Columbus Equipment Company’s crane experts recently helped facilitate an extremely rare pick in which a Link-Belt crane was lifted onto a barge owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District. Now that the crane has been successfully placed and fully tested, the Corps of Engineers will use it for maintenance of federal harbors across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
How unusual was this lift? Chuck Amnah, Columbus Equipment Company’s product support specialist for cranes, has 40 years of experience working with cranes, and it was the first time he’d ever seen anything like it.
The same for Ray Frase, general service manager for Columbus Equipment Company. “This is something you don’t see every day. I’ve been in the business for 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it done this way. Normally you don’t lift cranes on to a barge, you drive them on.”
Placing the Link-Belt 238 HSL crane on the barge, known as the derrick boat McCauley, is a temporary solution to the Corps of Engineers’ need for a crane until a new derrick boat is built and delivered, scheduled for spring 2021, according to Paul Bijhouwer, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District.
A derrick boat is a barge with a crane permanently affixed to it. (If the crane isn’t affixed, it’s a crane barge.) However, the old crane on the McCauley failed its periodic inspection and the Corps determined it wasn’t feasible to fix it. Because plans were already in place for a new derrick boat, it was determined the most cost-effective interim solution was to remove the old crane and replace it with a leased crane.
However, the McCauley—which has served dutifully since 1948—wasn’t constructed to accommodate cranes being driven on and off of it. The deck wasn’t strong enough to simply drive the Link-Belt aboard, Bijhouwer explained. In addition, a platform for the crane had to be built on the deck, which meant the crane would have to be lifted aboard.
The platform design also determined what kind of crane could be used. Only four specific makes and models, including the Link-Belt 238, qualified “because we needed a crane with the right capacity and one that had the right geometry,” Bijhouwer said. The platform was designed for a specific geometry on how the crawler would land on it, including the width, length and spacing of the crawlers.
Modifications on the barge were performed by Conneaut Creek Ship Repair at the Kinder Morgan Pinney Dock in Ashtabula, which is where the lift took place. The lift was performed by General Crane.
“This was considered a critical lift. Columbus Equipment Company performed the lift planning, and supervised the lift and rigging,” Frase said.
Legacy Corp., which is leasing the Link-Belt 238 to the Corps of Engineers, hired Columbus Equipment Company as consultants. “We wanted to ensure that everything was done properly. We’ve never had a project of this nature, and wanted to make sure they were using the correct means and methods for lifting the crane,” said Blake Enloe, president of Legacy, an excavation and underground utility contactor in East Moline, Illinois. He and his brother Ben, a superintendent for Legacy, were onsite for the lift.
“Everything went well. Columbus Equipment was instrumental in providing the right methods for picking the crane, including how to pick it, where to pick it, and the best procedure to put the crane together once everything was on the barge,” Enloe said. “I am very happy with the assistance Columbus Equipment Company provided.”
Amnah was onsite for the entire process, and worked in conjunction with Link Belt by phone when questions arose, including to get confirmation on the best lifting points. The Link-Belt was lifted in several phases, starting with the main beam on its outriggers. The undercarriage came next, then the counterweights, and finally the boom. “The District utilizes industry to provide capabilities that the District does not have readily available,” Bijhouwer said. “Columbus Equipment’s accomplishment of this lift was a key milestone in the larger project to restore the District’s floating crane capabilities.”
“The parties involved in this project had a significant investment and wanted the insurance of expert consultation to make sure this lift went well,” noted Gary Rice, District Manager for Link-Belt. “The collaboration between Columbus Equipment Company and Link-Belt in providing that expertise is an example of the value our partnership brings to customers and lifting professionals.”
After the crane was reassembled, Columbus Equipment Company also performed the crane inspection and supervised the Corps of Engineers’ 100 percent load test. The crane had to lift and hold giant water bags weighing over 40 tons (80,200 lbs.) with the brake set for five minutes, and to rotate the load 360 degrees at a 40-foot radius. The Link-Belt and barge completed the tests with no problem.
With a functioning crane barge back in its fleet, the Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District can resume its harbor maintenance work, which was deferred while the McCauley was undergoing modifications.
While the pick to place the crane on the barge was likely a once-in-a-lifetime event for everyone involved, there was absolutely no room for error. Thanks to meticulous planning from all parties involved and guidance from the trusted lifting professionals at Columbus Equipment Company, everything went according to plan … an unprecedented plan, at that.