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Working the National 1300A

Discussion in 'Cranes' started by Natman, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    A farmer called me this fall, he and his brother had a grain silo they were erecting and they needed a little help. The job site was in a valley a couple ranges to the east from my place, about a 45 minutes drive. The brothers were real sharp in knowing what the silo weighed, and how close I could get, but after looking at my load chart I determined I better run out there first and eyeball the project. I told them I'd "stop by" in the next day or so, and left it at that.

    The next morning, I had perfect weather and no work, so I jumped in the plane (kept at home, like my dog) and flew over there in about 15 minutes. As expected, finding a landing site was no problem, the RANS S-7S kitplane I fly lands shorter then most Super Cubs. The brothers knew another neighboring farmer who I had set trusses for on a new shop last year, and I had flown into that job also, so they weren't too surprised when I taxied up. I have my load chart on my smartphone, and with a tape measure we quickly determined I could do it, just. I'd have to set up as close as possible, and use every trick in the book but it was within my chart and they really didn't want to use a local 50 ton truck crane for the entire project. I'd only be approaching maxed out on the last ring. By using me they'd save a lot of money. Mission accomplished, I got ready to fly off, and as I have made a habit of doing, told them there was no extra charge for me flying out first, before driving the rig out. Then I laughed, and told them I'd pay them 5 bucks for letting me land there, (as if I had asked ahead of time....) point being I make it clear that by doing this I am having fun, while also providing a superior level of service!

    A few days later, I drove out there and it went like clockwork. It was over a days work, so I left the national there and the farmer lent me his wife's car to make the drive home. This is another service I offer my customers from time to time, it obviously saves them paying extra travel time, but of course I only do it when I'm confident the site is safe overnight, and this one was. As expected, the last ring was right at my limit, and I was having close to an interference problem with the silo and the boom. I forgot the #'s, but I was "right there" limit wise. Any more stick extended and I would be out of limits, same with booming down. But by maxing out my out rigger travel with some rail road ties they had handy, and gaining just enough extra height above the hook, it worked out exactly like we had figured it would. I got paid that day, no waiting for a month or so, gotta love that. part of the deal was they got a nice big aerial photo of their spread, NO EXTRA CHARGE. This is a great, and typical example, as to how I use the airplane to help out the crane business, and have fun doing it. IMG_20160723_083214509.jpg
     
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  2. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    I forgot this picture.
    IMG_20160728_095905876.jpg
     

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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  3. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    I thought I had the picture thing figured out, but I can't seem to get rid of that last picture, tried EDIT twice, so just ignore it.
     
  4. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    Got a call to go out to a big barley storage facility over the weekend, (only partially shown) and "bring the (certified, with test weight, etc.) man basket. " I needed the jib but not it's stinger, 141' tip height is what we worked at mostly, only 35' or so radius. This outfit I was told supplies about 15 to 20% of all the needed barley for Budweiser. You're welcome, you Bud drinkers, it was an honor.

    The one picture shows us in the middle of what I am sure is the favorite activity of every crane op, folding the jib out. Especially fun when it's 25 degrees and you're working with a total stranger. I usually start off with "do EXACTLY what I tell you, WHEN I tell you, no more no less." When I show up on a job it's just me, so I rely on the customer, and make it clear in advance if the jib is going to be required, that I will need a bit of help. Thankfully, I only need the jib about 5 to 10 times a year, more likely the lower number so not a huge issue. The 110' main boom is one of the main reasons I got this outfit. It all went smoothly, and after the job was done I was told by the contractor that he would be using me on a big redo coming up in March, several days worth of work, that's always nice to hear, guess he liked my work anyway.
     

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  5. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    Guess there isn't an edit button? But just now, in looking at the above pics, I thought I'd add that unlike the fixed access ladders of my previous boom trucks, I use part of an old extension ladder, that way I can position it where it's needed, to insure that as I climb it I can bang my head into the boom. Nothing like doing that to warm you up on a chilly day.
     
  6. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    That's awesome Natman ! Love the story checking out the job in the RANS aircraft :cool:
     
  7. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

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    Looks nice natman. I don't mind swinging jib, on my 25 ton's its only a 10 minute deal, the booms aren't near as high off the ground as a boom truck crane's is, and that makes it a lot easier to swing. The tms 200-250- and my tms 300 are all pretty easy to swing, I bet I swing jib at least once a week, sometimes every day. On my 35 I'd almost rather do jib, than mess with dead stick, if I've got plenty of room.

    That said, my rt and my 70 ton are not as easy, the rt because it doesn't boom down far enough, you have to have a step ladder to do jib. The 70 ton is the same way, and its a 40' swing around offsetable with a telescoping section(makes 60' jib) ---- its a really heavy, big ba$#^d.

    The old grove jibs are really nice if you have the brackets adjusted right, I find them much easier than the style you have to telescope out, and then swing.
     
  8. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    I'm still sneaking up on the proper setting of the jib stowage brackets. The ones that line it up for the next time you deploy it.....as the previous owner never used it, they were wildly out of adjustment. This last time a few days ago it all lined up pretty much as it should, but it's still something I find somewhat odious. My best jib experience was with my 17 ton Terex boom truck, with the wireless remote, with that I could do it all myself, easily. The worst thing about the jib use for me is when you wrap the job up, and maybe it's getting dark and every one is tired, and then you have to mess with it. As compared to just sucking in the main boom and driving off, but what the heck if it means getting the job done, or getting the job in the first place, I don't mind. Getting spoiled I guess.
     
  9. Tradesman

    Tradesman Senior Member

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    I wear my hard hat all the time. When I first started doing crane work I would leave my hard hat in the truck, then one day I had to move to finish a large house, so I was rushing around setting up, and I ducked under the boom cylinder " almost" I hit my head hard enough that I went flat on my back on the deck of the crane. I've done the same several times since, but with the hat on all was well.
     
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  10. Tradesman

    Tradesman Senior Member

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    TD and Crane op. like the new colours, are they something to do with the new format or did you just decide to add some colour ?
     
  11. Knepptune

    Knepptune Senior Member

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    When your a short guy like me it doesn't much matter which crane your swinging the jib on. You're gonna need a ladder.

    I'm a stickler on my jib brackets being right. I detest prying the jib into place and whaling on the pins with a sledge to get the darn thing swung.

    With all my talking about boom trucks this is one big advantage. Boom trucks usually have a longer main boom. When I was running our tms300 you just knew you were gonna be swinging the jib on probably 85% of the jobs. If you didn't need the jib we sent the t230. Really irked me having an 80' live boom on a 40 ton crane. Got pretty good at it tho.
     
  12. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    I have a long time side line business selling and installing solar gear. I came up with a design using local available steel for the racks needed when I pole mount them, I never put them on roofs. I fully assemble them in my shop, pre wire them, and then truck them to the job site. The typical one weighs about 1400 lbs, and I've mounted as many of four of them on one large pipe. Two of them on one pole 60' high to clear trees! From a hoisting viewpoint, these are pretty easy picks, and it sure saves me a lot of time onsite. Instead, most of the work is done in the shop, at my convenience, plus the bottom line is I can do it this way cheaper then buying a rack, paying motor freight to get it shipped to me, and then assembling it piecemeal at the job site, and then mounting each solar panel and finally wiring them together. That's a lot of awkward labor (working overhead) needing a helper, with a lot of time, days, spent on the job site. My way, I show up at 8 and am done by 10, I only need my helper for an hour or so, rather then days.
     

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  13. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    A few more:
     

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  14. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    IMG_20170116_105800362.jpg IMG_20170116_105800362.jpg Here's a job I did last week, one I flew over and checked out first. It looked like a piece of cake from a few hundred feet up, but once I drove by the site, only then did I see the grade I'd have to back up, and that is was one big sheet of ice. The framer struck me as a good guy, with the right attitude (unlike some....) so I told him I'd show up and we could see if I could make it up, though I told him it was unlikely. He agreed to pay me a pittance, $20.00,(!!) my suggestion, that'd at least cover my fuel for driving there, no matter what. When I told him I only had one set of chains, we discussed which rear axle would be most effective to chain up, when backing up the hill. He thought the forward, I thought the rear But later that day, when I was driving home and going by a county gravel yard and I saw the grader operator BSing with a gravel truck driver, I pulled in and asked them what they thought. The consensus seemed to be, when backing up a hill, chain the rear drive axle, it'll chew the ice up a bit and make the traction better for the forward axle.

    So, the next day, I chained up the rear, and gave it hell for about 20 minutes. Nothing worked, just too icy and steep, plus even IF I had made it up, I would have had a very dicey set up area, as the big pile of bonus room trusses was in the way. This was a Thursday, and sunny weather was forecast, so we bagged it until Monday. In the meantime, the frame got a skid steer to shove the truss pile over a bit (and that amazes me) and best of all, the ice mostly melted. I backed up without chains, and thanks to the little extra bit of room I now had, was able to get into a good setup area. Every single truss was a BIG bonus room truss, except the gables, the kind with micro lam bottom chords, very heavy for a wood truss. I ended up billing for a bit over $1600.00, and the framer was real happy, so that laughable 20 buck fee for the first failed attempt was nothing, especially as he will for sure use me again.

    I should mention, I used my J hook spreader bar on these trusses, "as a qualified authority/rigger I deemed it a lesser hazard then exposing the framers to walking out and unrigging each truss." That's my take on the issue, a good lawyer could shred it but its what I told my OSHA instructor and he "bought" it. By J hooks I mean no safety gate on the hook, if I set the truss down and keep winching down, the J hooks fall off (the bottom of the top chord) and the truss tips over. The hooks are deep, so it's pretty easy to not let this happen, my customers love it, as it saves them running out to unhook, I can do it my self. I only use it when I can eyeball things, and in no wind or other less then perfect conditions. The bar is labeled for capacity, uses proper components, has an inspection record, and was proof tested for 5 times its max rating. It has 3 hooks, 24" OC, and I sometimes use it for setting 3 trusses at a time, but more often on these large bonus room trusses, just 2 of the hooks. I use it on maybe 10% of my jobs, if that.
    IMG_20170109_105209189.jpg
     

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  15. Knepptune

    Knepptune Senior Member

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    Pretty cool that you utilize your plane so much.

    I guess I should admit we don't even own a set of tire chains. It's not that hilly around here tho.

    We never used j-hooks untill we got our nccco certifications. At that point we found out that according to osha law j-hooks are legal.

    One of my uncles moved out to Idaho about 2 years ago. Believe he said he's not to far from Spokane, Washington. He says the demand for cranes in his area is crazy. He's been kicking around the idea of getting into the crane business there. Believe he said said the guy he uses gets $175 hr on a 40t and is generally booked out at least a week. But he also pointed out that everything slows down quite a bit in the winter.
     
  16. Tradesman

    Tradesman Senior Member

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    I would say you did an amazing job getting up that hill, it wouldn't of been hard to end up on your side over the edge. As a general contractor quite often I have loaded the back of my pickup with sand and spread on a bad driveway, the way I look at it I feel responsible for my trades and if they get stuck its not only a PIA for them but me too, I won't be accomplishing anything else until I have them back on the road as well.
    Keep up the good work
     
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  17. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    IMG_20170201_114448147.jpg My second time this week out at this large grain facility. We had to lift the conveyor belt out of the top of the 70' high chute, that meant 140' of hook height plus some as it also goes underground a bit. So, both jibs (44') and all 110' of stick were needed, and I made sure I set up as close as I could, but not too close.....it worked out perfect, I was at 76.5 boom angle degrees and had a few feet of line still clear of the ATB when the belt finally cleared the tower, LMI was showing a tip height of 161'.

    Compared to my other rigs I've owned in the past, the pilot controls on the Nat are so smooth that it is no big deal working with that much stick, I still have the capability to make very fine movements. That is such a pleasure, again as compared to the other boom trucks I've operated, the Nat makes me look good!

    The grain facility guys had screwed up the length of the new belt, so after I got it in and they messed around for a bit, finally realizing it was too short by several feet, I had to take it back out and twiddle my thumbs while they lengthened it. Later the contractor I was working for told me the head honcho came out of the office and was bemoaning the fact that this was costing them extra crane time.... like it was my fault or something. I told the contractor, a good guy who's on my side, "tell him I charge double my usual rate, while waiting on screwups, that will really fire him up." Just kidding of course, I just charge the usual rate, no more no less.

    Some years ago, after gradually getting out of being an all around builder and settling into being a full time hoisting engineer, I eventually realized (it took a while) that the great thing about being "the crane guy" on a job, is I have absolutely no responsibilities! By that I mean, if someone forgot to pick up the proper parts or tools for a job, or someone miss measured or something isn't fitting right for whatever reason, "it ain't my problem." Before, it WAS my problem, and probably my fault as well. Now, as long as I operate the Nat correctly, quickly and safely, I have a clear mind, not clogged up with a million details, leaving me free to concentrate on what sat radio channel to listen to, or when I should have the next cup of coffee, and whether I should turn the heat up or down a few degrees in the cab, life is good. Now, my good steady customers, I WILL work with them if unavoidable screwups happen, and that is always really appreciated and provides more future work. But for a multi million dollar corporation, I don't lose any sleep over charging them an extra 45 minutes of time, especially as their other crane option (that had enough stick, besides me) was a 70 ton operator who sure as hell would charge them while waiting, and at a lot more per hour.
     
  18. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    Back out at the Bud barley plant. Another part of the chute wore out, run enough grain through, long enough, and the steel just wears out. And, they are always in a big hurry, this was another Saturday job for them, and again needed both the jib (not the stinger this time anyway, just the main) and the manbasket. 125' high, down in between the chute rigging, pretty tight quarters but the guy giving me radio directions from the basket is super to work with, real calm cool and collected. Defiantly cool anyway, the wind was blowing pretty good up there judging from the mike noise, it made me set the cab heater thermostat a bit higher.

    I will be doing a lot of work out at this plant in the next couple months, and once the snow i IMG_20170211_142818950~2.jpg s gone, and if I see a spot within a mile or two to land the plane, I will commute via airplane. Fun and quick for me, cheaper for them, as I'll leave the crane there. It's about 75 miles from my home, 60 from the crane yard.
     
  19. hvy 1ton

    hvy 1ton Senior Member

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    Assuming that's the one in Idaho Falls, I've spent some time waiting in line there. Watch out for the Lott trucks if they are hauling out, they'll run you over and grab another gear.
     
  20. Natman

    Natman Senior Member

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    Not that one. Further north, in Osgood. I'll keep an eye out for the Lott drivers!