The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Larry Simon

Added to museum: 11/26/07

A Manitowoc Model 4600 Lift Crane in 1/32 scale

The massive Manitowoc Model 4600 Lift Crane was always a favorite of Larry Simon's. Though he had never built a model from scratch before, he learned what he needed as he went along and ended up with a fine result. (Click on the photo to view a larger image or see more photos at the end of this article.)

In addition to building the crane model, Larry also machined a few parts for our recent Seal Engine build. He is seen here holding the partially completed 4-cylinder engine in the museum shop.

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We regret to announce that Larry passed away April 20, 2011. He was a great friend to the museum and a stalwart volunteer every Monday for over four years. He has kindly left the machine tools in his home shop to the Joe Martin Foundation where they will continue to be useful to our shop craftsmen. The new museum's lounge area has been named "Larry's Lounge" in his honor. We are glad he got to see that before he passed away, as he treasured the time he spent at the museum talking to visitors and fellow craftsmen.

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Sixteen years to build one model...but it was worth it

Larry Simon was inspired to build only one model from scratch in his life, and it turned out to be a really good one. He had built a number of scale model airplanes from kits since his youth, but some twenty years after working for the company that builds Manitowoc cranes in Manitowoc, Wisconsin he decided he wanted to model their giant Model 4600 lift crane. He obtained brochures from the company which gave him the basic outline dimensions and some photos of various assemblies and machinery.

These pages from the company's brochure on the real 4600 crane provided much of the information Larry needed for his model. The actual crane stands over 17' tall to the top of the cab and has a tread length of 26' and a tread width of 21'. The crane weighs over 480,000 pounds. Even with the optional 635 HP diesel engine it only has a maximum speed of only 1.3 MPH, but its strength is in its reach and lifting capacity. (Click on any of the pages to view a larger version and see more detailed stats on the machine.)

Larry decided to build the model in 1/32 scale. He drew plans and started the project in 1977, working in spurts with long breaks when he couldn't devote time to it, but he never gave up and kept coming back until he achieved his goal of having a giant Manitowoc crane he could park in his living room. He finished the model in 1993. After a couple of years of collecting dust, he disassembled and stored it. In early 2007, Larry brought his crane model components out of storage and into the Museum of Miniature Craftsmanship in Vista where he now works as a volunteer. There he began work on re-assembly and detailing the model and fabrication of the display base. Finishing it in October, 2007 he promptly donated it to the museum, where it is now on display.

Many functions of the real crane are duplicated in miniature. The boom is well over 6 feet long and a series of vintage fishing reels hidden in the display base and accessed through holes on the back side control movements of the boom and the main and jib lift hooks. His lack of scratch-building experience when he started, his determination to finish this model and the excellence of the final result should offer some inspiration to those who find themselves intrigued enough by a particular object to want to make a model of it. Larry's example shows that if you are determined enough, you can acquire the skills you need to end up with a really fine model.

Larry and his twin brother Larry can be seen in 1/32 scale posing on the model crane.

A little about Larry—A desire to be a designer leads to a career in cranes, cameras and electronics

Larry hails from a small town in northern Wisconsin. At age 9, in early 1941, his family moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where the industrial plants there were pressed into service to support military needs prior to America's entry into WW II. He was always mechanically inclined and wanted someday to become a designer. After 4 years of junior and high school drafting classes, he took correspondence courses in machine design from Chicago Technical College. This led to a job as a design draftsman in the Crane Division of the Manitowoc Engineering Company from 1952 to 1954. This company, now The Manitowoc Company, builds some of the worlds largest construction cranes. It was there he gained admiration for these giants of the construction world and the desire to someday model one.

In 1954 Larry moved to the Los Angeles area where he worked for companies that designed and built motion picture cameras for the movie industry and the military. In 1959 he started what was to be 14 years of employment with a company, that in 1963, offered relocation to San Marcos, Ca where he worked for 10 years. He then joined TRW where he stayed thru 1990, then returned to his former employer until 1993 when he retired.

Volunteer efforts at Palomar Airport lead to civic award

Larry's love of airplanes often drew him to nearby County-owned Palomar Airport where he often went to watch the activity at the busy facility. One day, while watching aircraft arrive and depart, by chance he met the Airport Manager. Larry's ability to identify aircraft, new and old, prompted the Manager to ask if he would be interested in volunteering to do tours at the airport. Larry jumped at the chance and was named Airport Tour Director, a fictitious title since there were no designated tour guides at any other County airport. He scheduled and conducted tours at Palomar Airport for over 9 years, averaging over 2000 visitors a year.  In 1995 he was honored as "Volunteer of the Year" out of over 1200 volunteers.

Craftsmanship Museum now benefits from Larry’s efforts

In June 2006, Larry was again looking for something to occupy some of his time when he spotted the Craftsmanship Museum's ad in the local paper looking for help in their newly opened machine shop. The Foundation had just hired machinist Tom Boyer to fill that spot, but Larry liked what the museum was doing and offered his services as a volunteer on Mondays when Tom is off as well as other times when he is available. The Museum gladly accepted his offer, and many visitors have since been given expert guided tours by the always patient and friendly Larry.

Here are some photos of Larry Simon's crane project:

(Click photo for larger image.)

From a distance, the long boom and white jib combine for impressive reach. The model boom is approximately 80" long, and like the real version, the pilothouse unit that carries the cab and engine must be counterweighted to balance the weight of the boom and load.
From "ground level" you see the view a onstruction worker might see approaching the massive crane. The huge yellow-striped counterweight at the rear of the upperworks (cab and motor unit) on the real version can be loaded or changed automatically from the cab depending on the weight to be lifted.
A view of the front of the mast shows some of the drums that operate the various lines. Larry has hidden vintage fishing reels beneath the display base to do the actual lifting of the boom, and hooks.
A further view shows some of the structural detail in the boom, which is constructed mostly of scale plastic shapes from an industrial model company.
Another view shows the boom from underneath.
Cab detail is impressive, with handrails, steps, mufflers and grillwork.
The optional white jib extends the reach of the boom by another 40 or 50 feet depending on the model.
The many pulleys provide the leverage needed to lift massive weights.
In this view you can see some of the tread detail. As is often the case in model making, Larry's discovery of a company that made one component—in this case a small link belt perfectly matches the real one that drives the treads—determined the scale of the eventual model.
An overall view again shows the model's impressive proportions. The model is on display in the Foundation's Craftsmanship Museum in Vista, CA, and Larry or Tom will be glad to take you on a tour to see it and the many other exhibits in person.
Another view of the cab with a couple of images Larry himself reduced to 1/32 scale to illustrate the size of the crane.
On August 29, 2008 Larry was presented with an award for his volunteer service in manning the museum and hosting tours every Monday and any day that our regular shop craftsman, Tom Boyer couldn't be here for the past two years. Larry attended the opening day of the museum in 2006 and offered his services, and he became an indispensable part of the museum staff shortly thereafter. The photo shows Larry receiving an engraved gold medallion, a certificate of thanks and a handshake from founder Joe Martin as a group of friends gathered to thank him for his efforts on behalf of the museum.
The Manitowoc Crane Division's web site can be found at Want your own model of a Manitowoc crane? See their model selection at

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New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

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This section is sponsored by

Makers of precision miniature machine tools and accessories. Sherline tools are made in the USA.

Sherline is proud to confirm that Larry Simon uses Sherline tools in the production of his small projects.

To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact


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