HF GE manufacturers plate on a recovery crane

An original HF crane on a Land Rover at HCVS vintage vehicle show

A Ford Thames truck fitted with a Harvey Frost twin whinch beakdown crane, seen at Riverside Steam Rally 2010

The firm of Harvey Frost & Co. Ltd was one of the first British distributors of vehicle recovery equipment. The firm was founded in London in about 1900. They distributed equipment built by Ernest Lake and others before going on to manufacture there own machinery latter. The firm later moved to Bishops Stortford, in Hertfordshire. They are probably best known for the light weight recovery cranes (lifts) that used to be fitted to the back of light trucks and Land Rovers for car recover work before the spectacle lift and drop bed lorries became popular as car designs changed and handling methods had to adapt.

Company history

  • details unknown


  • Garage equipment
  • Jackranes - particularly useful in the workshop, and feature a horizontal boom carried on a wheeled bogie running on the main vertical assembly. The bogie is hauled up the main member by wire ropes through a hand-powered winch. The winch drum is driven through a gear train which is enclosed in an oil bath and embodies an automatic friction brake to support loads. A feature of the gearbox is that is can be replaced in the event of a failure without resorting to dismantling any other part of the crane. The main booms can be extended on an infinitely variable basis but of course the further the boom is extended the lower the safe working load. An extension boom which can be used with all the Jackcranes provides for a maximum reach of 8ft and has a capacity of 4cwt. A cable drum of generous diameter is used on all the models to minimize wear and tear on the lifting cable. Jackcranes are produced with capacities of from 10cwt up to 2 tons.
  • General-purpose cranes - They are both of 35cwt capacity and one is equipped with both the standard horizontal boom as on the Jackcranes, and with a variable position overhead jib. This adjusts to three positions the highest of which provides for a clear lift of 7ft 11 in. When the overhead jib is in use, the jacking boom folds away into the main framework of the crane. The other of these two models is as above but without the jacking boom.
  • Floor crane's - One of 12cwt and the other of 30cwt capacity. These units are of cantilever construction and the lifting winches are of a simple worm and wheel design. A ratchet pawl mechanism prevents loads from lowering unintentionally and the 12cwt model is equipped with stabilizing jacks for use when the winding gear is being used.
  • Gantries - Made with capacities of 25cw1 and 3 tons. There are two types of threetonner. One has a maximum lift of 12ft while the other lifts 13ft. The gantries are fitted with a winch at each side of the framework which comprises two latticebraced double-channel uprights bolted together through a spreader. Well-braced, wide feet which give the units stability are mounted upon generous-sized castor wheels for mobility. Stabilizing jacks are mounted inboard of the castors to steady the gantry while lifts are being undertaken.The 25cwt model has both lifting ropes led on to one winch. Two separate winding drums are fitted to the winch, one being free running on the winch spindle while the other is fixed. When it is necessary to use both ropes the second drum is locked to the fixed spindle by a spring-loaded plunger.
  • Hydraulic cranes - Four different types were produced by Harvey Frost. They have capacities of +-, -, 1and 2-ton—the 2-ton unit can be supplied with an electrically driven pump. All these units utilize the hinged boom principle and on each one the boom can be extended to three positions. The smallest of this range. when its boom is fully extended. will lift 2cwt and the lifting hook travels over a range from floor level up to a clear height of 8ft Bin. The heaviest unit, with its boom fully extended, will lift 12cwt from 1ft 3in above the floor to a clear height of 9ft 5in.
  • HF Pickup Crane - for suspended tow of small and medium cars
  • Recovery Dolly - wheeled unit placed under damage or broken down vehicle to recover it by towing. lifts axle clear of the ground.


A few vehicles are shown at Classic vehicle shows that have Harvey Frost cranes fitted. Here are a few of them;

Vehicles with Harvey frost equipment in preservation
Vehicle make Vehicle model Reg no. Type Photo Were shown at Notes
Land Rover ? YDG 653S+ Recovery crane See above HCVS Trans Pennine Run 2009
Ford Thames NGY 655+ Twin winch recovery crane Ford Thames - NGY 655 with Harvey Frost crane at Riverside 2010 - IMG 7743.jpg Riverside Steam and Vintage Vehicle Rally 2010 Hand winches

See also

References / sources

External links

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