Review: Dorfan Crane
by Brad Kaplan
of the most sought after train accessories is the Dorfan
crane. Dorfan had a problem with the diecast metal they
used, and, if you can find the original, chances are parts
will be missing or cracked due to metal fatigue. It would
probably never operate, and, if it did operate, one would
not dare run it.
T-Reproductions has taken on the task of
reproducing this crane. It came in what
was one of the largest boxes I have yet
seen. The crane is HEAVY. The base, legs
and boom are all diecast metal and the cab
is sheet metal.
I never have had the opportunity to try
the original, but, comparing photographs,
this is a faithful reproduction. T-Reproductions
actually sacrificed an original $4,000 crane
in the production of this piece. They sent
the crane to their manufacturer in Korea
in good working condition and received it
back in pieces. This one original had to
be sacrificed to give us all this incredible
The only difference between this and the
original is a can motor is used instead
of the original Dorfan motor. The motor
is housed in the red container on the base,
and cannot be seen unless you lift up the
crane. This is a worthy sacrifice to reduce
the cost of the piece.
clutch drive mechanism and the motor control is an exact
replica of the originals. The blue/green control box has
a lever that controls the direction of the motor. Then
the silver shaft in the middle spins at a high RPM speed.
One of the levers off the shaft controls the movement
of the hook and the other controls the spinning of the
cab. To raise or lower the hook, or reverse the direction
of the cab spin, you have to switch the direction of the
lever from the blue/green control box.
My question then became, how much weight
the crane can lift?
The original Dorfan catalogs said it could
lift any Standard gauge engine so I figured
I had to put it to the test. I put a Lionel
#10 under the hook and it lifted without
a strain. I got a lot of nice pictures of
this. I then figured I would try a 408e,
which is the heaviest standard gauge engine
Lionel made. The motor did not strain at
all on the crane. The crane slowly started
flipping itself over (The crane must weigh
over 20 lbs so this is no easy feat!). I
obviously stopped this. There are mounting
holes in the base of the crane but I was
not ready to screw the crane down, so I
used my hand to hold the base of the crane
as it lifted the 408e! It lifted without
any trouble at all. The motor did not strain
at all. My concern was if the rope would
hold the weight of the 408e or snap.
was not able to get that great of a photograph of this
since one hand held the crane and one hand held the camera.
When I was ready to lower the 408e, I hit the wrong lever
by mistake and the cab started going on its 360 swing
to my horror with the 408 rocking back and forth through
the air! I promptly hit the proper lever to stop the cab
rotating and lower the 408e.
I examined the crane in detail to find
any imperfection, and I could not find any
flaws at all. The fit and finish is 100%
perfect. The crane is available exclusively
from T-Reproductions for $795.
Tel: (877) 271-9448