Hand Crane 287
Not much of the crane's New Zealand Government Railway history is known. The crane arrived at the Ocean Beach Railway in April 1969. After its long journey from Greymouth, the railways had the misfortune to partially cave in one headstock. The shunter reached for the handbrake as the crane was slip shunted, but he was out of luck, for this vehicle does not have one and never has had one. The net result was a hard impact.
Once the crane arrived at the OBR, it was heavily used for track work and locomotive restoration. By the mid-1980's, the headstock was getting worse and needed replacement. At the same time as this was done, the deck was completely replaced. However, by the late 1990's, the effects of 25+ years of living by the sea outside were seriously making themselves obvious. Symptoms included corroded and collapsing springs, disintegrating guards and general seizure of some important moving parts as well as some joints getting fatter with rust.
Crane 287 prior to restoration.
A perhaps slightly doubtful Murray Hogg was "invited" to lead the project which, after all, was to be largely out-shopped. As dismantling proceeded, it became obvious that the corrosion was far more advanced than was anticipated. The frame also had a twist in it. Both of these problems required a huge amount of extra time to rectify but the extra materials were donated or scavenged without too much difficulty. One of the many problems encountered was rivet holes that did not line up and had to be moved to enable reassembly. The original rivets were found to have offsets to cope with the poor fitting and assembly.
Crane 287 under restoration.
The entire assembly was sent to Transtech's Hillside workshops for grit-blasting. Two trips with a large truck were required. The crane looked like the most decrepit pile of scrap ever to leave our site. However, the finished result confirmed that our intentions for the vehicle were realistic. Spring leaves and buckles were manufactured by separate companies. New tie-rods (that suspend the jib from the superstructure) were manufactured very slowly by another firm. The guards were manufactured by a local sheet-metal firm and then altered to fit once they arrived back on site. The early 1980's deck was repaired and refitted. The gusset-plates on the jib were replaced, as was the rope. Even the weight box and associated mechanism was dismantled, repaired and reassembled. A major improvement was the freeing-up of the turntable mechanism, allowing the superstructure to be turned easily.
To date, the performance of the crane has been excellent with all parts of the crane moving freely for the first time in the society's 30-year ownership. As with any hand-crane, lifting capacity is largely influenced by the enthusiasm of the operators. It is finished in Croda 600 automotive paint, which so far has performed well with a high gloss and abrasion resistance.
Crane 287 restoration complete.
Without a doubt, the credit for the restoration belongs to Murray Hogg. His skill, innovation and determination ensured that this project made steady progress despite an adverse environment. The society also recognises with gratitude the assistance and patience shown by so many of the society members over the years as the project has progressed.
The National Federation of Rail Societies presented the Rolling Stock Award to the Ocean Beach Railway in recognition for work on this project.