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Z151 / Z152

1:87 Scale



Z151/Z152 Class Steam Crane


Production Summary

Prototype Information

The Z151 and Z152 class steam cranes were produced between 1957 and 1988 by Qiqihaer Rolling Stock works. Over 2000 examples were built during this period and were widespread throughout the entire country. A handful of different liveries existed, but the common color was green with red pilots and black frame/boom.


The class name can be dissected with 'Z' abbreviated for "Zheng", or "蒸" meaning steam. ‘15’ refers to their maximum lift capability of 15 tons and the 1 or 2 referring to type one or two. Originally the Z151's had a shorter boom and could use either a hook or coal bucket and typically saw service in locomotive depots replenishing steam locomotive tenders. The Z152's had a longer boom and were equipped with hooks (a good number unofficially swapped between the hook and shovel over the years). They could propel themselves under their own power steam power.  

Quite a few of these cranes remained in service right up until 2022 with the demise of the Sandaoling coal railway which used a fleet of them for track works and maybe there are still some examples in the far flung regions of the country still in a serviceable condition; however they have for the most part been replaced by more modern diesel types. 


General Information

MTC produced a good variety of steam cranes at the end of 2015. They are of all brass construction, very well detailed and accurate. Unlike the real Z cranes which were self propelled, these are static models only. 



MTC's cranes come in a very nice high quality two piece box which has layers of foam with cutouts to accommodate the model and its boom attachment. There a baggy with accessory part, which I believe to be a visual guide for the operator when in the cab (it attaches below the front cab window). There is also a schematic showing how to install the cables.



These models were built in brass, which for about a decade from the mid 2000's seemed to be a bit of a phase for Chinese manufacturers as local modelers associated brass models with high quality. The end result was more often than not less than ideal with high prices and fairly low quality, however MTC have thankfully at least done a VERY good job to come up with these superb cranes - at least in the details department.  


They feature full glazing, working headlight and a manually operated boom & winch system. All of the add-on details, such as generator, whistle, pulleys, ladders, etc are made from lost-wax brass castings and are very nicely recreated. The doors, windows cabinets and hatches are non-functional (i.e. cannot be opened).   


The paint work is sensational. It is very evenly applied and has a nice matt finish that makes it actually look like a metal model rather than plastic. There has been some very slight paint wear around the turntable, but hardly noticeable and doesn't detract from the rest of the model. Lettering is incredibly sharp, clear and straight. Road numbers are added to the boom, frame and for some versions on the cab body. There is a degree of customization between models with bureau codes on the side or front of the cab, or completely omitted. There are a choice of three colors and an unpainted brass version as well. I chose the rare black version as I wasn't happy with the shade of bright green used by MTC. The cab interior is accurately painted yellow, the cable drums are grey and all the control levers are hand painted with red handles. 


The boom pivots from the base of the cab. The lattice work is incredibly well done and the functioning pulleys are brilliant. The shovel can be placed in an open or closed position manually. Again, the shovel (or hook if you prefer this version) is recreated beautifully.


Due to the design and placement of the bogies, there is a minimum of detail on the under carriage. The bogies are brass and have a good amount of detail in the leaf and coil springs, the latter being separate parts. There is a single park brake wheel on the right hand side between the bogies and looks great highlighted in red (I doubt many were ever seen in clean condition however!). The outriggers look great and are functional (prototypically these would be extended when lifting loads heavier than 10 tons). The deck has a beautiful checker plate pattern. The rear and front pilots are superb with uncoupling rods, footsteps and air hoses all present and correct. 



The model rolls fairly freely and has a good amount of weight. The wheels are steel and have been chemically darkened for a more realistic appearance.



The model has no motors for operation or to propel itself, however MTC has at least been nice enough to provide a headlight. Pick up is taken from the rear bogie via some copper contacts/wires to the headlight on the front of the cab. The light is an LED, which surprisingly puts out a very nice color. Given only one bogie takes power, it is going to be inevitable that there will probably be a degree of flickering as it moves over points/etc - so if you are planning on towing this thing with the headlight on, it may be worthwhile installing a capacitor to eliminate this effect for brief periods of time due to imperfections in the track. 


Operation & Features

MTC have left the tricky bit for the owner - installation of the cables. There is a schematic to show where everything needs to go, but despite their claims of it being 'easy', to date I still haven't worked up the courage to get this done - hence why all the photos show the loose cables all over the place! I will update the photos once this happens, although I'm secretly hoping a manufacturer will make a fully automated version of this crane to save me the bother. 


The crane features outriggers that can be manually pulled out of the frame. The body is not mechanized, but can be turned on the frame. The chimney (stack) can be folded down or in position as desired - do be careful when packing this model in the box as it is a fragile and very loose part that can easily get bent out of shape.

The boom is also not mechanized, but can be raised and lowered via an awkwardly positioned flat head screw underneath the cab floor on the rear/right hand side. Similarly, the hook or shovel can be independently raised or lowered via a flat head screw underneath the cab floor on the rear/left hand side.   

Coupler Conversion

The couplers are more decorative than functional with good detail, but ultimately a solid knuckle. A Kadee type coupler can be manually mated to them, but if you are intending to have it constantly attaching to other wagons such as flat cars or a locomotive, it will probably be best to find a more operational type coupler. This won't be easy however as the models don't have standard coupler boxes. The coupler shaft is very short and is held on to the coupler mount by a single screw from underneath. I haven't found a commercial coupler such as Kadee, that will simply drop in yet.  


A very beautiful model of a popular crane used in all parts of China from the late 1950's to the present day. 

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