Archive for the ‘Pack, Charlie’ Category

March 18, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Erector Sets, Pack, Charlie, Vehicles & Transport

Charlie Pack writes: Here is my version of this No. 7 1/2 set model, with finished seats on both the inside and the upper deck. I used the illustrations in the manual only as a guide, so this model is largely my own design. The chassis is essentially the 1928 version with later DPs for the chassis rails (the 1935 and later nickel plated angle girders are made of thicker material and therefore are stronger).

Instead of the special DQ plates (which I needed to finish a set!), I used MN large base plates painted black for the floor, sides and top of the body (total of 6). The ones on the top are extended at the front to the windshield posts by black Q 11-hole base plates, and to the rear on the right-hand side by black P small 5-hole base plates. Each of the four inside seats is made from three P small 5-hole base plates held together by just two bolts and nuts. Each seat is then bolted to the floor with two more bolts. Each of the five outside seats is made from two P small 5-hole base plates. All of the seats and the upper deck railings are painted red (many of these parts have been re-painted).

At the rear, the boarding platform is made from red Ps and Qs. The steps and step railings are made from perforated strips similar to those in the manual. I installed additional vertical braces at the rear and added grab rails for boarding passengers. The photos should show most of the details of construction.

Charlie writes: I was asked to provide for a local museum an Erector exhibit that demonstrated simple machines such as levers, pulleys and gears. A truck with a crane on it would provide a wide variety of simple machines, so I built this 1928 White Truck chassis of conventional design and mounted a simple crane on the back. The chassis itself is the 1928 version and is of conventional construction except for the use of the later and stronger versions of the DP angle girder. The rubber tires are original.

The side plates of the crane are two Q base plates mounted on a bull ring plate. The crane can be swiveled by means of a crank handle on the back of the truck under the body. That crank handle has a worm gear which drives a large spur gear on a rod which passes vertically through the bull ring plate. I used a Meccano worm gear and a Meccano 95 tooth gear (which would have been available from the A. C. Gilbert Co. during the 1928-1932 period).

The two crank handles on the crane itself control hoisting and luffing. Each one has a CJ gear with an O pawl acting as a ratchet; AE springs (not clearly visible) keep the pawls engaged unless manually lifted. The two BT pierced disks on each crank axle define the ends of the winding drums. This photo should show most of the details. The crane can lift the front of another truck.

Charlie Pack’s Hook and Ladder Truck

Charlie Pack writes: This model is similar to the one illustrated in the manual for the No. 7 1/2 White Truck set. I obtained the model assembled but unfinished from an eBay seller. It had been assembled incorrectly and with a variety of different hardware so I took it apart and reassembled it with stainless steel screws and original nickel plated square nuts. I then added a hose reel of my own design, and installed a set of ladders. An unknown previous owner had done a nice job of re-painting the truck body, hood, fenders and reproduction wheels in the proper fire-engine red color. He also did a nice job of adding appropriate decals.

Charlie Pack’s Kelmet Dump Truck

Charlie Pack writes: The Kelmet White Truck is the forerunner of the Gilbert Erector “White Truck”.

In 1926, Gilbert added the basic parts of the Kelmet White Truck to the Erector system. This particular Kelmet pressed steel toy dump truck was probably made between 1926 and 1932 and is believed to be completely original except for reproduction rubber tires. It came from an antique store in Idaho and I bought it at a toy show in California on Dec. 30, 1993. More information can be found in Greenberg’s Guide to Gilbert Erector Sets, Volume One 1913-1932, by Bill Bean and Al Sternagle.

March 16, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Engines, Erector Sets, Pack, Charlie

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Click on the photo to view a larger version.

Charlie writes: I purchased this Erector Hudson several years ago from the late John Drury, who built it. His quality of workmanship is exemplary and well known, and this model is no exception. The locomotive and its tender are beautifully assembled, right down to the correct small-headed screws. They occupy a permanent position in my den, right above my desk.

March 15, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Cranes & Derricks, Erector Sets, Pack, Charlie

This type of intermodal crane is similar to the large ship unloading cranes you see at major ports, except it is smaller and does not have the large boom off of one end. My crane is freelance and not built to scale, but the real thing would typically be used in a railroad yard for transferring standard containers from a truck to a railroad car, or vice versa. The hoisting and trolley movement functions are each powered by an Erector P55 motor. The entire crane is on wheels, four in each base, but travel on wheels is not powered (yet). The control panel is located at the bottom of the left leg in the photo. The model is about 39” long by 13” wide by 29” high overall.

Instead of a hook, the crane has a lifting frame which attaches itself to a container, and containers can be transferred from train to truck or vice versa as in the real thing.

The trolley is pulled in either direction by two cords (the trolley itself is not powered). Each cord runs from one end of the trolley, around a pulley which is powered by the motor drive at the left end of the gantry, across the inside of the gantry, around another idler pulley at the opposite end, and then back to the opposite end of the trolley. Thus, a continuous loop is formed. The trolley stops automatically at each end of the gantry, even if power is still applied. Here’s how that works:

The trolley rails on one side of the gantry are electrically insulated from the frame. There are three rail sections – a long center rail (an MB angle girder), and a short stop rail (a BE angle girder) at each end. The stop rails are electrically isolated from the long center rail, which is always alive. When the trolley switch is thrown – say to the left – the motor circuit is completed through an insulated rail, the trolley’s wheels and axles, and the gantry’s frame (ground) – and the trolley moves to the left. When it rolls onto the left stop rail, which is dead, the circuit is broken and the trolley motor stops. Now we throw the trolley switch to the right. This makes the left stop rail alive, the circuit is again made, and the trolley rolls to the right. When the trolley rolls onto the right stop rail, which is now dead, the circuit is again broken and it stops. At any time, only one stop rail is alive and the opposite one is dead. Model railroaders have long used this technique for automatic control of their trains.

There’s a lot of wiring in the photo – that is because all of the wiring from both motors (four wires each) and the three insulated rails congregate at a long barrier terminal next to the trolley motor. Two cables run from there to the control panel at the bottom of the left leg.

The hoisting cord runs from the winding drum (EK or MR) to a pulley on the underside of the trolley, down around the pulley on the lifting device (or hook), back up to another pulley on the underside of the trolley, and across to the opposite end of the gantry where the end of the cord is fixed.

The hoisting and trolley power units are each mounted on a standard frame and are each designed to use almost any type of low voltage motor. Power units with different kinds of motors can be interchangeable. In addition to the Erector P55 power units, I have power units with efficient DC operated gearhead motors which can run on penlight cells. I can swap out both the trolley and hoisting power units in about half an hour. At the convention I used batteries and DC motors for power. The wiring system and control panel will work with either kind of power unit. The consequence of this is, there are four wires needed for each motor. Two additional jumpers have to be installed for DC motors. The wiring and control system will also work with sideplate motors such as the P58, and even Gilbert Meccano sideplate motors! It is not designed for 110 volt motors as these cannot be reversed by remote control. I favor the DC motors because I can exhibit the model without needing a power plug-in. Remote controls can be added easily.

The lifting device is a rectangular frame with a small hook dangling at each of the four corners. It is positioned just over and a bit to one side of the container. The trolley is then moved slightly so the open parts of the hooks are under the side rails on the container. When the device is lifted the hooks grab onto the container so it is also lifted. Precise control of motor speed is needed! (Learned this the hard way at the convention!)

The container has opening doors at one end. It fits perfectly on a Lionel Standard Gauge flat car, suggesting the crane could be the center of a train layout at some point.

March 14, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Erector Sets, Pack, Charlie

Charlie Pack’s Rocket Jets

Charlie Pack writes: This is the Rocket Jets Ride which I built for an exhibit which ran from October 2005 through January 2006 at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto, California. It is based on an original design by “Dr. Prune” of the Girders and Gears web site (plans can be found at

This whimsical model has no known prototype. It represents a growing interest in rockets, space travel and speed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The tower with its three fins is said to slightly resemble the Space Shuttle. The four rockets with their two large exhaust stacks are reminiscent of hot-rod cars. In my version of the model, I have relocated the A-47 motor with gearbox to an external housing. To help compensate for the inertia of the rotating top section of the ride, I fixed a flywheel made from BNs and a BT to the motor’s high speed shaft and weighted it with bolts, nuts and washers. The top of the external housing can be removed for service by removing 4 screws which go into captive nuts (Meccano collars). A set of Meccano 3:1 bevel gears is used inside the tower base instead of equivalent Erector parts to improve reliability. The motor power cord is connected to an electronic timer and pushbutton. When a kid (of any size!) pushes the button, the model runs for about 2 minutes and shuts off automatically. A ground fault circuit interruptor is included and the motor is properly grounded for safety. I have re-designed the rockets and added a ticket shack and boarding steps for more interest. Children enjoy giving their pennies rides in the tail pipes!

Charlie Pack’s 1929 Ferris wheel

Charlie Pack writes: Here is my 1929 version Ferris Wheel, which was on display at the Museum of American Heritage, Palo Alto, CA from Oct. 2005 through Jan. 2006.

Power is supplied by an A-47 motor with gearbox enclosed in a housing to keep little fingers out. The top of the housing can be removed for service by removing 4 screws which go into captive nuts (Meccano collars). The wide pulley that drives the big wheel is made from a flanged wheel Z and a bush wheel BT. The driving belt was made by my wife Kim. It is a black drawstring cord (probably nylon) from an old pair of sweatpants (her idea!), with the ends sewed together. The belt passes all the way around the small pulley once, and the tension is adjusted so if the big wheel is stopped the belt will simply slip. Adjust is made within a small range by putting spacers under the motor housing.

The motor power cord is connected to an electronic timer and pushbutton. When a kid (of any size!) pushes the button, the wheel runs for about 2 minutes and shuts off automatically. A ground fault circuit interruptor is included and the motor is properly grounded.

A ticket shack and boarding ramp were added for more interest. There are 8 cabins, each one with a roof made by Joe Long. The whole thing is mounted on a piece of 1/2” plywood about 30” x 40” and painted red.

· by David Gilbert · Bridges, Erector Sets, Pack, Charlie

Charlie writes: This 3-section bridge occupies a 14 foot shelf in my den. This photo shows the left side of it. I was not able to get all of it in one picture! The bridge is built to a scale of about 27 to 1 for Lionel Standard (2 1/8”) Gauge track, making it about 350 scale feet long. The trains in the picture are Lionel Standard Gauge trains of 1927-1941 vintage. The train in the bridge is a passenger train pulled by a Lionel 408E electric form loco. All of the trains you see in these photos are original and in running condition.

Here is the right-hand side of the bridge. As one can see from these photos, the bridge is built in three separate but contiguous sections which are screwed down to the shelf. The track can be electrified (I’ve run the big 408E back and forth a couple of times on it!). Each bridge section is equipped with red obstruction lights and the little house in the middle of the center section is also lighted. The model contains about 30 feet of wiring. The actual model is about 13 feet long overall and 8 1/2” (17 holes) wide. It contains 121 angle girders, most of them are 17 holes long. An earlier single-span version was built 10 1/2” (21 holes) wide for a two-track O gauge main line.

Here is a photo of the center section. Its design was inspired by another Erector bridge I saw in the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven, CT several years ago. In this photo, the lighting and wiring have not been installed yet. Most of the construction details should be apparent in this and the next photo. Flat car trucks MV are used as gusset plates. The vertical angle girders on the sides are 17, 19, 21 and 25 holes long. A few of the diagonal girders C had to be shortened a bit to fit correctly. The whole bridge will require 121 angle girders, most of which are 17 holes or longer, 60 MV’s, 60 C girders and 60 flat plates MF.

The house is mounted on two previously re-painted base plates S that have been cut down to 17 holes long. The railings are axle rods attached with collars P37 and set screws, with thin No. 6 washers added under the heads to tighten them up. The access ladders (one on each side) are each made from two 41 hole strips J, sixteen 7/8” screws S62 and nuts as required, and attached with angle brackets CH.

Better DUCK or that 408E will run over you! This photo shows the construction of the bridge base. The track ties are centered and bolted to 17 hole angle girders as cross pieces. If you use Lionel or MTH track, you can do this with 6-32 bolts and nuts without “moving” any holes. The sides of the base are DP or other angle girders laid end to end and bolted to the ends of the cross pieces. MF flat plates form a catwalk on each side. Narrow perforated strips G join and strengthen the angle girders where they are abutted. Some track ties may have to be adjusted slightly so they are spaced an exact multiple of 1/2”. This method of construction is used in all three bridge sections. I strongly recommend the use of the THICK N-21 nuts – the thin ones will strip very easily. Also, avoid aluminum screws.