A & J Inglis Crane
On Saturday 5th September 1998 a 250kg drum of screw spikes was lifted into the air by junior member Michael Watson. He wasn't entirely unaided - he was using a 1855 A & J Inglis crane which had been restored to working order by Ross Parker.
This crane was acquired by the then MRPA later known as WAPC ( Western Australian Planning Commission) sometime in the early 80's when they purchased a number of items for use at Whiteman Park, including the turntable, the girders for BBR's two bridges and a quantity of foundry equipment. The crane sat idle in the village for a few years when Ross approached the park with a request to restore it and use it for a planned future Goods Shed and Loading Dock at Mussel Pool Station (Now known as Parkers Siding).
When the railway had Ng118 sandblasted, Ross took the opportunity to have the crane sandblasted and primed. At the same time, the gears were pretty well seized up and over a period of time, Ross slowly worked on these with diesel and penetrene to free them up.
The crane then sat around in a storage compound for another few years while more important tasks around the railway occupied Ross' time.
With the construction of the goods shed progressing well it was soon time to take another look at the crane. Much of the mechanism for braking and for operating the gears safely was missing and the first task was to fin out (or work out) what was missing and from where. This involved numerous phone calls numerous phone calls and letters to industrial museums, archives and County reocrds offices in the U.K.. Although these proved fruitless for information on its construction, Ross managed to get some history on the company. It would also seem that the vintage (1854/55) and construction of this crane is pretty unique.
The company which made the crane, A & J Inglis of Glasgow, was formed in 1848 as an engineering works and in 1863 turned to shipbuilding. They apparently went on to become one of the biggest shipbuilders on the Clyde, finally becoming defunct in 1963.
After some serious head scratching and chats with a couple of other members, Ross worked out what he thought was the most appropriate means of replacing the missing parts. With the exception of the brake drum, which was kindly fabricated by BBR's Midvale subsidiary "Wallis Drilling", everything else was made up from bits and pieces found laying around the workshops ( with the exception of a few nuts and bolts).
Ross guesstimated that the crane would probably have been capable of lifting about a ton originally but it is never intended to push it to that limit in Preservation. It is intended primarily for completing the "Authenticity" of the siding and for demonstration purposes. It has been tested to about 400 kilos, which it lifts comfortably in low gear.
The crane is counter balanced with weights which sit on a shelf at the back and these should always be used. A mild steel "I" beam frame has been bolted to the cast iron legs. These and the centre wrought iron pedestal sit on five 100mm thick reinforced concrete blocks, 1200 x 800mm, each weighing about 300 Kilos. Sitting inside the outer channel of the "I" beam around its perimeter are another six of these blocks.
The crane is kept locked in both gears when not in use and the handle locked away. It is also locked to the base with a special bracket so that it cannot be unnecessarily rotated.
Ross estimated that it took him in excess of two hundred hours from the initial start of the project. A project he felt was "Worth It" and it is hoped others do as well.
Bennett Brook Railway
Webmaster N. Blinco