The small jib crane that I built for the car I featured at Milepost 1193 is probably worth a little more attention. While I have seen them as parts of other building kits and I even have a small one from Tichy Train Group, I’d never built one as a detail like this. It turns out that it was pretty simple to do and ended up making a rather neat little detail for an otherwise plain vanilla car.
I rummaged around in the scrap box and found some I-beam stock from a previous project. The piece was only about 4 inches long but is proof of why one should save even relatively small left-over scraps as it was more than enough to complete the project. The first step was to guess-timate the height of the crane from the car’s floor. A couple of inches looked about right so I carefully cut the piece at a 90° angle to make it easier to glue the two parts together later. I also cut off and sanded the other ends at the same square angle.
A nice thick square came in handy for the next step as I glued the parts together on the inside corner of the square. I was careful to get the pieces aligned properly then pushed them together tightly to let the glue do its job. When I do work like this, I use a piece of glass so that the parts won’t stick to it when the glue dries. This needed to dry so I called it a short evening.
The next day, I moved the square and the parts were stuck to the glass plate. But they easily came loose with a gentle flick of an Xacto knife. I then worked on the braces again using some small scraps from the scrap box. Once those dried, I wanted to create a thicker base so used some more strip styrene around the base to give it some bulk.
For this crane to be useful, I figured it would have to swivel on the car… or at least LOOK like it swiveled so I needed a round base. Hmmm… cutting a couple of small round disks of plastic was not my idea of fun so I spent some time thinking of an alternative solution. Then it hit me… BUTTONS! I’m not the only one who has a scrap box as my wife keeps old buttons and other sewing notions “just in case…” she needs them for another project. I’m sure that when she kept the buttons I used, she wasn’t thinking of them being used on a train car but what greater purpose could they serve??!?
I grabbed two the were a perfect pair. One fit ever so slightly inside of the other one which would look like two parts of a round, swivel base. Perfect. I glued one in place on the crane and the other one onto the deck of the car. Next, using some soft florist’s wire, I fabricated a line and hook for the boom then glued that into place using a little drop of CA. After everything dried, it was a few quick shots of yellow from a rattle can then let the paint dry overnight. The next day, I simply cemented one button inside of the other one and the crane was finished, ready to help those MoW guys with any heavier lifting that they might encounter.
The moral of the story is to not be afraid to look beyond your normal sources of parts when the need arises.