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Why I hate boom trucks

AzIron

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Jun 14, 2016
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It's been my understanding boom trucks are cheaper than a real crane and the lack of real crane operators gives way to the boom truck

But I never understood why they didn't just add counter weight to them would help a lot

And a boom truck with a 550 in it is a little overkill that's a lot of motor to buy to push a crane down the road I dont run that in a transport because for the most part in town you just dont need that kinda power plus at 120 degree days try cooling that kinda power
 

skyking1

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cooling is not a thing, if you are not making power then you have a massive cooling system oversize.
Boom trucks might use 60~80 HP to run the pump so it really was ludicrous.
 

Natman

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What gets me a bit, from time to time, not often really, is when I see a 90 ton truck crane doing a job I could have done with my 30 ton, just as easily and safely. Like the big LED billboard I saw being hoisted the other day, that I put up about 5 years ago. The bigger crane had to set up further away, and as I recall the weight was comfortably in the green on my LMI as I could set up closer. This 90 ton crane had 1 hr of travel, 2 hrs total. I would have had 10 minutes. No skin off my nose (I was busy anyway, and a different sign contractor was being used than the one I had worked for) but it had to have cost many times more than my bill would have been. What I really like is seeing a job by a bigger crane that is not even close to what I can do, and I'm sure if I got a 90 tonner myself, the first call I'd get would be for a job that needed a 150 ton machine!

Crane OP: the 1800 series of National boom trucks is what I've been eyeballing, just tire kicking so far. Not sure how to consider your review, I mean any machine different is going to feel awkward. Slow? winch speed probably, the big machines seem to have a lot faster? The Grove RT crane I took my practical test in felt real awkward to me, as I had never ran one before, but I still beat the guy who owned and operated it. And yes, he is never going to live that down!
 

crane operator

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Crane OP: the 1800 series of National boom trucks is what I've been eyeballing, just tire kicking so far. Not sure how to consider your review,
If I'm buying a boom truck, its going to be a national. I've run 1100,1400, 1800 and I've kind of looked at the new 50-60 tonners.

The 1100 series is the best of the small ones, simply because of the small footprint.

1400 gets you the worst of both worlds, no counterweight with a wide outrigger span. I ran one with the 127' main, and it ran much nicer if you didn't have it all out.

The 1800 would probably be my choice, for what I do. The 1100's just don't have enough chart for most of my work. The 1800's at least get you a counterweight to go with the wide span. The 1800 I posted the picture of is a 18142. Which has the 142' main. The guy that owns it has only ever run it all out to use once. Usually he's running out 100' or so- he primarily builds steel buildings. He says its spooky with all the main out.

The guy that owns the 18142 also owns a old tms300. The boom truck goes to do most of his jobs, simply because of the roadability. But, like he and I were talking, the national is a wobbly goblin and isn't "planted" and secure like his old grove is. The boom truck gets you a lot more frame flex than any comparable truck crane. Turntable bearings are smaller, and you can't run up a rear jack to get more room for cribbing under a front jack, because the frames just aren't rigid enough.

And realistically, the 1800's are really a 100' radius machine. They won't pick with my 40 ton grove, which can take 2300lbs flat any direction, but I've got over 8,000 of counterweight. But the trade off with the grove is the only 95' main. The truck cranes just have so much more counterweight, which really gains you speed and stability when operating.

To get what I really want for chart- I've got to go up to the newer NBT 50-55 models. They at least give you 6,000 of counterweight. And then you loose the pilot hydraulics and go to all electric joysticks. But you can get the optional taller jacks in the NBT series (which may be standard now). That's the real downside of the 1400 and 1800 machines (and the later 14000 and 18000)- with the wide span, they have too short of jacks, the 1400 I ran- you couldn't get the tires off the ground on flat pavement without 4x4" cribbing under the pads, the jacks were just too short. The long jacks of the later series would make a big difference.

For you, a 1800 or 18000 with the 127' or 142' main would save a lot of swinging jib, and if your happy with how your 1100 runs, you won't be disappointed in how a 1800 acts. I don't think I would buy the 1800 series with the 103' boom, it does have a way better chart with jib on, but I have enough other cranes in the 100' main category, I would want the longer main boom- just to have more options.

The newest National is the NTC (truck crane). Lattice jibs, more ctw. 151' main booms. Special outrigger extension pinnable at 20' (for the guys like me that complain that the boom trucks are too wide). They look pretty nice, but probably run around $700,000 also.
 

Manistar

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Jan 29, 2023
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After running a tms300 with a Detroit around for most of my young life at 35-40mph, our manitex 38100 with a 90's truck is like a Cadillac. It's still not new by any means but being able to cruise at 55+mph is great. We still have the tms300 but we seem to use it less and less and try not to move it anymore than I have to.

The tms300 definitely has a better chart and for heavy lifts it's the one to have but it doesn't have a lmi so I usually try to be more conservative with it. Where as with the manitex with a computer I'm much more likely to run it up to its limit because I know exactly what's on my hook. The crane is more stable but I've never really felt like the boom truck is that unstable, then again I only have 100' of main boom.

A rental guy in the area has a nbt 55L and that is a pretty sweet rig. But even he'll admit when you put out 150' it can look a bit sketchy. He said sometimes he can see a couple feet of side boom deflection depending on the pick but he also said when he questioned National they said if it'd in the chart it's okay. I'd love to have one but a newer 40 ton crane that has an lmi and can run 55+mph is probably the more practical and affordable option for me.
 

Natman

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I like the chart on a older/pre emissions National 1800, one I've been looking at is a 2007 like my pre E Mack is, (but it appears to be sold) but only with the 103' of boom model. Probably 80 or 90% of the truss and HVAC work I make my living at only requires about 85' of stick it seems, often less, rarely more.

Before I put the 1400 pound counter weight on my 1300, working off to the side at the top of the LMI green felt real sketchy, my butt meter told me so, after it was hung it feels rock solid up into the yellow. Not much of a counterweight I know but for this rig it made a huge difference. A guy in SLC who runs 5 of the 1300's says the reason he likes them is with the counterweight, he has a full 360 chart without needing a front stabilizer, since I have a front stab I use it, but the few times I haven't it's solid. Really, my 110' of stick 1300 does me just fine, I just wish it didn't have 10,474 hrs on it (just changed the oil.) Being my only rig, one little glitch and I'm 100% out of work until it's fixed. I've thought of getting another 1300, as a backup, and just swap plates when needed, and not tell my insurance man, two rigs with one cost of paperwork, but I know better!
 

crane operator

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The 103' boom has a pretty good chart, and will be way less whippy than the 127' or 142'.

10k hours is just getting broken in. I've got a old tms250 that's definitely north of 50,000 hours. Different engine, trans, and pumps, but the main structure is all original. But it was built to last forever. Newer boom trucks, aren't built like that.
 

skyking1

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No they are not. I only have a little time in a 60 ton Grove but it felt like a solid block of steel in comparison.
 

Natman

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I have a on ramp to the interstate I have to use about 80% of my jobs, it's at the very bottom of a big grade, and I've learned if I turn off the 45 mph secondary road while keeping enough speed to stay in my high range/second gear, it makes a big difference as to what speed I enter and pull the grade at. Being near Teton and Yellowstone Nat Parks, besides the usual truckers and cars, traffic can be fairly heavy. Today, I noticed a side dumper gravel hauler behind me as I hit my turn signal and prepared to make the turn. I'd bet the driver was a bit surprised as to the way I took that corner, but I know my rig, I put more miles on it than I do my car. On another, my least favorite on ramp, in another town, an old one that has a real crappy sight line due to it's curve, shortness, and the grade, AND no shoulder (very little anyway, before there is none) I also hit it in high range/second gear, but that means I need to sometimes get a little daylight under the outside tires, it makes the difference between entering the 80 mph freeway at 40 mph, or at 25 mph. I use the entire lane on the onramp, cut it tight and swing wide, painted lines don't mean squat, to keep my radius as large as possible. Fun stuff! These drivers pictured, I have to wonder what their story was, on the phone, hung over, little experience, all of the above?
 

Truck Shop

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Hold it----that truck is not old enough, who would by a emission truck, should have used a
62 Freightliner cab over-according to---that's all that's needed.
 

Natman

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"My" 80 ton Terex crane, in a town 25 miles away, owned by a company that does work at the big plants in my area, and that I was on good terms with, as I would shunt work their way when I got a call for work out of my chart, and they would return the favor by throwing little jobs my way, just sold. Now it's IN my town, and I kind of know the guy, know the family anyway, and can probably do the same thing, trade work, with him. I had no idea it was for sale, just 3 or 4 years old, from brand new, good thing I didn't as I might have been tempted. They couldn't keep an operator, or find a replacement, was part of why they sold it I guess.
 

crane operator

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Well I think that most operators that are really worth something work for themselves, and that is why you can't find them as employees.
Not really, I've got some great guys right now, and from in the past that have worked for me. I've also worked with a lot of great operators that didn't own their own, and I've also worked for other crane companies. Its a capital intensive business, and the insurance bar is high.
 

crane operator

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Wow, negligent operator.
I don't think its so much negligence, as its a design problem. They are top heavy sob's, and you don't know fear until you see daylight under a tandem, or hear the drives squealing when a corner is a little sharper than you thought it was.

And maybe someone just pulled out in front of him or made a lane change. And with being so top heavy, the bigger boom trucks sure don't like sudden swerving.
 

Natman

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All true! But still, being aware of the design limitations and not exceeding them while driving is no different than the way I operate my car. I guess I mean, it's not like a boom truck just all of a sudden changes it's handling characteristics while driving down the road, whatever type of a handling pig it is, it's like that all the time. It's degree of top heaviness or lack of it is there all the time. I have 80 K miles in 6 years of driving my Mack National around the Idaho mountain roads I operate in, (120 yesterday, a bit more today, including a mountain pass with those escape ramps on the downside) 12% grades being common, and 5 times that mileage in 4 other boom trucks, and I've kept them upright so far. The 17 ton BTC Terex single axle rig , I had two, was the worst by far, stability and cornering wise, but it was still predictable. With that thing, a posted curve of 35 MPH, I'd take 30.... IF I had an employee who rolled my truck, he'd get no sympathy at all, he simply screwed up by exceeding it's operating limitations. The fact those limitations are lower than other vehicles is just something that should be taken in account as a matter of course. Having said that, I'll be extra careful in a couple hours when I crest the 7,000' pass and start the descent.
 
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