My initial thought was to build the battleship Bismarck, something I had wanted to do since seeing the pictures of this sunken ship taken by Roger Ballard and his team when they found her, at some 15,000 feet depth in 1989.
As my set was woefully short on plates I started making replica plates to enable me to build an 18 foot Bismarck. I also started purchasing 4mm stainless steel machine screws and nuts as replacements for the 5/32 inch Meccano ones, as I would need many more than my set held.
By June 2010 I began to reconsider the Bismarck project, as a Meccano ship was not all that exciting from a mechanisation point of view. I vaguely remembered an excavator which I had seen somewhere which worked in coal mines in Germany. On 'Googling' the machine I decided it was what I wanted to build! There were many mechanical features which could be brought to life using electric motors. The machine is known as Bagger 288, an example of a bucket wheel excavator built by Krupp of Germany and powered electrically by Siemens Electrical, also of Germany.
Bagger 288 is a 240,000 cubic metre per day capacity excavator, weighing over 14,500 tons. It mines lignite coal in an open cast situation, placing the material onto ground-based conveyor belts which carry it directly to the power station.
I settled eventually on a scale which gave my proposed model an overall length of about 41 feet (if one includes a 16 foot section of ground-based conveyor this is a 57 feet total length) and height of about 16 feet. A vast number of replica parts (plates, strips, girders, brass train wheels, collars, rollers, gears and pulleys) were needed and I decided to make as many as possible myself. This, over the months since starting the model, has probably taken more time than the actual building!