Thursday, 22 December 2011

MOTW - The Cherry Picker

Our festive Model Of The Week would be perfect for putting the fairy on top of a giant Christmas tree: it's the FR's Cherry Picker wagon.

It's one of our models that I am particularly proud of because of the challenges I had to overcome making it and because, as far as I know, it's the only model of this wagon.

The Cherry Picker was conceived, designed and built by the FR's Signal and Telegraph department staff and volunteers as a faster and much safer way of maintaining the railway's 'pole route'.

The guts of the machine is a self contained, skid mounted unit which was found in a scrapyard near Blaenau Ffestiniog still attached to a life-expired Bedford CF van.

It was bought and the hydraulics fully overhauled by the team.

Boston Lodge built the well wagon onto which the skid was mounted and the wagon runs on a pair of spare Hudson bogies, one of which has a hand brake.

The team had a stroke of good fortune when they discovered that the base of the lifting unit would fit neatly inside the shell of an old mobile generator unit, which in turn was a snug fit on the well-wagon.

Just as I wrote last week (about mess coach 1000) it's another fine example of FR recycling and ingenuity and the wonderful thing about it is the whole machine looks as if it could have been designed that way on a blank piece of paper.

My model is entirely scratch built (except for the Hudson bogies which are made by Parkside Dundas) and 99% of it was done in styrene. (The 1% is the etched brass non-slip chequer plate surface on the well-wagon.)

I am particularly proud of my representation of the picker basket on the end of the boom which was also fashioned out of one piece of thin styrene which was curved, bent, folded, and finally, bonded into submission.

If I was a much better metal-worker it would have been more logical, I'm sure, to have made this out of brass, but I'm not and so I didn't.

Neither am I much of a micro-engineer so I'm afraid the picker boom is very much a static model.

Unfortunately this is one model you'll probably never seen running on Bron Hebog unless the FR retro-fits the real wagon with vacuum brakes to comply with the WHR safety regulations.

But as there's no pole route on the 'Dark Side' why would they ever need to?


  1. Really nice to see a model of this super bit of kit. I do like working in brass....but am always shocked by how unyielding and intractible it is compared to styrene, my favourite medium. I also like soldering less and less these days. You certainly achieve great things with styrene...and a lot of patience!

  2. There is a way of getting your model to run on bron hebog. I was talking with Martin Duncan a week or two ago about two vacum braked flat wagons that was given to the railway by one of the suporting groups.
    He is planning on chaining the waggons to the cherry picker, one of the wagons each end. This will allow it to be ran on the FR & WHR. I've got a few photographs of the waggons if your interested.

  3. That's very interesting info, Huw. Would there not still need to be some kind of through pipe arrangement needed on the picker wagon so it can connect to the hoses on the flats?

  4. Yes, you’re correct. I think (but unsure) that he said he would do the modification to the cherry picker and assemble the lot before the railway closes for the winter.