Meccano Chests & Cabinets

Meccano Cabinets for the largest sets started out as a combination of lift-out trays and drawers.  From 1958 the cabinets used drawers only.  They were usually made of oak, which has its drawbacks as mentioned in the next page.  Some cabinets were made of mahogany and some were made of teak.

Meccano Set 7 Chest

The first "large" Meccano Set in a chest was the Number 7 Set which was produced from 1922 until 1935.  It was a very comprehensive set and included a Clockwork Motor, Electric Motor No. 1 (4-volt) and a 4-volt Accumulator.  In 1927 the Motor was changed to a 6-volt version and the Accumulator was removed from the set.  All the Meccano electrical accessory parts were included.

From 1929 the chest was enamelled.  The handles (both front and side) probably changed from cup handles at the same time to the type shown on the L set below.

L Set Meccano Chest

In 1936 the L set was introduced.  This was the largest and most comprehensive set ever issued by Meccano Ltd.  The steam engine in this illustration was not included in the set.  The chest was identical to the Number 7 Set.  The limited-swing side handles lift up to be square to the body (so they don't crush your fingers when you lift); the smaller ones on the two front drawers are probably standard for the time with no special features other than folding flat when not in use.

This illustration is from the December 1997 edition of Constructor Quarterly.  Subscriptions to this publication are available from Robin Johnson, 17 Ryegate Road, Crosspool, Sheffield, S10 5FA, UK.

Set 10 Meccano Chest

Marketing sets in alphabetical order had not been a success for Meccano Ltd.  Few people have an 'ordinal' recognition of the position of letters in the alphabet.  Hence a numeric system was brought back and the largest Meccano set in 1937 was the Set 10.  The set 10 had fewer parts than the L set or even the previous No.7 set, however it utilized more parts in the largest models.

There were two lift-out trays and parts were strung onto cardboard as can be seen in this 1950's example of the set.  The first Set 10 chests were enamelled in green and the internal layout was slightly different.  This chest, referred to as the presentation chest, was produced up until the end of 1958.  Although it continued for another two years until 1960, and was known as the outfit 10P  The side lifting handles were exactly the same limited swing feature, but are of a slightly different design to those of the

Meccano Set 10 Cabinet, 1958-1973

In 1958 Meccano Limited changed the set 10 chest to a four drawer cabinet.   It had round white handles and an "oak" finish.  Around 1973 the cabinet was changed to a "teak" finish and the handles were changed to L shaped aluminium.  The drawers were also no longer flush, but overlapping.  Parts were still strung onto cards.  An illustration of this cabinet with the aluminium handles is on the next page.

Click to see the stringing cards for this set.

1977 Meccano Cabinet

In 1977, at the end of the mid blue, yellow, zinc period, a 3-drawer cabinet was introduced.  It had L-shaped aluminium handles, overhanging drawers, and white moulded plastic trays for the parts.  The top drawer contained the long girders at a skew angle.  Parts were no longer strung on cards instead they were loosely placed in the trays.

This illustration shows parts in the 1978 Dark Blue and Yellow colours.  This was the last cabinet sold by Binns Road before the closure of the factory in 1979.  Click to see larger image.

5-drawer French Meccano Cabinet, Set 10


The last Number 10 Meccano Cabinet.  These sets were discontinued by Meccano S.A. in 1992.  It was a 5-drawer cabinet with round wooden handles and the inserts were vacuum-formed trays within the drawers.  They also produced an earlier 4-drawer version.  The middle or third drawer, which is only partially opened in this promotional photograph, contained only the manuals.  In some cases Meccano S.A. added two complete MO (black) motor kits and one complete MR (red) motor kit.

John Evans, Roland Jaggard and others have kindly provided photographs of various sets that built up to the Set 10.  Click here for the index.

Joerg Tuor has kindly provided an excel file with the contents of the sets from 1926 (then a number 7 set), 1949 1955 and 1986 set 10.

On the next page is an illustration of the 1977 Binns Road Set Ten Cabinet and detailed measurements of it provided by Paul Dale.  Melvyn Wright has also provided photographs of the internal drawers.

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