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ZM-12 Bucyrus-Erie 30-B Crane

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:34 pm    Post subject: ZM-12 Bucyrus-Erie 30-B Crane Reply with quote

Assembling GHQ’s Bucyrus-Erie 30-B Crane

“Craft-Train” kits: some are pretty easy and others, well, not so much! GHQ offers an amazing line of super-detailed pewter kits. Some include brass or stainless-steel etched (“chemically milled”) detail parts. From cars to trucks, construction equipment to an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, these models always serve as the centerpiece of a given ‘scene’ on fine layouts around the world.

Among the most dramatic – and complicated – of these kits is the 50 ton Bucyrus-Erie 30-B crane (#53-011). It offers a great subject for a detailed assembly project. This article will show detailed step-by-step instructions which will significantly augment the in-pack sheet included with each kit. As you study this article, it will provide you with several tricks that can be applied to other modeling projects.

GHQ’s kit comes with an instruction sheet, and the following parts:

The etching has many parts as well:


As you examine the parts in ANY new kit, there is a persistent urge to just glue the thing together NOW. Slow down! A little prep work at the beginning will both ease construction later, and manifestly improve the final appearance of your painted model. With very few exceptions (like most urethane castings), there will always be a part line girdling every piece of plastic or pewter in any kit. GHQ’s castings are ‘cleaner’ than many other offerings, but they still have that annoying mold part line.


Begin by scraping the part line off the cab – you will want to do this to all of the other castings as well. Here’s what my cab casting looked like before cleaning:

After using a #11 hobby knife as a scraper, drawing the blade across the part line diagonally, it looked like this:

1] Prior to gluing the parts together, drill holes for the brass etched handrails and ladder. There are dimples to show most of the locations, but always test fit the brass part to insure that the hole is drilled in the correct location. Use a #79 (.015") bit, mounted in a pin vise.

The 3 long handrails are mounted on the sides and back of the cab, just below the edge of the roof.
-The longer straight hand rail goes on the right cab side
-The shorter straight hand rail on the left cab side
-The curved on the rear of the body

The shortest hand grab goes on cab front. Note that the lower window has been opened up using the hobby knife.

2] Drill the holes for the ladder. Fold the 4 arms of the ladder 90 degrees toward the body. Using a pair of tweezers or small needle-nose pliers, grasp one of the arms right next to the ‘upright’ of the ladder.

Now hold the ladder against a stiff surface, and bend the leg straight up. Repeat on the other 3 legs. Drill hole #1 into dimple provided. Test fit ladder in place, and mark and drill remaining 3 holes.

On the side handrails, there are dimples for the two end posts, but none for the center posts. Use the brass etched handrail as a template – set it on the side of the cab, line up the end posts with the dimples, and then pilot the hole carefully using the tip of your hobby knife. Then drill the holes.

3] Look at the top of the cab, examining the slot where the cable return drums are located. In the rear right corner, there appears to be a pulley. Drill a #79 hole in the corner, behind the pulley, as shown below. This is where you will fasten the end of the boom control cable. Drill another hole directly in front of the pulley to hold the tie down (opposite end of the cable).

4] Glue the 4 brass handrails into the holes drilled above in Step #1.

5] Test fit ladder into holes drilled in step #2.
Note where to bend the top of ladder 90 degrees over cab roof. Bend, then glue in place.

GHQ usually tells you how to assemble a given model, and then suggests that after it’s all together to “Paint as desired.” In this case, after examining some prototype pictures found by searching the internet, it made a lot more sense to me to pre-paint some sub assemblies. The chassis, base, grated walkways, and boom seem to have frequently been painted a light green. Cabs varied a great deal, but a two-tone scheme seems to have been common.

Pre-paint the cab as you desire.


6] (Optional) The operator can be installed for a working crane. If the crane will be sitting in a yard and not in service, place the operator in your scrap parts box! If you want to use the little man, glue him onto the chair. Test fit by inserting this sub-assembly into the cab, and scrape down his outer arms if the fit is too snug. You could go straight to the next step, but I decided to pre-paint the operator and chair so I didn’t have to do so through the open window of the cab! Glue the sub-assembly to the head of a nail, and use the shaft as a handle while painting. When finished just pop the model off the nail head and touch up the paint.


7] Glue the tracks onto the chassis.

8] Glue the cab floor onto the base pedestal at desired rotation. Make sure that it is flat and level over the tracks.

9] Glue the two brass catwalks into the slots bordering both the upper edges of the cab floor as shown. The half-etched slots should face up, the smooth faces down.

After applying a green base coat (GHQ’s CLR32), paint the tracks a rust color, and then drybrush some silver onto the tracks. Weather as you see fit.

10] Glue operator’s chair (and the operator if you are using him) into cab so that the bottom is not protruding from the slot & the front edge is abutting the front interior cab wall.

11] Test fit the cab on the base, scrape off a bit of paint on the gluing surfaces, and glue the cab onto the base.


12] If you intend to rig the crane boom, you must now drill four #79 holes through the block & tackle pulley. The block and tackle comes on a sprue with the hook. Remove one block and tackle from the sprue, and hold it so that the mounting bar away from you, so you are looking at the ends of the pulley. Begin by drilling a hole in the upper right hand corner.

Repeat this in all of the other corners of block and tackle. Make sure that any drilling flash is removed from both ends of each hole: you’ll be glad you did when trying the thread the nylon cables later on! When all four holes are finished it will look like this:

13] Pre-paint the block and tackle, being careful to not clog the holes!


14] If using the clamshell rather than the hook, choose how far open you want the jaws. Test fit the halves together, and then glue.

15] Pre-drill the mounting hole in the pulley bracket or hook for rigging.

16] The 4 brass shovel connecting bars are glued from the pins on the 4 corners of the clamshell to those on the pulley bracket as shown below. Test fit, bending the brass parts as necessary to connect them. Glue together.


17] Before you cut the largest brass pieces that will form the boom from the etching kit, look at the entire etching closely. One side of the etching has writing on it – the other side is smooth. The side with the writing has ALL of the half-etched features, including the indentations on the fold tabs (between the central section and the triangular sides of the large boom piece) of the boom pieces. It also has the half-etched lips on the edges of the top piece of the boom. Knowing which side is “up” will be about as important as if you were planting sod!

The largest piece will be folded to form the bottom and sides of the boom. The half-etched side of this piece MUST be on the interior of the completed boom.

18] To create the bottom of the boom and the sides, carefully fold all four perforated scores 90 degrees. Remember, the half-etched side of the etching needs to be on the INSIDE of each fold.

19] Gently fold the score line in the center, therefore abutting the bases of the triangles. Glue the triangles to one another on each side as shown below.

20] (Optional) Install one of the brass squares with “X” crossties. This piece can be glued into the widest point of the folded boom. If this piece is used, trim off the tabs and then file all four edges to insure a proper fit all the way around prior to gluing it in place. Test fit with the top of the boom (step #21). Glue in place.

21] To complete the brass part of the boom, cut the ‘top’ from the etching kit. Pre-fold the score in the center to a shallow angle so that it fits properly. Test fit the part in place: the half-etched edges along the long edges should sit on top of the folded boom section. Glue in place.

22] Glue the boom end onto top of boom.

23] (optional) Glue dragline guide pulley near boom’s mid point. This accessory is bolted on to the prototype, so exact placement varies.

24] Paint the boom.

25] Glue the base of boom into notches in the cab floor. I had to slightly splay the pewter jaws to get the tips of the boom to fit properly. Scrape a bit of paint off all of the gluing surfaces so the glue will stick to the metal, not the paint! Glue the boom to the cab / chassis at the desired angle. After the glue has set, touch up the paint job.

26] Test fit block & tackle into the cradle notches cab. See arrows below.

Glue block & tackle in place on a imaginary plane from cradle to tip of boom end.

27] Rig the main boom cable using nylon thread (not included). Cut about a yard of thread: trim off the excess after finishing with the rigging. Glue one end into first hole drilled in Step #3 above.

I put a droplet of glue on the pulley at #1 (see drawing), and gently pull the thread up and wrap it around the pulley, holding it until the glue cures. Don’t use an accelerator as it will ruin the ability to use glue later!

Examine this next picture carefully, and you can see the nylon thread – they do call it “invisible thread.”

Then go back down and through the lower holes you drilled through the block and tackle (Step #12), up and over #2, back through the block and tackle, up and over #1, and glue in the tie down hole (see Step #3).

28] Connect a cable from the forward drum up to the top of the boom, and then down to the hook or clamshell shovel.

29] Use either thinned black pant or India ink to color the nylon thread.

GHQ sells the Bucyrus Erie 30-B crane here:

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just ordered this kit after seeing this article.

I have a question, what is the earliest this model was made? Would it work for 1945-1950's. Could it be back dated if not?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe these were introduced in the 1960's, though I haven't found anything that says outright - 'yes' or 'no' on that.

Personally, I think they look close enough to a 1950's era crane that I wouldn't worry too much.
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