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Graywell Helps Intrepid Museum Get Into ’ShipShape’ Condition

Tue June 15, 2010 - National Edition
Kristie Pohlman

Graywell Equipment, Oakdale, N.Y., recently fulfilled an unusual request. Greg Noone, vice president of sales at Graywell Equipment, received a phone call from Matt Woods, vice president of operations at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, N.Y.

The museum is housed in the retired aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, serving not only as a memorial and educational facility, but also as a unique venue for special events. With a capacity of up to 2,500 people on its flight deck, most of these events require tables, chairs, exhibit displays and other supplies to be hauled up on a regular basis. That’s where the idea of a crane came in.

Making Short Work of Long Jobs

Until recently, all equipment and supplies were lifted using two service cranes that were mounted on the side of the ship. Although effective, this method still left a lot of labor intensive work because everything had to be carried by hand up two more levels to the flight deck.

Noone and Woods set to work to determine the right size and model crane for the job. The crane needed to be able to lift 2,000 lbs. (907 kg) at about 30 ft. (9.1 m). Woods also wanted the unit to have a radio remote control, HPLS (High Power Lifting System), and non-continuous rotation with slewing limitation.

These features provide the crane operators optimal visibility and safety while transporting loads. When engaged, the HPLS can increase a crane’s lifting capacity by seven to 10 percent. This also improves the distance at which a load is extended.

Noone stated that “the remote control gave us the ability to move the controls away from the crane and create a fixed location so that the operator could use the crane and not be in harm’s way.” The slewing limitation offers another important element for safe operation because it is set up to keep the crane operator from moving loads over his position.

After reviewing load charts and options, Noone and Woods chose a Palfinger PK 16502B Performance with a winch.

The Right Setup

This project presented several challenges from the crane’s configuration to arranging its final placement. The power unit for the crane had to be custom made due to the the narrow doorways it had to fit through to get to the small room in which it would sit. Joe DeNigris, Graywell’s general manager, worked with Berendsen Fluid Power to design a power unit that could run on three phase electric and generate enough pressure and flow to operate the crane. Because the area is so small, Woods didn’t want fuel such as gas or diesel to power the unit’s engine so electric was the obvious choice for this situation.

Placement of the controls was also a concern in order to manage the position of the operator yet allow for optimal safety and visibility. The solution was to mount the radio remote control in a fixed location using an “umbilical cord” to alleviate the need for a transmission signal.

Another challenge arose due to the unique shape of the platform where the crane would sit. Noone mentioned that it “prompted us to build our own structure off site that could affix to it.” The knuckleboom was to be set on the side of the ship atop a pedestal where a Fresnel lens or “meatball” once sat. Noone and DeNigris, along with a team that consisted of Graywell’s service manager and a technician along with the Intrepid’s operations supervisor and assistant vice president of operations coordinated the efforts. The team attached the prefabricated base to the pedestal which provided a permanent platform for the crane to be secured to.

Lifting the Lifter

“Pinky” Pinchas Leitner, president of Lifting Solutions, Brooklyn, N.Y., used a Palfinger PK 150002G with a PJ 170E jib to set the smaller Palfinger crane and its specially designed power pack. It seemed only fitting that the right crane to set the Palfinger was another Palfinger. Having a total reach of 124 ft. (37.7 m) and capacity of 165 tons (150 t), the PK 150 equipped with its jib easily positioned the smaller crane in its designated site.

The project took several hours not including the off- site prep work. The museum is closed on Mondays for maintenance and upgrades, which facilitated the work by eliminating safety concerns for museum visitors. The working area on the pier was tight but this presented no problem for Leitner. He is well-known throughout NYC as an excellent crane operator.

Plenty of Work

The crane was installed in mid-December of last year. Event season is slow during the cold weather months but Woods explained that although the Palfinger hasn’t seen much work for special events, the museum has used it for quite a few other tasks since its installation.

“We recently had to lower a Gemini space capsule exhibit down to the pier for overhaul and we are bringing a historic rotary engine from a WWII aircraft onto the flight deck” Woods stated. They also used the crane to raise a new stairway and platform to the flight deck which will be used for access to the public for viewing of marine berthing on the starboard gun tub.

Additionally, they plan to have helicopter landings on the flight deck and will be using the crane to bring FDNY equipment and flame suppression foam onto the deck as a safety precaution.

Event Season

Once the event season kicks off the crane will be used regularly to bring a range of equipment to the flight deck throughout the summer. Woods commented that the Palfinger crane “has definitely cut down on our costs associated with crane service, rigging and man hours related to operating our bomb elevator.” The elevator he’s referring to is the ship’s elevator that is used to move aircraft from the hangar deck to the flight deck and vice versa.

Woods also mentioned that the crane increased safety because people are no longer carrying bulky loads up and down stairs and through tight corridors.

“We are extremely happy with the way the project has worked out. The crane has been working wonderfully,” Woods concluded.


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