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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Ten Rules for Crane Operators

Barnhart has hundreds of employees across the United States who perform thousands of projects a year safely and successfully. We empower all our employees to be actively engaged in safety and offer plenty of training and guidance.

Here are a few rules for crane operators we’d like to share.    

  1.  Always work safe.
  2.  Always follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  3.  Always familiarize yourself with your equipment.
  4.  Always refer to the crane capacity charts.
  5.  Always ensure lifts are properly rigged.
  6.  Never operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  7.  Never leave crane unsecured.
  8.  Never operate in the blind without the assistance of a signal person.
  9.  Never allow anyone to ride the load or ball.
  10. Never side load a crane.

In any situation, safety always comes first. Your safety, along with your colleagues, customers, vendors and the general public are paramount.   

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Hauling oversized cargo sometimes requires some unusual solutions. In this instance, Barnhart was hired to transport nine components, one of which was a 200’ long column vessel, from a fabricator to a fracking unit at a refinery in Texas. The journey of this vessel was recently featured in Waterways Journal.  

The column was manufactured at a shop connected to the Houston ship channel where it was loaded onto a barge. It was barged to Freeport, Texas and offloaded to two 12-axle EastTrac trailers. The total length of the convoy including the trucks was 317’ long. The column was then hauled 50 miles to the plant site.   

But the last leg of the trip was almost a bridge too far. At 800,000 pounds, the cargo was too heavy to cross the Hwy. 35 bridge over the San Bernard River. The Texas Department of Transportation required that Barnhart used both sides of the bridge – all four lanes. 

According to JC Lake, operations manager of the Houston branch, “After we measured and checked that it would fit on both bridges, the engineers were able to pass us on the permit,” he said.

Barnhart used a paved crossover to get the load separated. Ten road signs had to be removed around the bridge. Both ends of the column vessel were on 300-ton turntables to help maneuver the cargo.  

There was enough length between the bolsters to successfully get the two trailers on each bridge span. While the bridge was closed to north and southbound traffic, the load made its way across the bridge at 5 mph. It cleared the guardrails by approximately four feet. The team used a paved crossover on the other side to get the convoy back together.

Once at the site, the team offloaded the vessel to jack stands and placed it on 12-line PST’s for transport into the plant.

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Seeking the Good in a Difficult Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, which is observed around the world. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, his passion, crucifixion, and death. 

Right now, all of us are making sacrifices due to the coronavirus with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  We’re unable to see our loved ones or take part in traditional observances.

Then there are those who are risking the most important thing – their lives – to take care of us. The first responders, our EMTs, policeman, firemen and medical personnel are on the front lines of this pandemic.  There are also those essential workers who are keeping our lives running: utility, garbage and city workers, those who deliver food, fill our prescriptions and check us out at the grocery store.  

Many jobs have also been sacrificed and savings lost.

All may seem a little bleak now. Perhaps for all of us – even non-believers, this Good Friday is keenly felt. For Christians, Good Friday is a time of sorrow and mourning and reflection.  And aren’t we all feeling that right now? Mourning the loss of our normal lives and routines. Forced into a period of reflection brought on by lives that have shed their everyday anchors, feeling fearful and uncertain…for now.

Just two days from now is the promise of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Though things may feel bleak and uncertain now, this crisis will eventually be behind us. There are better days ahead. And the promise of Easter awaits.

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