Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “Sully,” follows the story of the legendary pilot Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and his successful landing of a crippled U.S. Airways plane in the frigid waters of the Hudson River in January 2009. The masterful water landing was hailed as a miracle, as all 155 passengers and crew from Flight #1549 survived.

Crucial to the investigation that followed was the recovery of the submerged pieces of the plane, a recovery that relied on a heavy lift crane.  And while Barnhart was not involved in the project, we always appreciate a story about a heroic lift.

According to a story in, the operation to lift the pieces of the plane and recover the plane’s flight-data recorder, or black box, was hampered by river currents and 36-degree waters. Poor visibility made it difficult for divers to maneuver around and inspect the plane.  The divers’ suits were equipped with voice communication devices and hot water hoses for icy conditions.

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

But two days after the event, divers were able to fasten harnesses below the fuselage of the largely intact plane. The harnesses were connected to horizontal bars above the plane, which were attached to the cables of a Weeks Marine 500-ton heavy lift crane, sitting atop a barge.

Since the Airbus A-320 was filled with water, it had to be raised gradually to let the water drain. A tug boat kept ice floes away from the plane.

According to the story, the process of lifting the plane took roughly 90 minutes on the evening of January 17. The tail was lifted first and within 10 minutes most of the fuselage was visible. Then the wings began to emerge. Once Flight #1549 was out of the water, the crane swung the jet toward an empty barge and set it down. At one point, the right wing gave way slightly, and the plane shuddered, but did not break.

The NTSB was able to recover the black box from the plane’s tail section, providing critical information to the investigation.


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When the Virginia Tech Hokies take the field against the University of Tennessee Volunteers in the Pilot Flying J Battle of Bristol this Saturday, Sept. 10, in Bristol, Tenn., several records are likely to be shattered.

The game, which will be featured on ESPN’s College Game Day, takes place at the 150,000-seat Bristol Motor Speedway, and is expected to break attendance records for a college football game. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record stands at 115,109. The event will also make history as the audience will watch the game, replays and highlights on the world’s largest TV.

Barnhart installs the gondola on the Colossus.

Nicknamed “Colossus,” the display was installed by Barnhart between January and April of this year as covered in two videos on our website that detail the process and in an April blog. Colossus is composed of four custom-built screens, each approximately 30 feet tall by 63 feet wide. The screens hang from a halo-shaped truss and cage, with an additional circular LED display screen underneath. Colossus is the world’s largest outdoor, permanent, four-sided, center-hung video display and weighs 127 tons.  The entire system, which includes the support towers and cables, weighs in at 700 tons.

The installation of the mammoth display required careful engineering and surgical precision. Barnhart was hired by the general contractor for the job due to the company’s experience and expertise in engineering, lifting and setting difficult and large projects.

For Barnhart project manager Tommy Thomasson the project was a “triumph of engineering. Outstanding engineering and execution made this project a success.”

Memphis-based Barnhart isn’t really saying which team they are pulling for in this matchup, but you can probably guess. But whatever side you take, if you’re in the audience at the Battle of Bristol, you’re certain to get a great view of the game.

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The summer is winding down, but the weather is still brutal.  With temperatures soaring into the 90s in some parts of the country, care must be taken when working outdoors to prevent heat-related illnesses.

In this video, Barnhart Safety Trainer Daniel Voss outlines how to recognize the symptoms of heat stress and how to take steps to prevent it in the first place.

Heat-related illnesses can come on gradually as your body struggles to maintain its internal core temperature. There are several phases of the condition and at each phase the affected person’s symptoms worsen.

  • Heat Rash
  • Dehydration
  • Heat Cramps
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious condition, requiring an immediate call to 911. Skin is hot to the touch, sweating has stopped and the body’s temperature is over 103 degrees. Yet even in the early stages of a heat-related illness, becoming overheated can affect mental alertness, making you more susceptible to accidents.

One of the most important and easiest preventive measures is to drink water and not just when you step outside. Start drinking water hours beforehand and continue throughout the day. You’ll want to drink 5-7 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Wear light clothing that will reflect and not absorb the heat. Pace yourself.

Finally, look out for your coworkers. If someone complains of being nauseated, disoriented, or fatigued, they might be experiencing heat stress. Have them take a break and move into a cool, shaded area with good airflow.

See more tips below.


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At a recent project at a heavy industrial site outside of Austin, Barnhart’s engineers did what they do best, finding a safe and cost-effective solution for their customers.

Barnhart was hired to remove and reinstall three large generators. The customer’s original plan included taking down a wall to remove the generators, the largest of which measured 17′ x 15′ x 15′ and weighed 171,000 lbs. Barnhart engineers saved the customer both time and money by developing an alternative that utilized the customer’s overhead gantry to situate three of Barnhart’s One-Shot 500-ton gantries to lift the generators, making removal of the wall unnecessary.

Once the gantries were in place, Barnhart made use of a single girder beam system to lift and slide each of the three generators to a trailer provided by the customer. In removing the largest of the three generators, Barnhart was working at 98% of the 72-foot track girder’s capacity and included design features to mitigate the risk, completing the job quickly, effectively and safely, according to Barnhart Project Manager Chris Hughes.

“The reinstall phase required precision in setting the generators,” Hughes said. “We used the 200-ton swivel off a 200-ton hoist to swing the generators around a corner and a set of wires. That was an extremely effective effort.”

Barnhart was required to reinstall only two of the three generators, a process that was completed in a day and a half.

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Improve Processes to Stay on Schedule and Critical Path

Here’s six tips to help your outages and turnarounds go more smoothly. 

1. Make up your mind - Much of outage rigging is on the critical path. The earlier the rigging contractor is chosen, the more consistent and efficient the delivery can be. In the case of specialized rigging and transport services, more preparation and planning time usually means safer, faster, and more elegant solutions.

2. Vet the Vendor - Take the time to learn as much as you can about a vendor well in advance of any outage. Choose vendors that have a proven resume, and a deep inventory of qualified personnel and equipment. Learn more about their protocols and procedures, particularly in the area of safety. Audit your contractor’s home office to learn how they think.

3.  The Right Tools Matter  - Knowing you have the right tools and equipment in the hands of the right rigging contractor can reduce hours and mitigate risk. The best contractors may have innovative tools and techniques that could be unknown to plant personnel. Failure to learn about alternatives may cost the plant time, money and safety.

4.  Get in Synch - It is critical that the schedules of the plant and contractors align perfectly. For operations involving crane and rigging contractors, hire a team that has a successful record of mobilizing teams and equipment within the schedule’s tight tolerances and performing the work, all within the critical path.

5.  Check and Double Check - Simply said – have someone check your work. A thorough review of your plan from a trusted partner will help ensure success and help you sleep better at night!

6.  Ask for Proof - Ask your crane and rigging contractor to show you their track record of adding value through innovative tools, methods and key personnel. Talk is cheap but proof is in performance.

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Hand injuries are all too common in an industrial setting.  In this video, Barnhart Safety Trainer Daniel Voss has some suggestions to keep your hands safe on the job.  After all, safety is one of Barnhart’s core values.

Here are a few tips.

Take a proactive approach to reduce risks simply by thinking ahead. Identifying hazards can help prevent accidents from happening.

To avoid knife injuries do not use excessive force, or use the knife as a tool when there is another one designed for the task. For example, don’t use the tip of a knife as a screwdriver.

Wear gloves. This can be the difference between needing a bandaid and a few stitches or worse.

When using a tag line, don’t wrap it around your hand or wrist. Grip it in the palm of your hand.

Pinch points injuries can happen any time material, equipment and loads are being moved. When landing and guiding a load, care should be given to the placement of your hands. During assembly and disassembly of equipment complacency often sets in, so stay alert. It only takes a second to get your hands in a pinch point that can affect you for life.

Watch more tips for preventing hand injuries.


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During a turnaround at a refinery in Illinois, Barnhart had to devise a solution for removing and reinstalling an upper delta valve and five delta valve door assemblies on a coke drum.  The components had to be removed to facilitate maintenance on the coke drum delta valve seals.

The customer requested that Barnhart develop a removal plan that did not require the removal of the derrick structures above the coke drums. In order to do so, Barnhart had to identify a number of obstructions, determine a way to complete the work given the limited work area on the valve platform and overcome the challenge presented by tight crane boom clearances on several of the necessary lifts.

Barnhart’s staff engineers identified openings in the five derrick structures that would allow the company’s moving counterweight cantilever system to be inserted into the derricks above the coke drums, but, for this to work, the delta valve would need to be upended to a vertical position before it could be removed. The Barnhart team worked closely with the customer and a third party engineering firm to identify obstructions that would need to be removed in order to upend the delta valve.

Utilizing a plant-owned lifting frame, air chain hoist and bull rigging, the team upended the valve and lifted it to the cantilever beam. The valve was then removed through the tower. Once the seal was replaced, Barnhart reset the valve. The project was completed ahead of schedule.

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Barnhart Engineers Provide Solutions for Drum Removal

At a recent job at a refinery in Illinois, Barnhart faced a challenge when removing and replacing a preflash tower reflux accumulator, or drum.

The customer requested that Barnhart develop a plan that would avoid removing any additional equipment or platforms located above the drum, and the team had a limited work area on the drum platform itself. Barnhart’s staff engineers provided a solution utilizing an elevated slide system allowing 33-kip sliding gantries to slide into the structure. The drum was rigged to the Lift Systems 44A gantries and slid to an open area where it could be handed off to a crane hook for removal.

Barnhart uses an elevated slide system and gantries to remove the drum.

Through efficient planning and coordination and by working closely with the customer’s maintenance contractor, Barnhart was able to complete the remove and replace job safely and on schedule.

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You might not think a crane and a truck would have much in common. But they do, as demonstrated in a short video, Common Core: Nissan Presents: Titans of Construction, part of a series of videos promoting the Nissan Titan truck.

In the video, Eric Fields, Director of Engineering at Nissan’s Assembly Plant in Canton, takes a trip to a Barnhart job site in Mississippi to check out an “awesome” construction crane.

According to Barnhart’s Drake Townsend, the 100-ton crane can move from site to site and be set up in 30 minutes. But its most unique feature is its video monitoring system, which can capture a 360-degree view, enabling crane operator John Cargile to get a full picture of where the crane is moving. The Nissan Titan is equipped with a similar monitoring system.

Watch the full video.


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Time is money during an outage, so the clock was ticking for a Barnhart project at a steel mill in Alabama. Barnhart had just five days to remove and replace a 146,500 lb. pinion stand. But before the project could begin, Barnhart had an extremely tight window of only 35 days to complete engineering, fabrication, testing, and scope of work.

There were several challenges. The pinion stand was located outside the radius of the overhead crane. Floor obstructions around the pinion stand prohibited a 4-leg gantry/slide operation for removal and the ability to position the slide system below the stand.

To get around the obstructions, Barnhart fabricated two- 3’ jack housing stands to fit into the extremely limited floor space. The engineering team designed a cantilevered slide system that could be assembled off-site and installed over the pinion stand in one piece, saving critical outage time.

Utilizing the custom fabricated set of jacks and the hook of the facility’s overhead crane, Barnhart successfully slid the pinion stand from below the 500-ton slide track to pipe stands within the radius of the overhead crane for removal.  The reverse order was executed for the rough-set of the new pinion stand.

Our crews were commended for handling some of the unexpected challenges of the project, while adhering to the project schedule.

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