311 Medium Excavator
Variation 3: Ruston Bucyrus version, black handles, slot-in jib link, type 1 box
Variation 4: Ruston Bucyrus version, um handles, pin-type jib link
Variation 4: um handles, pin-type jib link
Benbros devised two completely different models for the Medium Excavator with each one being differently illustrated on the two types of boxes in which they were issued.
The first version, which carried no identification or maker's name, was possibly created when the Benenson brothers were trading as Pure Rubber Products before the Benbros name was introduced, but from the illustration on the box, which does have the 'Benbros Qualitoy' logo, it seems clear that the older model was part of the initial range.
Cast in four separate parts with four metal wheels and no tracks, the first Excavator was a fairly basic model but had good play value. The heavy jib and bucket were fixed to the body with a crimped pin and were controlled by two lengths of string attached to winding handles. A central rivet fixed the body to the base and this meant that the excavator could swing in a complete circle.
Benbros painted it in bright colours and there seem to have been two variations. Both had red bodies and yellow jibs but the bases and buckets were different, either pale-green base with unpainted metal wheels and bucket, or dark-green base with yellow (or sometimes blue) painted wheels and red painted bucket.
It was not long before Benbros replaced the first Excavator with the much more familiar Ruston-Bucyrus 10-RB version which was a detailed and well made model. The body, painted in yellow and red, included the two control handles and was fixed to the base by a central rivet. Underneath the body, 'Benbros' and 'Made in England' were cast. The green base had unpainted rollers and dark-grey rubber tracks and no id.
There were three castings for the excavator section, the lifting jib, the bucket and supporting arm, and the separate opening bucket base. These were all painted dark-green. There was also an unpainted pulley or block at the top for the string connection to the bucket.
The link between the jib and the body at first was a 'slot-in' connection but this was later replaced by re-casting both body and jib to create a more secure pin fixture. On the first version the winding handles were usually painted black whilst on the later one they were black or more usually unpainted. The handles could also be positioned on both sides or just on one side, usually the right.
The two boxes used for the Medium Excavator were completely different in both colour and illustrations but both were shared with the Medium Crane. The first one was red and black with pictures of the first version of the Excavator and of a Crane based on a similar casting. 'Benbros Qualitoy' and 'Made in England' were printed on the end flaps with a blank panel for model details. 'Medium Excavator 311' and '310 Medium Crane' were printed on two of the picture faces.
The second shared box was a pastel coloured one with illustrations of the Ruston Bucyrus models with the names and 'Qualitoy' (but no numbers) on each picture. As with the first box, 'Benbros Qualitoy Made in England' and a blank panel were printed on each end-flap.
The first version of the Medium Excavator is a rare model but the Ruston Bucyrus variation is more common. Both the boxes are scarce with the later one being especially hard to find.
Variation 1: First version, dark-green base, yellow pmw, red bucket
photo Christopher Took
Variation 2: First version, pale-green base, unpainted mw & bucket
Benbros Qualitoys 311 Medium Excavator
1) RED body um handles YELLOW jib RED bucket DARK-GREEN base YELLOW (or BLUE) pmw
2) RED body um handles YELLOW jib um bucket PALE-GREEN base Unpainted metal wheels
3) RB RED/YELLOW body GREEN jib/bucket (slot-in link) black pm handles GREEN base GREY tracks
4) RB RED/YELLOW body GREEN jib/bucket (pin link) black pm or um handles GREEN base GREY tracks
Variation 3: Ruston Bucyrus version, slot-in jib link, black handles, type 1 box
Variation 4: pin-type jib link, um handles
Type 2 shared box