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Lionel Gantry Crane

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March 21, 2013 1:27 PM

I have several Lionel Gantry Cranes that I will use in a "dock" area. The will ride on the Gargraves special track - Bumper on each end. Toyed with making them motive as I have seen shown on the forum but decided to postpone that for a later date.  

 

The controllers and track placement don't work well together. I was planning to cut the control wire, extend it, hidden, to a location where the controller boxes will be located.  Makes it more fun to use and useable.  Is this workable, electronically? Cutting the wires blasphemy and ruining the value of the cranes dramaticaly?

 

Ralph

 
 
 
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March 21, 2013 1:51 PM

The connectors on the newer models are Molex Micro Fit. I made an extension cable using male and female housings and pins crimped to ribbon wire. The attached cable was tucked under the platform and the extension cable run through a slot in the table and glued to one leg using non drying Scenic cement. This is on a portable module where the crane is taken on and off.

 

 

 

Pete

 

 
 
 
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March 21, 2013 2:06 PM

pretty cool!

 
 
 
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March 21, 2013 9:42 PM

If you so not want to cut the wire, just de solder at motors. Every used one I seem to get has a cut ribbon cable. Does not seem to effect the resale value. Also every used or NOS I have ever seen needed to be taken apart and cleaned, greased and new belt. Unless it has even run on a regular basis. And if it has it may need a new nylon washer on the rotating point. I laughed when a NOS Mint in the box sold for a premium the other day. It was a buy it now and only lasted an hour. Because unless it is staying in the box as a "collectable" which to me is "blasphemy" it will no longer be Mint C-10 as soon as he tries to use it. It will have little gouges on the gearboxes if it is his first time servicing it. It hope it was bought by someone who just really wanted one. Fred.
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 6:52 AM

Thanks Guys

 

Norton: I've looked this up and it might be a good choice. I was hoping to get one complete with the pins/wire. But looks like any port in a storm.  I will most likely add this connector to all of the cranes, which if I do resell, will become an added feature/benefit.

 

Ralph

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 7:51 AM

Ralph, I see also Molex also offers pre assembled cables in 1 meter and 3 meter lengths, 6 conductor. Not sure who stocks them though.

 

Pete

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:25 AM

Norton

Great find. Thanks.  Newark, mouser arrow.  Catch is 1meter is $23+ pper thought needed. Another good business for those with skills.

 

Really appreciate your help

 

Ralph

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:37 AM

FWIW, I used these...

http://www.miniatronics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=4

 

...the 2-wire (power) and 4-wire (controller)

 

Just keep your wires oriented as you cut and splice (solder + shrink tube).  The miniature connector bodies have a white dot on one side to provide correct alignment.

 

I didn't use the special Gargraves 5-rail track piece.  Instead I purchased some of their loose rail pieces and spiked the rail directly to the base.  Parallel to one rail I cut a slot in the table to allow the wire to slide.  The cable I fastened tightly to the inside of one gantry tower leg using miniature zip-ties so that it stays oriented through the table slot.  Moving the cranes is done by the human claw, because...

 

I have two gantry cranes working this track site...one clamshell, one magnet.  They're at the table's edge simulating a seaport dock-side arrangement.  The visiting kids (6 to 60+) love working the scrap metal from cars or piles, the coal from a car on the gantry track or the adjacent dump bin from the 456 ramp, both into 'ships holds' (boxes hanging on the side of the table.) 

 

As for cutting wires affecting value....  I bought these to have fun, not substitute for an IRA!  Frankly, having provided extra cable length with a mid-point miniature connection should add to any 'future value'. 

 

Besides, I put so much into redoing the gear box mechanism in both gantries, they're now priceless...to me.  They're both fairly recent models of this postwar device, made in China, of course.  I have no idea what was in the mind of the person who either specified or selected the gear grease for these two cranes, but it didn't take long for both of them to quit working entirely.  In taking one of them apart I discovered that the "grease" was actually this gummy, gloppy, sticky, thick crud that had created such a bound-up mess that the poor motors had NO chance of making anything move.  So I washed all of the crud off, rebuilt the assembly with some good Teflon white grease made in the USA, and happiness returned! .  The second one was, of course, a lot easier to deal with. 

 

All part of the fun of this hobby, though!!

 

KD

 

The calendar sez it's Spring.  So.......where is it!!??

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:50 AM

I doubt adding a connector is going to be perceived as a value added benefit by buyers. A replacement ribbon is about four bucks. A brand-new controller with oversize ribbon is $20. I bought four reissue versionsin the past two weeks. All under $ 200. The bucket is most in demand. The magnet is second. The plain hook is the the least. Two had cut ribbons. One has green paint on half of it. Ground cover? The one with a complete cable sold for the least. The TMCC version rarely comes up on auction and can go as high as $300. The ERR Crane Commander Retails for $79 and will add TMCC functionality to all the others. Add connectors if It Improves and adds to your train experience. Heck paint it pink if it makes you happy. These things sell below original retail unless two bidders really wants it bad. And it doubt they are going to increase dramatically over time. Just my 2 cents. I buy cheap, make them work and keep them. Never sold anything yet, and if I do not want it, it goes to the kids to play with. Yes, Barbie prefers to ride in a NYC gondola over her fancy pink Corvette. Fred
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:57 AM

Hi Dk.. I have rebuilt all of my gear boxes also. And once that grease turns hard and freezes, I have noticed that most people lather on the oil/ grease on all the exposed areas, melt/ fry the belt and then sell them. I can open and clean and rebuild in about five minutes. Except for that hard Grease on the worm gear. I spray it with Wd-40. Wait about ten minutes and use a dental pick and a used tooth brush. Fred
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 9:01 AM

Fred, Have your tried the ERR crane commander and been able to compare it with the Lionel TMCC version?

Mine is a TMCC crane but never use that feature as the response time is incredibly slow compared with just using the levers.

 

Pete

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 9:18 AM

Hi all

Thanks DK and Fred.  Good info and I'm going thru what I will do.

 

as to TMCC, well, adding another - in my case a bunch - of TMCC accessories with all of the otherLegacy/TMCC data/comm issues that this will hive me, LEVERS, more fun as DK has described. Pretty much where my layout is headed.

 

FYI. I'll call moles to see if the have ribbon cables, pre assembled to work with my IM cranes.

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 12:06 PM

Hi Norton, I have not but I am going to purchase one and find out if I like it. Of course, without a TMCC one, comparison is not possible. When I initially contacted ERR, they said it was very difficult to install and that everyone who tried had problems and they did not sell anymore. But he also offered to scare up the parts and sell them to me but with no support for retail. He also needed a check and a letter because he could not Paypal it. Funny, when I asked him about a distributor who had it NOS and Paypal, he said that he thought the major problem was programming but that if I bought from the dealer, dealer was responsible for problems. LOL Not sure what the difference is between his offer other than it will cost me a stamp. At least the dealer may feel obligated to refund my $ if DOA. It is basically a Mini Commander 2 with an additional board to control magnet/ bucket if you have one. If you have already done the gearbox and can solder (or cut, strip, and wire nut it) and peel and stick double sided tape, then the mechanical part is easy. Assuming the programming issue is just operator error and the electronics actually work, it should also be straightforward. Worst case, I have overpaid for a Mini Commander 2 and have one of those afternoons when you put the parts in a Zip-loc and move on to an easier project like ballasting for awhile. Fred
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 12:10 PM

I assume the Crane Commander goes in the control box for power? It may be more responsive as the commands would go directly to the board. With the ARC/TMCC crane the commands go to the Command base and then relayed to the control box via the serial line. 

 

Pete

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 12:44 PM

Originally Posted by Ffffreddd:
I doubt adding a connector is going to be perceived as a value added benefit by buyers.

Well, I should've explained better that, if you're going to feed the wire down through a slim crack in the table top, not much wider than the flat cable itself, so that the gantry can travel along its track without the cable being draped across the table top/edge, then an in-line mini/micro connector sure beats disassembly and unsoldering/resoldering if you have to remove the accessory from the table.

 

But, hey, whatever floats the boat.  It sure made it a lot easier for me to deal with the bound up gear boxes after the original installation!

 

KD

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 2:44 PM

Hi Kd, I was not knocking your idea. I think it a great one. Mine feeds into a hole/bushing with an auto retractor. Actually just a pulley with a weight. And it moves via a drive cable on G scale brass rails. And first thing I did was put on disconnects. Micro one were not needed. The response was to the question about whether cutting the ribbon was "blasphemy" and would negatively impact resale and if adding the connectors would add value. My answer was meant to convey that as long as it is used, it was not going to make that much difference in future resale value because it will have other issues also. If might only matter if sold as a collectable but that even a Mint C-10 is not really that expensive or rare. And the irony is that if it stays in the box, it probably does not work either. Based on most operators experiences with the gear box grease. I am all for modifying, restoring, kit bashing, and collecting. And I do not hesitate doing anything to my stuff and never care about resale value. Fred
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 5:08 PM

Hi Norton, I think the Crane Commander only needs two Wires for power. I'm not sure but it may eliminate the controller. I guess you could even put roller pickups on the feet. I am pondering how to get another Dc can up under the tower with an extended shaft and friction drive. So it will move like a loco.
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 6:09 PM

Fred,

 Consider that most prototype cranes had the vertical supports connected. The motors were visible at wheel height. My first attempt at moving the crane involved magnets. I had changed the die cast wheels to sintered steel hoping rare earth magnets under the wheels would move it. That didn't work very well so I made a structure to bridge the supports and put additional magnets in the bridge. That did work but the movement was not smooth. Here is that version. You could put small motors on the bridge with gear drive. Maybe wheels off an HO engine with gears would work.

 

 

Old_Crane2

 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:08 PM

Hi Norton, http://www.desolatemetropolis....the_other_corne.html Can not post the picture from my phone but the building behind the cranes is where I have worked since 1984. The little one is very similar to the Lionel They dismantled a third awhile ago. In the twenties there was a huge steam version. Google Boston dry dock cranes. They also have nice period prototypes near the USS Constitution. Fred
 
 
 
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March 22, 2013 8:13 PM

 
 
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March 22, 2013 9:47 PM

Great Picture Fred. I see why you are big fan of Lionel's crane.

 

Pete

 
 
 
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