Raising Crane 1

The entire lumber yard of the layout is modeled after the Cheney Lumber facility in 1940’s Tacoma. The signature element of the scene is the gantry crane:


I figured I had enough scratch-building experience under my belt to have a go at this. The photo is a nice three-quarter shot, and there are a couple of standard-length freight cars in the uncropped image to aid in scaling. Like building an Interociter, you pick a place and start.

In this case I elected to start with the crane platform, as everything attaches to it. I used 0.030″ sheet styrene for the box, and 0.010 x 0.030 strip for the stiffeners. I trimmed the stiffeners after placement, and marked the center point of the top of the box for the spindle for the machinery house.


That’s the easiest part of the whole project.

The next step was to figure out the base and wheel mounting. I’d laid rail for the crane, and I wanted to have the crane mobile on the track. In keeping with using as much on-hand material as possible for this project, I decided to use some spare freight car wheels for the crane. The wheels are grossly oversize, but easier than fabricating scale wheels from round stock, and the wheels are easier to make operational.

My first thought was to fabricate wheel boxes out of 0.030 sheet, then use 0.080 rod for the spindle. This did work after a fashion, but was as fiddly and frustrating as might be imagined.



I did manage to get some sideframes, but they were fragile and generally unsatisfactory :



Rethinking, I decided to try 3 mm u-channel for the sideframes. This would be wide enough for the wheel, and the sides would give the side plates something to glue to. The closest thing I could find was 2.5 mm c-channel, and that worked well.


The parts prior to sanding and painting. The side plates are 0.015 sheet. I spent considerable time lining up the spindles.


Sideframes after painting, assembly, and weathering. The wheels roll, but the size is apparent. I’m hoping that because the sideframes will be ‘down in the weeds’ and attention will be drawn to the crane that the size won’t be so evident on the final model.

The sideframes were a lot more work than I expected, but I’m happy with the results. Next up is the machinery house.

Logging On

One of the signature, some might say the signature, element of lumber yards is wood. Lots of wood. The prototype I’m modeling stacked logs next to the tracks where the crane could reach them and presumably feed the mill. There aren’t any people in the photo so scaling the logs was a bit problematical. After experimenting with various diameters of round stock, it looked like 2 mm – 3 mm (scale 12″ – 18″) round would do the job. A credible representation of the log yard would require hundreds of ‘logs’, so I needed a cheap source. It turns out that 2.5 mm bamboo skewers cost less than $1.50 for a bag, and the skewers cut to 1″ (about 13 scale feet) would look right and supply all the logs I’d likely need.


I stuck the skewers in a piece of styrofoam, and painted them with Natural Brown acrylic. I slopped the paint on, so the bare areas would represent stripped bark on the logs. Some sticks were painted other colors for variety.


A bit of work with the Chopper, and viola! Logs.


I used a piece of balsa for a straightedge, and for a spacer between the stacks. Wet water and diluted white glue hold everything down.



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