Tinkertoy - Standard Parts

Standard Parts

In addition to the previously described spools, a standard Tinkertoy set includes:

  • Wheels, which are thinner than spools, but larger in diameter. Like spools, their center holes have a snug fit.
  • Caps, originally wooden, but later plastic, cylindrical pieces with a single blind axial hole snugly fitted to the rods.
  • Couplings, small cylindrical pieces (originally wood; later plastic) approximately 2 inches long and half an inch in diameter, with snug-fitting blind-drilled holes in either end, and a loose-fitting through-drilled hole crosswise through the center of the part.
  • Pulleys, identical to spools, except that the center holes are loose-fitting.
  • "Part W", approximately the same size and shape as a spool, but with perimeter holes 90 degrees apart, loose-fitting center holes, and four tight-fitting through-drilled holes parallel to the center hole. This allowed for free-spinning parts, and also for construction of "cage" or "lantern" gears.
  • Short pointed sticks (originally wood, but later plastic), typically red, and flags ("fan blades,") typically green plastic, and various other small parts.

Spools and pulleys all have a single groove around the outside; "Part W" has two parallel grooves.

Sticks (or "rods") are slotted on each end, both to provide some "give" when inserted into snug-fitting holes, and to allow thin cards, flags, and strings to be inserted into the slots. They are color-coded by size; in the 1960s-era sets, they were, in order from shortest to longest, orange, yellow, blue, red, green, and violet. Each successively longer rod is (with allowances for the size of the spools) next smaller size times the square root of two; thus any two of the same size will combine with one of the next size up, and three spools, to form an isosceles right triangle.

Most of the larger sets also include a driveshaft (an unfinished wooden rod without slotted ends, of an intermediate length between "green" and "violet," normally turned with a small plastic crank.

Sets with battery-powered electric motors were available; these sets also typically included at least one wooden "double pulley," with a single snug-fitting through-drilled center hole, and grooved rims at two diameters, allowing different moving parts to operate at different speeds.

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