Barnhart Blog

Putting the Art in Barnhart

Barnhart has been hired for some unusual projects: to lift a 1950s garbage truck, install a generator on the roof of a high-rise, and set a lighthouse facade at a casino. In a recent job in Des Moines, Barnhart was instrumental in an art installation at Cowles Commons, a performing arts center.

In early October, the team began installing a massive steel-and-light sculpture in the middle of the center. When completed, the piece will be 94 feet wide at its widest point and 28 feet tall, upheld by nine heavy-duty stainless steel columns.

Barnhart’s job was to lift and set the columns using a crane. Rigging operator Jon Fontana carefully lifted the nine curved steel columns out of a flatbed truck, over a chain-link fence, and down to their anchors in the gravel.

“It’s not your normal cup of tea for a crane operator, that’s for sure,” said Fontana. “This morning I woke up excited to do something different.”

The ellipses that spool around the columns will be built and installed over the next month by Denver company Demiurge. More than 10,000 LED lights will eventually be suspended in the columns and ellipses.


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Barnhart to Provide Crane Service During Port Expansion

The show will go on at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa due to an agreement with Barnhart to provide high-capacity crane service for a limited time while the Port Authority upgrades its current crane as part of a multi-million dollar renovation.

The timing worked out well, as Barnhart will be utilizing their crane at the port over a period of several months to offload and transport components as part of an upgrade to a power plant in eastern Oklahoma.

“During that period, the crane will be available to our customers who require crane service while we are refurbishing our main dock and making upgrades to our existing overhead crane,” said Port Director Bob Portiss.

Barnhart's Demag CC2600 crane will be utilized at the port during renovations.

Barnhart maintains a full service office in Oklahoma City and has handled projects moving through the Tulsa Port of Catoosa for more than 20 years. The company will locate a Demag CC2600 at the Port’s Low Water Wharf Dock for the duration of its contract with the power plant. The crane is extremely mobile and can be relocated elsewhere within the port, as needed.

“The crane will be in ‘superlift’ mode, which will allow us to lift components of up to 600 tons,” said Bob Possel, Barnhart project manager. “We will be off-loading a number of heavy components which will be used to upgrade the plant to a combined cycle. The largest component we are scheduled to lift is the combustion turbine, which weighs approximately 331 tons.”

According to Jeff Latture, Barnhart senior vice president, “With a few days’ notice, we should be able to accommodate lifts for other port customers. This will allow the Port Authority to carry out its expansion work and upgrades without any loss of service for shippers who need heavy lift capabilities.”

Local Barnhart engineers in Oklahoma City can assist with any custom cargo and the company’s yard has a full inventory of custom rigging tools to meet customers’ needs.  Barnhart employees will operate the crane at the port.



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Last week, Barnhart placed a 60-ton, 300-foot pedestrian bridge – the largest bridge of its type the company has ever handled – on support piers in a 14-acre park in Meriden, Connecticut.

Crews had been building the bridge abutments for weeks in preparation for the lift. The bridge arrived in five pieces on several oversized trucks from a fabricator in Alabama.

Photo: Richie Rathsack: Record-Journal

Barnhart pieced together three of the sections to create the center part of the bridge. They moved the crane and set the fourth and fifth sections, which comprised the ends of the bridge.

The lift plan was worked out a month in advance to ensure safety procedures were followed in the building and lifting of the bridge.

“As far as pedestrian bridges go, this one is the largest that we’ve put together that’s a single stand bridge,” said Al Oulette, sales representative and former crane operator at Marino Crane, a Barnhart Crane company.   “It was quite a job.”

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Barnhart played an essential part in a recent milestone for The Port of Monroe on Lake Erie in Michigan. In July, the busy port received its first European cargo since the 1960’s, and Barnhart was there to unload it.

After a two-week journey from Bremen, Germany, a cargo of windmill blades and 127 sections of 40-foot long pipes arrived on the 411-footlong Faglegracht, a Spliethoff Lines container vessel. While it would seem unusual to choose a comparatively small port like Monroe, the intimate nature of the port proved beneficial in the complex exchange that involved six companies, including Barnhart.

Photo by Paul C. LaMarre III

Barnhart’s role in the job involved unloading two blades, which, at 190 feet long, were the longest ever used in Michigan.  The company also handled 120 sections of pipe.

The blades were unloaded using the ship’s gear with Barnhart providing specialized rigging.  A Terex 75 ton rough terrain crane and 40k forklift were also utilized to load the blades onto a truck the following week.  The total time to unload blades and pipe was 12 hours.

There was limited dock space, which caused Barnhart to stack the pipe four rows high.  While the coordination of the six companies – which included the port, ship, tug boat, freight forwarder, and blade truck transport company – was a challenge, the project was completely successfully.

“I think the Port of Monroe has not necessarily been seen as a potential gateway to international trade in recent years, but this is proof that our capabilities are far-reaching,” said Port of Monroe Director Paul C. LaMarre III.

Photo by Paul C. LaMarre III

Barnhart’s Monroe Branch Manager Dean Montrief added, “As a result of the work we performed, we expect the shipping company to make regular stops at the Port of Monroe.”

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Have you ever noticed how pretty much every company or business has some sort of mission statement, catchy slogan or motto that reflects the company’s core values?  Slogans like “Save money, live better” for Wal-Mart, or my personal favorite “There is no substitute” by Porsche.

I never have thought much about their importance until I started working at Barnhart. While our mission statement and core values aren’t necessarily catchy, the company truly believes in them.  They’re posted on every office wall, pushed by co-workers, and visibly performed by my leadership.  The mission statement and core values are used to make our company better.

Take two of our values, safety and continuous improvement.

Safety is our very first core value and the leaders at Barnhart put it first. They believe they have a responsibility to ensure that Barnhart is a safe working environment. In addition, Barnhart is convinced that the key to good safety results comes from hiring the right people who will be thinkers that are committed to owning their own safety whether on the job site or hiking the trails with friends. As the company grows, adding new tools, ideas, and people all the time, we decided to sharpen our focus and implement additional training concerning safety in our challenging industry.

This core value, continuous improvement, is resulting in completely redoing our entire internal introductory safety class. This new class zeros in on major advances in individual employee safety.  Entitled ‘Tactical Self Preservation,” it is boosting our first core value, safety, to a whole new level.

This class is leading industry safety thinking for individuals in the field. I am excited about the strides Barnhart is making to improve safety, and look forward to seeing the benefits this training will produce as we keep our commitment to continuously improve so that we can better serve our customers.

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Game Goes On Thanks to Barnhart

To kick off the upcoming football season, we share this Barnhart classic video** that captures the thrill of victory.

In the middle of a successful University of Texas football season, Barnhart was tasked with delivering and setting power generation components including a behemoth 60-ton generator, 100-ton condenser and 140-ton turbine at the H.C. Weaver Power Plant leading directly to Longhorn Stadium.

The challenges were many. The area was tight. The entire campus was built on a system of underground tunnels so placing large loads needed a sound game plan.  None of the trees or features could be disturbed. Furthermore, the components were arriving in the middle of a busy football season, so the campus had to have stadium access roads clear to allow for throngs of fans.

Whoa Nellie!

See how Barnhart completed this near-epic undertaking using their modular lift tower without placing the campus or season in jeopardy.

**Like most “classics”, this 10-year old video reflects the technology at that time. But Barnhart’s planning and execution of the job is timeless.    

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Barnhart Agrees to Purchase Sicklesteel Cranes

Barnhart has reached a definitive agreement to purchase Sicklesteel Cranes, Inc. of Mount Vernon, Washington the company announced in a release today.  The company, with 53 employees and a fleet of over 56 cranes, will continue to operate as Sicklesteel but will have full access to Barnhart’s national network of equipment, engineers, and branches.

Customers will continue to receive the same high quality crane service and tower crane service they have come to expect. However, through Barnhart’s coast-to-coast network, customers will have access to the nation’s most innovative rigging systems, wind turbine up-tower services, project cargo logistics capabilities, and a department of over 40 engineers.

“Sicklesteel Cranes, Inc. reputation and history is one of excellence.” said Alan Barnhart, CEO of Barnhart.  ”We think customers throughout the Pacific Northwest will be very pleased with the expansion of services they will experience through this acquisition.”

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Thousand-Mile Trip Takes Less Than Three Minutes

Barnhart was hired to move a water runner over 1,1000 miles from New Orleans to a hydroelectric facility in Ludington, Michigan. The piece measured 28’ 2” in circumference, was 15’ tall and weighed over 610,000 lbs. The project was captured in the following short video.

The water runner began its journey on a hopper barge in order to clear the low-lying Lemont bridge. With an air draft of 19’6” from the bottom of the bridge to the top of the water, the barge cleared within only two feet.

At Barnhart’s heavy lift terminal at the Port of Chicago in Calumet, Ill., the cargo was transferred from hopper barge to ABS deck barge to continue its journey across Lake Michigan.  There it was rolled off and transported to the plant.

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Planning and experience combined for a successful Barnhart job last week that removed an 80-year old deteriorating water tank and steel tower in East Hampton, Conn.

photo by Jeff Mill - The Middleton Press

The project was part of a seven-year effort to have the tank and tower on which it sat removed. Over the years, both had become safety hazards.

The cypress tank, measuring 22′ high and 18′ diameter and weighing 25,000 lbs., was removed first, utilizing a 200-ton Demag hydraulic crane and two pneumatically powered 135’ Manlifts. The crews secured the tank even as they worked to separate it from its supports.

To ensure the tank stayed whole, workers screwed long, narrow pieces of plywood to the outside. The two-man crews in the lifts also fastened slings around the tank.

After an initial effort, crews secured the tank from the bottom using the proper rigging.  Once the securement was complete, they began cutting away the supports using acetylene torches.  Then, with the crews down from their lift vehicles, the crane increased the tension on the lines and slowly swung the tank out and around and settled it down with ease on the pavement near an abandoned thread mill.

Lifting the wooden tank off its stand was “almost anticlimactic,” according to Jon Irwin, the operations manager for Barnhart Northeast.  Having developed a good plan in advance, “the lift is the least of the work,” Irwin said after the tank was safely on the ground.

Photo by Jeff Mill - The Middletown Press

Less than half an hour after the tank was lowered to the ground, crews starting taking it apart, carrying the weather-beaten boards into a roll-off container. Barnhart removed the four-legged steel tower the next day.

“We have a great crew here,” Irwin said. “They’re top-notch.”

Both the cypress wood and the steel in the tower are being recycled.

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Barnhart was contracted to provide turnkey service for the removal and replacement of five wind turbine gearboxes on 80m hub height wind turbines.

The site had several constraints in that the Bureau of Land Management owned the land on which the wind farm was located and restricted land disturbance around the turbine. Also, any ground disturbance had to be reseeded with native grasses.

A further complication was the involvement of a third party contractor to deliver the new components to the site and haul the old gearboxes back to the repair facility, requiring additional coordination on Barnhart’s part.

Two cranes were used for the project. The heaviest component lifted was the wind turbine rotor assemblies at 140,000 lbs. The gearbox with the four generators weighed 115,000 lbs. Once the gearbox was removed, Barnhart had to pull out the generators from the old gearbox and install them on the new one.

The project was completed successfully, which resulted in a long-term agreement with the client to maintain their fleet.

For more project stories, check out Barnhart’s Lifting Letter. If you would like to be added to our distribution list please send us a note at or sign up on our website.

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