RDG Co. 250-ton Industrial Brownhoist Wreck Crane, #90901

#90901 at Leesport yard, February 1997. (photo courtesy Tim Weidner, MP&RE collection)

Background & History

A complete wreck train consisted of a locomotive, a wreck crane, tool cars, and enough bunk and cook cars for personnel required for a particular wreck. Wreck cranes and tool cars were often stationed at strategic points along the railway line. Division terminals were considered strategic points because locomotives and engine, train, and wreck car crews were always available on call. Wreck train equipment had to be prepared for immediate movement. Ties, rails, spikes, and other repair materials are stockpiled at various points. An emergency supply of such items were also loaded in suitable cars and held with each wrecker as part of the wreck train.

Wreck crane #90901 was acquired in 1997, and completed our goal to preserve an entire Reading wreck train, or “relief train” as they preferred to call them. This huge piece of equipment was purchased new by the Reading Railroad in 1956 for $211,792.61. It was built by Industrial Brownhoist, is powered by twin diesel engines, and its 500,000 pound capacity means it and its sister #90902 could easily lift an entire Reading T-1 steam locomotive. It was originally delivered in black paint and spent most of its life at the Erie Avenue Terminal in Philadelphia, PA. It was repainted in the 1960s to match the yellow and green Reading relief train.

At 191-tons, it is the heaviest piece of equipment in our collection, even outweighing locomotives #5308 and #6300. The crane is currently painted as Conrail #45214, in black with red safety striping. Because it is rare to see a wreck crane in anything but basic black, we would like to eventually repaint #90901 into the yellow/green scheme as pictured above. With all of its nooks and crannies, it will be a challenging and time consuming task. Mechanically, the crane is in excellent condition and is fully operational. It will be part of our authentic recreated Reading relief train which will consist of the following:

Archival Photos

Wreck crane and tender at Philadelphia, 1967. (photo courtesy Bob Wilt, from RDG Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by Craig Bossler)

Industrial Brownhoist 250-ton Crane Specifications:
Builder: Industrial Brownhoist, Bay City, MI Engine model: HBI-600 Cummins (2)
Date built: March 1956 Type: 4-stroke diesel
Hoist capacities:   Horsepower: 145 x 2
Main: 250-tons (500,000 lbs.) Cylinders: 6
Auxiliary: 60-tons (120,000 lbs.) Controls: Air
Whip: 15-tons (30,000 lbs.) Outriggers: 3 sets (1 powered)
Length: 41' 11" (less boom) Transmission: Twin-disk clutches,
torque convertors
Weight: 383,100 lbs.
Axles: 6 Brake system: SA-2 straight air + train
Bearings: Roller (converted) Fuel capacity: 75 gallons
  (last updated: 4/03)