Don’t get stuck behind the Burro

Reader Ian Maynard asked for a video of the River Raisin Models Model 40 Burro crane in action, now that I’ve added a TCS M1-KA decoder plus KA2 Keep Alive module.

I realized I haven’t posted any videos of the Burro to date – probably because it didn’t run as well as I wanted it to. Since I’ve now improved the performance, it’s time:


(This video may also be watched directly on YouTube, where you may be able to view it in larger formats)

Enjoy if you watch – but be advised: the video runs 2:49, but it’s not what I’d call “action packed”. But then again, neither is conducting maintenance along an almost-gone branch line.

Just be glad you’re not stuck behind the Burro…

20 thoughts on “Don’t get stuck behind the Burro

  1. Now that looks like a rail based MOW crew out for a task. Line is shut down for the work to be completed. Looks great to me!

  2. Burro cranes were never easy to operate on the track, they bounced on joints and would derail in a heart beat. The clam shell bucket on a lowered boom to clear overhead clearances only made it worse, by lifting the tailing axle off the rail. They would break an axle if pulling too much load too.
    They were handy machines only if you had a good operator.

    • The model is a bit like that too, Pete. I actually added a steel wire between boom and clamshell to keep it from vibrating and swinging about because it could shake the rear axle off the track. I’ve also wedged some stripwood between the rollers under the cab to keep the cab from vibrating, for the same reason – and also because it could cause the cab/boom to rotate. I can remove the wedges when I need to rotate the cab to access the screws for disassembly.
      Thanks for the insights into the prototypes.
      Cheers!

  3. When I was under 6 in the early 1950s we used to go to scrap yard in Portland OR that had a Burro with a big magnet. What more could a kid ask?

    • Hi Wes. Thanks – and give me some time to work on the companion car. There’s nothing suitable for CN available in S. Meanwhile, the Burro operator has obviously deployed the boom to do some digging.

  4. Now can you make it operate that bucket dig and fill the gondola. When do you create a portion of the railroad for it to do its digging work on? [Grim] There that will keep you on your toes for a while.[Big Grin]

  5. Burro cranes were really useful devices to CN. Usually they operated towing a gon and/or flat car. A number of boom attachments allowed for picking up rail with rail tongs, ditching with a removable bucket, etc. If the rail tongs were being used, the bucket would ride along on the flat car. A caboose carried the pilot conductor or section crew. The trainmen’s collective agreement provided–

    “When self-propelled cranes are required to work on the main line outside of Yard Limits, a conductor will be placed in charge except on lines where there is but one train a day operated in each direction.”

    So the Daily Effort being the only regular train and the line being entirely within yard limits, the section crew could operate the crane without a pilot conductor.

    My experience with these at CN was as a pilot conductor. I recall a 40-mile trip from Burlington to Brampton (Malport Yard) with a Burro, flat car, gon and steel van. Watching that boom bounce as we moved along at about 20 MPH was interesting. By the way, there is not a lot of room for a guy to ride the grabirons and stirrups on a Burro! Fortunately, CN seldom ran them light, providing a better car to ride on for the conductor.

    Burro cranes are designed so that the back end of the crane will not foul another track when the boom is at a right angle pointed away from the track, or even just turned away slightly from that track.

    Burro are not considered to be reliably operate track circuits on their own due to their short wheelbase. I don’t recall any automatically protected crossings or automatic signals on the Port Rowan branch, so this should not be an issue for you. On CN, Burro cranes ran under train order or CTC written authority outside yard limits.

    • Great info, Steve. Thanks.

      (This demonstrates, yet again, the power of blogging for collecting and sharing information.)
      I’ll be able to field a work train with a Burro, a flat and/or gondola, and a van. I do need to do something about suitable CNR flats and gons…
      Cheers!

  6. If only you had done some airbrushing on the model before videotaping it, we could have had the experience of watching paint dry as well. 😉

  7. Have been watching your website thru Marty McGuirk’s site and after seeing that Burro Crane in action I have to say that your modeling is what model railroading is all about. Keep posting, JOHN CVRHS member

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