Ancient Toys

Besides the renovation of our parents' house, there's also a lot of cleaning up to be done as well as getting rid of any unused junk.

My brother Gert suggested to have a look down in the old cellar, something I wasn't too keen on as I have seen too often what happens in B-movies; enter at your own peril!

Luckily our cellar was surprisingly dull and boring but we did retrieve an ancient relic - covered in spider webs - from my childhood...

Probably in 1960 or 61 my Dad got intrigued by a photo of a harbor crane and decided to build a model, just to figure out how it worked and provide me (3 or 4 years old at the time) with a very fascinating toy!

Over the years it was passed on to my brother (and sister, who didn't care much for it as she preferred to play with dolls). (*)

As expected it got used and abused, some pieces broke and after many years ended up in the cellar...

There not much happened to it, except for the effects of moisture, cellars often end up being damp and ours wasn't an exception!

We were really surprised to retrieve this old toy and decided to take it with us on our 'raam bellen' visit to our Dad in the old folks home, de Beukenhof.

He was happily surprised to see it and proudly told the staff that this was another one of his projects that he'd made himself!

In the past Dad was a bit like Disney's Willie Wortel (Gyro Gearloose) but with a strong emphasis on blowing up things / burning them down as well as inventing stuff. (**)

As kids we thought it was great, but at times he must driven our Mom bonkers...

Anyway, Gert and I decided to restore Dad's crane to its former glory.

Back to the crane, lying so many years in a damp cellar had caused considerable damage as the following photos show.

All the pulley wheels were rusted and the copper parts heavily corroded...

As mentioned before, a wooden support was broken...

Most of the pulley wheels were completely stuck...

But at least the main structure of the crane was still in reasonable shape!

It still worked somehow...

It was build like this in order to both lift goods vertically as well as move horizontally!

But obviously a lot of repairs needed to be done.

The old strings almost disintegrated upon the spot...

Luckily Gert had (& still has!) an impressive collection of tools.

And even more important, he knows how to use them!

We started dismantling the crane...

Unscrewing...

Treating all wooden parts with turpentine...

Including the base...

Removing rust...

Gert's lathe turned out to be very useful...

Polishing...

Originally the crane never had a hook like that, but Gert considered it a neat update!

But even putting that little hook together took a while!

Sandpapering...

The various bits and pieces!

Putting Dad's crane finally together again...

Apparently a ciggie helps!

New string...

A bit of fiddling around...

Testing, 1, 2, 3...

And it worked again!

On our next visit we proudly presented it to Dad who was very, very pleased!

This little vdo clip should give you a better idea how the crane works.


(*) I know, highly politically incorrect but in the early 60s that's what most young girls played with!

(**) Explaining this would take at least 10 more blog posts....

P.s. Dad was also an excellent draftsman, his portrait of this lady was rescued by my sister and now hangs nicely framed on one of the walls of her living room!

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