Recently I built one of the Tichy Trains 40′ flat car kits. It was such a well designed kit and a joy to build, that it finally pushed me over the top to take on a project I’ve thought about for years, but never pulled the trigger on buying. So, out I went onto the interwebs with stores closed, and ordered a Tichy 120 Ton Crane and Boom Car kit to build an auxiliary train to go with the flat car and its junk box.
Both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific had very similar cranes, in fact, in my Tuesday Train post last week, the CPR crane at the New Brunswick Railway Museum is a 100 Ton American Crane rail crane, but as I’d already gone down the road of starting a CN auxiliary, I was in for this to be a CNR recovery train. That said, this project was so much fun, I could actually see myself buying another and doing a CPR one as well!
I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the early part of the build. These show the parts strewn about as i got started, the ugly looking”Steel” roof before I sanded it down to turn it into tar paper & add wood roof walks, and the boom car cabin walls being modified to add side windows to match CN prototype reference photos.
Having found photographs of both sides (here and here) of CNR 50031, a 100 Ton crane of a similar design that was assigned to the Toronto Auxiliary out of Mimico, I decided to make modifications to the cab of the crane, to enclose it which would go almost all the way to making the model match the Mimico crane. There are some small visual differences in the boom and how its rigged from the pictures, but I decided I could live with my crane being a 90% prototype model based on the information I have, as this isn’t a core piece of layout equipment, but something to look cool and fill some space in staging, and occasionally run out when I want to have some fun with something different.
I also made changes to the boom car. The roof in the kit is frankly, one of the few ugly bits, a blobby styrene attempt to be steel, with thick plastic roof walks. Looking at pictures of CN Boom cars, they tended to have side windows in the cabs, so those needed to be added, and the roofs looked to be tar-paper or something similar, and have wood roof walks. All of these as can be seen in the pictures were easy changes. Take a chisel blade in an xacto knife to remove the ribs on the roof (I left the standoffs for the roof walk, they were useful, and glue on some of my chosen tar-paper material, 600 grit sandpaper! A white metal casting caboose chimney added on completed the roof improvements on the boom car.
Working to enclose the cab. After assembling the sub components, I rolled 0.020″ styrene to match the body curves, and started adding windows and doors to match the prototype photos as best I could.
I can’t say enough how well designed the Tichy crane kit is. It went together so nicely, and was well organized into sprues of parts for sub assemblies to make putting it together into the sub components for painting a dream. I wish all kits were this well thought out and with nice molds. And this kit is by most standards, ancient, I don’t know how long it’s been on the market, but I know its been out there a very long time.
Working on the cab enclosure, and starting the painting process with some primer.
For the boom, similar to the flatcar, rather than using styrene deck walls, I made my own from strip wood. This let me weather them with stains, so the inside looks like weathered wood, then spray the outside boxcar red like the rest of the car before adding decals. I have decaled the car and crane using decals from three different Black Cat Publishing sets, a CN Crane Set, a CN Work Car Set, and the leftovers from the flat car set. The only wording I had to do by individual letters from a letter sheet was the “Toronto” on the boom tender “Toronto Auxiliary” label, which was good as one thing I hate is lettering with individual numbers and letters!!
Weathering the steel deck plates on the boom car with Bragdon Powders.
I weathered the steel deck on the boom car using the same technique as on my Dominion of Canada model, Bragdon weathering powders. They have a variety of rust and grime shades, and they have a built in adhesive component, so they stick to parts before sealing. I did still flat coat the finished car to blend and hold, just so the little bit of powder that can still come off even with the adhesive is stopped. I find it tends to get onto your fingers and wind up on things you don’t want rusty fingerprints on if you don’t seal it!
One of the nice aspects of this kits design, being modules for painting ease, means I could paint parts and rig the boom before I had received the detail parts (steam generator on roof, wire for ladders) and paint the cab later.
I will say, in all honesty, one part of building a crane kit is absolutely terrible, even on a well designed kit like this, rigging the cables on the boom. It sucked. It is what it is, but its a fiddly part of the project that took a couple of stabs as I would start, and start getting caught on the wrong pulleys or having the thread cable cross, and I just needed to stop and walk away.
Mostly finished and on the layout in CN Staging. A few paint touchups, and retaining chains between the boom and the frame of the crane, then some weathering!
All in all, this was a fun project, it is a really well designed kit, and anyone reading who has ever wanted a crane for their layout, in my opinion this is the way to go. In due course it will get some touchups and weathering, but for now, it looks good sitting at the back of staging waiting on someone putting a car in the dirt that they can’t just rerail by dragging it back onto the rails!