights, Electric or Clockwork Motor(s), etc. Mechanisms or structures of a fixed height that simply “fall over” or extend themselves are not permitted. However, gravity propelled contraptions launched from a ramp or similar apparatus are permitted. In both cases, setting the prescribed distance to be traveled prior to launch is necessary since the target distance will be adjusted as the competition progresses.

The competition will use 3 heats to determine which machine is best able to travel to the prescribed point with the greatest accuracy. The distances from the starting line to the objective point will be 5' (60 inches), 12' (144 inches) and 18' (216 inches). The machine should have a clearly marked point close to floor level which is to be used as the datum for measurement from the machine to the target point. The machine’s owner may elect to make a second attempt to reach the objective point in each heat. However, the last attempt made will be that which is counted for that heat. After each heat the measurement in inches (rounded to the nearest inch) from the machine’s designated datum to the target point will be the score obtained for that heat. Smaller is better, and the machine with the lowest aggregate score for all three heats will be the winner. The competition favours machines with high accuracy rather than high velocity.


  1. Machine settings (e.g., range, direction, etc.) may be adjusted between each launching.
  2. The power source may be any clockwork or electric motor, band, spring or gravity-powered mechanism and may be re-wound or re-set as required between launches.
  3. The machine’s height, width or length should not exceed 25 holes (12 ½”). There is no weight restriction for the machine’s construction.
  4. The machine should be assembled from Meccano or Meccano compatible parts.
  5. No part of the machine may extend over the starting line before an attempt commences.
  6. Use of laser range finders, optical recognition systems, electronic timers and anything else Frank Hornby would not recognise is not permitted.
  7. The machine should clearly identify a datum point (e.g., a vertical rod or pointer) from which the distance to the target point will be measured.
  8. Machines which become inoperable during a particular heat may be withdrawn but, if successfully returned to working order, may be re-entered in any following heat(s). In this case the score for the unsuccessfully completed heat will be the heat length (in inches).
  9. The maximum duration for an attempt is 1 minute. Thereafter the score for the attempt will be distance from machine datum to the objective point, capped at the length for that heat.
  10. Machines that finish a heat at a distance further away from the objective point than when they started (e.g., travel sideways, backwards, or fail to stop at all) will have the score for that attempt capped at the length for that heat.
  11. Machines are not allowed to attempt to move the objective point.
  12. Any machine that leaves the Scout Hut entirely will be disqualified from that heat but, if re-captured, may be entered in subsequent heat(s). The score for the failed attempt will be the length for that heat.
  13. Entrants may enter more than one machine.
  14. Up to 2 attempts per machine per heat are permitted.
  15. Once the machine is set in motion for an attempt to reach the objective point, outside interference in its operation is prohibited.
  16. Proxy entrants are welcome.
  17. To aid marshals, commentators, fielders, scorers and reporters writing up the event, the entrant’s (or the machine’s) name must be prominently displayed (e.g., a sticky label).
  18. Practice sessions using the Scout Hall Floor will be allowed until the competition commences.
  19. In the event of a dispute the Secretary will arbitrate.
  20. The winner will be the machine with the lowest aggregate score for all three heats. In the event of a draw between 2 or more entrants, the winner will be determined by further heat(s) with 24” additional increments from the Starting Line to the Objective Point. If 2 or more machines are by the same entrant further heats will not be required.