Basis for Kevin - the Ransomes and Rapier 6 tom Petro-Electric Mobile Crane
A Ransomes & Rapier 6 ton petrol-electric crane in a LMS Railway goods yard.
From Meccano Magazine - Nov. 1932

Designed and built by Ransomes and Rapier, Ipswich, these versatile mobile petrol-electric cranes first made their debut in England in 1923, with subsequent model improvements implemented up to the early 1930's. These cranes were equipped with two solid rubber tyres mounted on a solid front axle, with the two rear wheels mounted on a castor was used to steer and drive the vehicle. A diesel petrol Perkins engine powered a generator which which supplied electrical current to the luffing and hoist motors, and to the two traction motors in the rear castor that provided motive power. Operating this machine was fairly straightforward, with a conventional steering wheel in the front, with luffing and hoisting controlled by levers located conveniently within reach of the operator. Mobility-wise, the unit was able to move forward and turn to any raduis, or rotate in place mid-point of the front axle.

Within a few years of their introduction, these cranes were a common sight in railway goods and dock yards and at work in various industrial complexes where mobile heaviy lifting was required. From the information at hand, 4 model sizes of this class of crane were produced for lifting capacities ranging from 1, 2, 3½/5 to 6 tonnes, with the most common being the 6 ton model.

Amazingly, several of these robust machines can still be found today in working order after several decades of service. The first example below are of two 6 ton cranes (pictured below) that are used on occasion by S. Harrison and Sons Haulage, Sheffield, England.

Ransomes and Rapier 6 ton  crane - Harrison Haulage, Sheffield - Photo: courtesy Kevin Fryske Ransomes & Rapier 6 ton petrol-electric crane - S. Harrison & Sons Haulage yard, Sheffield. Photo courtesy Fryske to TRLOTTTE with our many thanks.
Manufacture's plate for Ransomes & Rapier 6 ton petrol-electric mobile crane
Detailed view of manufacturer's plate seen in photo above

Our second example features another of these still-operable cranes that can be visited in a more public-friendly venue at the Brooklands Museum - the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation, in Surrey, England. We wish to thank General Manager - Museum Operations, Julian C Temple for providing TRLOTTTE with the following photos and accompanying text.

Ransomes and Rapier 6 ton  crane KYW 55 - Harrison Haulage, Sheffield - Photo: courtesy Julian C Temple, Brooklands Museum
Front of Ransomes & Rapier 6 ton petrol-electric crane 'KYW 55' on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, England. Photo courtesy Julian C Temple to TRLOTTTE with our many thanks.
Text from the plaque seen in the photograph above is provided below courtesy of Julian C Temple, General Manager of Museum Operations, Brooklands Museum

TYPE HISTORY: Designed by one of the RAFs two main crane suppliers around the mid-1930s and used by the RAF from at least 1938, this vehicle featured solid rubber tyres, a Perkins diesel engine and an electric-powered jib. Also used long after WW2 by industry including Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd/BAC at Weybridge, almost upto the factorys closure in the late 1980s. Very few are known to survive in preservation except for one at Amberley Chalkpits Museum, Storrington, West Sussex.

EXHIBIT HISTORY: 'KYW 55' was first registered in September 1950 but its year of manufacture and early history are presently unknown. One of two Ransome & Rapier cranes acquired secondhand by Adams Transport Ltd of New Malden, Surrey, on 19/1/73, it was used regularly as a yard crane until the late 1990s.

First noted in August 1998 soon after ceasing regular use, it was donated to Brooklands Museum in September 2000 in running order.

Side view of 'KYW 55' Photo Julian C Temple - Brooklands Museum, Surrey, England
Side view of 'KYW 55'. Note the rear stabilizers that were likely added to later versions of the crane. Photo courtesy Julian C Temple.

If you happen to be in the Surrey area, why not drop in to see "Kevin" along with the other fine vehicles and aircraft in the museum's collection. Visit the museum's website for more details - you'll certainly be impressed :)

An Awesome Project
Australian TRLOTTTE visitor Robin Johns has undertaken a most interesting project - read more about it HERE!


Pictured right, a 6 ton R&R Mobile Crane at work at the Mile End railway depot yards, Australia in 1959.

Photo from Railway Gazette Overseas Railways special edition (1959)

6 Ton Mobile Crane at Mile End rail yards, Australia in 1959

BR Advert for Road Rail Containers featuring a 6 ton mobile crane - click photo to see full advert.

Above, part of a Big Four advert in the August 4, 1939 issue of the Railway Gazette, promoting Road-Rail Containers featuring the mobile crane as an intermediary between rail and road.

And finally below, photos from a Ransomes and Rapier advert for the crane found in the October 5, 1928 issue of the Railway Gazette. The advert highlights the international popularity of these versatile cranes - Described beginning top-left: Unloading crated automobiles in Peru, top-right: Loading barges in Algiers, and bottom: Loading a steel girder onto a lorry in England.

Click either image above or below to see the full advert.

Pics from Ransomes and Rapier advert in the Oct. 5, 1928 Railway Gazette

And here's a restored "Kevin" moving about in a very careful manner unlike his gamboling TV counterpart. at the Kempton Steam Museum , near London, UK. YouTube video by user beebtrainfcp01.

Modeller's Corner
Langley Kits version of the Ransomes and Rapier 6t crane
Langley Models offers this 00 scale kit of the Ransomes & Rapier 6 ton crane. Available directly from their website.
Collector's Corner
LC Wooden Kevin from Amazon UK and US Take-n-Play Kevin available from Amazon UK and US
Wooden Railway model of Kevin Take-n-Play Kevin
Track Master Kevin available from Amazon UK and US
Trackmaster Kevin