D-Crane Rental LLC is involved in the biggest project the company has every tackled, and it’s one of biblical proportions … literally. The company is providing crane services for the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, where a full-scale reproduction of Noah’s Ark is being built. When completed, the ark will be the largest timber-frame structure in the United States, measuring 510 feet long and 80 feet tall.
D-Crane has three cranes on site, including a Link-Belt HTC-86100 the company recently purchased from Columbus Equipment Company and a Link-Belt RTC-8065 rented for the job. Three D-Crane operators and a rigger will be working on the ark at least through the end of the year, said Rob Domaschko Sr., owner of D-Crane.
The RTC is being used to assist masons building towers and elevators shafts by lifting up blocks and mortar to heights forklifts can’t reach. The 86100 and a Manitowoc crane are being used to lift up the timber bents that form the frame of the ark. The bents weigh about 25,000 pounds each, and the Link-Belt lifts them up about 90 feet, and out 90 to 100 feet. The Troyer Group—contractor for the project—is using Amish woodworkers alongside modern equipment such as that supplied by D-Crane.
Domaschko had never worked with Troyer before, and he thinks his company’s location in Walton, Kentucky, not far from Williamstown, might have led the contractor to first contact him. Attending two years of meetings and keeping quiet about the project until construction was ready to start also helped, he reckoned.
Landing the ark project provided an excellent reason to acquire the 100-ton Link-Belt, Domaschko said. He had purchased a used Link-Belt HTC-8690 from Columbus Equipment Company about two years ago and “we liked it so much it motivated us to get another one. We’d gotten dependent on having a big crane and couldn’t do without one while it was tied up on a project for six months.”
“The 86100 is an extremely operator-friendly crane,” he said. “It also has a very strong chart—the strongest in its class of 100-ton truck cranes, I think. We can set it up fast, break it down fast and move on to the next project. It also goes down the road good and rides nice, which makes the operator more comfortable and allows him to do more.”
D-Crane owns eight cranes, ranging in size from a 23-ton boom truck to the 100-ton truck crane. Before he bought the Link-Belt truck cranes, the biggest crane in the fleet was a 70-tonner. “Naturally we can do a lot more with a 90- and 100-ton crane than with a 70-ton crane. We’ve gone from being able to work 200 feet up to 230 feet up, and from a 150-foot working radius to a 200-foot working radius. In our business higher is better and out is better—you can do more work and be more versatile,” Domaschko said. Despite the increase in size and range, “the new HTC drives down the road like a 70-ton and sets up like a 70-ton, but it can do a lot more than a 70-ton.”
The purchase of the 86100 was the first time Domaschko bought a new crane, and Columbus Equipment Company made the process “painless,” he said. “Bob Weber (head of Columbus Equipment Company’s Lifting Division) and Roger Reese (sales representative) really explained it well to me. I didn’t even know if our credit was strong enough to do it, but they helped me believe in myself.”
He has had good experiences working with the parts and service departments at Columbus Equipment Company, too. “They are eager to help. I’ve never had a problem getting ahold of someone and I’ve never had a problem getting a part. Everyone has done all they can to make things happen.”
Domaschko started D-Crane in 2003 as a one-man, one-crane company. He learned to run a crane in the Navy and worked for other crane rental companies for about a dozen years before starting his own firm with a used Grove crane. The recession years were lean, but D-Crane survived and now has 10 employees. Domaschko’s son Rob Jr. joined the company in 2011 to handle sales and marketing.
D-Crane operates mostly in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, typically providing services such as setting structural steel, setting mechanical equipment and lifting heavy machinery. The company has worked on several power plants and also does work for aggregate plants in the area.
As the company has added equipment, it has taken on some high-profile jobs. “For the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati, we set the structural steel for the new scoreboard with the HTC-8690,” Domaschko said. “That was a national event, and was pretty cool. But building the ark might just be cooler,” he added.