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Koehring 405 questions

Discussion in 'Cranes' started by Nekton, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. Nekton

    Nekton Member

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    Apr 16, 2022
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    Thunder Bay
    Hello folks,

    this is my first post here and I would like to say thank you in advance for any responses. I came across this forum while searching for info about the Koehring 405 and found a couple of threads that sounded like there were some friendly and experienced people here so I thought I'd put a few questions out there and see if anyone can help. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I'm a member of a small yacht club in northern Ontario (Canada) and we have an old Koehring 405 that has not run in over 30 years. Age and model unknown. I've attached a picture of it, and the info plate from inside the cab, but unfortunately it is worn and hard to read. It was donated to the club and parked in its current location by a member who has now passed on and there is nobody left in the club who knows how to operate it. It was left in the position you see in the picture. A small electric winch was mounted on the house with a line going up to a block at the end of the boom, and then down to dock height. We use this for raising and lowering masts on sailboats. The maximum load we lift on this winch is about 500lbs.

    The age of the pendant lines and boom hoist reeving is unknown (but assumed to be at least 30+ years old) and both are showing signs of significant surface corrosion, so we feel it is time to consider replacing these lines to ensure the boom stays up and we can continue using it. The easiest way to do this would be to rotate the crane and lay the boom down on land, rather than trying to re-rig with it in the air. (I am a rigger, and we have access to a crane truck and operator in our club, so it's within our ability to do, but much safer and easier to lay the boom down of course.) I took a quick look under the crane and can see all the control linkages, and with a bit of thought can probably figure out everything does what, but I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction.

    Assuming the crane can not be made to run again, the plan is to replace the pendant and reeving lines with new static lines that will just support the boom at its current angle. I was able to get a pic of the pendant line swage terminals, and zooming in shows a 1 1/8" stamp, so we'll probably go with that the whole length and eliminate the reeving system all together. Solid and simple, even if way over built for the loads we will put on it.


    So here are my questions:

    - Can someone share, or point me to, instructions on what all the control levers and pedals do? I've briefly searched online for an operators manual but can only find one on ebay for almost $200. Worth the price if it contains the info I need.

    - Any warnings or cautions right off the top? 'Don't mess with this because you don't know what you're doing' is totally fair and understood. I'm not planning to touch anything until I know what it does. I gather this is a friction driven system, so potentially the boom is currently being held up just by a clutch and moving the wrong lever could be catastrophic. I'm hoping it is also dogged somehow. I'd like to be able to check and confirm at least this one point.

    - Which lever/linkage will release the house to allow it to turn? Would it be dogged as well? The plan (hope) is that we can release and rotate just by pulling on it (carefully) with a vehicle or loader. I know things might be rusted or seized, so we're prepared to lubricate, heat, cut or remove whatever is needed.

    - Same question for raising and lowering the boom. The plan would be to support it with a crane, release the drum and lower it. If needed we'll cut the cable.

    - What's the chance this machine could be brought back to life? It hasn't run in 30+ years. We have good mechanics in our club, welders, equipment operators etc., and access to heavy equipment services, engine, mechanical, and rigging, so could potentially do whatever is needed up to a full rebuild, but is it worth it? Even if it couldn't crawl, being able to start up, rotate, and raise and lower the boom would potentially be a big asset. If the load line could be made operational that could be huge.

    - And finally a total long shot... if it can be made operational again, including being mobile, I read another thread where the OP had purchased this type of crane for pond dredging. We will have to dredge our shoreline some time in the next 10 years or so, and the cost will be significant. It may be worth it to consider restoring this machine if it can be used for that purpose. Any advice on where to look, and how to source, the bucket and related equipment to outfit for that purpose would be much appreciated.

    Thanks again for any advice or insights.
     

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  2. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
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    The machine in my avatar is a 405 which is the model number of the machine. It was built in about 1958 or 1959. Yours appears to be close to the same but painted a different color. Which engine does your machine have? The one in my photo had a Cat D318.

    To your questions about the boom controls. The boom does have a dog and you should be able to see it on the boom drum. It is usually controlled by one of the handles all the way to the left in the operator station. You will have to turn the drum somehow in order to release the dog. The center foot pedal is the brake for the boom drum. The one in the crane in my photo basically acted like a rocker in that you used both feet. One foot pushed it forward and the other pushed it down. The reason is the you could lower the boom a little at a time on that brake but you had to be quick or the boom could get away from you. Yours looks like a longer boom than ours had so that would be a nerve racking procedure to try that. Ours was a 60' angle iron boom. I can't tell which kind your is in you photo. As I recall the left hand drum control lever when pushed forward would engage the clutch for the boom drum and raise the boom. That is what was done to be able to release the pawl to undo the boom drum. There was another way to lower the boom which was problematic. There is a lever by the operator's left leg that handles the main clutch for the engine to the gear train. That can be put in neutral and then the boom raise clutch engaged and the brake released. The whole gear train will turn which provides some drag to lower the boom under control. Most people can't hold the clutch in hard enough and the boom will get away. The last way was an option with a power boom down function. There was an extra lever on the left side of the operator for that and an over running clutch on the drum that engaged and controlled the boom to lower it slowly. That was an option that had to be ordered special before the machine was built.

    I don't remember if there was a dog for the swing. There is a swing brake to lock the house in place. It is probably locked as you say the machine is basically dead. The most right hand lever of the control station as I recall was the swing brake. All the way forward was release and when adjusted properly it was an over center linkage where the lever snapped over center to lock when pulled back toward the operator.

    Another crane is probably the safest way to lower the boom. If the lines are showing corrosion, it is probably best to get the boom down as soon as possible. Right now it is a hazard with a lot of kinetic energy. The one in my photo was almost tipped over backwards when an old guy thought he could lower the boom through the gears. That didn't work so well. Yours has extra counterweight scabbed onto the back of the machine.

    All this and I don't see any way you will be able to resurrect your machine. All those years sitting in one place next to a wet environment suffering though the cold of winter and the hot of summer with all the critters that probably made homes in there would in all likely hood require a total tear down just to assess what might need to be done. The gear cases are likely to be dry, the brakes and frictions will be caked with debris and possibly swelled and rotted. All the control linkages will likely be frozen in place and access to the joints is very problematic as all the sheet metal does a good job of covering things up. While you might have access to plenty of free labor, just new lines and pendents for the boom are going to cost in the thousands. Getting the swing brake free and turning the house might be an indication of the amount of work necessary to get the rest of the workings loose.

    Keep up posted.
     
  3. Nekton

    Nekton Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2022
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    6
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    Hi John,

    Thanks for the speedy and detailed reply. I don't know what engine it has but will find out. I was down at the yard earlier today but could not open the rear doors. It's still winter here, there's still a fair bit of snow, and we've had several slushy snowstorms recently that have frozen everything solid. Hopefully things warm up soon and I will be able to slide those open and take a look at the engine. If I can't see an ident plate I'll take a picture and post it.

    Yes the boom is angle iron web construction, and is longer than standard. I believe it has an optional 20' extension added, making it about 80'. This would agree with the length of line we installed on the mast hoist winch.

    Also thanks for the info about controls and linkages. Once the snow is gone I'll start poking around and see if I can confirm what does what, and in particular that the boom drum is dogged. I'll also try to identify the house swing brake and hit as many linkages as I can with penetrating oil. Even if we could get it started I don't think it would be wise to try and lower the boom using the controls. For now I'm sticking with the plan to try and swing it over land and use a separate crane to support the boom before either unlocking it, or cutting the reeving so that it can be lowered. Of course precautions will be taken to secure the massive pendant lines and reeving so they don't fall once freed.

    For now, the plan will be to replace the old pendants and reeving with just straight lines that are the right length to keep the boom at the current angle, without the ability to move up or down. Yes it will cost a fair bit, but removing the old crane and building a new one (like a davit arm or something) will likely cost much more, and being without a mast hoist would be a big blow to the club. The boom itself is not showing any significant signs of corrosion (that I can see from the ground at least, and I've used binoculars to inspect as much as possible) and for the near future I'm not worried about it structurally. Long term I will look at scrapping the machine. If the engine or other parts might be worth saving and re-selling I'd appreciate advice on that. Otherwise we have a metal scrapper here that will take it and pay by weight. Good eye on the added counterweight by the way. It's a long metal box welded on to the back and filled with pieces of railway track. The weight of that alone in scrap would probably pay for all the work we need to get done to refit the cables.

    This will be a long project, but I will post updates here as I make progress.
     
    John C. likes this.
  4. ichudov

    ichudov Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Your crane is worth at least $6-9k for scrap and someone should be able to remove it for free. If it sat for 30 years it would be unlikely to run again. I scrapped a railway crane that also sat for 30 years. It looked okay from the outside but it became obvious that the crane cannot be made operational and I scrapped the whole thing regardless. I also scrapped a Bucyrus 30B crane recently, it was actually running but the tracks could not be retracted so I decided to junk it and only salvaged the motor.

    If you want to keep it just as a way to raise sailboat masts, your plan to reeve it again is a good one. Should not cost too much.

    I am not an old crane hater, my own Grove RT60S crane is 48 years old, but sometimes too old and neglected is too much.
     
    59 North and dirty4fun like this.
  5. Nekton

    Nekton Member

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    Hey Old Crane Hater, Thanks for the input.

    (lol, just kidding, I take heat all the time for wanting to make progress or get rid of something that has clearly had a good life and deserves to be put to rest.)

    When I read the other post about rehabbing an old 405 and using it for pond dredging I got pretty excited, but reality put its foot down and it is doubtful this would run again without a ton of work and far more $$ than we want to spend. Easiest solution right now is to just replace the boom support lines and keep using it as we do. Cost will be minimal vs other options, and I've already made progress on lining up hands to help, a crane truck, and our local rigging company can make the cables up for us any time. Long term I think we will look at scrapping it and building a davit crane that will also be good for launching small boats such as dinghies, but for now the 405 stays. I'll still look into scrapping the added counterweight for some cash, and follow up with a post on the engine in case it's worth the effort to sell.

    More to come.
     
    59 North likes this.
  6. Nekton

    Nekton Member

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    Location:
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    Engine update, we've thawed out enough here that I was able to get the rear doors open. Our 405 has a GM motor, pic attached. I wasn't able to see any other ident marks but I didn't get in and crawl around to look to hard either. The cab is padlocked to prevent vandalism or ill thought control movement, and the key has long since been lost, so I have to get some bolt cutters or a grinder and cut it off before I can access the front of the motor and check for info there.

    Given the comments so far I'm not sure if it's worth bothering to try and get it running, but maybe it's worth something to someone.
     

    Attached Files:

    dirty4fun likes this.
  7. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

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    It’s a 4-71 Detroit Diesel and I see an air compressor as well. Must be something that needs air power in there. Thanks for the photos.
     
  8. skyking1

    skyking1 Senior Member

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    This is a thought.
    Find a running replacement, and scrap that one.
    What you will find is the old crawlers will sell for not much more than scrap value. The scrap value and replacement crane is a wash.
    You'd be out the transportation costs.
    Let's say it is $10,000
    I think you will approach those costs if you hire another crane to support it and the new wire, and now have a fixed boom that does not much.
    Instead you will get a runner that swings and tracks and starts. If it is in good shape it can haul a boat, etc.
    /end of thought
     
    dirty4fun likes this.
  9. Nekton

    Nekton Member

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    Thanks for identifying the motor. May take a gamble and post it for sale and see if there is any interest locally. Perhaps the block could be valuable for a rebuild.

    Looking for a running replacement is an interesting idea. The cable replacement will only be a few thousand, but at some point in the near future we will have to undertake a dredging operation along our shoreline and it will cost a fair bit. It is worth looking into acquiring a smaller and more easily operated machine that could do that work, and then be used for mast stepping and perhaps launching small boats. I'll run this by some of the decision makers in the club this summer.

    Thanks guys.
     
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  10. tractormech

    tractormech Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Sir, I've worked on 305 and 405's but it's been a while. I will say that it can be made to run again, but by the time that's done you could buy a running, operational unit that's already a dragline and do your lifting and dredging. . I couldn't see if that's a manual or air machine without more pictures of the control levers. The fact that the hoist lines aren't being used concerns me. You don't know what the issue is with that. At a minimum you'll need to reline the brake bands and probably the shoes. Freeing up all the linkages, pins and bellcranks is a job. You're probably going to find that it's froze up all over-brake bands stuck to drums, the works. And you haven't crawled under it to free up all the froze up clevis pins, brake bands and slide clutches for the travel- (if it even works). You're going to need a torch and an air hammer with different bits to get the pins out, because it will be rusted and froze up like you wouldn't believe. I have done that job and got the hat and T shirt. All the pins will be worn out and need to be replaced too by the way, so count on that. I can promise you this-this job will get bigger and bigger the more you work on it-trust me on that. Koehring's been out of business for 40 years so there's no dealer support anymore. But, if you want some honest, objective observations here's mine-First, who do you have that can even run a dragline? Or run it as a friction crane for that matter? It's clunky and cumbersome and trying to do fine, precise work like setting sail boat masts requires an experienced operator. One slip up and you just gigged the man's sailboat like a flounder. I, personally, think an older boom truck would be more suited to your needs. Mobile and a lot more control. One cable to keep up with. Hire your dredging done and when they're through pay them and let them load up and leave-no old dragline for you to try to keep running, maintain and hope there's always someone around who can operate it when you finally get around to the dredging in the next ten years. We might all be dead in ten years. That's a trap you can fall into. I love the old stuff but at this point, I don't think it suits your needs. I wish you the best with whatever decision you make.
     
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  11. Nekton

    Nekton Member

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    Some good thoughts, thanks. We are unlikely to pursue restoring the machine, but I like to explore options and wanted more info than my limited knowledge and experience could provide. It does have an air compressor by the way, identified by another member from the pics I posted. I still hope to be able to free up the house so I can swing the boom over, either to service the pendant lines or to make scrapping safer. The next steps will be slow, but I will update when anything significant happens.
     
    John C. likes this.
  12. skyking1

    skyking1 Senior Member

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    Nice post, tractormech.