Toplis Header

Toplis Mec12e

The first question you might ask is, "What is a level luffing crane?" This is a type of crane used in dockyards and wharves, level luffing simply means the load being carried remains level as the jib is (luffed) lowered or raised. This saves a lot of time and work when ships are being unloaded. This time factor was most important in pre container days when most of the handling was done by dockyard workers using just their hands or hooks to grab the loads. The only mechanical help being a crane much as things must have been in Roman times.

This simple little model has always intrigued me from the time I saw it reproduced in volume 6 of the Hornby Companion series. It interestingly shows the use of narrow strips long before they were introduced into the Meccano system. How many boys I wonder wrote to Meccano to ask about the narrow strips? They would have had a very long wait as these were not introduced into the Meccano system until the nineteen sixties.The model was originally published in the 1930 edition of "NEW MECCANO MODELS."

I built the model with some fairly major changes these included a higher tower and better counter balances to the jib. As designed the model was quite unworkable because the jib was completely out of balance. When I started building I began to think the whole thing was perhaps a figment of the Meccano company's airbrush artist!

Toplis Mec12dToplis Mec12fI cast two lead weights 2.5" x 2.5" x 1/2" each of 250 grams for the counter balance weights as opposed to two 1.5 inch pulleys used on the original, well to be fair they are just decoration. The lifting crank rods needed to have flats filed for the bolts to grip. This is driven by a worm onto two 57 tooth gears and is quite capable of being power driven. Only the lack of space in the cab prevented me doing this. The hoist and slewing movements are both powered by Swiss Escap geared motors.

The finished model is of quite pleasing proportions much as the original prototype crane. It was a pity the original model did not have a base more in proportion to the type of dockyard crane it was base on. I have based my tower on a photograph of a crane at Portsmouth naval dockyard taken in 1960. Cranes were often featured in the Meccano Magazine and this type was no exception the picture below is from the April 1934 edition.

Toplis Mec12b

My apologies for the poor quality of the model pictures these were taken before I owned a digital camera and were scanned from small prints.

Revised May 15 2015

. Back to Gel