Pontoon Crane Pontoon Crane
The instructions for this Pontoon Crane were first published in the Meccano Magazine of March 1925 and later as a Super Model Leaflet in 1928. It was a pity they did not revise the instructions from the MM to include the geared roller bearing p/n 193 introduced the same year. It was not until 1936 that this was rectified and a new revised leaflet became available using the GRB. This model is the only one in the SML series that uses two electric motors and one of very few that was revised showing the use of blue and gold parts. The model was much used by Meccano in advertising and also in the 1930s on the covers of "Standard Mechanisms" and "Meccano parts and how to use them." The model illustrated on the Standard Mechanisms cover (shown on the left) is a strange hybrid showing the the large flanged rings in place of the channel segments but with cross hatched blue plates. A revised leaflet SML28a to include the GRB was issued around 1936, it was published as an “L” model the GRB however was not included in that set. In the September and October 1968 Meccano Magazine there was published instructions for an updated version of the SML 28 using two large rings p/n 176b, the GRB  was not produced after 1941. The model is probably based on the crane shown above, illustrated in a 1921 Meccano Magazine also published in "The Wonder Book of Engineering" in 1931. Described as the "largest floating crane in the world." The crane was built for the British Admiralty as "Crane Lighter No.4" and was able to lift over 250 tonnes over a radius of 30.5 metres (100 feet.)  The illustration shown right shows a more typical type of floating crane a 150 ton crane at Southampton Docks. This illustration is scanned from a publication by the Southern Railway in the late 1920s. The newspaper cutting below is from Auckland New Zealand from around 1929-1932 and shows the floating crane MANUI. Cranes of this type would have been found in most large dock complex around the world and would have been used for handling large or unwieldy cargoes or for ship repairs and fitting out. They would have been self contained, usually with steam engines providing the power generation for electric winches and capstans. Some cranes would have to be moved to its operating position by tugs, other cranes would have been self propelled. The cranes are balanced by water tanks. The SML model follows the principles of operation of a floating or pontoon cranes very closely except of course the balancing water tanks! The model is mainly built using 1990’s French zinc and yellow parts the GRB is replica from Ashok Banerjee in India, as of 2023 these are no longer available. I made a few changes to the original design but these were only minor and did not detract from this iconic Meccano model. The model is driven by a Meccano E15R and a 12 volt motor built into a frame the dimensions of the E15R . Each of the motors operates two functions. Motor one controls the two hoists, motor two operates the jib luffing and rotation.  The model was a delight to build and is great fun to operate, it looks right and is well proportioned. One useful modification I made was to use a tension spring between the two hoist levers this holds the brakes on more firmly.  The trouble with using zinc parts is taking a decent picture, the shine of the metal makes simple shots difficult even without using flash so apologies for the flare on the rear view view of the crane. Since building this model in 2008  I have created another Pontoon Crane of my own design built with blue and gold parts. Click the image below to view.
SML28 rear view Standard Mechanisms 1935 SML 28 Original Front Cover Southampton floating crane
Originally published October 2008 Re-designed and revised  November 01 2023