I Need A Grabbing Device

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June 1, 2013 11:29 AM

I'm in need of some kind of "grabbing" device to retriev things that are in areas of the layout that I have difficulty reaching. Thus far, after looking at sevarl possible such devices on the web, the best candidate appears to be the "Unger NN900 Heavy Duty Nifty Nabber Trash Grabber 36" Long Reaching Tool", pictured and described below.

 

                                                                     unger-nn900-heavy-duty-nifty-nabber-trash-grabber-36-long-reaching-tool

Details (from the web site)

Easily reach, grab, and retrieve litter with the Unger NN900 heavy duty Nifty Nabber trash grabber. This versatile grounds keeping tool allows you to reach objects on the ground or stuck in higher areas, like tree branches. Great for janitors, maintenance workers, and more, it's also useful for reaching items stored on high shelves! 


This heavy duty grabber features an ergonomic grip with smooth trigger-pull action and a 36" powdered steel shaft to ensure durability. The strong, rubber coated, steel construction fingers are slightly angled towards the ground for easier litter pickup. With a simple squeeze of the Nifty Nabber's handle trigger, the steel fingers clamp down on debris, making cleanup an easier and faster experience!


  • Powdered Steel Shaft
  • Steel Construction Fingers
  • Ergonomic Handle
  • Heavy Duty

My intention is to be able to pick up something reasonably heavy, such as a derailed engine, as well as smaller items. I'd very much appreciate information from anyone who has used a device such as this. I would welcome both pro and con information about this particular device, as well as recommendations for other such devices.

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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unger-nn900-heavy-duty-nifty-nabber-trash-grabber-36-long-reaching-tool
 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:05 PM

Ben, I have a siimilar tool , Gopher ll. Main differences I notice between the two are mine has a folding shaft minimizing storage space and the trigger on my handle can be locked with a switch thereby eleminating the need to keep gripping pressure on the trigger while lifting objects. It works fine on lighter weight and simple objects such as boxcars but I would caution using it to grab items with intricate detailing as the pressure needed to grab the objects could harm delicate, detailed pieces. Also, yours doesn't mention a holding weight but most including mine are rated for no more than  five pounds and I wouldn't trust it on object heavier than that for fear of it sliding from it's initial standing grip when you lift an engine.

Also it can be clumsy to use when attenpting to grab smaller items, especially those smaller than its attached suction cup "fingers". Also impossible to grab small objects surrounded by other objects closer then four inches without those other objects getting in the way.

As for using two as gunrunnerjohn suggests, that can prove be awkward positioning and maneveuring them in tandem for the best grip and lifting position. Also they're actually meant for lifting items below or above your reach and not for obects simply out of reach and horizontal to the height you're holding it. Also, adding padding will compromise and lessen its gripping strength considerably.   

 

ogaugeguy
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Last edited by ogaugeguy June 1, 2013 12:14 PM
 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:05 PM

I think I'd consider two of these for locomotives.  If you grab it with one, it will almost surely be unbalanced and try to slip out.  Grabbing with two would probably be much more secure.  I'd probably also put some decent padding on the jaws.

 

TCA, North Penn O-Gaugers, MTH ASC Certified Technician

Super-Chuffer @ Henning's Trains

 

Nothing is so easy as the job you imagine someone else doing.

 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:12 PM

Kenn,

 

The description on Amazon for the less expensive grabbing tool by the same company states that it can handle 8 pounds. The difference between this one and the one on Amazon is that the Amazon device has an aluminum shaft and this one has a steel shaft. I'd expect that this one could equal, if not exceed, the 8 pound service load.

 

I agree that grabbing small objects could be more difficult, however, the primary purpose would be to grab an engine that's derailed in a hard-to-reach part of the layout.

 

 

John,

 

The best that I can work with would be one grabber so I'll just have to be a bit more careful to grab from as close to the middle as possible.

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:20 PM

Maybe a mod that has two sets of jaws that give you some leverage to keep it from slipping?  I just see a 10 pound engine being really hard to handle with a single set of jaws.

 

TCA, North Penn O-Gaugers, MTH ASC Certified Technician

Super-Chuffer @ Henning's Trains

 

Nothing is so easy as the job you imagine someone else doing.

 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:25 PM

Barry, Amazon has a great return policy so might buy it and try a simulated lift of a loco resting on a padded surface from a similar angle and distance and position you figure on using it for. Then if the engine did drop from its grip at least it would be on a padded surface with no collateral damage to any near by platform items. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Good luck whatever you decide.
BTW, another, albeit  more expensive solution, might be buying one of those reach ladders that extend over a platform's surface but only you could decide whether that is feasible to use in your situation.
Originally Posted by Barry Broskowitz:

Kenn,

 

The description on Amazon for the less expensive grabbing tool by the same company states that it can handle 8 pounds. The difference between this one and the one on Amazon is that the Amazon device has an aluminum shaft and this one has a steel shaft. I'd expect that this one could equal, if not exceed, the 8 pound service load.

 

I agree that grabbing small objects could be more difficult, however, the primary purpose would be to grab an engine that's derailed in a hard-to-reach part of the layout.

 

 

John,

 

The best that I can work with would be one grabber so I'll just have to be a bit more careful to grab from as close to the middle as possible.

 

 

ogaugeguy
TCA, LCCA and LRRC


 




 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:31 PM

Barrty, I got this one at Amazon, and I'm very happy with it.

61+mXWuER4L._SL1500_

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ...00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

I have a Standard Gauge layout, and okay, I'm not picking up standard gauge locomotives with it, but cars yes - the grip is a soft rubber that grabs very well without having to crush down on it.  Lightweight, strong, easy one-hander.   Three feet plus your arm reach pretty much gets everywhere.   I was setting some tiny delicate scenic items with it the other day; a test for my coordination and steadiness, but the gripper worked beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Rail Road - "The Hojack Line" 1853-1891

 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:42 PM

As in the  case of most things, beware of the less expensive products. I participated in a litter clean-up recently, in which the park I work at was a partner organization. One of the other organizations obtained a supply of "grabbers" from Harbor Freight. They were worthy of being broken over your knee and thrown in the bags along with the litter. A glass bottle that had a small amount of liquid in it or was partially buried in the soil could not be picked up. A few of the devices broke before the day was over. The few provided by our park performed just fine, coming from a professional equipment catalog.  

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 12:58 PM

I have one of the steel extended reach models at work that was purchased from McMaster Carr. It works great but keep in mind that it is heavy by itself so lifting something heavy at an extended horizontal reach is going to be awkward. Also there will be many instances when you reach/grab position just doesn't line up with the object.
 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:10 PM

I have one like the one pictured at the top of the page.  You have to be careful about the center of gravity and balance when picking up an engine.  This one works well because it is so strong and has padded grippers.  I've had it about 10 years and it has been a good tool.  If you get a good one you'll only have to buy it once.  I am not keen on the ones that fold in the middle.

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:31 PM

Kenn,

another, albeit  more expensive solution, might be buying one of those reach ladders that extend over a platform's surface but only you could decide whether that is feasible to use in your situation.

I would buy a Topside Creeper in a heartbeat except that my train room is too confining to use it and store it when not in use.

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:33 PM

hojack,

I got this one at Amazon, and I'm very happy with it.

That one is also a possibility. How much weight can it handle?

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:35 PM

Strogey,

I have one of the steel extended reach models at work that was purchased from McMaster Carr.

Can you please provide the model number or a web page?

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:37 PM

POTRZBE,

I have one like the one pictured at the top of the page.  You have to be careful about the center of gravity and balance when picking up an engine.  This one works well because it is so strong and has padded grippers.

Is yours the one with the aluminum shaft or the steel shaft?

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:47 PM

Originally Posted by Barry Broskowitz:

hojack,

I got this one at Amazon, and I'm very happy with it.

That one is also a possibility. How much weight can it handle?

 

here's from one of the reviews on amazon:

 

"This one is the solidest I have come across. It uses a steel cable instead of a fabric cable, so it can lift heavier items (up to 5 pounds per the directions). The head can be rotated 90 degrees, which is a nice feature. It will pick up a piece of lint, a sheet of paper and even an iPhone (despite another review to the contrary) with ease. I have books and DVDs stored on high shelves that this also works fine for fetching. It seems really solid and well built. I suspect that some of the negative reviewers have unrealistic expectations. There may be heavier-duty units out there, but so far, this is the best I have used."

 

 

 

 

Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Rail Road - "The Hojack Line" 1853-1891

 
 
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June 1, 2013 1:57 PM

Originally Posted by hojack:
Originally Posted by Barry Broskowitz:

hojack,

I got this one at Amazon, and I'm very happy with it.

That one is also a possibility. How much weight can it handle?

 

here's from one of the reviews on amazon:

 

"This one is the solidest I have come across. It uses a steel cable instead of a fabric cable, so it can lift heavier items (up to 5 pounds per the directions). The head can be rotated 90 degrees, which is a nice feature. It will pick up a piece of lint, a sheet of paper and even an iPhone (despite another review to the contrary) with ease. I have books and DVDs stored on high shelves that this also works fine for fetching. It seems really solid and well built. I suspect that some of the negative reviewers have unrealistic expectations. There may be heavier-duty units out there, but so far, this is the best I have used."

 

 

I have one that I got at HD. It can pick up plastic freight cars but the typical engine is too heavy. Some steamers can weigh upwards of twenty pounds so even the one on Amazon will not pick up a steam engine let alone a scale diesel. I don't usually have derailments but I have had engines stall out on a switch and I was able to use the grabber to push the engine through until power was restored.

 

What you really need is a "Skyhook".

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 2:25 PM

I use these, they come in different lengths.

 

http://arcmate.com/

 

It's always about the trains!

San Diego 3-Railers - live trains 11-4 pacific time

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June 1, 2013 2:29 PM

hojack,

"This one is the solidest I have come across. It uses a steel cable instead of a fabric cable, so it can lift heavier items (up to 5 pounds per the directions). The head can be rotated 90 degrees, which is a nice feature. It will pick up a piece of lint, a sheet of paper and even an iPhone (despite another review to the contrary) with ease. I have books and DVDs stored on high shelves that this also works fine for fetching. It seems really solid and well built. I suspect that some of the negative reviewers have unrealistic expectations. There may be heavier-duty units out there, but so far, this is the best I have used."

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 2:30 PM

Trainman9,

What you really need is a "Skyhook"

Ain 't that the truth!  

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 2:40 PM

BigDodgeRam,

 

I looked at the web site and the most robust of the bunch appears to be "The Grappler".

 

It claims "17 pounds pick-up force". Would you have any idea if that means the gripping force or the weight that it can  handle?

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 2:45 PM

Barry:
Try also a medical supply house, eg http://www.colonialmedical.com/index.php?action=search&k=Grabbers.

 

Large selection of types, sizes and prices.

 

Good luck.

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 3:00 PM

Abe,

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 3:01 PM

I have this very tool.  Good tool.  I use it way too often!    :-)

 

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"If no one as ever done it that way, it might be fun to try."

 
 
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June 1, 2013 3:30 PM

You guys are doing this the hard way...didn't you see the Lionel video on how they stretched track...just put some on your arm and you'll be able to reach things on the layout all the time!

 

You know its a good kit bash or build day when there's alot of plastic shavings under the workbench - or- that I really need to clean up the floor again.

-Bob

 
 
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June 1, 2013 3:31 PM

Originally Posted by Barry Broskowitz:

BigDodgeRam,

 

I looked at the web site and the most robust of the bunch appears to be "The Grappler".

 

It claims "17 pounds pick-up force". Would you have any idea if that means the gripping force or the weight that it can  handle?

 

Thanks!

you got me. sorry.

 

It's always about the trains!

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June 1, 2013 4:07 PM

Barry, mine has an aluminum one piece shaft.  Very strong.  It gets used a lot and has never failed.

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 4:25 PM

I have this one http://www.handyhandcompany.com/splash.asp

 

I glued foam to the inside of the jaws. It works well and can lift heave items.

 

I have two others as well, a short wooden one good for light objects and a plastic one that my grandson gave me that’s actually a child’s toy but works well for light objects.

 

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June 1, 2013 4:30 PM

Hey Barry,

I've had some experience with different reachers and have found they all perform different tasks. Right now I've got three different types and believe it or not the Duro-Med 32 Aluminum Reacher with Magnetic Tip is the one I use the most http://www.amazon.com/Duro-Med-Aluminum-Reacher-Magnetic-Tip/dp/B0009STNME/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370117420&sr=8-1&keywords=medical+supplies+grabber+magnet+tip

 

It doesn't seem like it'd be as easy to use as others and may not heft as much weight but I find it squeezes into small spaces easier and the magnetic tip is an added benefit. But like I said I have several different types and use them all for different purposes.

I rarely try to lift a derailed Locomotive with any of them because I don't trust them no matter what their manufactures say their capabilities are. In those cases I usually push or pull the locomotive into a position where I can reach it with my hands. 

 

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 5:18 PM

Barry,

I find that a grabber with straight shaft makes it difficult to translate vertically to pickup a piece of rolling stock. The grabber I find works the best has a joint in its shaft that enables a vertical approach to an item. As for lifting a heavy locomotive with a grabber, it doesn't work well and will do damage to details like grab rails.

 

Bobby Ogage

TCA 04-57239

 
 
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June 1, 2013 5:28 PM

Lee,

I have this very tool.  Good tool.  I use it way too often!    :-)

Will it pick up an engine?

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 5:29 PM

POTRZBE,

Barry, mine has an aluminum one piece shaft.  Very strong.  It gets used a lot and has never failed.

Will it pick up an engine?

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 5:39 PM

In addition to being concerned about the weight of a locomotive that a grabber device could handle, I would probably be more concerned about the possible damage to somewhat delicate (or very delicate) details on most of today's O gauge motive power.

 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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June 1, 2013 6:22 PM

Why not use a three-step step stool? My layout is 40" tall. I'm not the tallest person at 5' 4" with 31" arms. My non-folding step stool is made of sturdy stainless steel. When not in use it stores under my layout. There are no areas of my track that I cannot reach. Just a thought.

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 6:39 PM

Barry, most of the steamers it has picked up are the PW types and docksiders.  The largets I can recall was a Williams GP9.  I've never used it on my largest loco, a recently purchased Lionmaster Challenger.  I'd need a reacher or 2, a crane car, and my son to help lift that thing.

 
 
 
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June 1, 2013 7:38 PM

Pappy,

Why not use a three-step step stool? My layout is 40" tall. I'm not the tallest person at 5' 4" with 31" arms. My non-folding step stool is made of sturdy stainless steel. When not in use it stores under my layout. There are no areas of my track that I cannot reach.

I have such a step-stool and it reaches almost all of the areas of the layout. However, there's a spot or two that, in order to reach them with the stool, I must clear out a large area of a yard, put down plywood and then climb up on the table. That's where a grabber would come in handy.

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 7:41 PM

Allan,

In addition to being concerned about the weight of a locomotive that a grabber device could handle, I would probably be more concerned about the possible damage to somewhat delicate (or very delicate) details on most of today's O gauge motive power.

No kidding - really?  

 

When the alternative is either pushing an engine with a stick ore dragging it down the track is when I plan to use a grabber. It's sort of a last resort.

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 7:42 PM

POTRZBE,

 

Thanks!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 
 
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June 1, 2013 7:56 PM

In picking up a steam locomotive, you have to consider not only delicate parts and the weight but also that it is draging the tender. I would try to move it along with a firm grip on the cylinders until it was at a point where I can reach it and safely remove it from the platform. Otherwise would get up on the platform, clearing what was necessary first, and retrieve the engine. I would not trust one of these devises to hold a heavy engine at arms length as Ilifted the engine from the back of the layout.

 

And yes I do have a gripper and yes I have used quite a few times.

 

 Charlie

South Jersey

 

 

 
 
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June 1, 2013 8:03 PM

Charlie,

I would try to move it along with a firm grip on the cylinders until it was at a point where I can reach it and safely remove it from the platform

Agreed!

 

Barry

 

 

DCS Ambassador & author of "The DCS O Gauge Companion 2nd Edition"

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June 1, 2013 9:27 PM

Barry, if your intent is to push or pull the engine along the track until you can reach it then IMHO, a grabbing device is probably the wrong tool to use considering the fact thay when held horizontally the grabbing part will also likely be horizontal unless the grabbing end can be locked at a 90 degree vertical angle down from that horizontal shaft. Also in which direction will you be pushing and pushing against what part of the engine? Against the rear of the engine's cab roof edge [certainly not pushing on the tender] or pulling the front end by grabbing onto what? Pulling from which part of the engine's front end [and yes, there are many delicate parts there to contend with]. If you're planning to grab onto the cylinders from above be certain the grabbing tip will extend that far down while clearing the top of the engine. Personally trying to manevuer it successfuly into position and then moving the train along the track to where it can be reached seems as much trouble and effort [without a guarantee of success] as it would be moving items off the layout so you'd be able to successfully reach and move the engine along with your hands. 

 

ogaugeguy
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