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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Small Heath and Sparkbrook Station: gwrsh1367a

Close up showing the two GWR rail mounted cranes installing girders to a new bridge to the south of Small Heath Station

Close up of image 'gwrsg1367' showing the two GWR rail mounted cranes installing the girders to a new bridge. On 23rd June 1903 the Great Western Railway ordered two 20 ton steam cranes from Cowans, Sheldon & Co of Carlisle (works orders 2614 and 2615) and these were delivered in the same year. As the Great Western Railway already had three 15 ton steam cranes, also supplied by Cowans, Sheldon & Co, the new cranes were numbered No 4 and No 5. Like the previous cranes, the crane carriage comprised two fixed axles towards the rear with outside bearings and a forward two axle Adams bogie with inside journals. The rotating superstructure was mounted on a foundation bedplate which included a slewing ring and a central pillar to the top of which the derricking tackle was attached. The jib pivoted at the front of this rotating superstructure and was partly counterbalanced by the vertical steam boiler at rear housed under an enclosure. The boiler provided steam to two cylinders which drove a crankshaft. Onto this crankshaft could be engaged; the derrick's worm wheel, the slewing motion gears for rotating the superstructure, the travelling gear for moving the crane independently, and the hoist gear train, which had two operating speeds. The outward differences between these two 20 ton cranes and three existing 15 ton cranes were:

  • Six inch longer fabricated steel foundation bedplate instead of an iron casting
  • Double cross braced lattice swan-neck jib instead of solid plate type
  • Larger (1.25 inch) diameter hoisting chain (later replaced with steel wire rope)
  • Larger hoisting spur wheel mounted overhung on right hand side
  • Oil axle boxes on carriage bearings
  • Divided telescopic girder outriggers carried in position
  • Improved slewing gear, with three vertically placed wheels under the jib foot and slewing rack arranged outside of curb ring

Each 20 ton steam crane weighed 67.75 tons and with the jib resting on the match truck, the maximum axle weight was 17.75 tons requiring 7 x 14 inch journals. These two 20 ton steam cranes were withdrawn in 1965.

Two x four wheel match trucks (diagram L5), also numbered No 4 and 5 were ordered on Lot 445 in 1903. These were nineteen foot, six inches long over the headstocks with an eleven foot wheelbase and each weighed 8 tons, 7 cwt. An axle on trunnions was provided for resting the overhanging jib when travelling. This allowed sideways movement when negotiating curves. Four fixed tool boxes were provided for carrying equipment, while a short platform at each end was used for carrying packing materials.

Robert Ferris