Please note the
NEW FEATURE on the main navigation bar

which shows days already booked and days free..This should be a help to schools interested in arranging a visit from Rude Mechanicals



September 22, 2007


Len retired three years ago and now Ann and I are following suit.
We have decided that it's time to go and have closed the diary to any more new school visits. Not that anything is going to happen suddenly - we still have a long list of schools on our books for 2007 ( and a couple for 2008!) and several promises to keep, however we have been running for ten busy but exciting years - and we're getting old!

This website, however, will almost certainly continue.
The content will have to change though, and I am planning to include full, illustrated building instructions for many more models. Please don't expect anything in the near future - we are still busy - but come Summer I might be able to find time to make some of the necessary changes.

Our best wishes go to all of you who have supported us over the last decade - we couldn't have managed without you!!!

Many thanks - Dick and Ann , Rude Mechanicals


We have now sold the last copies of our book, The Primary School Designer's Manual.
The good news is that it is now available on-line. For a small fee you will be able to gain access to all the pdf files that were used to print the original books.




For the first time since we became involved the 'kids@assembly' programme lasted ten days. I can't say with any precision how many windmills were built during this time - the best estimate is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000.

We expected to make a large number of simple four bladed windmills but the idea of being able to use wind power to lift a load proved to be an attractive proposition for many children.
(We 'split the difference' and began making a lot of four bladed hoists.)

Several people asked for a copy of the workcard so I decided to place it here online for any who want a copy. You will probably noticed the link at the top of the page.
The rotor is approximately 175mm in diameter and is constructed using a 2" dia. card disc and two 30cm lengths of our own material 'Strutstuff' although it's easy enough to use any 3cm wide card strips folded one third/two thirds. Winding the thread directly around the 5mm diameter shaft provided you with a lot of torque and the device is able to lift a reasonable load.



Since the Edinburgh Science Festival closed on the 10th April we've done a lot of travelling, much towards the North.
It began on the 13th April when we worked at Banchory Academy. They organise a 'Technology Day' for pupils in their last year of Primary School and this was the second time we have contributed. All went well, the weather was great and all the kids seemed well pleased. We did get a little caught out though. Having been led to believe that there would be no more than 40 in a group we discovered at the last minute that all the groups consisted of more than 50 children! We were working out of the back of our Ford Fiesta - the Transit van being out of commission - so it was something of a miracle* that we managed to scrape together just enough tools and prepared materials to cater for 33% increase in numbers.

*'Loaves and fishes' come to mind

The following week and we were off to Inverness. Well, we stayed in Inverness but the school we were visiting was south of the city, in Stratherrick. A lovely wee school in a wonderful setting - and the sun shone!
We only had a morning booked so we drove to Fort Augustus at the Southern end of Loch Ness for a splendid lunch at the Loch Inn. It was there that Ann and I reminisced about the time, some years ago, when, while holding the end of a tow rope attached to a small boat which contained Ann, I had to lie flat on the pier of the swing-bridge while the bridge swung rather closely over me person. . . . but that's another story!

The week after that we were in Aberdeen - for the whole week. This was our fourth visit to Aberdeen (City and County) Schools sponsored by BP as part of the BP Schools Link Scheme. We had a great week, visiting Danestone PS, Milltimber PS, Smithfield PS, Kingswells PS and finally Drumoak PS (which is very nearly back in Banchory again!)





Two views from the windows of the workroom


We have recently been working in Edinburgh Castle as part of Historic Scotland's Education Programme. For four days we climbed the 'Lang Stair' to reach the very top of the castle where the Education workshop is situated. All this meant having to gain entry by crossing the drawbridge, complete with armed guard, each morning on the way to work!

As you may guess we were making siege engines!

Eight groups of schoolchildren, Primary 3 and Primary 4, all built their own mangonels (or onagers). If you want to do the same then have a look at the page of our book that shows the construction. It's to be found most easily by clicking here.


The Queen Anne building which houses the Castle's education dept.

Ann in the Castle 'classroom' preparing for the next group.

Before Len and I started Rude Mechanicals I had never been anywhere near Aberdeen in NE Scotland. How things have changed. The end of November saw our third Aberdeen visit of the year - probably the twelfth visit since 1997.

We were in Aberdeen to visit the 'hands-on' science centre called Satrosphere, housed in the Tramsheds. The theme of the weekend workshops was 'toys' and I had developed a new version of the old 'balancing parrot' especially for the event - "Balancing Beasties". Not a parrot in sight!
It seemed to be a success, designed as it was to appeal to a wide age group, that would almost certainly contain a good proportion of infant aged children. It gave all the kids the chance to saw some wood, glue bits together, and to design their own 'Beastie' (Dragons were popular!)
Maybe I'll use the 'BB' as a replacement 'Project of the Month' - I'm aware that the musical instrument has been on the site for a goon many months.



The Tramsheds, home of Satrosphere


NEW FOR 2004 - 2005

To help schools who are considering a Rude Mechanicals visit during the next academic year, I have added our standard workshop Booking Form to the site. It shows a thumbnail picture of each project with a brief description and a suggestion of the most suitable age level.

It's two A4 pages and I've supplied it in PDF format (316k) so you will need Acrobat reader to open the file.
Access will normally found on the Services page but as it's a new Feature you can go directly from here.







Look out for STRUTSTUFF

Many teachers are reluctant to use wood as a construction material in their classrooms. They imagine all sorts of possible problems and we always try very hard to persuade them otherwise.
We do accept, however, that wood isn't for everyone and we are presently developing a card product that can take the place of wood in many of our projects. There all already some products on the market that could be used, but we think that STRUTSTUFF will prove to be the most versatile.
As soon as it's available we'll feature it on this site so keep watching!

NEWS!! - Strutstuff available at £4.00 per 100 strips.




A variation of our usual project of the month. This one-string fiddle can be found in our projects section - although this has a modified fingerboard. I've included it here because we have just built three dozen. Well, the P7 kids of Clovenstone Primary School in Edinburgh were the one who really built the instruments. We worked on them before lunch and in the early afternoon a quartet of P7 pupils were able to perform a mini-recital, playing a very recognizable version of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" on the instruments they had made earlier.
A very satisfying experience for all involved.
Previous Project of the Month

Our travels recently took us to Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire.
The Sanquhar Post Office, shown here, claims to be the oldest post office in the World
. It has been continuously in use as a post office since the very early eighteenth century.

I have been using the invented word 'squisc' (or should it be squisk?) to denote a small punched card square that we've used in place of a more costly card disc. Talking to a class in Ireland recently I suggested that, as I had used the word on our website, it should now be recognised as a word by Google etc.
I've checked -and it does! (It's also an Italian word). Search for 'squisc' and, among the Italian language sites, you'll find Rude Mechanicals!

(Now I've written this you should eventually find the alternative spelling as well!)