HO scale steam crawler crane

Sam’s been in touch with his HO scale steam crawler crane:

“Hi Al,

It’s great seeing what other modelling enthusiasts are up to some of the amazing work really inspires me to do more stuff on my own layout.

Anyhow, I’ve been working on an industrial section of my layout (unfinished) and I’ve been experimenting making some steam cranes from various Bachmann and Hornby loco’s many of which have some damage so ripe for modifying.

The J72 is a The Bachmann and I was trying to replicate a J92 LNER crane from the late 1800’s as the J92 isn’t a model readily available.

The 0-4-0 tank engines are made from Hornby tank engines (Smokey Joe type) and represent many little steam cranes found on regional railways in the early 1900’s.

The green one is of course Dubsey, now preserved on the Foxfield Railway and is based on a Hornby 0-4-0 tank engine with the cab and other detail cut away and new parts added.

I then had a go at making Harvey from Thomas the Tank Engine Series as this is also based on Dubsey but in crimson and with slightly different detail.

The final one is based around a Hornby E2 LBSC loco actually inspired by an Austrailian Z class

The later ones have jibs that can rotate freely, all loco’s run and I’m now working on a version with an operating hook and chain…..

Any way, I hope you like these.


HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

HO scale steam crawler crane

“After 40 years of being out of the hobby, I decided to build my grandson a set. It had to fit under his bed, hence the flattop mountains.

It definitely got me back into the hobby I’ve always loved so much. The case has a piece of clear plastic that slides over the top to keep out dust and a door that flips down in the back in case of derailments in the mountains.

Thanks for all the blogs and ideas!


simple layout

simple modle train layout

simple model railroad

That’s all for today, folks. A big thanks to John and to Sam for sharing his HO scale steam crawler crane.

And if you think everyone else is having all the fun, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Please do keep ’em coming.



model train answers

31 Responses to HO scale steam crawler crane

  1. Dave
    I don’t think it is the decline that was your problem. It is the curve into the decline was the problem. I have run into the same problem. One side of the track sometimes tends to be lower then the other or need to be slightly higher – at the curve. Causing the derailment. It was usually during a curve. I corrected the problem by slipping a 0.02 piece of styrene under the track at the point. I used a level perpendicular to the track to verify angle. One other time is was changing the curve at that point by a little as one quarter of an inch. But than again you have already pulled the incline out of there.

  2. Dave DeCarlo says:

    David, The things you get into keep me going. Between you and Rob & John, and others, keep my interest.Soon I will post my Marklin HO.

  3. Mike Malley says:

    Hi Dave,
    Have you tried Powerbase by DCC Concepts to air with the incline? I use it on all my inclines, even if they are gradual but for sharp inclines it shortens the required distance considerably. Love your videos, by the way. Keep ’em coming

  4. Mike Malley says:

    That should be “help with the incline”! Heaven knows where “air” came from.

  5. Rod Mackay says:

    Think you threw the towel in a bit soon there Dave, stuff was running up the grade well enough, you could have made the grade a smidge steeper and still used it, leaving a bit more room at the top for a slightly longer turnout and a gentler transition to the downgrade. The other possibility would have been raising the main line by an inch up to meet the incline, then down again. You could even have had a much steeper grade and used a banking engine to get heavy trains up it, as was done on the real thing in lots of places, and is easily enough done with DCC. In many locations, the banker didn’t have to be coupled to the rear, and would drop back at the summit leaving the train to carry on, could have been your new party trick!

  6. yep Rob and John and Dave
    great ‘kit bashers’ ALL…..
    and now we add Sam…..
    and his ‘Steam Cranes’…..
    BAD….AZZZZZ….. is all I got to say about that… Alistair
    now THAT GUY can kit bash like nobody else….
    keep em runnin’ fellas…..
    stjohn in long beach calif

  7. oh…wait….
    and the ‘Flat Top’ mountains are priceless….

  8. Robert Brady says:

    Dave I could watch u videos for hours!

  9. Sam
    I love the cranes guy , they look fantastic !
    Al. You get some the best things to look at , I wish the wife would get some hart and let me use her camera to show some of the work I have done for the grandson’s village . be well and stay safe All !

  10. Cary Price says:

    Hi Sam, love the steam cranes. just curious where you got the parts from? I do quite of bit of scratch building myself but not to this level of detail- great job! Cary in KY

  11. Alan marriott says:

    If there is room, move the turn out back around 12 inches (or more) so there is no gradient change at a track join. The flexitrack will take trains around the bend and start the decline with no track joins.

  12. Ken Goldenberg says:

    Love the steam cranes – beautiful work! And I like the underbed layout shown also, a great way to get a kid started!

  13. Sam Stockley says:

    In response to one comment asking where I got the crane parts from – I machined them myself. As a Design and Technology teacher I have access to a range of CNC machines which enables me to create CAD designs then machine the parts from 1mm or 2mm styrene sheet. I usually start with a scale photo then trace over the outline to get the proportions correct. the Harvey transfers are created the same way but using a vinyl cutter. heaven knows what I’m going to do when I retire – I guess I’ll have to stockpile parts!!!!

  14. Ian McDonald says:

    This hobby and this site is so rewarding. I have never seen trains with cranes. and I do watch Thomas with my granddaughter. The under the bed train set is great something I should do for my grandson. Nice try Dave I had the same problem I lost the drive and inspiration with my incline took it out and I am happy modelling again. Thanks for sharing. that was great stuff Al thanks.

  15. dangerous dave says:

    Some very nice little Loco`s you have there Sam , good work on them …and Johns under the bad layout is a good idea …easily put away …
    Thanks all re comments on my gradient problems , I think that with the curve at the top and having to run in to the points made for a difficult run up there ….I tried many different ways ..short points , express points and curve points , moved it further back at the top , but still got the odd problem , so did the only thing , pulled it all down …not I can concentrate on changing all that area , as did with the other side before Xmas …Dangerous Dave

  16. Stephen Fetzer says:

    Neat stuff. It was strange to see hard hats on the set with all the great old early 20th Century engines and construction cars.

  17. Nice collection you have Sam

  18. Benjamin Wright says:

    I’m loving the small layout John! Really cool!

  19. Marklin ed. says:

    Liked the crane cars, i like different types of rolling stock. Under the bed great. I slept under my layout put up on post at the corners of my bed at Christmas time. Many years ago.

  20. Will in NM says:

    Very interesting modifications to make all those steam cranes. Are the boilers really strong enough to support the weight of the cranes and whatever they are lifting? There are prototypes for these creations, right? Maybe you could include some of the photos you used for the prototypes next time? Thanks for sharing your unique area of expertise.

    What a lovely little N scale layout for your grandson! Very nicely done and I’m sure he (and you) will enjoy it.

  21. Erick says:

    To small for me? I use to have a N scale. I hope my HO scale comes out that good.

  22. Dave Karper says:

    I have never seen steam cranes before, They are really fantastic. In all my time in model railroading, I don’t ever remember seeing anything like them. They really do pique my interest.

  23. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi some clever modifications to produce your cranes.
    They look very good dotted around and at work on your layout.
    Did you scale the cranes from actual drawings or photos. The reason they look very high above the loco. As some donot have the facility to lower the jib I would suggest that they would hit most tunnel entrances or even bridges over the line. Looking at most heights they are very close to the top of the rolling stock hence the uk having to lift dozens of bridges to allow the introduction of electric trains.

  24. Ernest says:

    I do not have a layout. Just a bunch of parts – engines – cars – rail etc. Keep thinking about building something. I’m not a carpenter by trade but own many tools. One is called a “Miracle Point”. They used to be expensive, but prices are coming down. I keep thinking that one of these could be very useful when laying out rails and checking inclines etc. side to side or lengthwise.
    Just a thought, Jim

  25. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Sam….. they are cool

  26. Steve Ruple says:

    I must say Sam I have never seen steam cranes before, you did a nice job on them. Maybe they were before my time.
    John, I love the small layout you made for your grandson, great job.

  27. Bob says:

    Very impressive work. I can’t imagine how many hours you put into each build.

  28. Larry Schweitzer says:

    In addition to the great builds, I really like the “aging” rust/dirt etc. So many model RRs have bright shiny running stock that just doesn’t fit the themes.

  29. Dave in AZ says:

    Here in ithe southwest we have many flat top mountains. They are cakked mesas which is Spanish for table.

  30. robert dale tiemann says:

    really cool set of steam. nice touch of the thomas the tank harvey train.

  31. matiSon says:

    I remember growing up, traveling with my mom through South Glastonbury on an old country road that grew with time, where several steam shovels on the side of the road had been abandoned not too long before. This was right around 1969-70. They were always fascinating to me. I went by roughly 40 years later, and a few were still standing there, but badly rusted and beyond restoration.

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