For whatever reason, maintenance of way equipment has always had a special appeal to just about anyone interested in railroads. For us railroad modelers, MofW equipment gives us the opportunity to build unique models with paint schemes that differ from the rest of the rolling stock on the railroad. And for those of us with operating railroads, the equipment gives us a chance to have special movements periodically.
The plans for a wreck crane on the CWE were hatched almost 40 years ago when I purchased one of the Athearn 200-ton crane kits. I clipped several adds for brass cranes of a more modern design from magazines over the years and saved them in the box with the crane. My plan was to eventually kit-bash a more modern crane from the Athearn kit. However, as the design plans for the railroad were developed and the operating scheme came together, it became apparent that a 200-ton crane would be based at one of the major yards, not on the modeled portion. Would a smaller crane be located at the yard at North Pierce? Perhaps. But the plans for WC 17 didn't fully gel until I found the photo below.
The photo shows one of the C&O's smaller cranes at Thurmond, WV and I'm guessing it's sometime in the 1960's but perhaps a little later. I don't know if it was kept there or not, but one could imagine it was stationed there to handle any minor derailments on the numerous branches that originated here. And it just so happens that Tichy makes a kit of this exact crane. That was all the inspiration I needed!
The photos below shows the completed model on the RIP tracks at North Pierce.
The kit was a joy to build, and I'm really impressed with the design work. All of the pieces fit together beautifully, and it's very apparent that someone spent a lot of time and effort engineering how everything would fit together. The only additional detail that I added was the side curtains.
So the boom car that was built back in the mid-1980's finally has a companion. In addition to the recently completed baggage/tool car, there is a tender in the works. There will probably be a passenger car or two that will be added to the wreck train. And I'm not sure if it will be station here at North Pierce or somewhere else on the railroad. Time will tell. But the wreck train will certainly make an occasional appearance during an op session. And yes, it will be limited to 10 MPH.