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Scrapyard crane in 4mm scale

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As a part of a main theme on my forthcoming new model railway project, I recently found some photo's that I'd taken last year of my initial starting to build a scratchbuilt scrapyard crane for my project, the photo's in this post will include those all important "how I made this" tutorials that I like to post, I've only just re-discovered these photo's finding them buried amongst my other modelling photo's :D


I'll start with the claws. Most of the scrapyard cranes I've seen have 5 claws, but some modellers licence is applied here.


Evergreen styrene #236 (12.7mm round tube) & evergreen #155 1.5mm x 2.5mm (strip) were used here for the claws.

2 sections of #236 were cut approx 3mm wide, then both were cut exactly in half. Then I think I used Evergreen strip #155 (1.5mm x 2.5mm) wrapping it around the outside of a tinlet of paint, then wrapped around a marker pen as to gain a curved profile (long curved piece of styrene seen in photo) , once a decent curve was achieved I overlayed this on one of the #236 claws marking with a pencil where to cut, cut the #155 strip into smaller lengths & put these curled up inside the recess of a paint tinlet lid as shown below...


I left the #155 strips for a few hours curled up, then fixed each of these to the outerside of each #236


I used a marker pen as a former as to apply pressure for the styrene components to set.



I used Evergreen #4501 embossed tile , 8 of square tile sections cut as shown , then I drilled a 1mm hole in the centres & cut off 2 corners on each piece.


Attatching the above on using plastic weld , allow to fully dry , then the tips of all 4 claws tapered down with a file , not fileing too much & ensureing each claw is alike.

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During a trip to Modellers Mecca in west Dudley, my satnav took me a detour route that just by good fortune took me past a series of scrapyards with the type of crane I was modelling.

I asked permission as for me to take photo's & the workers & driver of both yard cranes were very helpfull poseing their vehicle in various positions for me as follows ;
















My model is based on the predominantly red crane in my photos above.


To be continued.

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I hadn't realised that some cabs were lifted like that; the ones I've seen all seemed to have high cabs in a fixed position. It'll be interesting to see the progress on this one- someone has built an earlier version of this type of machine on here before- one of the Poclain 3-wheelers.

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Thanks, Yes, I was also unsure of the lifting cab assembly, the chaps at both scrapyards were very helpfull as they asked the drivers of cranes to pose machine in all positions, raised & lowered cabs... I'm a very in-decisive person of how to model something & I came to an ideal solution to have a choice of when built poseing the cab in either lowered or elevated position, all will be revealled in my later posts to this thread.












This 1:87 diecast excavator (by Motorart) is possibly a little underscale, so rather than risk butchering this model as to replace the scooper bucket with my scratchbuilt claws assembly, I've decided to take on scratchbuilding the whole wheelbase & body out of mostly styrene, the diecast model will be a perfect guide for scratchbuilding this, so the Motorart diecast model is better left in tact.



Back to my modelling bench as to continue... those 2 clear plastic trays seen at the rear lower work surface are various offcuts of styrene strip, rod, profile, sheet, etc from Evergreen & Plastruct, I'm trying to use whatever I can from these trays rather than use full length componants.


It was now I relized just how complex this project would be, I rarely plan stuff on paper, prefering to build as I go in various stages, the finished model will hopefully turn out to look reasonably accurate & I'm determined to see this through especially now I've started this thread, & I have more projects in the pipeline , scratchbuilt PXA scrapwagons next, but that should be easy compared to building this scrapyard grab crane !



I had to give more thought about the size of the wheelbase toal area, Various embossed sheet styrene from evergreen I find ideal for this sort of thing, as, cutting accurate rightangles is easy, just lightly score the recess to required size & Bob's your uncle !.



The louvre vents for the engine compartment are from Dornaplas, I just needed to remove some excess flashing between louvres with a fibreglass pencil.



Positioning of the wheels & their axles, they'll screwed on as dismantling will be neccesary whilst building other parts, also being able to dismantle something makes repair & modifications/rectifications so much easier :D



The wheels & axles were placed temporary, I may need to re-position those axles, another piece of styrene was tacked in place (no photo due to upload issue) to keep those axles & wheels moving sideways, also (no photo) a hole was drilled in the underside centre for a tiny screw to retain the gear cog.



Other assembled componants awaiting fitment,



Cab body panels were made, scale size of cab being 3ft wide x 5ft length x 6ft high approx



Crane cab body half built, the floor, roof, some interior & exteral fittings needed.

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Having watched this progress in the flesh over the build, I can safely say two things. Firstly, as usual from you this is top drawer scratch building. Secondly, it looks even better when its sitting on a desk in front of you than it does on a screen. :good:


Do you think this one goes some way to making up for the builds you recently did for others and regretted not being able to keep them? Personally, I think this build is a step up from previous work ;) Now that its finished I can't wait to see the PXA builds begin!

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Thanks Zunnan, Yes, it certain does make up for the bridge & canal scenes I made for someone, I regard them as a "learning experience" in more ways than one. :scratchhead:


This model being a main feature for my forthcoming layout.


Here's the next stage, the makeing of the outriggers & the stabilizer feet




Duplicate componants of varius styrene strip & profile were cut to what I consider to be a fairly accurate 4mm=ft scale scale size based on my photo's of the real thing...,

The positioning of legs & feet was decided, & lightly tacked together with a spot of Revel Contacta, i say only lightly as I may decide to tweek the postition of those legs or the option to have the legs pivoted as shown in one of the photo's below.


A 1.2mm hole was drilled,


A view of both componants assembled,


A 1.2mm rod was inserted, with the pivot rivots exposed after cutting as seen below;


Able to pivot, the option for upturned feet is shown,

to be continued...

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The outrigger supports offered up to chassis..,


The stabilizing outrigger feet assemblies were modified as so they could be removed or put in place held by tiny screws.



Next, the upper rear body, on one of the real examples the end profile is curved (see my photos in a few posts back)

Some 1mm / 40 thou plasticard was cut a to 1mm oversize for the width, cut to required height & then this was wrapped around a suitable former, held in place with a "P" clip & this was dipped in a cup of fairly hot water for a minuit.

Top & botton pieces were marked for cutting...


& both fixed on as shown above, I fitted a central support (top to bottom at the green mark) as to re-enforce the curve...


I then filled both sides of divided curved recess with a product known as Liquid Gravity by De-luxe materials, then secured it all in with a 1.5mm thick backing plate fused on using Revell Contacta.


With regards the rest of upper body, the engine compartment area & cab already built (but not fitted on), I'm about to begin working on the crane main lifting arms assembly, I reckon this'll be the most difficult part, as to get every componant to as near as possible to scale size & then all the other componants assembled together to look just right proportionally.



The area for the crane arm was given a lot of thought, my first attempt at building this area did'nt look quite right, this project becming more meticulously complicated & difficult that I thought !!


A base was made,



Basic crane pivot base area partially assembled, but still needs detailing.

The pivot, a 2.5mm styrene rod, is just a push in fit at the moment, as I may need to remove the arm of crane as to connect the other arm, attatch all hydraulic piston shafts, & of course the 4 claw componant.

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Another small update;



Cab floor & interior was made to "push fit" under the cab, the steering wheel I salvaged from a Matchbox diecast forklift truck, the steering wheel stem at only 3mm was too short, so I inserted it into suitably sized styrene tube, then fixed this to the cab base using Plactic weld solvent, I was only just able to fit one operating lever next to this.


A view from the other side,



Driver sat in his cab, but he's not yet fixed in, as painting some of the cab interior needs to be done.

I've removed the cab door as to have it positioned "open", so possibly I'll have a driver / operater posed suited to this feature.



The lower arm hydraulic lifting shafts put in place.

For all the hydraulic lifting pistons I've used 2.4mm styrene tubes with 1.6mm aluminium tubes inserted.



The driver / crane operator is a sillicone mould "sat down workman" from Hornby.


part of the crane arm I was working on, here's the photo as for referance...


...the underside of that arm connecting the telescopic hydraulic lifting pistons, the arched section between both piston sets (acch section I've made below)




At this stage of building, things can be frustratingly "top heavy" ..., So, rather than do too much that may be irreversable, I made some "removable counterweights" I could lightly "tack into place" before final positioning of them & making a more permanant fitment to suit.


Square &/or rectangular tube (Plastruct tube profiles; STFS / RTFS) for making of counterweights as seen below,


I made a couple of counterweights from Plastruct square tube, I cut a sections of this & sealed the base with a square piece of flat styrene, I then poured in a product called Liquid Gravity , then sealed the top with another piece of styrene.



Above photo ^ ; the counterweight for the base of crane arm put into place.



I decided that as I still need to work on pivot jointing the crane arms, I'd need to easily remove the crane base assembly as removeing the 2.5mm pin would be diificult to remove otherwise, so a sub-base, 2x plastruct HFS3 girders & a 0.5mm spacer will enable "slide out of HFS3 girders" removal of the crane base etc as shown below;


The counterweight filled with Liquid Gravity is now in place , so the temparary counterweight can be chopped down at anytime soon.

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Another update, (this model, as some of you will know is already completed, hence what seems like "superfast" modelling)




The assembly including the crane arm is slid into postion.

Within the same component, a cover & steps were added as shown


A step was added to the drivers cab,



also, the I made a sliding piece beneath the removable cab base, attatched to the piece that slides out will be the assembly that lifts the cab into an elevated position.


I'm able to slide the piece in & out, in the long run it makes everything so much easier :D


The cut out area directly behind the drivers cab is for the stem which will be part of the comopnant for the hydraulic arm that lifts the cab, I was undecided wether or not to have the cab either FIXED in an elevated postion or normal lower position, or weather I should attempt to make the cab lift arm with hinge/pivots as to pose in either lower or elevated position... Hmmm.... All will be revealled next few posts.

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I decided for a compromise on the choice of to have cab either raised or lowered position, there's no moving parts to go from one position to the other & I very much doubt what I've made is protypical, but IMO it still looks sort of good :) ,


The components cut for the lift arm which goes behing cab..,


Lifting component assembled & offered into place,




I made the hydraulic lifting pistons from 1.6mm aluminium tube inserted into 2mm styrene tube, its a nice tight fit, it does'nt need to be operational , in this case it serves as a supporting strut for the cab in raised position..,


A quarter round profile strip was inserted & a 1.6mm hole drilled at an angle into this..,


The one end of hydraulic piston inserted in place, although NOT GLUED as this item will need to be removed if & when I decide to have the cab posed in its lowered position as described below...,


The assembly simply slides into the cab floor...,


Cab shown in raised & lower position, I only need remove the hydraulic piston to have in lower position.


...to be continued....

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... I got hold of some flat ribbon wire, 4 wires were used, 2 alternative lengths cut to size depending on weather the cab is in lower or raised position.


The alternative to using ribbon cable was the Slaters corrigated plastikard, but 2 dis-advantages if using plasticard; no "3d / depth" (only looks good from top view) & plastikard had a tendency to become brittle & so liable to crack over time especially if bent to shape under stress.

I just need to used a permanent ink black marker to colour the the components of cut ribbon cable.



A 2mm screw was used to attatch the lifting arm stem for cab..., yep..., you've guessed, - in case I need to modify or repair something :D



Top view, the lifting arm for cab & the engine top body panel slots down neatly into place,



Front view.



Side view , cab low position, ribboned wires in place....


I used Evergreen #257 rectangle tube & #277 "I" girder for retaining of cables/wires.



Rather than using a 2.5mm styrene rod, I inserted a 3mm nylon threaded bolt, it was just the right length & it holds it in place more steady & simply unscrews to free the main crane arm (when I come to working on that, next stage).



Approx 10mm was trimmed from the front end of floor upto cab (lower position) & crane stem assembly, a sloped front added to front of chassis up to these, not quite like the original as seen in photo's, as, the outrigger support sections should've been lower.



Next will be the makeing / attatchment of the other arm of crane...

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Next vital stage was to replace the tiny screw with a tiny 2mm nut & bolt as to hold chassis to body, whilst also allowing the body to rotate to a reqiured position/pose if needed.


A light tacking of Revell Contacta to hold chassis, rotate gear & upper body in exact position & the original hole extended into base of crane body, once hole is drilled & bolt inserted, the "light tacking" will be unstuck to allow full dismantling if needed & free rotation of body on chassis.


The head of bolt presented a small problem to overcome ; accessability to bolt head & the 1mm raised area of bolt...

...Which in both cases explains the reason for a small cut out area to the corner of crane sub-base that the crane base assembly slides in/out of,


Problem solved !! , the sub-base permantly fixed in place, my crane assembly can now be slid in & out of the crane sub-base, thus allowing access to tiny bolthead :D



I'm now working on the main crane arms based on a hybrid version of the cranes in these photo's.




I started on the main lifting arms,


The connecting lift arm was made & offered into a most likely position,



The arm on the LH side & the other arm was detatched, then placed together for some deep thoughts....



A 1.6mm hole was drilled & a 1.6mm styrene rod inserted as to allow pivot for required postion / apex/angle of both arms,



A temporary piece of strip syrene was placed horizontaly & tacked into place , this is to keep the assembly rigid & without pivot movement in this position whilst I add the fittings etc.

I also added that curved underside side profile with a hole in the centre for 2.5mm rod that will retain the hydraulic piston components.



The 2.5mm rod is pushed in, its a loose fit, so i've wedged the gap with 0.25 microstrip whilst I assess the length & how best to fit the hydraulic lifting pistons.



Because the assembly as it is is'nt flat now with the 2.5mm rod pushed in loosely & other knoblyly bits of overlapping styrene, I needed to support the main arms assembled area, thus a micro-drill box is perfect.


Here, I'm judgeing how long I need the hydraulic lifting components, aluminium rod will be cut at the pink pen mark, fine adjustment can be made by pulling the aluminium rod in or out, its the outer white styrene 2mm tube that needs to be cut exact as there are 2 of them...


If you're building something like this, some thought & consideration must also be given to the size of exposed piston , as it must not be longer than the sleeve it goes into, also consider weather the arms are in a relaxed or extreme extended operating position thus exposing the full length of those aluminium pistons.

To be continued...

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The stabilizing rod holding both the arms in rigid position was "free'd up" one side, I made a pen mark beforehand to indicate the original angle position it'll be re-assembled back to.

The bottom end of piston has a pretty substantial & secure fixing re-inforced by overlapping & boxing in with thin narrow microstrip & plastic weld applied, the other end will just have a tiny dab of PVA inserted into holes to sufficiently hold them in place & avoid movement.




When the crane arms are pivoted, both aluminium pistons are aligned to enter the coresponding holes,



On my way back from the dentist today, I popped into Halfords as to buy some paint- Ford "sunburst red" 8)



I applied Humbrol Maskol to the glazed areas of cab, Its good stuff, but I needed to wear a respirator mask, as the foul smell of amonia/fish from this really is unbearable.



The body cab & its door were left to dry on & in a vice clamp.



Whilst the cab was drying, i did more detailing work to the engine area, which is itself a "slot in" component into the body.


More Evergreen #257 was cut as to make female receptaple points as to plug in the ribbon cables from the engine compartment to main crane arm housing, one of the ribbon cable ends will be a just a "loose push in fit" as to enable separation of these components for any reason, such as painting the various components etc.


The exhaust componant, cables, & various other items were made & holes drilled to enable fitment of these & put aside ready for fitment after the spray painting is completed.

Before painting, retainers for the crane arms were fitted onto the back of the crane arms, I used Evergreen sections of #277 (modified) for this & welded into place using plastic weld.


Painting the various componants now underway;


The axles & wheels removed from chassis, the alumimium of hydraulic pistons covered with Tamiya masking tape (or otherwise covered with spare styrene tube etc) ,

all componants had a spraying of Halfords plastic primer & this was allowed to dry....,



Then, the 1st spray coat of "sunburst red" applied to a couple of the componants,


To be continued...

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Not quite finished, its at a crucial stage now & nearing completion, the majority of paintwork applied to bodywork & chassis....


My method of building things with modification in mind prooved to be worthwhile ! , reason being : I needed to dismantle the chassis componant as to fit 1mm thick styrene as so the stabilizing legs would be sit rested position to "ground level" equal to the tyres, I also needed to file out a recess so the tiny nut would not spin when tightening the screw bolt from above which is located beneath crane houseing componant which itself is designed to slide in & out of its position as shown in photo's :D



All of the separate components are shown above ^,....,


& a "test assembly" in photo's below , I still need to remove the Maskol from the cab windows, then add the windscreen wiper & mirrors, also cut & thread the ribbon cables, split them & plug them in at each of the main crane arms hydraulic lifting pistons.




Positioned next to the 1:87 H0 scale excavator diecast model by Motorart.



A birdseye view of the topside engine compartment area, I'll need to paint some black & grey colour within that recessed area shown here.



The chassis needs a touch of wethering, rust & grime, as does the claws of crane... then I have some spare Lima bodyshell's of a class 50, 47's , so its likely the scene will be of the claws of this crane around a cab of one of these loco's...


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The model now complete, here's the photo's;


Old diecast vehicles from Lesney or Huskey make ideal scrapyard cars, they're quite passable for 4mm scale as seen below in these photo's.




The claws of the crane fit just nicely to rip the roof of that old Mercedes.








& now the cab in lower position, I just needed to remove the hydraulic piston beneath the cab (which acts as a support in elevated position) & put into place a shorter ribbon cable to the cab.


I only need to add some mirrors similarly positioned as seen on my Motorart excavator, I'm sure I have some somewhere, but they're only a minor cosmetic addition that can be added at a later date.

Cheers :D


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what an excellent bit of modelling of a piece of what could be classed as mundane industrial plant (not by me though, love a nice bit of grimy workworn tack ), i'd love to build a modern scrapyard scene at some stage with something similar to this, i don't think i'll be matching your efforts however!

thanks for sharing a step by step of this.


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:D Thanks for your kind words Chris, its a pleasure to have inspired yourself & others with my imput.


Also, credit must go to Zunnan, as he gave me some usefull tips for painting, I still need practice to get to his standard, the painted brickwork on his recent N gauge 3 arch bridge really is admirable. :thankyou:

Also, some time ago Zunnan recomended using Halfords plastic primer for another project I was building, it certainly gives great results, compatable with most other top coats & it dries very fast, & on this crane project the automotive paint he recomended gives a lovely satin paint finish that was also quick on drying.



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