Barnhart frequently takes on mammoth undertakings, and occasionally encounters one of colossal proportions.

Barnhart’s assignment was to design the method and perform the installation of the world’s largest outdoor, permanent, four-sided center-hung television display.  Nicknamed Colossus, the display was to be installed at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, a NASCAR short track and a popular sporting venue.

The 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, measuring six feet high.

A mockup of the Colossus.

Barnhart’s engineers had to first figure out how to suspend the 3 1/2” diameter cables, similar to those used on suspension bridges, that would support the mammoth 380,000 lb. display. They erected four permanent towers, each approximately 200’ feet tall, at the corners of the stadium.

The issue of running cable from the towers to the Colossus structure proved to be the biggest challenge.  The team utilized a system of winches, crane blocks, and temporary messenger and pull cables to suspend the 3 ½” cables by lifting them, connecting one end of each cable to a tower, and then pulling opposing 3 ½” cables from the diagonal towers together.

The halo is lifted into place.

Once the cables were in place, Barnhart lifted the halo with two Manitowoc 999 cranes.  Barnhart personnel, working from man baskets lifted by smaller hydraulic cranes, connected the 3 ½” suspension cables to the halo pin connections.  The 999’s then lowered the halo so that it was fully supported by the suspension cables.

The Barnhart crew at work.

A couple of weeks later, the gondola, or TV cage, was lifted in place. Again, Barnhart utilized the Manitowoc cranes along with two additional 350-ton hydraulic cranes.

“This was a one-of-a-kind type job,” said James Harper, assistant branch manager of the Knoxville office, which handled the project. “The scale of the project, plus the intricacies of installing the suspension cabling, made it one of our more challenging projects.”

The Colossus will be unveiled this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Watch as the halo and gondola are lifted in these timelapse video.

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R & R: It’s One of our Specialties

R & R is what we all look forward to, and we’re no different.  But the R & R most people long for – rest and relaxation – is a far cry from what drives us.

Barnhart’s definition of R & R is not about lounging on a beach in some exotic locale.  It means hard work, engineering, planning, and execution centered around one of our specialties – Removing and Replacing plant components in hard-to-reach places.

The fact is, in every industry things fall apart. Pumps, boilers, heat exchangers, all have a life span.  Components break down, and when they do, it’s never convenient.

Often that component is in a difficult place that’s not accessible with standard equipment.  It might be in a congested area that not only poses logistical issues, but safety issues as well. Then there’s the matter of downtime, shutting the plant to allow for the procedure.

If it’s head scratcher, that’s when our creative juices start flowing, engineering solutions that make what appears impossible, possible. Devising safe solutions that minimize plant disruption and downtime, saving customers money.

If the tool doesn’t exist to reach this component, we’ll invent one. For example, during a turnaround at a chemical facility in Illinois, Barnhart was contracted to remove and replace a vertical gas cooler. The old cooler was located deep within the production facility and surrounded by numerous obstructions. The only solution seemed to be dismantling the surrounding structure and removing an additional heat exchanger located on top of the gas cooler. In addition to being costly, this would have caused the shutdown of a second production line.


Barnhart came up with an innovative alternative that utilized their tip stick to make the initial lift after a initial lift after a prefabricated stand was installed onto the bottom of the cooler. Very tight clearances meant one crane had to be set up to make the tip stick pick and another smaller crane was utilized for the swing.

This just one example of our R & R expertise, and we do this kind of work for a broad range of industries and a wide variety of plants.


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Barnhart’s heavy haul of a transformer to a power plant caught the attention of WGAL News 8 in Pennsylvania.  Weighing in at more than a million pounds, Barnhart’s custom-made 24-dolly transporter had plenty of spectators along its route.

The vehicle is specifically made to carry super loads, has 192 wheels and takes four operators to steer it. The drivers have to move in unison considering turn radius, load height, and the contour of the road, moving at a top speed of 15 mph.  Six months of planning went into the trip.

Onlookers will get more chances to see the dolly transporter in operation, as this is the first of four loads.


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Of Sleighs and Cranes

Every year on Christmas Eve, NORAD tracks Santa and his precious cargo offering updates as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world.  When not tasked with this essential duty, NORAD, a joint organization of the United States and Canada, provides aereospace warnings and defense for North America.

Knowing the location of Santa and his heavy-laden sleigh is a valuable service, particularly if your audience is an expectant nine-year-old.  But if you’re a project manager with your own heavy lifting issues, Barnhart has a locator system that provides a benefit as well.

Barnhart’s Heavy Lift Crane locator can help you find a crane that suits your job with a listing of models, availability, capacities and locations.  It’s updated constantly, so you can locate the crane nearest to your project, saving money on transport costs to your site.

With our arsenal of heavy lift cranes, Barnhart can serve almost any need.  Our equipment capabilities, combined with our experienced operators and engineering team, can provide your project with the solutions you need.

Whether you are tracking the progress of St. Nick, or contemplating a project near St. Louis, Barnhart wishes you and your family a happy holiday season!


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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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