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Spare Parts Packaging
See also: Table of Spares Boxes,  Extra Parts bags

The information on this page has been very kindly supplied by William Irwin.  Spare parts boxes from all periods are very hard to come by, as there was little point in the buyer keeping them once he had got the parts home and added them to his collection.  Many spare parts were packed in multiple units, so the buyer would only receive the parts box if he bought the whole contents of the box, or what was left of them.  Sometimes, the retailer would have thrown the empty box away.  The story of how William came by these parts boxes, which were frozen in time for 16 years, is itself interesting:

"These parts came from Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).  Rhodesia declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) in 1965 and the rest of the world imposed sanctions to the extent of British warships blockading the port of Beira in Mozambique for years on end. These parts were the Meccano spares stock of a hobbies shop (G.R.Woolley & Co.) in Bulawayo just prior to UDI, and were frozen in time there for 16 years, as the market for Meccano had obviously evaporated and nothing could be exported.
Rhodesia became independent as Zimbabwe in 1980, and many people emigrated south to South Africa thereafter.  Onerous exchange controls were imposed and people could not get their money out of Zimbabwe, so they resorted to buying up goods of all sorts for resale in SA. One enterprising gentleman, Jack Cramp, discovered the hobby shop, bought up the entire stock of pre-1965 Meccano spares and transported them in a trunk in his car boot to Cape Town. During 1981 he contacted Colin Cohen of the Cape Town Meccano Club who promptly bought the trunkload of parts from him and re-sold to enthusiasts in SA. What a bonanza that was! Anyhow I took over half of what was left after the sale, having of course also purchased some choice items during the sale. I have preserved most of the yellow parts boxes despite my move to New Zealand, and am now making a list of the ones I have with their code Nos. and number of parts per box."

Prior to 1958 spare parts were packed in yellow boxes with a yellow paper band wrapped around the box identifying the part. Each spare parts box had a unique code number, presumably for ordering purposes. After the colour change in 1958, those parts in the new colours (virtually every painted part) had a green identification paper band wrapped around the yellow box instead of a yellow band.  Thus one knew that the parts inside these boxes were light red or green without opening the box.  Those parts unaffected by the colour change (brass and nickel parts, etc.) continued with the yellow bands.

In 1962, the boxes changed to a slightly lighter shade of yellow, with a greenish tinge to it.  The yellow and green bands continued as before.  

There were some anomalies in 1962, for instance with braced girders.  These had a green label (indicating that they were light red) but the picture on the boxes still showed the old double-braced pattern rather than the new 1962 pattern.  It is thought that no single-braced girders were ever illustrated on the green band.

Some parts were supplied wrapped in brown paper, particularly the large parts.  Parts wrapped thus were usually given a product code starting with 5770x.  Some parts (eg. Healds) were supplied either in boxes or brown paper, and a different product code was used for the wrapped version.

Some small parts such as set screws, washers, small hooks, etc. were supplied in small plastic bags.

In 1962, a range of the more popular parts were offered for sale, pre-packed in small polythene bags and hung on a display board.  See this page for more details.

See the next page for a Table of all the Spare Parts Boxes


Examples of Spare Parts Packaging

Part 187a

Part 20a

A good example of the change of colours:
The box with the yellow band is from the medium red & green period.  The box with the green band is a lighter shade of yellow, and comes from 1962.  The blue Conical Disc did not appear until 1960.
2" Pulleys in the new blue colour, indicated by a green band.

Although the colour change of the 2" Pulley was an obvious one, from black to blue; all the painted parts that changed shade from medium red/green to light red/green also had green bands around the box.


Miscellaneous parts boxes

An assortment of boxes from the period:  The two left-hand columns show the same parts in 1958 and slightly lighter 1962 boxes.

The Bush wheels (24b) Rod And Strip Connectors (213b) and 1/2" Pulleys (23a) did not change colour, so had yellow labels throughout.

The Loaded Hook (57b) and Curved Strip (90a) had green labels because they changed to light red & green.

The remaining boxes show new parts that were introduced in 1962, namely the 1 1/2"x 1 1/2" flat Plate, Flexible Gusset Plate, Narrow Strips, and Plastic Plate.

Braced Girders

Braced Girder boxes showing the anomaly mentioned above.

The top one is from the medium red & green period.

The middle one is from the light red & green period, and has a green band to denote the colour change.

The bottom one is from 1962 but still shows the old double-bracing pattern on the label.

Braced Girders

7 1/2" Braced Girders in pre-1958 wrapping, 1958 box, and 1962 box.  The lighter shade of the 1962 box is quite clear in this photograph.

Braced Girders

Part 122

Part 179

These Loaded Sacks could be pre or post-1958, as the colours (and therefore the box) did not change. Two boxes thought to be from the early 50s, along with the later equivalent

Part 185a

Part 19a

The new 1962 Steering Wheel after the change to blue.  Yellow label on light yellow box.  In theory, this should have had a green label.

Part 110

One exception to the rule is this box of Rack Strips with a green label.  The Rack Strips did not change colour in 1958, although they were a painted part.

Right: Two nice sets of Spoked Wheels, one each from the medium red/green and light red/green periods.



Part 61

Miscellaneous part bags

Interesting variations of the Windmill Sail (part 61):
The top two boxes are both pre-1958 and show two
colour variations of the medium green part.
The top box wrongly shows the Sail with a fixing lug.
The bottom Sail is the 1958 one in light green.
Examples of some of the small spares packed in plastic bags.

Note the new 1962 Wire Hook (57d) at the bottom left.




Box for the 7 1/2" Circular Strip, which is the largest box found.  Does anybody have a box for the 167b Flanged Ring, or know if such a box ever existed? (Probably not.) Box for the Hub Disc, and Circular Girder.  The Crcular Girder has also been found in the thinner box meant for the 6" Circular Plate. (Courtesy L.Megget)

Part 187b

Blue labels

A very rare boxed set of the new 1962 large
plastic Road Wheels.  These were in a specially printed box, with no band around it.  The only part to have its own special box.
(photo - Melvyn Wright)

Parts boxes and bags with blue labels.  These are thought to date from the end of the period, around 1964/65.  The top bag contains brass bolts, and the bottom bag contains zinc plated bolts from the later period.  Note that the blue label has been stuck over an earlier yellow label, which is a useful indication that they came afterwards.


This set of medium green and black Road Wheels were found in an unsealed box.  The colours are a mystery, as they do not appear to be resprays.  It has been suggested that they could be pre-war  Mechanised Army wheels.
(photo - Simon Coultas)
Ship's Funnel and box.  This is a medium red version.  It is not thought that a light red version of this seldom-used part was ever produced.

Parts 58a & 65

Part 147

White parts boxes are also found around this time.  Possibly from the 40s and early 50s?


Yellow boxes have also been found with white labels. These had no illustrations. An interesting misprint on a box of 6-hole Wheel Discs: The correct 24c box with code 12111 is at lower right. The misprint 24c box at lower left has the incorrect code 12109, which actually belongs to part 24b, as shown on the top box.

Ordinary Nuts and Bolts were supplied in pairs (part 37) and also separately (parts 37a and 37b).

The Bevel and Helical Gears were meant to be used in pairs, so came together in the same box.  This photo shows two variations of the Bevel Gear box, showing different orientations of the gears (perhaps the drawing office staff had nothing else to do on that day!).

(Courtesy S.Kjellin)



Above: Variations of the Fan box.  The green label box is quite rare.  The Fan was a very seldom-used part, and stocks of pre-1958 boxes may have lasted for a considerable time.

Healds For Loom were packed in paper wrappings and yellow boxes.  The wrapped versions are thought to date from the mid-50s.

The Flanged Ring in paper wrapping.  This was the largest Meccano part of the period.  I don't think these were ever sold in yellow boxes.
(Courtesy G.Rahn & C. Weston)

6" Pulley in paper wrapping.  Did boxed versions exist?

Below: Very rare spares boxes containing French Elektrikit parts.  These spares were not on general sale in the UK.

 (Courtesy G.Rahn)

 (Courtesy T.Gant)

Another mystery: The new Narrow Strips in an older dark yellow box.  These should have been in a light yellow box.  (Courtesy J.Nuttall)

The 5 1/2" x 2 1/2" Flanged Plate and 1" Pulley are two of the most common parts, but these boxes are quite rare.  So many of these parts were included in outfits that very few were bought as spares.  (Courtesy P.Adamson)

Uncredited photos on this page courtesy William Irwin

Details of all the Spares Boxes
Details of the 1962 'Extra Parts' bags

  Collectors' Corner

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