BAYKO - Manufacturing Summary

Thanks to Geoff Lilleker for help with some of this information. I won't be going into a lot of detail in this section, the intention is to give a general overview of the whole BAYKO manufacturing process, so here goes : -
Just as BAYKO retailers had two profit streams, selling both BAYKO Sets and Spare Parts, the manufacturing process had two operational streams to support them.

BAYKO Spare Parts
This portion of the overall manufacturing process was common to both streams - not surprisingly - as the product was, of course, the same!
The Brick Patterns were pre-assembled for inclusion in sets, likewise the boxes included in sets #3X and #4, accessory boxes [Rods, etc.] and Floor packs.
BAYKO Spare Parts were packed in cardboard boxes or tubes, [or in plastic bags in the MECCANO era]. These were then used either for direct shipment…
Final Packing
The BAYKO Sets and Conversion Sets were assembled from the above stocks.
…or to be packed in full or half Retail Display Cabinets.

Just for completeness, there was a third stream of more conventional order picking, for orders such as Bases, the various roofs, longer Rods [which would have been made-to-order], etc., which would then have been individually packaged as necessary.
If you want to be really pedantic, I suppose you could also include the packing necessary to support the limited amount of direct supply to the public, particularly for those far flung parts of the globe!!!


This section involved four separate manufacturing streams : -
1 Plastic Parts
While Plimpton were operating out of the Gibraltar Row site, they had six compression presses, each operated manually using a long lever to close the press.
Standard 1950s green Base with 9 ejection pin marks
BAYKO Parts were moulded from pre-measured quantities of powder using heat and pressure.
Larger parts such as Bases, Roofs, early Roof Ends and Spans needed ejection pins to remove them from the mould and the marks of these [right] can easily be seen on the finished parts.
Moulds were cleaned, between pressings, using compressed air guns - though the occasional speckled brick suggests that either this, or the raw material powder/pellet mixing, was less than perfect.
Flashing had to be removed from many, if not all, plastic parts.
2 Rods
All BAKYO Rods were simply cropped to the required length from longer lengths of wire which were, I understand, bought in - though Hollow Rods may have been different.
Pre-war Rod tubes
A word of praise here…
…for both Plimpton and MECCANO
…the standard of the cropped Rod ends was consistently very high, which had important safety considerations - no sharp edges.
3 Ties & Links
The basic outlines of these Cinderella parts [including the bends in the later versions] were first produced using simple fly presses.
Post-war Base Links Packs
Base Links were then drilled, to create the holes - and tapped to create the thread in later versions - to accommodate the Screws.
Tie-Bars were then, I believe, drilled with multi-headed drills.
4 Floors
PAXOLIN Floors were slightly different.
MECCANO era packs of Floors
They were bought in from outside suppliers. I believe [almost certainly!] that they already cut to size, by the manufacturer. The matrix of holes was then drilled, in house, also with multi-headed drills.


This section involved three separate operational streams, the first two supporting the BAYKO set packing operation and the third, the spare parts operation : -
1 Brick Patterns
This was a reasonably skilled, somewhat labour-intensive process, almost certainly carried out by women.
Brick Pattern from a set 0 and set 11
The primary objective here - apart from the logistics of creating stock items ready for the subsequent BAYKO set packing operation - was to 'stylishly' show off the colourful BAYKO parts to their best advantage in those sets.
2 Boxed Parts
Boxes [or Bags] of Rods, Tie-Bars, Base Links, Screws, etc.
Sub Assembly from set 4 showing Spans, 2-Brick Pillars and Long Roof Ends
Envelopes of Floors.
Various cards of Arches bricks, Canopies, Doors and windows.
One or more trays of bay window parts.
Trays of other assorted parts.
A number of boxes and trays of extra parts for sets #3X and #4.
Throughout both the Plimpton and MECCANO eras, creating these sub--assemblies would have been an entirely manual task, almost certainly performed almost entirely by women.
These sub-assemblies would all have been managed internally as standard stock control items, which would have been got ready, in advance, ready for the final BAYKO set packing operation.
3 Spare Parts
This would have been a similar, though much simpler, process [given that there was only one type of part per box in this case] to that described in section (2) above…
Pre-war spare parts packs
…this process could have helped mop up spare labour when needed…
…though we know mechanisation was introduced during the MECCANO era.


This section involved three separate streams : -
1 ► BAYKO Sets
This would have been an entirely manual [more likely womanual!] operation, with the set boxes being manufactured elsewhere.
Mint set 2 from the 1950s
Remember, virtually everything, except Bases and Roofs, were in pre-packed sub-assemblies.
N.B. - at its peak, BAYKO sold over 150,000 sets a year - so this was being done on a significant scale!
2 Retail Cabinets
Once again, the final packing stage of the Retail Display Cabinets would have been an entirely (wo)manual operation. This sort of job was almost inevitably carried out by the distaff side.
Plimpton era Retail Display Cabinet
I understand this operation primarily consisted of slotting pre-packed Spare Parts boxes, from stock, into the right sections of the Retail Display Cabinet.
For their protection in transit, certainly during the Plimpton, small Base period, the Bases were usually, if not always, separated by small rectangular pieces of corrugated cardboard…
…the various BAYKO Roofs might well have been afforded the same protection.
3 Individual Orders
This is probably the most traditional, and hence most familiar form of packing operation.
Three different packs of BAYKO parts
Individual items, usually in standard order quantities or course, as well as pre-packed sub assemblies would be picked from stock by an individual and then wrapped, packed and labelled ready for dispatch.
Very little direct evidence of this operation remains, though the wrapped packs of 12 x Flat Roofs, 6 x Large Roofs and 12 x White Domes shown in the slide show [right] give us a small insight.
Well, that's all there was to it…
…unless you count the necessary warehousing and despatch operation.
There are quite a few gaps in our knowledge which I've tried to fill in, with a mixture of experience and common sense, but if you've got any better ideas, then I'd love to hear from you…
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Latest update - August 11, 2022
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