The Meccano Book of Engineering

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The Meccano Book of Engineering is generally reckoned to have appeared in 1931. Its format is basically the same as that of the first Hornby Book of Trains - part articles and editorial, and part catalogue of items that the reader might have liked to buy from Meccano Ltd.

Like the first Hornby Book of Trains, Engineering had a hugely ambitious range of coverage for its first editorial, and no obvious signs of a publication date or an indication of when the next issue might appear, presumably to cover the possibility that the book might not make it past one issue, or that a single issue might be kept in circulation for a number of years.

However, unlike the HBoT, Engineering didn't seem to make it to a second issue.

Because of the dating issue, it's conceivable that if Meccano kept reprinting and issuing it, that there might have been some changes between copies printed at different times, or for different markets - it's difficult to come up with a definitive date for "the book" without knowing whether or not there are different versions of the book in circulation.


"   The immense popularity of the Hornby Book of Trains, which made its first appearance in 1925, has led to a widespread demand for a similar production dealing with engineering in general and Meccano engineering in particular. We have therefore decided to publish the " Meccano Book of Engineering. "
   In the following pages we deal with engineering in its widest aspects. From the earliest times, civilisation has been dependent for its advance upon the engineer. The nations that have made the greatest progress have been those that not only had the cleverest engineers, but also, realising the immense importance of their work, have availed themselves of the ever-increasing facilities it afforded.
  Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the work of the engineer has been his development of means of communication. Roads and waterways have been vitally important to civilisation, both as highways along which merchandise of all kinds has been carried and as channels along which easy and rapid interchange of ideas among developing races has been effected. This book is devoted largely to the consideration of the problems involved in this branch of engineering.
  In providing communications by road the necessity for bridges must have been felt even by prehistoric man. The fact that the art of the bridge-builder is of great antiquity is proved by the existence of crude stone bridges, such as the ancient structure across the River Dart at Postbridge in Devonshire, and the still cruder rope bridges that are even now to be met with in wild regions of South America and Central Asia. The immense growth of traffic by road and rail in recent times has resulted in the building of bridge after bridge, and as an example of present-day practice we tell the story of the building of the Quebec Bridge.
  Inland waterways, too, have played an extremely important part in providing easy communication. It is true that the smaller canals, having outlived their period of usefulness, have fallen on evil days, but their value to commerce before the development of railways can scarcely be over-estimated. To-day interest centres mainly on the great ship canals of the world, and we describe how the construction of these has been facilitated by the use of dragline excavators – giant machines that tirelessly eat their way into the ground, doing as much work as many hundreds of men could do with pick and shovel. These mighty digging machines have been of value also in the carrying out of irrigation schemes.
  Day by day vast quantities of merchandise are sent by road, rail, or canal to the most convenient seaport for shipment abroad, while at the same time ships are arriving with cargoes from all parts of the world. Shelter must be provided to enable the loading and unloading of vessels to be carried on in all weathers, and we show how the use of Portland cement and cranes of enormous power has enabled the engineer to build up structures to defy the violence of the sea.
  Finally, we show that, in spite of the enormous progress that has already been made in engineering, the possibilities are scarcely touched, and we visualize some of the developments that probably will take place in the future.
  We take this opportunity of acknowledging the valuable assistance we have received in the preparation of this book from the Dominion Bridge Company Ltd., Montreal, in regard to the building of the Quebec Bridge ; Ruston & Hornsby Limited, Lincoln, dragline excavators ; and Stothert & Pitt Limited, Bath, block-setting cranes. "