The City of Seattle’s waterfront has undergone an extensive transformation over the past decade. It has involved reconstructing the 1930s Seattle seawall and boring a new 2.2 mile tunnel to create a subterranean waterfront corridor. An aging Alaskan Way viaduct has been demolished and a world-class waterfront district is in the process of being created.

At each of these stages, Barnhart has played a vital role. Most recently they were part of the final phase, joining forces with Granite Construction and Gary Merlino Construction to develop a concept to construct the new Elliot Ave. Bridge. It would be placed over some of the busiest live Burlington North Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks in the Seattle area and surrounding region.

The topography of the area and close proximity to existing structures required months of planning and coordination among team members. This included the waterfront project team, the City of Seattle and BNSF. The challenge was to create a plan that would limit the impact to freight while maintaining an efficient and safe work environment.

Over the course of three days and two weekends, Barnhart placed 18 girders over the BNSF railroad tracks near Pike Place. They used their AC1300 (500 ton) and GMK6350 (350 ton) all-terrain cranes to set the concrete girders, which ranged from 63 to 150 feet long and weighed in excess of 79 tons. They were installed during six-hour windows at night when fewer trains were passing below. 

This project was one of the first major structural milestones toward building the new Elliot Way. The girders will support a four-lane bridge over the tracks, which will be a key connection between the waterfront and Belltown for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The work is part of a $728 million Waterfront Seattle program that is a complete redesign of the waterfront district. It is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

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As an historic, sorrowful and eventful year comes to a close, we wanted to share a special holiday message.  

Peace we leave with you.

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Transporting heavy loads are nothing new for Barnhart, but a recent multistate job was nearly one for the record books.  

Barnhart was hired to transport an energy tower, also known as a deisobutanizer, more than 1600 miles to a refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. The journey started in Oklahoma City, where the tower had been fabricated and insulated.   

Two cranes loaded the tower onto a 6 and 10-line EastTrac. When the pull and push truck were added, the entire convoy was 280’ long.  The rig had 24 total axles, 156 tires and weighed nearly 700,000 lbs.

The vehicles and crew of 17, which included police escorts and bucket trucks, left Oklahoma City on Oct. 25. The trip to Superior was more than 1600 miles and wound through six states. The convoy could only travel at a maximum speed of 35 mph on a route that was mostly two-lane roads. 

Barnhart worked with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in each state to find a route that would pass bridge analysis. On one bridge crossing from Minnesota into Wisconsin the DOT required the crew to remove the push truck in order to reduce the overall gross weight while crossing the bridge. Due to the length of the transport, several light poles, signal lights, road signs and stop signs were removed at intersections along the way to allow the convoy to make turns.

The sight of a 280-foot-long convoy drew many onlookers as it traveled through various communities. A local school in Superior brought out their students on the sidewalk to watch it pass on the final leg of the trip.   

The crew finally arrived at the refinery on Nov. 10th after a trip of 16 days and offloaded the tower. Once assembled, the tower will be 200 feet tall and weigh 130 tons. 

It was a project that was nearly history-making. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the haul was the second largest load ever to enter the state. 

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The Grinch that Stole Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here and it’s hard not to think of the Dr. Seuss’ classic, The Grinch that Stole Christmas. In that famous book, TV special and feature film, the small-hearted Grinch steals what he thinks is the meaning of Christmas. He nabs the decorations, the presents, and the food in his attempt to “stop Christmas from coming.”

When the Whos gather anyway to celebrate Christmas, which “came just the same”, the Grinch has a change of heart. He realizes there is more to Christmas than the trappings of the holiday. 

This Thanksgiving, we have a new, much more menacing Grinch threatening our holiday – COVID 19. For many, Thanksgiving is about gathering with family and friends to eat a big meal. Yet the pandemic is threatening to steal that tradition away just like the Grinch stole the Who Hash. But is Thanksgiving really all about eating?  

The website AllAboutHistory gives a good description of the meaning of Thanksgiving. 

In the Bible, the meaning of thanksgiving reflected adoration, sacrifice, praise, or an offering. Thanksgiving was a grateful language to God as an act of worship. “These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng” (Psalm 42:4).

The true meaning of Thanksgiving focuses upon relationship. Thanksgiving is a relationship between God and man. Upon their arrival at New Plymouth, the Pilgrims composed The Mayflower Compact, which honored God. Thanksgiving begins with acknowledging God as faithful, earnestly giving Him thanks, in advance, for His abundant blessings. “. . . In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).  

This Thanksgiving, if COVID forces your family to gather round the table via a ZOOM call, don’t let the stolen trappings of tradition spoil the true purpose of the holiday. Give thanks for all you have been given. If you do you will realize that, like the Grinch, maybe Thanksgiving…perhaps…means a little bit more.

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Barnhart was hired to replace six bridge sections on I-95 in Warwick, Rhode Island. The busy interstate carries over 174,000 cars and trucks a day.

To minimize disruption, the DOT used a different, quicker method – a design-build rapid replacement approach. The new sections of the bridge had been built off the sides of the interstate over the past year. Once they were complete, interstate traffic was rerouted and shifted for the duration of the project.

The old bridge was demolished to make room for the new sections. That’s when Barnhart went to work. The three new northbound sections and three southbound sections had to be moved into place. Each section weighed over 500 tons.    

Two 16-line PSTe series trailers transported the 500-ton sections.

The Barnhart team mobilized equipment including two 16-line PSTe series trailers, 5’ Marino Girders, (2) 40’ long and (2) 100’ long girders along with assorted wood crane mats and cribbing. The self-propelled transporters were then driven under the bridge, hardwood shim stacks were added and the bridge sections were lifted into place.  

The transporters were driven under the bridge and the sections were lifted into place.  

For Barnhart, the challenges of the project included an accelerated schedule, bridge weights in excess of one million pounds, tight working quarters, offset CG’s on the sections, and tight tolerances.

While both motorists and the crew had to work around traffic disruptions, the project took just eight days. The conventional piecemeal demolition and construction method would tie up traffic for months, according a DOT spokeswoman.  

Working two shifts, Barnhart installed the northbound bridges in just three days and the southbound in four days.

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Barnhart Adds Machinery Moving Services to Its Midwest Operations

Barnhart has purchased a division of a respected and established Midwest company, Days Corporation of Elkhart, Indiana. Under a recent agreement, Barnhart will acquire Days Machinery Movers, including all associated personnel and equipment of that business unit.   

Days Corporation, a family owned business, will retain and continue to operate the same core services it has offered since 1913. Their active divisions include Days Export Packing, Days Distribution & Logistics and Equalizer Systems. 

“Days Corporation has a stellar reputation in this region. Its employees and its services are all first class. We think current Days Machinery Movers customers will be pleased with the expansion of services and equipment this acquisition will bring,” said Jim Chapman, Barnhart Regional Director.

Barnhart’s new machinery moving operation in Elkhart offers rigging, including machine installation and leveling. Equipment setting, which includes anchoring, alignment and grouting and millwright work, is offered. Fabrication, ironworking and plant reorganization and relocation are also among its services.  

Their equipment includes flat bed, step deck and double-drop trailers and a 450-ton gantry system. Forklifts of up to 80,000-pound capacity and Versa-Lift and TriLifter specialty lifts are also a part of the inventory.

The acquisition will further enhance Barnhart’s presence in the Midwest, where Barnhart already operates several branches in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio. With a current network of more than 50 facilities, Barnhart provides world-class service through a local presence.  

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15-Week Transport Job Attracts Audience

Barnhart recently transported 63 nacelles and hubs from the Port of Brownsville, Texas to a wind farm in Rio Hondo. With so many pieces to move, it was a job that would stretch out over months.   

The hubs, which weighed 127,000 lb. with dimensions of 80’L x 14’7″W x 16’5″H, were transported on a 3-axle double drop trailer.  The 244,945 lb. nacelles were carried on a 14-line THP.  They were 107’ L by x 13’6″W x 17’3″.

The team transported the equipment to the site five to six pieces a week over 15 weeks. Every day they followed the same 42-mile route. The caravan was accompanied by police escorts and crews who raised utility lines along the route to accommodate the height of the pieces.

Needless to say, the daily caravan attracted a lot of attention in part because of its sheer size. Pretty soon it had an audience, in particular two children who stood in their front yard and waved to the crew as they drove by. They held handwritten signs that read, “Have a Good Day.”

For the crew, the presence of the children and their cheerful message was a bright spot in a rather monotonous routine. After some consideration, they came up with an idea to surprise them.    

One day the crew stopped the caravan in front of the house. They delivered a couple of hard hats with plenty of Barnhart stickers to the two excited children.

“The children became a part of our routine that we really looked forward to,” said Operator Donald Prather. “We wanted to show them how much we appreciated them.”

Donald Prather and Brandon Pike with one of the children.

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The Comeback Crane

Everybody loves a comeback. In our case, Barnhart took a sidelined LR1300 crane, gave it new life, and let it play in the big leagues.    

In 2005, Barnhart purchased a seldom-used LR1300 from Moss Marine in Pascagoula. It was moved to our Memphis location to be refurbished. The crane required significant work to its hydraulic system, as well as a complete control upgrade. All the relays and amplifier cards were replaced with modern PLC-based control systems with programming done by our engineers.

Soon the LR1300 was ready to work and was used on several big lifts at plants around the country. But the mobilization costs were high on the old crane. Although it could do some impressive lifting, it wasn’t cost effective.  The crane was sidelined again.

A New Purpose

That changed when Barnhart purchased a 200’ x 70’ used deck barge. The LR 1300 was mounted on the barge at the Port of Mobile for use in the marine cargo market in ports and shipyards.  The barge was modified to attach the super lift pendants down to bulkheads inside. That created, in effect, a shear-leg derrick with the advantage of being able to swing the crane around to boom down to allow the barge to be moved on inland waters with height restrictions.

This new heavy lift barge crane was christened, “Big Al.”

Today, Big Al is working from the Gulf coast all the way up to Chicago. The crane has three boom configurations from 184’ to 277’ with a max capacity of 806K lbs. at 110’ radius. It has been used for all types of work including:  

  • Unloading heavy cargo at ports from ship to barge, rail, or heavy transport. This includes transformers, turbines, generators, process vessels and more.
  • Loading and offloading undersea umbilical reels for the offshore oil industry
  • Replacing lock and dam gates in the inland waterways
  • Building docks and bridges
  • Setting and removing dockside ship loader cranes

Instead of being on the sidelines, Big Al is now the king of the waterways.

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Mockup Proves Essential in Award-winning Job

Barnhart recently was recognized with the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA) Rigging Job of the Year $750,000 to $2 million. It was one of two award-winning projects that included the SC&RA Rigging Job of the Year under $150,000.   

The client, a nuclear power plant in Georgia, needed to remove and replace their Alpha and Bravo 8th Stage Feedwater Heaters (FWH) located in the basement of the turbine generator building. This critical path project would take place during a scheduled 30-day refueling outage.

The two heaters were located side by side one beneath the other on the 112-foot elevation floor level that was congested with columns, piping conduit and drains. The heaters would have to be jacked up and transported to a hatch opening and lifted approximately 50 feet to the turbine deck. They would then travel to the truck bay hatch for removal.   

Floor conditions and travel path obstructions were a challenge. There was no straight or clear path to the hatch opening, which was not large enough to allow the FWHs to be lifted through the hatch in a horizontal position. The heaters would have to be tipped, but the angle could not exceed 69 degrees due to OEM warranty restrictions.

Headroom in the hatch opening and the rigging angles it created meant that the standard rigging practice of tipping with chain hoists wasn’t feasible.  The use of a specialty lifting device would be needed.   

Putting the Tipstick to the Test

Due to the complexity of the project, the client asked Barnhart to first provide an engineering feasibility study and rigging plan. The specialty lifting device the team proposed was a custom designed 150-ton Tipstick with a moveable lifting point. The client had concerns about using the Tipstick and requested a mockup of the critical lift through the hatch opening for validation.

The mockup at the Port of Memphis.

The mockup was performed at the Port of Memphis utilizing a 1,250-ton Derrick crane. A concrete-filled vessel with additional counterweight served for a functional/load test of the Tipstick to 125% of the load weight. A 70’ scaffolding structure was erected to replicate the hatch opening.  Barnhart used an actual replacement feedwater heater that was stored in a nearby warehouse for the mockup lift to validate the plan. 

Once the removal method was confirmed, the crew got started at the site. The team used 50-ton jacks to raise each heater to install a 100-ton Lite Slide Track System. The heaters were skidded about four feet and jacked up to transition from the slide track to the powered saddle rollers equipped with a custom bolster plate.  The steerable hydraulic roller system allowed the front of the heaters to maneuver around interfering columns. This process was repeated to transition the tailing end of the heaters to maneuver their way to the equipment hatch.

Successful removal at the site.

The heaters were then lifted through the floor opening of the equipment hatch to the Turbine Deck. Inclinometers were monitored closely to confirm that the rigging plans were followed and that the tipping angles would not void the warranties required by the OEM.

Once leveled back to a horizontal position, the overhead crane transported each heater to the truck bay opening and lowered them to a Goldhofer trailer. The larger replacement heaters were installed in reverse order.    

As for the total impact on critical path, the customer scheduled 30 shifts to complete Barnhart’s scope of work. The project was finished in about 24 and a half shifts, 65 hours ahead of schedule. 

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First-Time Rigging Solution Wins SC&RA Award

A capabilities meeting at a cement plant last fall turned into an SC&RA 2020 Rigging Job of the Year under $150,000 for Barnhart. It was one of two award-winning projects that included Rigging Job of the Year $750,000 to $2 million. 

When the plant was asked to name a project that seemed impossible, they pointed to a 9,600 lb. Bellowseal damper that needed to be removed, which was buried behind steel and handrails and hidden around a corner.  Slanted sidewalls didn’t allow for a conventional crane boom or even the ability to drop a hook from above. There were numerous overhead obstructions and over 40 feet of 8 ft. diameter double wall stainless ductwork, which could not be removed.  

The damper was buried behind steel and handrails and hidden around a corner. 

The solution would require an approach that could bend around a corner 180 degrees, safely lift the damper, remove, and replace. Barnhart’s engineers went to work, collaborating with each other, the customer and Barnhart’s Mason City, Iowa branch. They settled on a unique solution – a double cantilever approach.

“Coupling Barnhart’s Mini Moving Counterweight Cantilever System with a custom length Multi Pick Beam configured as a secondary cantilever allowed us to develop a solution that had never been used by Barnhart before,” said Sales Manager Dan Ford.

As the team developed the plan, they consulted with the manufacturer of the damper to engineer, fabricate, and install a safe lifting point on the damper. The multi pick beam was attached to the primary beam.  The unit was lifted by a GMK 275-ton allterrain crane.

Counterweights and the damper were attached to this secondary cantilever.  All components were outfitted with swivels to allow the damper to move in any direction and bend completely around a corner for both extraction and installation.

Barnhart’s crew of riggers and signalmen carefully guided the double cantilever system into position using remote controls, tag lines and radios while the crane operator followed instructions until eventually operating in the blind. They navigated the system between two buildings, under a slanted wall, over the ductwork and around the corner to hook onto the damper. They negotiated these operations with just inches of tolerance to maneuver the beams into position.  

The old damper was removed and lifted above the existing ductwork avoiding all obstacles and was safely brought to the ground. The process happened in the reverse order to install the new damper.  

The dampers were removed and replaced in one ten-hour shift.  Barnhart’s approach saved the company days of work and hundreds of man hours, plus the cost of all replacement materials.

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