Coles Six Ton Nobile Crane header

Coles crane full view

The completed model

Coles crane body work removed

The Model with the body work removed

Coles cab close up

Close up of the drivers cab

This a model of a Coles six ton mobile crane is built from the parts contained in a 1973 number ten set. The instructions are from "Model Plan 128" by Tony James, published by The Meccanoman's Club, May 2001. The model is designed to approximately one eighth scale. The Meccano model was also inspired by Dinky Supertoys number 571, also finished in yellow and announced for Christmas 1949. This continued in production until 1964 a very long life even for a Dinky, so it must have been very popular. A review from the January 1950 Meccano Magazine telling readers all about the Supertoys crane is shown below.

The original Coles crane was produced for many years in various forms, on an interesting web page the history of Coles cranes, I discovered the crane was know as the Coles Argus. This web site is a brilliant source of inspiration for Meccano building. The prototype mobile crane was often to be seen in railway goods depots up and down the country transferring goods from road to rail vehicles and visa-versa, the crane was also used in factories and yards. For many years, until fairly recently two of these attractive cranes were parked alongside the M25 near Waltham Abbey at a steel stock holders but I could never work out how to get there to take a picture, then before I could they were gone. Coles was established in 1879 as a crane builder and at one time were the largest manufactures of mobile cranes in the world, after several mergers and takeovers the company closed in 1998.

The model has all the functions of the real crane, hoisting, slewing, luffing and drive to the rear wheels all operated by levers in the drivers cab. These functions are all driven from a Meccano PowerDrive motor. I built the model from an unused 1973, yellow,blue and zinc, Number ten set I purchased in 2011. Some of the parts were still strung although the zinc parts had been re-plated, zinc plating produced at that time by Binns Road tended to develop spotting and white efflorescence after a short time, a cause of much complaint by customers at the time. A picture of my, unused 10 set in its cabinet is shown below. I was determined that the first model I would build using the set would be something that would look with the unused yellow plates.and settled upon Tony James attractive model crane. For someone who is pretty experienced with Meccano building I still found it quite challenging to build and encountered a few problems, almost certainly down to me and the short periods of time time I spent on the model over an extended period of time.

Coles thrust bearingI had two serious problems during construction both were with the thrust bearing. The first was at the stage of assembling the chassis and superstructure when the model needed to be turned upside to be bolted together. When I tuned the assembled units back the superstructure suddenly lurched to the back! Then even worse, when I turned it on its side to see why this had happened some of the ball bearings fell out! This was all caused because of two slack bolts that had not been tightened sufficiently at an early stage of construction. I managed to get the thrust bearing back together along with all the ball bearings, without too much dismantling.

The second problem for me was the sprocket and chain slewing drive, this I am ashamed to say I never fully resolved. An alternative would have been to use a large tooth ring and pinion but these are not part of the ten set and are modern Meccano compatible parts. The thrust bearing can be seen right , at an early stage of construction.

1973 ten set




Few changes were made to the Model Plan, I altered the design of the driver's seat and made a few constructional changes,substituted and used a few additional parts outside the content of the number 10 set, such as at the end of the jib. Building the model gave me a challenge and a great deal of pleasure. I think the finished crane looks very pleasing. BTW no flexible plates were damaged or harmed during the construction of this model, only gentle bending being required. The black flexible plates, representing the ventilation grills on the original Coles crane were not included in the 1973 number ten set and date from around 1965.

May 09 2012 revised May20 2012

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