Athearn Radio Controlled Crane

construction sign

First thing I did was work on the ring that pivots the whole works. I sanded and filed till
it moved with very little effort. Then added some grease left over from a Tamiya gear kit.

Next I removed the two cast on ladders. These will be replaced with one or two scratch built brass ladders.

Next I removed the two cast on ladders. These will be replaced with one or two scratch built brass ladders.

I took a piece of post it and used it to get a square line across the roof line. Also a patch was glued to were the boiler stack was.

Then I used another post it length wise. This gave me a template for cutting a section out of the roof
and made sure it was square with the end and side.

After cutting out the hole I filed the void with .02" thick styrene.

I cut, file and sanded the styrene to shape and added a muffler.

A couple of more pictures of the muffler from different angles. I forgot to mention that I'm making this crane into a diesel powered version.

Drilled holes for the addition of a radiator in the top two and bottom two panels.

The panels have been squared up and I'm going to use these louvers from an Alco C420.

I used 1/3 of the louvers to glue over the furthest door toward the end.

Same for the other side.

Looking for some grills to put into the holes I cut out I had these. The parts below are etched nickel silver headlight grills for
large scale car detailing. I've had this for a long time and couldn't tell you the manufacturer. They were purchased in my LHS.

Problem is they are to small. What to do?

Well I had some of this nice diamond through etched brass from K & S Metal.

I cut a square piece and glued it behind the openings.

I wanted to represent louvers that open & close to control the temperature as I've seen on diesels. I used pieces of
angle and 1" X 2" HO scale strips to represent the individual louvers. Each is cut to length and glued in individually.

One side done

Last louvers done.

Time to drill the hole in the center of the frame for the motor shaft. I used my mini-mill and centered the ring.

Test motor for fit in hole.

Drilling a hole in the swivel base.

Parts for a jig to help cut a square hole the size of the motor.

Bushing used for line up.

Pipe with a piece of styrene the size of the motor is placed on the swivel base.

Styrene glued to both sides of the swivel base. This is a template to help accurately cut out the square for the motor.

This method produces a nice clean and square hole.

Motor and swivel base assembled for test fit. Nice fit, looks good.

Added two 1/8" square pieces to get rid of to much side play.

Next I made a brass plate for the motor's D-shaft to fit in.

Next the plate will be screwed to the frame with 00-90 screws

I'm getting the plate ready to be mounted on the bottom of the crane. That's a #61 drill
for a 00-90 tap. The pencil is for size comparison. Four holes were drilled at the four corners

The part, drill, and 00-90 tap.

The part was used as a template to drill the tap holes. The holes in the plastic frame bottom were then tapped. I know the drill
is at an angle. I just stuck it in the hole to take the picture. Hard to hold the camera, push the button and hold the drill with only two arms and hands.

The holes in the part were then drill for a clearance hole for the 00-90 screw and countersunk.
The part was then attached to the bottom with four 00-90 countersink screws.

I made a wooden block so I could hold the crane body in the vise. I then
milled out a portion of the roof. I didn't do any measurements. I just eye balled it.

Then just like the muffler side, I glued three pieces of styrene to mount the air tank on.

I'm waiting for the glue to dry before I trim the edges back. In the mean time
I placed the tank on the cutout to see what it will look like. Pretty good I made add.

I decided to make the two side plates that hold the winches, boom pulleys and the part
of the roof that hinges up out of brass. I scribed a line the length of the plastic piece it is to replace.

I was going to cut it with a razor saw but that didn't work to good. So I clamped
the brass sheet between two pieces of MD board and cut it with my fret saw.

I had cut two pieces, soldered them together and squared them up in the mill. I then
sprayed adhesive glue to the brass and attached the plastic side as a template for the holes.

And here is the end result, with the original plastic side propped up on the crane for
a comparison. The brass makes for a bit more weight on the center of the crane.

This picture shows the size of the two motors that will be used for animating both the large hook and boom.

There are two projections on the backside that need to be removed. An Exacto #17 blade takes care of that and a touch up with a file.

On the front the projections that are circled in red need to be removed.

The small projection can be removed simply with an Exacto #17 knife.

The lager part on the moving part is cut off with a pair of side cutters.

Projections all cut off, ready for a file job.

Filed nice and smooth.

Using the motor for a template. Drilling a hole with tap drill size drill.

Drilling 0-80 clearance holes.

Tapping the holes in the motor to 0-80 threads.

Test fitting the motor with 0-80 flat head screws.

The screw will be counter sunk in the back and then the access cut off and filed smooth.

Test fitting the motor mount with the shell on. Very tight fit.

Without the shell on. Mount not fastened to floor of crane swivel.

Tank mounted and pipe added. The copper straps are from a copper scourer. Funny thing was when I
used my slightly magnetized tweezers the copper was attracted to the tweezers. Never knew copper was magnetic.

I turned a couple of winch spools from 5/16" brass rod. The little
protrusion on the end is about .063" or 1/16" in diameter. They are a press fit in the hole on the motor.

Size comparison with a pencil. Quite small. I didn't follow any dimensions. I just eye balled both. The only thing
I measured was the 1/16" shaft that fits in the hole on the motor. The length was eye balled.

Motors and winch drums mounted.

The red line shows how much I'm going to take off the motor mount after discovering and interference problem with the inside roof line.

Job done.

I did some damage when I tried to screw down the shell. Two pictures of front and back of shell.

Here's the first attempt. First I'd like to point out that I removed what looked like internal gear molded into
the plastic on the bottom of the turret ring on the crane. It looks to me like they had at one time thought of powering the crane.
I'm using a piece of single sided copper clad circuit board to make the power ring with two separate tracks.
I used a Sharpie marker and covered a portion of the board so I could mark the rings with a compass.

The internal dimension of the turret is approximately 1". I set the compass to 1/2" and scribed a circle.

Cut out the circle with my fret saw and a metal cutting blade.

Made sure it fit. Trimmed it with a file for a nice snug fit.

Drew some more circles. Outside circle is for power, next in is for insulation gap, third in is another power ring, inside circle to be cut out.

First I had to drill a hole to put the saw blade through. A bit blurry, sorry about that. BTW, I use a pin vise.
Reason is I've done this with a drill press and when the drill broke though it grabbed the work and spun it.

The inside cut out for the motor to fit into.

Unfortunately not big enough.

Ok, bigger is better. Also note that I had to grind down the screws sticking thorough the bottom that holds the D-shaft plate to the bottom.

This is the chemical part of trying to make the power ring. The stuff in the plastic box is ferric chloride et chant.
It's very corrosive and will cause burns on your skin. Wear rubber gloves, old clothes and face protection
when working with an acid. I believe it's still available from Radio Shack. If not it can also be bought from Jemaco.
Here's a link to there page. Jameco Electronics
Use a pair of plastic tweezers or make some from pieces of wood. Using any type of metal tongs or tweezers
with destroy them. I put the ring in and kept checking every few minuets. It takes a while to desolve the copper.
I used a Sharpie as a et chant resist. The results were not pretty.

And here are the not to pretty results. The ink in the Sharpie didn't quite keep the et chant for eating away on the part I didn't want etched.

For some of the readers that have never seen or read about etching copper boards I will do a little demo on alternatives
to use on a copper board. First a bit of history. Many years ago a friend of mine and I were going to go into the printed circuit
making business. That never panned out. But I learned almost all there was to know about making printed circuit boards. I still
have materials left over from those years. I learned how to make silk screen masters of the boards and then print them on copper
clad board. That's the Readers Digest version of my knowledge on circuit board making. Anyway, if you'd like to try it here's
another way of doing it. On the right is finger nail polish, middle is Floquil Engine Black and on the right is what is used when silk
screening. It's a et chant resist paint. I've had a quart of for quite sometime and of course the copper clad board.

I painted on the nail polish, Floquil paint & the resist paint as the control standard that will determine how the etch should look

Here are the results. The nail polish worked great. It's the first time I ever used that. The Floquil paint didn't fair so well. It got under etched.
When I wiped the board off the paint came right off. The control resist paint naturally came out good since that's what it was designed for.

Next up, the mechanical way to make two power tracks.

Clock makers use a method that incorporates what is known as a pot chuck, or one version of it. Take a piece of ferrous material,
brass, aluminum, steel and face it flat in the lathe. Then add concentric circles a couple thousands deep. These grooves will hold
the excess ACC glue that will be used to glue the copper disk to the chuck. I've blued it up for a better visual appearance.

To center it I used a home made center with a very sharp point to hold the board in the center of the chuck.
I already turned a few circles to cut through the copper cladding. This electrically separates the two rings.

Once the ACC glue had dried I cut out the center for the motor to fit into.
Unfortunately there is an angle on the inner most ring do to the way the tool is set up which needed to be filed out.

Not to good a job of filing, but the motor fits.

Now that I had the power ring made it was time to figure out a mounting procedure to bring the power from the ring into
the shell. I like Geoff's idea of the pogo sticks. Being that died in the wool DYI'er I had to make my own. I started
by taking the contact point from a relay and soldered it to the end of a piece of 1/16" square tubing.

Next I soldered a piece of 3/32" square tubing to the winch plate. The 1/16" square tubing rides inside the 3/32" tubing.
Next is to make a spring that will hold the power pickup pin down firmly.

That's a .017" diameter drill. Remember the thread about drill chucks? Here' the reason to have an expansive chuck.
It will hold the smallest drill made. For those that can't visualize .017". Your hair is approximately .003" in diameter.
So this drill is 5 times bigger. BTW, I did break it when I wanted to re-drill the hole. I missed the hold coming down and it broke. Oh well.

Here's the complete setup. I made the spring part from a piece of brass angle, a 1/16" od brass tube and a piece of .015" spring wire.

Here's how I mounted the spring wire. I stuck the wire in the end of the tube. Set a 3/16" square lathe tool on top
of the pipe. The whole works is sitting on top of a piece of tool steel and gave it a whack with the hammer.

Here's the end result of that whack. A pinched tube holding the spring wire. Now some are going to ask,
"why not solder it in". Reason, the heat would take the temper out of the spring wire. Then it wouldn't have any spring to it anymore.

Here's the one for the inside power track of the ring. I had to cut a piece out of the floor to accommodate
the 3/32" square tubing, plus add a solid piece bolted to the outside to position it. I also bent the
wire 90 degrees to reach the sliding bar and inside power ring. I cut a "V" notch in the tubing to center the spring wire.

Next I looked for a way to bring the power down through the crane frame to the wheels. I figured that the
copper scourer wire would work great for this since it's nice and flat. I cut a small portion of the
copper out and figured I could solder the copper strand into the ring. Trouble was the solder just won't
bridge to both sides of the copper ring. So now I have to make a new ring.

Here's a picture of the new power ring with the wires soldered on and filed down so the wipers can ride over them.
I used a suggestion from Ken friend by drilling a #72 hole and then using a counter sink made a slight counter sink
in the board and soldering the wire on. Then I carefully filed the wire down. It's a bit hard to see because of the reflection.

On the bottom I just cut a larger hole to carry both the wires out
the bottom. These will get attached to the trucks once I get them. They are on order.

I modified the outside wiper. If you recall from earlier post I drilled a hole through this pin pickup.
I cut the tubing off a this hole and filed a V notch in it to hold the wire. No longer will the
wire push the pickup tube sideways and cause friction. Works great now.

Here's a top view of all the motors and wires in place.

Here's the areas I was talking about and what I did about them.

I started working on the boom. I needed to build a new snatch block. That's the rigging that moves the
boom up and down. I was going to rebuild the whole boom making it out of brass so I'd have a nice
counter weight to the motors in the back of the cab. I decided not to do it since I'd probably never
get the crane done. So let's begin this segment. This is the snatch block that comes with the crane,
a white metal casting. I've had it so long that one of the pulleys froze on the shaft. So I making a new
one. Using two pieces of brass .032" thick brass plate and using the original cover plate as a template.

And I made a "boo, boo". I drilled one to many holes. The two pieces were soldered together and the white metal
plate was ACC'ed to the brass plate. The holes were drilled. And I added an extra that
I didn't need. When I heated up the plates to separate them I melted the white metal part,
darn. So I used the plate from another crane and made new plates.

Another picture of a pair of good plates. Pretty close to the original.

Next to be made is the piece with the slot in it. I used a piece of brass .125".
It just happened to be close for what I needed. It's the piece on the right.

The piece is solder to a sacrificial table. This works better than trying to hold it in the vise.

The table is bolted on a piece that is held in the vise. It is now ready to be whittled down.

The finished part after much whittling. A slot down the center and a hole in the end for a pin to hold the cover plate.

A bit of test fitting.

Next I made an assembly jig using one of the plates. It's ACC'ed to the aluminum to hold it while drilling the holes.

Drilling out the holes. I'm using a piece of MDF so I won't hit the hardened vise and ruin the drill.

Small brass tubing is used as axles for the pulleys and the to center the two plates. They are cut long
and will be filed flush when everything is soldered together

When I milled the long part to size I took a bit to much off and had to shim the plate up about .016".
So I made a small shim. It fits around the center post.

And here it is all finished. The only thing left is a hole in the end and bit of filing to make the left hand end round like the original.

The New York, Vermont & Northern Railway electrical engineers had a very heated debate as to whether
to go with DCC or R/C. The decision was made to go with R/C because it will not be used on a daily bases as an locomotive
would. The engineers found a company that had a new product, the receiver, for use in the model railroad hobby. So here
are three pictures of what will be put together to make it function. Notice how big the Receiver is?

The transmitter.

Here it is all together. Gives you an idea of the size of the transmitter.

I've cut a piece of copper clad board and drilled two holes for some brass wire. I could have
used copper wire but I had this on hand and the proper size. Two holes in the board for the brass wires. The other two are
00-80 tapped holes to hold the whole works down and a insulation gap file in the board to separate the minus from the plus.

The board is fastened to the floor of the crane and is ready to have the positive and negative voltage wires attached.

View at the back of the crane.

I fabricated a couple of .010" thick pieces of shim stock with a slot in them to
solder the wires to and using a 00-80 nuts bolted the wires in place.

Top view down. Picture quality isn't the greatest.

When I first wired up the Rx I had no idea which outputs do what so I just hooked them up.
I had to rewire all three motors. Here is a picture for those that might follow this thread and build an R/C crane.
Here's a picture of the hook up to the Rx.
H1 = Left stick u/d = boom ( u/d = up/down )
H2 = Right stick rotation cw/ccw = swing base
H3 = Right stick u/d = large hook

The trucks are to be put together with metric screws, 2.2mm X .45 to be exact. Even I don't
have a tap that size. Mine are all imperial. What to do? Guess it's time for a little soldering
using the resistance soldering rig. But first the trucks need to be prepared. A bit of filing to
clean them up and the bearing holes need to be drilled for the ends of the wheel sets to fit into.
So here are the pictures. Drilling out the end bearing holes.

One side soldered in. Make sure the insulated wheels are all on one side.

Ready to solder on the second side

The roll test to make sure all wheels are free. That's why the picture is fuzzy.

One more truck to do.

Here's a picture of the crane with the new trucks mounted and with it's
temporary crane tender car. I'm going to kit bash a 50ft long crane tender
car using an Athearn blue box 50ft insulated box car under frame.

I consider the crane itself done at this point, other than some details such as couplers, ladders and grab irons. Any
up dates will written up and posted on the crane page. I'm going to write up a separate page for the crane tender car.

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