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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Red, White and You

The 4th of July is normally a celebratory time a day of fireworks, picnics and displays of national pride.  But this year the holiday arrives in the shadow of a pandemic and against a backdrop of national unrest.

This unrest, in the form of protests across the country, have put race relations in the spotlight. Historical symbols have been toppled and long-held beliefs have been challenged. You may have observed these actions as they unfold on news reports or social media and wonder where you fit in. 

It all boils to respect. 

The discussion of racism in America mostly focuses on changing institutions and the government. We blame the system, which somehow makes it out of our control.  But each of us – all races – have a part in addressing the problem of race. As individual citizens, we have to respect one another.

July 4th celebrates freedom and American independence, the power of the individual. We individuals have more power than we think to end racism.   

America has always been a great country, but also an imperfect one.  Slavery was our original sin and while some may think we are far removed from that history, we are obviously still feeling its sting today.  It is the responsibility of its individual citizens to ensure the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence and our other founding documents are lived out. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is up to each on one of us to make sure our great country is made even greater by adhering to the words of Martin Luther King that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” 

As you celebrate the 4th, be respectful of one another.  Wear a mask. Social distance. Change must start within each individual heart. We can’t lay the solution to racism at anyone’s feet but our own.   

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Barnhart’s Mount Vernon and Kent, Washington branches joined forces to perform a joint venture tower crane dismantle in Seattle. 

The team set up a GMK7550, an all-terrain mobile crane, with 264,000 pounds of counterweight and Mega wing attachment and 200 luffer. They utilized an LTM1090 to install the luffer from one position in the crowded corridor. To help with the ground bearing pressure restrictions (due to an underground vault for utilities), the team utilized 8’ x 16’ engineered steel mats, wood ramp mats, and 8’ x 10’ engineered steel mats for proper ground bearing pressure displacement.

There were several other challenges to work around. Metro-trolley wires to the west had to be avoided, and the proximity of a four-story brick building allowed just 1’ of clearance for the mega wing attachment. A tree to the north had to be trimmed for the counterweight to clear. The jib assembly had just 1’ of clearance to the east and the crew had to short rig it for the tower tip to clear. 

Plus, there were lots of pedestrians.   

Once the crane was in place, the crew dismantled the tower crane and Barnhart lowered the pieces to awaiting trucks in the narrow street. It took over 15 loads to remove all the pieces. Despite the challenges, the project was completed in just two days.  

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Planning and Engineering Result in Safe Delivery of Large Load

While one of Barnhart’s specialties is heavy haul, considerable planning and engineering is always required, particularly when large loads are moved. That was the case with a 105-foot-long pressure vessel that was recently hauled.

Barnhart was delivering the vessel from a fabricator in Paramount, California, to a site in Boulder City, Nevada, a distance of 490 miles. The vessel weighed 310,000 pounds. It was hauled by a 10-line Goldhofer and two push trucks, making for a combined total weight of 548,450 pounds and an eventual length of 180 feet.

According to Josh Havelka at Barnhart Crane and Rigging, the size of the transport, both length and weight, was a challenge. “First, you had to find routes that would accommodate the size and make sure the bridges along that route would be able to support the weight of the load.  Plus, with a load height of 22’ tall, that meant finding a route that avoided all structures that cannot be moved such as bridges and overhead signs.”  

In addition, almost all wires had to be lifted along the route, which involved coordination of utility companies and cable companies, along with private bucket trucks for miscellaneous low wires. Coordination with the California and Nevada departments of transportation was also required.

In some instances, the route involved going through communities late at night to avoid traffic like Needles, California, where utilities, cable and internet crews awaited the vessel’s arrival around 11 pm.  According to Fox News, a few people from the community braved the brisk evening air to watch the event.

Utility lines and traffic signals needed to be raised in order for the pressure vessel to pass underneath. Last minute detours also had to be accommodated, as some residential streets could not handle the heavy load. 

The Goldhofer trailer also had to be shortened to allow the convoy to make tight turns, including a turn onto the on-ramp to westbound Interstate 40. Once on the interstate, the California Highway Patrol stopped eastbound traffic so that the vessel could cross the eastbound lanes to exit onto Needles Highway.   

The vessel was delivered successfully due to the combined efforts of Barnhart’s preplanning and field team. All the third parties along the route, including the California and Nevada highway patrol, city and county inspectors and those involved with permitting, were also instrumental in the project’s success.

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