The Vintage Railway - Railway CranesThe Plains Vintage Railway & Historical Museum is home to a small collection fo rail mounted cranes covering three main types. Check our 'Open Days' page for information on when you can see these items, or head over to our 'Charters & Tour Groups' page to book your own private viewing!
2 Ton Lift Hand Crane
This unidentified hand crane is on long term lease to us from the Cantebury Railway Society. Its a 2 Ton lift crane that is worked not by steam, diesel, electricity or air, but instead by sheer man power!
It is unknown when this crane was built, but if the axle-box dates are anything to go by it dates from the 1870's.
5 Ton Lift Steam Crane
Our Steam Crane came to us from the Oamaru Harbour Board, where it had been used working the wharves, in 1978.
The crane was used extensively in the earlier years of The Plains Railway, mainly for lifting out and dropping in new track sets when a section of the line needed re-railing.
As well as being able to lift and turn around using steam power, the crane is self propelled - albeit at a very slow speed.
Our steam crane has been out of action since the 1990's after part of the slewing gear became seized.
Coaling Crane 360
Coaling Cranes were once a vital part of the railway system, without them coaling a steam locomotive was an extremely labour intensive process. Coaling cranes, our one included, were usually air operated - they would be connected to the locomotives braking system when it was time to coal up and the air from the locomotives brake would be used to lower the crane up and down to pick up the coal 'tubs' full of coal. Our coaling crane came to us in 1987 from Invercargill.
Our crane was originally built as crane number 301 and was in service in 1911 before being written off in 1925 when it was damaged. It is assumed that during this period it spent its life at Invercargill as it did after its 1926 rebuild when it became crane number 360. It is recorded at being at the Invercargill shops in 1933 and was noted in 1979 as not requiring one of the new 'TMS' type computer generated numbers as it was confined to the Invercargill depot.
How our crane survived the steam era and was still to be found intact in Invercargill in 1987, some 15 years after the end of steam is a bit of a mystery! But one that has allowed us to preserve what is an unusual type of coaling crane compared to the 'counterbalanced' types that are more common in preservation. In order to balance the crane ours instead rests on a large hunk of concrete that sits atop its wagon.
Coaling Crane 360 is currently unoperational and awaiting restoration.