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Conserving a Meccano model of Blackpool Tower

tower

The construction toy Meccano is one of Liverpool’s most famous products and this model of the Blackpool Tower was made in the Meccano factory at Binns Road. It was an eye catching shop window display model with light up yellow signs and lifts that went up and down. Placed in the shop window it must have fascinated many an adult or child often prompting a purchase - who said that ‘pester power’ is new?

The model was conserved before going on display at the Museum of Liverpool. Before conservation all of the model was coated with surface dirt and because it is a working model many of the lower parts were also covered with black oil and grease. The model was cleaned, using cleaning solutions where it was oily or greasy, and the rust was removed from the nuts and bolts. 

In the base section there is a yellow plastic sign with ‘Meccano’ printed on it. This was very dirty, was broken in several places and had an old discolored sellotape repair. Heat from the 60w bulb had caused the sign to distort, become brittle and fractured. We glued the sign to a Japanese tissue support using a reversible adhesive and any gaps were carefully repainted. Finally the sign was protected by sandwiching between layers of Perspex. 

The model is on display in the Peoples Republic gallery|   at the Museum of Liverpool. Unfortunately it is not possible to have the model working or lit up because of the heat from the bulb and transformers.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the conservation work as it progressed.

The model as it arrived in the studio, dirty, rusty and distorted. The base of the tower partway through cleaning. The Meccano sign after cleaning but before the tissue support was added to the reverse. Japanese tissue has been glued to the back, the missing pieces have been painted in and the sign is now protected by Perspex. The bulb and lift mechanism after cleaning. The crazing of the paint is visible above the bulb, no wonder the sign cracked. The model after cleaning, the smaller towers have been straightened as well as the main tower, and the lights work too!

Museum of Liverpool collection

Accession number MLL 2007.42