Blade Bar Revolutionizing Wind Projects

You wouldn’t expect a crane company to devise a system for wind maintenance projects that requires fewer cranes, but that’s what we’ve done with our custom designed blade bar.

The blade bar replaces the industry standard two crane method for wind turbine blade removal, requiring only one crane. One less crane means less mobilization, labor, truck and equipment costs for our customers. Reduced crew and crane operations also mean a safer process.

The blade bar is a metal frame, adjustable in five-foot increments from 5’ long to 115’ long, making it fully adjustable to the blade’s specs. The length of the bar is adjusted on the ground and a sling is attached at one end. The blade is then lifted by a single hydraulic or crawler crane to the height of the damaged blade, eliminating a critical lift with a standard single crane operation.

At the end of the bar is a custom counterweight system, which easily adjusts to meet the blade’s center of gravity. A hydraulically powered unit can rotate the bar and blade on three different rotation points in either direction.

The sling at the end of the bar is threaded over the damaged blade and another sling is eventually attached at the root end, which stabilizes and balances the blade. Once the blade is safely secured, it is disconnected from the turbine’s hub and the blade bar and blade are lowered to the ground.

Among the blade bar’s further advantages is that one crane operator is in control of all operations versus two to coordinate. Smaller crane pad requirements also mean less environmental risk. The blade bar system is also able to handle higher wind speed operating limits.

See the blade bar in action in this animation.

Posted in Wind Industry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Broken Blade Removal A Multi-Branch Effort

When a wind turbine blade breaks, removing it at over 300 feet from the ground can be a challenge.

Barnhart was called to a wind farm in Illinois to remove a broken blade from a wind turbine. The other two good blades had to be removed as well and stored on the ground until a replacement blade could be sourced.

Customarily, blades are removed when the rotor is at a 3 o’clock or 6 o’clock position. In this instance, the rotor was locked out in a 12 o’clock position, with the broken piece of the 145’ blade dangling midway down. This is the most difficult position from which to remove a blade and is rarely completed even in emergency situations. However, turning the rotor to a more favorable position was not possible without risking damage to the other blades, hub and turbine.

It took three rounds of engineering whiteboard design plus numerous consultations with the customer to design a plan of action. Then a storm came through and complicated issues by further damaging the blade, which required a revision to the removal plan.

One consideration was the hub height, which was 265’ to the center of the hub. The eventual removal method utilized three large cranes, two 550-ton and one 600-ton crane, and personnel from several Barnhart branches.

Barnhart performed an initial examination using two of the cranes with man baskets for preliminary rigging and inspection. Photos were then sent to the engineering team in Memphis for review and final design adjustments to the plan.

Due the nature of the work, wind speeds had to be below 15 mph along with a favorable forecast to allow each task to be completed. There were also numerous safety issues to consider, like falling debris and pieces of the broken blade. All non-critical personnel were kept outside the designated perimeter and critical personnel operated under Job Hazard Analysis plans to keep them safe during all segments of the operation.

Barnhart used two cranes to stabilize the broken blade with multiple slings. The crew was able to sandwich the blade together and contain the pieces in compression to make it rigid enough to cut and lower safely.

The third crane held a man basket with a crew responsible for cutting the broken piece loose around the break. Both pieces were then lowered to the ground for further examination by the customer. The other cranes were used to remove the remaining two good blades.

Posted in Wind Industry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lock Gate Replacement Becoming a Barnhart Specialty

Barnhart was recently hired for a project at the Holt Lock and Dam on the Black Warrior River in Alabama to remove and replace the lock’s lower mitre gate, our third lock replacement project in the past couple of years.

For the Holt project, two new gates were fabricated in Russellville, Alabama, and transported by barge to the site up the Black Warrior River. In the meantime, Barnhart was assembling a lift system that would span the width of the 150’ lock. The team brought in Big Al, their barge-mounted heavy lift crane, to set up the equipment.

Barnhart devised a system using a modular lift tower and two 8’ tall girders to span the lock in conjunction with a 500-ton hoist and slide system, which would maneuver the gates. Once the gates arrived, Barnhart lifted the two old gates from the pocket and downended them onto the barge for transport. Tugs were used to support the barge during this process.

The new gates were delivered to the hook of the hoist and upended using the 500-ton hoist. Each new gate weighed 375 tons, which was 35 tons more than the old gates. They were then set into the gate recesses on temporary stands, with each lift taking 3-4 hours.  Barnhart’s part, from equipment set up and removal, took four days.

It took coordination among all the players, including Barnhart, the tug and barge company, the Corps of Engineers and the lock’s maintenance company, to successfully complete the project on time.

Watch this video of the process.



Posted in Heavy Lift | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Barnhart Opens First Ohio Branch with Selinsky Acquisition

Barnhart will expand its services into Ohio through a recent agreement with Selinsky Force based in Canton. Barnhart will purchase the company’s crane and rigging operations, including all associated personnel and equipment.

Those resources include crane service with a lifting capacity of up to 275-tons, hydraulic gantries and sliding equipment, lift trucks of up to 100,000 lb. in capacity, and trucking services including hydraulic transporters. Barnhart will also acquire Selinsky’s rigging, hauling and crane assets, plus an experienced team.     

“Selinsky has a great reputation for providing crane, rigging and hauling services in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This team will help Barnhart become the best heavy lift and heavy transportation provider in our market,” said Matt Brennan, Barnhart’s Chief Financial Officer.

Barnhart’s acquisition includes Selinsky’s heavy lift and heavy haul services.

The acquisition will further enhance Barnhart’s presence in the Midwest, where we already operate a number of branches in Kentucky and Illinois. Crane and rigging customers will benefit from access to Barnhart’s nationwide network of locations backed up by project cargo logistics capabilities, an engineering department with more than 60 engineers, and our own fleet of barges for transport on inland waterways.

Selinsky Force will continue to retain and operate all of its core industrial services, which include refractory, equipment rental, plant maintenance, steel erection, and pulverizer services.

With the Selinsky expansion, Barnhart’s network grows to nearly 50 locations nationwide.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Load testing of equipment is a critical operation and often a requirement under industry standards. It ensures safety of equipment, and most importantly, people.

When should you do it? By ASME standards, all lifting equipment that has been fabricated, altered, or repaired should be properly load tested and inspected. New equipment also has to be load tested. Sometimes a customer wants to test their equipment to comply with their own QA/QC standards or to increase confidence in its performance.

Regardless of the reason, Barnhart has the engineers, equipment and facilities to successfully perform the service. We have multiple options to test a wide variety of equipment including overhead cranes & hoists, lifting devices, lifting systems and beams and spreader bars. Below-the-hook testing is our most common service. Barnhart is also capable of load testing other equipment, such as jacking or hydraulic gantry systems.

Load tests should be conducted by a qualified person who can direct the test, confirm the load rating, and provide a written report. Equipment should be tested to 125% of its rated capacity to account for potential unexpected loading during normal operation, such as dynamic or side loading.

Barnhart regularly load tests all its newly fabricated equipment. We frequently perform load tests for customers as the entire scope of work, for example, a new piece of equipment that needs a first-time test or an old piece of rigging whose documentation has been lost. Nuclear power, refining and industries with large overhead cranes like steel and power typically use the service.

A load test certificate is provided upon successful completion of the load test and inspection of the equipment. Barnhart also has several weld inspectors certified in Visual, MT, PT, and UT weld testing.

Visit our website to request a quote for our load testing services.

Posted in Heavy Lift | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Barnhart Expands Service in the Northwest with Purchase of Strate Line

Barnhart is adding its first Idaho location with the company’s recent agreement to purchase Strate Line Inc, a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based crane service company.

The purchase will expand Barnhart’s ability to serve commercial, civil and heavy industrial customers in the northwestern United States. Strate Line offers operated hydraulic cranes from 30 tons to 175 tons, and operates in Washington, Montana and Idaho.

“Strate Line is a strong company with a culture that is rooted in serving the customer in the safest, most expeditious and economical way. They have become a valuable resource for customers in this region. We are excited about integrating the Strate Line people and their culture into the Barnhart family,” said Barnhart’s Northwest Regional Director David Webster, an Idaho resident.

Barnhart will maintain all of Strate Line’s current assets and employees, but will manage operations primarily from its current Spokane, WA branch location. The move will allow the company to continue to provide the services customers expect from Strate Line while also providing a broader range of solutions from Barnhart. Their coast-to-coast branch network means customers will have access to some of the nation’s most innovative rigging systems, cranes to almost 1,800 tons, wind turbine up-tower services, Project Cargo Logistics capabilities, and a department of over 60 engineers.

“These wider service options could help customers lower their overall costs on many projects. We think folks will be excited about that,” says Webster.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving a Package Boiler with Inches to Spare

Barnhart has an extensive video library of equipment demonstrations, projects and case studies. In the video case study below, Barnhart was hired for a job at a pulp & paper plant in the Midwest. The project involved receiving a 400,000-pound package boiler from ship’s gear, transporting it to the job site and rough setting the boiler at an elevated position in the building.

The challenges included maneuvering the boiler down a narrow alleyway with just inches of clearance to spare. Plus, the boiler also had to be rotated 90 degrees to be slid and set in the building.

Using a combination of cool tools and a perfectly executed engineering plan, the job was completed safely and on time. And it was recognized as an SC&RA Job of the Year winner.

Here’s how it was done.

Posted in Heavy Haul, Heavy Lift | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Job of the Year: Innovation and Custom Fabrication

Barnhart recently took home an SC&RA (Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association) Rigging Job of the Year award in the $750,000 to $2 million category. The company also received an award in the Under $150,000 category as well.

The winning project took place at a nuclear plant in Louisiana. One of the facility’s two clarifier units needed repair. But the unit sat inside a concrete structure with a wall height of 28 feet and an inside diameter of 178 feet.

The clarifier core was supported by 16 lateral supports, ten out of which were structurally compromised and needed to be replaced. This made access from inside the unit too unsafe.

Barnhart had to design a lift system from above that would span the diameter of the tank and support the 600,000 lbs. clarifier while the lateral supports were removed. This required some innovative engineering.

Utilizing both a heavy lift crawler crane and a telescoping hydraulic crane, Barnhart assembled the lift system. The backbone of this system was 8 foot girder sections that were connected on the ground to a total length of 180 feet. Once assembled, these girders, weighing up to 225,000 lbs., were set to the clarifier walls with tandem lifts.

Barnhart custom fabricated stability kickers for the girders, deflection load spreading rockers for the girder contact points, and various spreader bars to accommodate the complicated rigging design challenges. With all the rigging in place, the clarifier was lifted and held in place while the lateral supports were removed.

Barnhart then positioned pull-up gantries and 5 foot girders to support the clarifier from below. Once the new lateral supports were in place and connected, the gantries and girders were removed.

Posted in Awards, Nuclear Power | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Faced with clearances of less than two inches, Barnhart pulled off a rigging challenge that resulted in a 2018 SC&RA award in the category of “Rigging Job of the Year Under $150,000.”  Barnhart has received Job of the Year recognition almost every year over the past decade.

Barnhart was hired to install a 46,000 pound silicon reactor at a chemical company while the plant was in operation. Measuring 11 feet 5.5 inches in diameter and 18 feet l1 inches in height, the reactor’s path to its final location was incredibly tight with vertical and horizontal clearance challenges.

Installation options included removing the roof, but that would have resulted in a plant outage. However, a computer model revealed that a path through the facility was possible – but just barely – with many immovable obstructions. The path would ultimately snake through the plant and up a vertical shaft for securement on the second floor.

Negotiating a turn with less than two inches to spare.

The reactor had to negotiate a couple of tight right-hand turns, one which offered as little as 1.8” to spare between columns. Barnhart’s solution was to modify the shipping frame to lower the overall height to be able to use traditional rigging tools. Roller support frames were added outboard from saddle to saddle, which didn’t add to the overall height or width of the reactor.

Horizontal travel was accomplished with a forklift with the reactor supported by Hillman rollers on the roller supports that were attached to the saddles. Spotters were located at every critical juncture.

Once the reactor negotiated the turns and reached the erection area, the reactor had to be tailed to vertical and hoisted to its final set location with just three inches of clearance. The team utilized standard chain hoists to lift vertically as high as possible, using the Barnhart-designed low-profile hoist system.

The yellow jacking frame allowed the jackup tower to lift the reactor from the bottom.

But the reactor was not designed to be lifted from the bottom. Anticipating this issue, Barnhart had collaborated with the reactor manufacturer to develop a jacking frame that could be partially disassembled during tailing and then reinstalled for jacking operations.

A jackup tower, which fit under the reactor by just two inches, then took the load. The hoist system was removed so the reactor could be pushed up vertically from underneath to its final set location.

At final elevation, Barnhart installed the support steel and the reactor was lowered and secured. The jackup frame was removed and Barnhart demobilized – beating the proposed installation schedule by 50 percent.

Posted in Awards | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Engineering Team Shines in Plant Project

Barnhart was hired to remove and replace fuel heat exchangers at a nuclear plant in Wisconsin. The 14,750 lbs. vessels had to be maneuvered in a small space. To overcome the tight tolerances, the engineering team had to design a system that allowed for maximum flexibility, yet could be constructed using no overhead rigging.

Every 1/16” mattered when it came to doing field measurements, so the team also performed a laser scan of the space. Field verification in conjunction with laser scan data allowed for engineering to build a very accurate model of the site. Every detail in the model had to be correct, from the height of shimming to how far the bolts stuck out on the heaters.

The team designed a system using pull-up jacks and Hillman saddle rollers. The jacks underneath the slide beams allowed Barnhart to change the height as required to get under pipes and over foundations and to tilt if needed. The custom-designed rollers allowed the field crew to rotate the vessel along its longitudinal centerline to further avoid obstructions. The heater also had to be repositioned several times, so a roller that could be broken down quickly and moved was a key aspect of the saddle design.

Because of the space constraints, the project engineering plan took several iterations to complete a thorough and efficient design. But the preparation and planning paid off with a project that was successfully executed.

Posted in Nuclear Power | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment