Building a Cranky Crane #1: Starting Out

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 08-18-2013 12:00 AM 6031 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Cranky Crane series Part 2: The Base »

Many moons ago, when my daughter was younger we chose not to buy a Cranky the Crane character for her wooden Thomas the Tank Engine set. We did get her the cargo crane, which kept her happy for many years. About a month ago I was asked by my daughter if I could build a Cranky the Crane if I saw a picture of it. I thought about it for a minute and said that I could definitely build something very much like it. (I should mention that she’s now 14 and wants Cranky as a prop for making home made Thomas videos.)

So first I looked up pictures of this challenging creature in toy form. EBay and other sellers provide a huge amount of photos. One seller even gave me a vital bit of information, stating in the description that it stood ‘about 9 1/2 inches tall’.

I’m sure many have wondered how you go from nothing to something without measured drawings. I got some practice at this when I was making drawings of railroad stations based on the stated footprint of the building on a map, plus photographs of every side I could find.

Back to the toy build. First I found a picture as close as possible of the crane in profile. I brought it into AutoCAD and sized it from base to top of his ‘head’ to 9 1/2 inches. Then I traced it. That is I made a symmetrical drawing of it using points on the photo as reference. What I got is a pretty good approximation of the proportions of the project in profile. I’ll improvise it from there.

Being as my research shows no one else has ever done this before, I feel like quite the ground breaker. I’m not mass producing these, nor selling them, so I’m hoping the lawyers don’t swoop down and carry me away.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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#1 posted 09-10-2014 12:11 PM

I wonder if you can help. My son (13 today) has found your Cranky crane build on this website whilst researching for his Design & Technology homework. He would like to use your crane as an example of how mechanical toys work and I wondered if you would be able to give him a simple understanding of how he works using the proper terms I am guessing he is supposed to use.. crank handle, gears, axle etc. I have tried helping him but even I got confused trying to give him a simple explanation. Any help would be much appreciated as this has to be handed in to school tomorrow! In particular they are learning about cams but for this project have to choose 3 different toys to show how different mechanism work.

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