Sunday, November 04, 2007

Crane time

I may have gotten ahead of myself with that last story. Of course I had to have installed the panels before the kitchen was ready.

Back to the panels. The Money Tree construction site could only be described as ‘tight’. We were building right along the property lines and had covered barricades for the protection of pedestrians on two side of the lot, There was an alley on the east side and we were located right up against the Ace Motel on the north side. There was no room for storage of material near the site and whatever was delivered had to be placed inside the work area immediately. I soon learned how to control traffic and to hold up a ‘Stop’ sign with an air of authority while a drywall or stud delivery was being made.

Installing the panels though, was a little different. We had to get a permit from the city to shut down a lane of traffic for the amount of time it would take a crane to lift the panels from the trailer and install them. Since I had never installed a panel, I was only guessing. But each day, we had a deadline to get out of the way and re-open the lane to traffic.

We were using a local crane service, A&KW Cranes. Lonnie and Eli Walker. They did most of the crane work in town for the various sign companies and so their cranes were fairly lightweight. But they did have a Grove hydro truck crane with 125’ of boom, including a 30’ jib, or ‘fly’ section. And they would be able to lift the majority of the panels for us. For the longer reach to the north, McKenzie was going to let us use their much bigger conventional crane. This crane could reach all of the way across the roof, but the hitch was that we would have to share the crane time with the air conditioning contractor. We would have to hurry to set all of the panels that butted up against the Ace Motel.

When it came time to set the first panel, I was immediately impressed with Lonnie’s skill. He could lift the panels off of the trailers without even scratching the panels stacked below. Smooth. And then he would hold the panel right where we needed it while we attached the ‘tag lines’, long ropes that we would hold and try to keep the panel from crashing into something while Lonnie swung it up from the street and up against the building, near it’s final destination. Holding the tag lines required a lot of strength and skill, plus some bravery as you would sometimes have to rush out into traffic as you pulled the panel away from certain disaster.

All went well, in spite of my concerns and within a week we had the building covered with a prefabricated finish, ready for the sign companies to begin their work.

This job was my introduction to the world of cranes and crane operators and I soon knew all of the operators in town; working with them on many projects.

No comments: