Grandad’s Meccano inspired car is the ultimate big boy’s toy
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It has long been known as the thinking man’s toy.
And after years of watching his grandchildren play with the mechanical construction system Meccano, inventor and self-taught engineer Derek Waghorn, known as Delwag, was inspired to build a replica life-size Meccano car complete with working engine.
The vehicle has a 1300cc Citroen air-cooled engine and a standard five-speed and reverse gearbox and is made out of glass fibre, steel, brass and aluminium. The electrics are fully-functional and all switches are exact replicas of Meccano parts.
The vehicle made a rare appearance last week at Halesworth and District Model Engineering Society’s exhibition at the Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft.
Mr Waghorn, 83, from Ilketshall St Andrew, said: “Our grandson was keen to build a trike and he had some Meccano so I gave him a hand and I thought ‘that’s it’. I wanted to make something original and I searched the internet, and nothing like this had been made from Meccano.”
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Mr Waghorn said Action Man had also played a significant part in the design as he wanted to make sure the vehicle would be big enough to drive.
“If you see any pictures of Meccano and there is a car, they quite often have Action Man as a driver.
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“So I got myself an Action Man, measured him, divided it into my height, and it worked out as seven – so I knew I was seven times bigger than Action Man, and so every part needed to be seven times bigger than the Meccano part.” Like many inventors and engineers, Mr Waghorn was inspired to create from a young age.
He said: “When I was small, I was given a train set and everyone would say to me ‘don’t take it apart’. But when they weren’t looking I would get the screwdriver out and take it apart, and then put it back together again before anyone noticed.
“I got far more pleasure watching the springs unwind and was much more interested in how things worked.”
His wife, Sally Spelman, said: “Derek is hungry for learning. He just wants to learn the ins and outs of everything.
“The original idea with the vehicle was to create something in a couple of years and go and join our friends at all the rallies with all their mad bikes and trikes. But it got more and more perfect and the MoT rules changed and all the different tests changed, and now he would need to change the whole thing to get it on the road.”
The couple, who between them have five children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, now spend time taking the vehicle to exhibitions.
Next year he is hoping to make an attempt to get the vehicle recognised by Guinness World Records for the fastest Meccano car.