While Barnhart performs and documents jobs of all sizes, the massive projects involving large equipment and oversize components are often hard to capture. Words and photos can’t always do a project justice.

An example was a lift of a towering column at a refinery in Illinois, which involved a bit of ingenuity. Instead of using a second crane to tail up the column we used the Goldhofer tailing device. Luckily, Barnhart captured it on video, so you can truly appreciate the scale of the project.

That’s just one of the many videos from our library where you can see our work and equipment in all their glory: videos on the GS800 girder transport system, modular lift towers, or the lift of a colossal jumbotron. While they may not be Hollywood blockbuster material, we think they’re pretty compelling. Check them out.

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Barnhart’s 32 branches are located all across the country. They include a string of Midwest locations stretching from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska and north into South Dakota.

This Midwest presence was established in 2014, when Barnhart acquired Crane Rental and Rigging. They inherited a fleet of more than 40 cranes and eight branches located in Omaha, Lincoln and South Sioux City, Neb.; Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Ames, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, S.D. Their service area also extends into southern Minnesota and northern Missouri.

The branches’ capabilities have grown far beyond the exceptional crane service – with up to a 500 ton crane – for which Crane Rental was known. Through Barnhart’s extensive nationwide network, they can tap into an arsenal of specialty equipment, innovative rigging systems, and the expertise of more than 40 engineers.

Services also include wind turbine up-tower services, project cargo logistics, customized industrial machinery moving and transportation solutions, including bridge crossing systems and dolly combinations.

Agriculture, ethanol, nuclear, chemical plants, petroleum refining, wind maintenance, and civil construction are just a few of the industries served by the Midwest branches.

According to Ted Hickson, regional director for Barnhart, “The advantage of being part of the Barnhart family for our customers is that we can meet their needs better with a much larger pool of equipment and manpower. We’re more of a one-stop shop for a variety of needs.”

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R & R projects, the remove and replace variety, are often challenging, time-sensitive jobs performed during turnarounds and outages. These are the kinds of projects we relish.

During a turnaround at a refinery in California, Barnhart was given little notice on a complicated project to remove and replace four air grids. The grids, weighing 28,000 lbs. each, were located inside the regenerator of the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit.

Barnhart was notified of the project on a Thursday. The team arrived on site on Friday and met with the customer. Then they got to work figuring out an efficient solution. Engineering was finalized and equipment and personnel were mobilized on Saturday. By Sunday, the team was ready to make the first pick.

The grids had to be navigated through some tight and congested spaces. Barnhart utilized their Moveable Counterweight Cantilever System due to its maneuverability on lifts needing lateral movement to avoid obstructions.

Some of the obstacles Barnhart encountered were platforms that interfered with the crane’s boom and additional structures that had to be avoided. The operation was also happening in a heavy traffic area, so safety was critical.

Despite these challenges, Barnhart removed the grids in one and a half shifts, a fraction of the estimated 14 shifts and seven days the customer had estimated the job would need. That quick turnaround during a turnaround, saved the customer considerable time and money.

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Barnhart Crane & Rigging has been selected by space agency NASA to transport components for its Space Launch System (SLS). SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket for deep-space missions.

The project will involve delivery of a steel mock-up of a pathfinder vehicle, designed by engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., which will be used to demonstrate core stage operations for the SLS rocket. This core stage reproduction is essentially a shell with no engines or avionics that will measure 213-feet long and weigh 230,000 lbs.

“We don’t want the first time we transport the core stage to be with flight hardware,” said Shane Carpenter, engineering lead at NASA.

Final welding and assembly will take place at the G & G Steel plant in Cordova, Ala. An overhead crane will be employed at G & G to load the mock-up onto Barnhart’s 200 ft. x 35 ft. deck barge used in conjunction with a 250 ft. x 50 ft. canal deck barge on the Black Warrior River. Barnhart will transport the mock-up to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans where it will be offloaded onto Goldhofer transporters.

The cargo is scheduled for load-out and transport in March, with the inaugural flight of the SLS anticipated in late 2018.

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Barnhart was hired to devise an innovative lift system for a rigging project at a nuclear plant in Louisiana. The process was outlined in a recent article in Cranes Today.

One of the plant’s two 35-year-old clarifiers was taken offline because several of its 16 lateral supports were damaged from normal use. This compromised the structural stability of the 600,000 lbs. clarifier, creating an overhead fall hazard which prohibited anyone from being allowed inside the unit. The clarifier had to be supported from above to allow for the safe removal of the supports.

Barnhart designed a rigging system that spanned the 178’ inside diameter tank utilizing both a heavy lift crawler crane and a telescoping hydraulic crane to assemble the lift system. The backbone of this system featured Barnhart’s 8’ girder sections that were connected on the ground for a total length of 180’. 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 8’ girders on the wall, 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.

With the clarifier safely supported, Barnhart positioned pull-up gantries and 5’ girders underneath. The overhead girder and lift system was disassembled and removed so that the replacement of the supports could proceed. Once this process is completed, the gantries and girders will be removed, allowing the clarifier to go back online.

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For most of the game during Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, victory for the Atlanta Falcons seemed assured. Despite having won four previous Super Bowl titles and being three-point favorites, the New England Patriots were behind at halftime 21-3. By the third quarter, with the Falcons leading 28-9, Patriots fans, including stalwart fan Mark Wahlberg, were streaming out of the stadium.

Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

But that’s when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady began to work his magic and engineered the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, winning the game in overtime. It was an outcome that was unpredictable until the final buzzer.

Unpredictable outcomes are exciting for sports, fans and TV ratings. These kinds of contests keep your heart pounding and your butt on the edge of your seat. Yet for projects that involve heavy lifts, heavy hauls and project cargo logistics –  basically any type of project Barnhart handles – unpredictable outcomes are something to be avoided.

Barnhart takes steps to manage the unpredictability of projects through extensive planning and engineering. After all, unpredictability affects safety, scheduling and the operation of a customer’s facility during a project. While factors beyond our control happen – bad weather, manufacturing or shipping delays – it’s only a speed bump to the eventual planned outcome.

In a project in New Mexico, Barnhart was hired to offload, haul, transload and set four transformers from a rail spur to a substation. The project was originally scheduled for July, but manufacturing delays pushed the project into December. Ice and snow had turned the dirt road at the substation to mush and revealed some serious grade issues. Barnhart had to wait until the weather improved for the power company to address these issues.

Once the weather improved and the road was regraded, Barnhart was able to continue the haul, using a slide system to successfully set the transformers and complete the project.

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The adjustable rigging link system (ARLS) is a cool tool in Barnhart’s equipment arsenal. The ARLS is unique to the industry and offers some big advantages.

Used primarily for high-capacity loads, the system resembles a large bicycle chain. The length of the ARLS rigging assembly can be adjusted down to two-inch increments providing the exact length for any job. Extra accessory components, like hook adapters and shackle adapters allow it to be modified to handle different loads.

The ARLS was used in a landmark project for Barnhart that involved the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Bertha, at a project in Seattle a few years ago.

The machine had been taken apart into 41 pieces which had to be staged in the correct sequence so they’d be in the right order when they were lowered into the launch pit  for reassembly 80 feet below the surface. The pieces were lowered using the ARLS, plus a modular lift tower and other equipment.

In addition to lifting oversize equipment, another advantage of the system over synthetic and wire rope slings is durability. It’s easy to inspect. Plus, you can use one rigging system for all lifts.

Set up is easy compared to cumbersome wire rope slings.  The ARLS comes in a rack and essentially unfolds.

“For high-capacity lifts, it’s very hard to beat,” says Daniel Voss of Barnhart’s training and implementation department.

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Work during outages and shutdowns requires proper planning, management, and innovative solutions to keep overall costs down. A job Barnhart performed at a nuclear power plant exemplifies those standards.

Barnhart was hired to remove and replace two feedwater heaters (FWH) during an outage at the plant in Michigan. In addition to schedule, the biggest challenge was floor-loading issues, as the plant’s flooring was not able to accommodate such heavy loads. Barnhart devised an alternate rail system on turbine flooring using over 1,450 ft. of slide track, steel plate and cribbing.

After exploring many different schedules with the plant, Barnhart designed a pre-outage and post-outage plan for this system, which eliminated the need for the use of the turbine crane during the outage scope.

Barnhart offloaded the new FWHs from over-the-road trucking using pull up gantries, Goldhofer PSTe and staging. They hauled the new FWH’s to the turbine truck bay and lifted them onto empty powered saddle rollers (PSR) on the rail system.

The team removed and replaced the FWHs using two sets (8 total) of PSRs, Hillman rollers and jacks.  The system was reversed to lift and haul away the old heaters.

The early planning shortened the original proposed outage schedule resulting in a extremely pleased client.

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A Christmas Truce

During World War I on Christmas Day in 1914, British soldiers stationed on the Western Front heard an unusual sound.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
 Alles schläft, einsam wacht…

German soldiers were singing “Silent Night,” a gesture of goodwill that began an unofficial cessation of hostilities that became known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. British and German soldiers laid down their arms, tentatively emerged from their respective trenches and shared, however briefly, carols, food, camaraderie and games.

What made these men put aside their fears and hostility toward one another? The truce may have been sparked by a proposition from Pope Benedict XV for an official “Truce of God” in which hostilities would cease over the Christmas period. Though widely rejected by military authorities, perhaps a seed had been planted among the soldiers. Encamped in trenches, cold, muddy, weary and longing for loved ones, maybe they hoped to capture a little peace on Christmas.

The Christmas Truce statue in Liverpool.

While the precise details of what happened vary, the truce was widely reported by a variety of men who participated in it.

According to Rifleman Oswald Tilley, British troops noticed at dawn the Germans had placed small Christmas trees along parapets of their trenches. Slowly, parties of men from both sides began to venture toward the barbed wire that separated them.

British soldier Private Frederick Heath observed the following:

“All down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war.  ‘Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.’  For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards?”

Not a shot was fired that night.  But the truce was short-lived and the war continued for four more years. Disapproving officers on both sides took strong measures to ensure that it would never happen again.

After a contentious election a month ago, this desire for an end to hostilities seems particularly fitting.  While the conflicts of warring countries certainly can’t be compared to disagreements among political parties, the soldiers’ message of overcoming fear, working to understand one another and celebrating the true spirit of Christmas resonates more than a century later.


During this holiday season, Barnhart wishes you the source of true peace on Earth in this video message.

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Gate Removal Project Goes Off Without a Hitch

Barnhart recently performed a project at the Armistead I. Selden Lock and Dam on the Black Warrior River to provide the lifting systems for removing and replacing two 60-year-old downstream miter gates. The gates were 61’ wide x 46’ tall and weighed 426,000 lbs.

The work was performed using a modular lift tower and a girder system in conjunction with a 500-ton hoist and slide system. Barnhart used a 300-ton crane with superlift to assemble the girder system.

The girder spanned the width of the lock, which was 150’ long. The gates were suspended from an adjustable rigging system and an adjustable spread bar attached to a hoist.

The gates were removed from the pocket using the hoist and downended onto barges for transport. The new gates were delivered to the hook of the hoist by barge and upended using a 500-ton hoist. Tugs were used to support the lower end of the gate while they were upended and downended on barges. The slide system helped slide the gates back into the pocket.

While Barnhart’s part of the project only took four days, the 30-day timeframe was a challenge. Being a water-based operation, the project required coordination between Barnhart, the tug and barge company, the Corps of Engineers and the maintenance company.

Still, according to Project Manager Scott McDonald, “This was a group effort between five different entities.  Everything went off without a hitch.”

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