BAYKO Bases - Part No. 1!

Really - BAYKO Bases - accessories‽ Well, over the years, I've received several requests to put together some notes on BAYKO Bases and couldn't logically think of anywhere else that it would fit!
I've separated this page into four sections, using the most blatantly obvious criteria - the size of the Bases; the intervention of 1939 / 1945 war; and the 1959 MECCANO takeover. The four links [below] let you to jump directly to any era which may be of particular interest to you.

Pre-War Large Bases

I don't think BAYKO Bases would have been the component which C. B. Plimpton would have been proudest of…
Page 4 of the first BAYKO manual showing the sides of the 'Base' are solid
…indeed there were problems, with Bases, even before BAYKO was launched.
This page from the very first manual [left] clearly displays evidence of this in that the model displayed is mounted on a wooden block, or something similar, rather than on a BAYKO Base.
There is further confirmation from an article in 'Games and Toys', February, 1935.
“This toy was perforce put on the market hurriedly owing to unexpected difficulties arising in the manufacture.”
The most likely issue with Bases relates to problems arising during cooling, after they were ejected from the moulds.
Earliest type of BAYKO Base - note the complete lack of corner cutaways
The earliest BAYKO Bases [left - shown courtesy of Chris Reeve] had no cutaways at all in the corner - something Plimpton clearly worked on.
Early BAYKO Bases with the later, modified version on the left
The intermediate base [right of the right hand photo] has small cutaways in the corner, but uneven cooling must have continued to cause cracking and distortion problems…
…leading to further mould modification, [on the left of the photo] providing much larger cutaways, allowing quicker cooling and less risk of cracking or distortion.
Click on either image for a larger version to see the corner details more clearly.
For those unfamiliar with the pre-war Bases these early examples are significantly different to the more familiar later ones : -
Pre-War BAYKO Base Links for the early large Bases
The size, 7.5 x 6 inches - 191 mm x 152 mm, was significantly larger than the later Bases.
2 Pre-War BAYKO Bases with a Brick positioned to highlight the missing row of rod holes
The Bases were fastened together with 3-hole Base Links, with their matching Screws and nuts.
When the Bases were joined, a complete row of rod holes was 'missing' along the join - not a major issue at the time as there were no Long Bricks, or any others which fill an odd number of half-brick gaps [horizontally].
There was a matrix of 19 x 15 holes
Rare Pre-War BAYKO Base in mottled green
…but the Base size was effectively 21 x 17 holes.
Pre-War BAYKO Base
Standard BAYKO set Bases [right] were brown, more consistently so than the Bricks of the same period.
In 1938, BAYKO sets #20 to #23 were introduced, partly to showcase the range of new parts and they included a suitably 'posh' Base [left]. These were the same size as the brown ones, but were produced in mottled green - projecting a slightly superior image, perhaps.
One relevant detail I haven't yet mentioned is the part number for these original Large Bases - 1, perhaps indicative of their fundamental role.

Small Bases - Pre-War

The change to the 'New Series' sets in 1939 heralded a major period of change for BAYKO and that goes for Bases as well : -
Joined Small Bases with Brick across - note that the run of holes is unbroken across the join

Pre-War 'New Series' BAYKO Base in mottled green
The [then] new size, 5.25 x 3.75 inches - 132 mm x 95 mm, was only 43.75% of the size of the earlier Bases.
2 Base Links for the later small Bases - original style below, later style above

Dark mottled green small pre-war Base
Bases were joined with smaller, 2-hole Base Links [right].
Linked Bases [left] now had an unbroken run of rod holes, better accommodating Long Bricks, Curved Windows, etc., affording much greater flexibility to the modeller.
There was a matrix of 14 x 10 holes.
Pre-war Bases were mottled green [below left].
The next piece of information about pre-war small Bases is slightly speculative…
…a small number of mottled green, pre-war, small bases have emerged, like the one in the image [right] which, are a significantly darker green colour, and have the feel of the earlier large BAYKO Bases.
I believe that they may represent an experimental use of the 'mottling mix' of the earlier, larger, mottled green Bases, used in the smaller mould.
Compare the three images for yourself and see what you think.
As a rule, though not foolproof, later mottled Bases are lighter than earlier ones.
One small detail I haven't yet mentioned is the part number for these new, Small Bases - 1B - clearly evolved from the original Bases - 1.

Small Bases - Post-War

BAYKO's post-war renaissance was plagued by austerity and raw material shortages, but typified, following accelerated wartime plastic developments, by an 'adventurous' use of new forms of plastic, almost as if Plimpton were using whatever materials they could get their hands on.
This is particularly evident in some of the earliest post-war Bases [right] which were made from a very unusual form of plastic…
Rare Post-War pale green BAYKO Base
…they were made in 2 similar colours…
…a pale blue and a pale green…
…and they are translucent with the look, and feel, of a block of soap!
These unusual Bases date from the early post-war years, in 1946 and 1947.
Although not all of today's BAYKO collectors actually like them, they are still highly collectable!
2 shades of green post-war Bases

Early style of small Base
There were then four further colours of BAKELITE used, by Plimpton, for their post-war BAYKO Bases : -
2 shades of grey post-war Bases

Later style of small Base
Two shades of grey, i.e. pale ones and dark ones. [right]
Two shades of green, i.e. yellowy and the more familiar mid green colour. [left, the right hand example]
Plimpton eventually settled, in late 1948, or early 1949, on the mid green colour which was then used as the standard right through until the MECCANO BAYKO takeover in 1959
…personally, I prefer the earlier, brighter colour, but what do I know‽
The initial mould [left] made for the smaller Bases has a moulding error - the figure “1”, embossed on the underside of the Base, is reversed.
Clearly the mould itself, wrongly, had the “1” the normal way round.
Around 1948/1949 this error was corrected [right]…
…and the corner moulding was strengthened.
Click on either of these 2 images to see more detail.
These differences let you sort earlier bases from later ones, even when the colour is identical - the reversed “1” and the corner moulding.

Small Bases - MECCANO Era

Initially MECCANO continued to manufacture BAYKO Bases in green BAKELITE [left] for both Plimpton style sets and spare parts. They then switched for a brief period, presumably late 1960, to a pale grey colour as they launched their own sets.
2 colours of late MECCANO era plastic Bases
Subsequently they switched again, towards the end of 1961 I suspect, this time to a much lighter plastic, from the polystyrene stable, which was produced in a pale olive grey colour [far right]…
…later MECCANO reverted to pale grey, though in in the same material [near right].
And that, I thought, was that…
…until I bought a MECCANO era set #14 - well actually it was sets #12 +#12C + #13C.
This surprised me at first, but I noticed one of the four bakelite MECCANO era bakelite Bases had different diagonal reinforcing bars in each corner.
The two different mouldings of the MECCANO era bakelite Bases - note the thinner diagonal reinforcement bar on the left
The diagonal reinforcing bars on the later type of Base [left of the adjacent image] are just half the width of their counterpart's, matching the standard ribbing [right of the adjacent image]. These Bases can also be distinguished by the [to me] inexplicable addition of a full stop, immediately to the right of the “o” in the embossed Plimpton BAYKO part number - “No.1”.
The earlier type of Base, with the thicker diagonal reinforcing bars, also has minor changes to the underside of the Rod slots around the edges - they're flatter - and also a strange additional shallow rib along one side of the underside of the Base. Part numbers embossed on the underside of these Bases have the full stop located immediately below the “o” in “Nọ1” plus an additional full stop after the “B.”. There's always a nerdy bit!
Initially I thought that this was a late moulding change by MECCANO, which wouldn't have made much sense, but further research reveals that both versions were available throughout most of the post-war Plimpton era. The Bases with the thicker reinforcement are, almost certainly, produced from a second mould introduced some time in the early 1950s as sales increased.
Neither style of Base was designed just to be used on their own, but rather to be fastened together, sometimes in quite large numbers, to produce larger, and more complex models. For more on how this was achieved…
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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