Skip to content

The Crane

September 13, 2006

crane-in-position.jpg In January, as I was closing in on completion of the top of the first floor walls, I realized that my approach with the skid loader wasn’t going to help me get block and material above that point.  I also knew I had these 250 lb precast concrete panels to affix to some sections of the upper story and I wasn’t going to carry them up there.  As per my habit, I began to scour a copy of “heavy equipment trader” looking for a solution.  I considered  telescopic boom forklifts, but all were too expensive.  I looked at old crawler cranes for the sheer cool factor of having something that could lift 10 tons way, way up in the air or swing a wrecking ball, but the cost of transporting these babies from the remote locations like Iowa or New Jersey were they always seemed to reside was just prohibitive.  Then, I found this unbelievable deal on a 1979 GMC 7000 crane in a state neighboring mine.  Why, I could drive this home myself, and couldn’t pass on the price.   After a few calls, I found I could get 10 day license tags for next to nothing, and how much fuel could it possibly take?  It’s only a 150 miles or so.   It was big, it was old, it fit in with my other toys, and looked like it could do the job and then some.  Great!

Paper worked signed, and off we went to the gas station on the way out of town.  I filled the tank, checked the oil and made sure everything was bolted on and generally where it should be.  Time to hit the road.   As I pulled onto the highway,  and shifted a couple gears I began to wonder if I had made a small mistake in driving this thing back.  The front end bounced around like a dribbling basketball, until the aged bias tires warmed up and became roundish again.  While in the throws of the violent shaking, I noted that the seat belts were missing or lost under the bench seat, and I wondered if the thing would plow through a guard rail and roll over if a front tire were to blow out.  Best to put those thoughts right out of my head and focus on more important matters. 

The truck has a dual speed rear end, giving you 10 possible gear combinations based on the transmission’s five.  The control to change  high / low was apparently broken, and I was stuck in the decidedly very low gear range.  The truck was equipped with an engine over-speed governor which came on frequently, and I found that top speed in this gear range was about 42 mph.  Driving down I-95 with hazard flashers on, I expected to invoke all kinds of road rage, but passing 18 wheelers appeared sympathetic, and the truck was big and ugly enough to discourage passing motorists from flipping me off.

The trip home aside, the crane has been a real deal, and I’m happy to have it around.  I’ve hoisted all kinds of stuff in the air (look for pics of it in action in upcoming  installment on block and backache Part III).   I’ve also gotten Leslie, some of her girlfriends and other weekend visitors to give the controls a try.  It is an interesting experience for them to share with co-workers on a subsequent morning coffee break.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 14, 2006 11:15 am

    Mark was certainly resourceful in finding this machine. These panel walls he described had to be cut to fit in many areas. After trimming we capped the exposed area with metal studs and then attached a set of straps so we could hoist the panel in place. Mark and I would be up on the roof while Leslie operated the boom crane. She was great. Mark’s collection of heavy eauipment has provided her with a vast experience with hydraulic controls. As Mark and I wrestled hundreds of pounds of panel into place Leslie expertly guided the sections to some really difficult areas.

    My niece came to the construction site and had the thrill of operating the unit so Mark and I could get some bags of concrete onto the second floor. She still talks in excited tones of the experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: