Restoration: Electromagnetic Crane

Because of the interest in the Electromagnetic Crane in model railroad forums.  I will be updating this page over the next week as more information comes available.

Action Performed By Electromagnetic Crane: 

When the activation button is pushed, the crane swings to the side. In doing so, the cord that holds the magnet is extended, allowing the magnet to reach to the ground. 

583 Electromagnetic Crane: (1946 - 1949) On this variation the remote control operating crane came with gray metal receiving bin. The boom could be gray or green. The electromagnet was painted red. The motor was equipped with sequence reverse unit, and the controller had one button.

583A Electromagnetic Crane: (1950 - 1953) In the improved cranes came with no sequence reverse unit (done was installed). So the controller now had two buttons. The die-cast boom was green and the electromagnet was painted red as before..

583A (Type I): Some of these cranes had an all-gray support structure.

583A (Type II) Other had a silver-painted support structure. 

583A (Type III) A third version had a gray base and silver-painted legs.

#906 (1954) - Gray or blue base

583A (2000+) Lionel reissue. 

The Restoration of the 583 Electromagnetic Crane from 1946-48 (one step at a time)

  • These are the three components out of the 583 electromagnetic crane. When I purchased it at the swap meet. There were very few wires attached to any of the components and most all the fingers were in poor condition.

  • I'm now in the process of trying to get a wiring diagram to wire the three components together in the correct working order.
  • I replaced the wires in the magnet and that is working by itself. The crane drive has four  wires, two from the brushes and two from the field off the end. One of these wires was attached to the electromagnet. The drive works fine when I bench tested it.
  • I replaced the two sets of fingers on the reverse unit with new ones and reattached the wires as I thought they should be. This maybe where my problem, without an accurate wiring diagram?
  • Any help in this restoration project would be appreciated.
  • I went ahead and added three new pictures of the reverse unit from 1946- 48, part number XA8731. that came off the 385 electromagnetic crane. There was some interest  as how this should be wired (different then I did) because it did not work for me when I bench tested it. The fingers could be wrong also.

When all else fails, go with new technology

I finally gave up on the 1946 reverse unit and went with new technology. I installed Dallee #400 "E" unit onto the motor and crane drive of the electromagnetic crane. The customer support at Dallee Electronics said it should work just fine following the direction.
  • Red and brown to the two brush tubes
  • Orange and yellow to the two field wires.
  • Blue and black to (input power) transformer.
I gave it a bench test before installing it in the crane body. Every thing worked out just as they said it would. Even Better!
  • I went ahead install the drive and motor back into the crane body as before. I mounted the Dallee "E" unit to the side on the frame, so it would not interfere with the electromagnet wire coming through the grommet in front where the old reverse unit was mounted. When this is all completed it will give this old crane a newer up-dated look.

This  is the last picture of the underside and the completed restoration of the 583 electromagnetic crane after I did the the final bench testing. I am going to run the crane off a single 15B AF transformer so I can control the speed of the boom swing and the time I energize the magnet using a two button system.




 Pictures of the 583 and 583A being bench tested
You can see the two different cranes pictured together. The 583 crane on the left had just one button, the 583A crane on the right has the two buttons. The pictures at bottom R-L are the 583 crane with one button and the newer 1949 (XA10587-D) reverse unit?


Electromagnetic Crane #583 Parts Numbers:
  1. Armature (X9337-A)
  2. Field (X9338)
  3. Reverse Unit (XA8731) 1946, 47, 48: Replaced by (XA10587-D in '49) 
  4. Coil Assembly (XA8735)
  5. Magnet Assembly (XA9233)

 Links of Interest:
  1. YouTube Video of Electromagnetic Crane on Flat Car
  2. American Flyer Electromagnetic Crane on YouTube
  3. Lionel / Flyer Electromagnetic Crane 583A Photos
  4. American Flyer Instruction Manual from 1949, page 46 
  5. All of the A.C. Gilbert Accessories on YouTube Video