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Doc's Ami-Lac-Built Märklin Coal Plant Elevator ("Kohlenförder-Anlage")

Hi folks, Doc here. Recently I added a number of new model designs to the G-Files download page here on Girders & Gears. Among them are a dozen or so models from a 1960s-70s vintage Märklin manual. I chose these particular models because a) I like the designs and plan to build all of them myself, and b) with a few strategic part substitutions and some minor re-engineering all of them can easily be built with Ami-Lac, Meccano, or Merkur sets as well. The model shown on this page is no exception: I built it with an Ami-Lac No. 8 set, plus a handful of Meccano parts. Actually, the Meccano pieces were not necessary, but I used them in order to get a final product as close to the original design as possible.

The original artist's rendering of the model from the manual is shown at right. This is model #132 from the No. 1013 set. It's a large coaling elevator with a manually operated lift and an ore hopper. Rails for the hopper to roll on are attached to the elevator tower at the ground level and at the upper level, as well as on the floor of the lift cab. With the lift in the lowered position, the hopper can be rolled into the cab and onto its floor rails. The cab can then be raised to the upper level by means of a manual crank mounted on the base of the tower, and the hopper rolled out onto the upper rails. The finished model stands just over 25" tall, and the rails span over 30" combined.

My Ami-Lac version shown in the photos below is a nearly exact replica of the original Märklin design. The only parts that are not Ami-Lac are a handful of Märklin and Meccano gears and some large Meccano flexible plates. I used the plates on the floor and roof of the lift cab, and on the elevator tower roof. They are also used halfway up the tower on two opposing sides. In each case, similar Ami-Lac parts could have been substituted, but the Meccano pieces were the closer in appearance to the originals. The only place where my version really differs with the original is in the gearing at the top of the tower. The Mäarklin design uses a pair of cookie cutter gear rings, but I substituted a Meccano pinion and sprocket combination for these.

Now let's talk about the mechanics of this model. Aesthetically, this is a nice design, I think. Functionally, however, it doesn't really work as it is. The problem is this: the lift cab is fairly heavy, and trying to raise it using a drive belt and pulley system is not practical, since the belt will inevitably slip on the pulleys, no matter how tight it is tied. Even a rubber belt, could you find one long enough, would be likely to slip. As you can see, I have built the model with the pulley system, per the original design. However, to make it work properly, there are a couple of good options. First, the simplest thing to do would be to remove the large red pulley at the top of the tower and attach a crank handle to the end of the same shaft. Problem solved. Another method would be to substitute sprockets and ladder chain for the pulleys and belt.