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Sabre’s Crew Tears Down Present to Reclaim the Past

Mon April 02, 2007 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

While any American History student could probably tell you that Theodore Roosevelt became the nation’s 26th president after William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, far fewer would know that Roosevelt learned of McKinley’s fate while vacationing at the Tahawus Club in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

The storied 10,000-acre (40,047 ha) Tahawus Tract, from where Roosevelt embarked on his “Midnight Ride to the Presidency,” was recently acquired by the state of New York.

In an ongoing effort to preserve land for its environmental, recreational and historical value, the state has spent over $400 million in the past ten years. That investment has led to the preservation of 400,000 acres (161,874 ha) of land.

In addition to its Roosevelt folklore, the Tahawus Tract also was home to one of the first iron ore mining operations in the United States, but the discovery of ore impurities and a spring flood that destroyed dams along the Hudson River forced the mining community to shut down in 1857.

NL Industries, an industrial manufacturing company based in Dallas, Texas, revived the operation during World War II, when it was realized that the ore impurity was actually titanium, which was useful for constructing wartime aircrafts.

However, mining in Tahawus eventually ceased for good in 1991.

In May 2003, NL Industries agreed to sell the property, which was to be preserved as a historic district and parkland by the state of New York. NL Industries retained a small portion of the land until it could tear down its existing structures on the property.

NL Industries sought bids for a demolition project that would involve destroying and removing every last building on the site of the defunct iron ore facility. It was destined to be a large task for any contractor hired to do the job. Sabre Demolition Corporation, a licensed demolition and environmental management contractor, whose corporate office is located in Avon, Ind., was the company tapped for the assignment.

In January 2005, Sabre was awarded a $2.3 million contract, and they began work on the site in April 2005.

Prior to beginning the primary demolition phase of the project, Sabre performed a preliminary environmental evaluation of the location, which included extensive lead abatement of the immediate area and decontamination of the facilities on site. Once the environmental work was completed, Sabre was ready to get to work on demolition.

While the assigned task was large, the actual work to be done was sporadic. As a result, Sabre’s workload required as few as five employees at times. Heavier phases demanded more manpower, with 25 workers on site when the project hit full force.

The geographic aspect of working at the remote site in the Adirondacks was somewhat of a logistical issue for Sabre, because all the steel on the site needed to be cut down to prepare 5-ft. (1.52 m) pieces. Then it had to be transported off the property to steel mills for re-milling.

With approximately 6,000 tons (5,443 t) of steel on the site, Sabre faced a formidable – but manageable – challenge. Still, the single-cutting shear that Sabre had available for the job was not going to be enough to handle the chore by itself.

“It’s a little larger job than normal,” said Steve Dixon, vice president of Sabre. “We needed another shear to process and prepare the steel for loading out.”

Sabre provides service throughout the northeast, mid-Atlantic and midwest United States for both private and public sector clients. With a service area of national proportions, Sabre goes from town to town, from one scale of job to the next.

While the wide geographical range of service is good for business, it sometimes becomes problematic when trying to forge new relationships with local equipment dealers.

Fortunately for Sabre, they had a working relationship with Olympic Supply Inc., a distributor located in Chalfont, Pa., that sells ground engagement tool and attachments. Although Olympic does not typically deal with customers outside their local territory, they had an established relationship with Sabre from a previous job in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

“I think they gained a lot of trust in us on the Philadelphia project, when we supplied them with ground engagement tools and parts for their buckets and attachments,” said Olympic Salesman Brian Donahue. “We send them parts all over the country wherever they’re working now. They basically gave me the nod for their next hydraulic demolition attachment purchase.”

When Sabre called Olympic looking for an attachment for the Tahawus job, Donahue suggested the new CC 3300 hydraulic attachment from Atlas Copco. Designed for a variety of demolition projects, the CC 3300 is intended for carriers in the 33- to 55-ton (30- to 50-t) weight class.

In May 2005, the CC 3300 was brought out to the job site. Olympic supplied plumbing for the attachment and a hydraulic kit for Sabre’s excavator, and a two-week demonstration period was underway.

After the demonstration, Olympic put the CC 3300 on a one-month rental. Sabre was pleased with the performance of the product and decided to purchase it. The unit was the first CC 3300 sold in the United States.

For optimum versatility, two sets of jaws are available on the CC 3300. The universal jaws are used for pulverizing concrete and cutting rebar, and the steel-cutting jaws are used strictly for steel structure demolition. Sabre ordered the universal and steel-cutting jaw attachments since both steel and concrete structures are present on the property. Sabre was impressed with the CC 3300 and they felt comfortable using it on almost every building.

While its versatility has been impressive, Dixon cited another feature of the CC 3300 as the standout factor in performance. “It’s got very fast cycling time,” said Dixon. “It is definitely quicker than other equipment we’ve used.”

The cutter body of the CC 3300 features two hydraulic cylinders with speed valves to minimize cycle times. A reduction in the time it takes for the jaws to open and close translates into improved job-site efficiency according to the manufacturer. A 360-degree hydraulic rotation unit contributes to the increased cycle speed.

“It can basically give you three cuts of a steel beam compared to one cut with another attachment,” said Donahue. “If you’re in a situation with a deadline, that really helps.”

The production of the CC 3300, along with their other cutting shears, allowed Sabre to process roughly 60 tons (54.5 t) of steel per day on the job site. The actual procedure involved stacking up steel while a building was dismantled from top to bottom. When a large enough stockpile had accumulated, the focus turned to preparing the steel. Once prepared, six to eight truckloads of steel were hauled off the property on a daily basis.

On any heavy-duty demolition job, the need for frequent equipment maintenance is a given. With the job location being remote, this could have been a bigger issue than normal for Sabre.

However, any worries seemed to be gone. “I was concerned about getting parts for the units in case of breakages, but Atlas Copco has got us parts within a couple days at most,” said Dixon. “Getting the unit apart and back together hasn’t been a problem.”

Sabre found that the size of the CC 3300 provided the additional benefit of maneuverability. “Because it’s a little bit lighter unit, we’re able to mount it as a third member unit on the stick rather than as a second member on the boom,” said Dixon. “That gives us a little bit longer reach.”

Sabre completed the Tahawus job in the summer of 2006. With a project of such long duration, the importance of efficiency can’t be overstated.

The CC 3300 served its purpose well. Said Dixon, “It [did] the job that we asked it to, bottom line.”

While the CC 3300’s direct job was obviously to destroy and demolish, on this project it had the added privilege of helping to preserve part of American presidential history.

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