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Tower Crane Disassembled in a Day

Wed January 17, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin

Even in a cramped urban setting, an experienced crane operator should have no problem helping erect a tower crane for a new skyscraper.

However, removing it from the top of the completed building tends to be a different story.

Salesman Marty Paulsen of ALL Crane of Georgia said he’s especially proud of the job the company did removing the tower crane from 55 Allen Plaza in Atlanta in December. And that’s coming from a third generation crane operator with approximately 40 years of experience.

The 568,000-sq.-ft. building in the city’s Centennial Hill area will serve as the regional headquarters of Ernst & Young, as well as other large corporate tenants. The general contractor on the project was the Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie.

The elements involved in the dismantling process created a situation in which Paulsen had only one place in which he could situate his crane to successfully lift the components of the tower crane.

Paulsen brought in a 550-ton (499 t) Grove GMK 7550 with a 178-ft. (54 m) boom, a 180-ft. (55 m) luffing job and a Megawing to complete the task.

The tower crane was located 215 ft. (66 m) from street level and sat back 60 ft. (18 m) from the edge of the building. This meant the Grove had to be placed 45 ft. (13.7 m) from the face of the building to avoid being “boom blocked,” which is a situation in which the crane boom interferes with the edge of the structure.

With this set-up, Paulsen said the crane had a maximum lifting capacity of 32,000 to 33,000 lbs. (14,515 to 14,969 kg). Its largest lift left some breathing room, however; the tower crane’s turntable came in at 26,000 lbs. (11,799 kg).

To add to the challenges of this tower crane dismantling, Paulsen and the crew from J&J Rigging and Erecting in Lawrenceville, Ga., had a limited time frame in which to work.

City officials only allowed them to shut down the road on which they stationed the crane from 9 p.m. on a Friday until 4 p.m. that Sunday.

The work was intense from the moment traffic was detoured. ALL Crane’s crew had to assemble the Grove that night so the disassembly of the tower crane could begin early the next morning. The Grove was ready to go at 1 a.m. and its work began by 7:30 a.m.

By 7 p.m. Saturday, the tower crane was entirely on the ground, where, with the assistance of a 75-ton (68 t) trunk crane, it was lifted onto trucks and removed from the job site.

Jody Carr of J&J had a seven-member crew at the site — two more than usual because of the addition of the second crane on the ground. The second crane, being smaller, loaded the tower crane pieces onto the trucks faster than its larger counterpart would have, Carr said.

Four crew members were dismantling the tower crane and the remaining three were on the ground.

Carr would usually devote two eight-hour days to dismantle a tower crane like the one atop 55 Allen Plaza.

But the time restriction wasn’t too much to handle. “It’s just what we do,” he said.

Paulsen also spent time in December at another Brasfield & Gorrie job site erecting a tower crane at 1010 Peachtree St. in Midtown Atlanta, where the contractor is building a 36-floor high-rise condominium set for completion in 2008.

There, ALL Crane provided a 250-ton (227 t) Grove HTC. Paulsen described this task as “run-of-the-mill,” as there was plenty of room in which to work and no extraordinary challenges arose. CEG

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