A Manitowoc Model 888 was brought up to Bakersfield from Long Beach on several trailers. The unit wa

A Manitowoc Model 888 was brought up to Bakersfield from Long Beach on several trailers. The unit was then assembled in a day and a half Photo courtesy of Rudolph and Sletten Inc.

Just beyond its 50 year anniversary, the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital in California is undergoing an $84 million expansion that will add four new floors. Although it is questionable whether the crane being used on the project is the largest ever to work in Bakersfield as some news reports have indicated, all parties agree it is not everyday a 200 foot crawler graces the skyline. Not quite Godzilla, but it's up there.

For the hospital addition, six specially fabricated steel beams had to be produced in Belgium because there was not a stateside foundry capable of the task. The beams are reported to weigh 20 tons each and are 30 feet long. Belgium steel company Arcelor fabricated the beams and then arranged for them to be shipped across the Atlantic, south through the Panama Canal and back north up the coasts of Mexico and California to the Port of Long Beach - a journey that spanned roughly four weeks. From there, the beams were transported in three beds (the beams were placed in containers that would hold two each) to Fresno-based Olson Steel for some final fabrication touch ups. The remaining steel for the project was brokered for Olson by PDM Steel, and was sourced from domestic suppliers.

Pennsylvania-based Maxim Crane Works’ Long Beach branch is renting the crane to the hospital for $7,000 a day. Maxim was also subcontracted by Olson Steel to assist with the crane's operation of erecting the steel. The Manitowoc Model 888 was chosen for the project because of its capacity to lift and set the heavy Arcelor columns. After the larger beams are in place the crane will be kept on site to lift and place all the other steel used in the project. The unit was trucked to the job site in early May and is slated to be returned to Maxim by mid-June.

The upper works/car body was transported to the site on a nine-axle trailer. The two crane tracks were transported on separate 40 foot flatbed trailers. The main boom, luffing jib and counterweights were transported on eight other legal tractor and trailer loads. The erection of the crane took a day and a half to get the hook ready once the crane base pad and mat was installed.

A luffing jib was needed to reach up and over the hospital's first floor. “We needed the main jib to be at 88 degrees so the luffing jib can reach up and over the existing first floor,” says Julie Dobyns, senior project manager with General Contractors Rudolph and Sletten Inc., headquartered in Redwood City, CA.

“This Manitowoc 888 in luffer was chosen due to area confinement and lack of space on this job site,” says Mike Rice, crane and equipment specialist with Maxim Crane Works. “Due to the Kern County Airport flight path, the crane is equipped with (three) flashing beacons and an airport flag.”

Rice says the critical picks on this job are 30 foot long by 17,800 pound columns at a 150 foot radius, with beams down to 5,000 pounds at various radii. The crane is rigged with 100 feet of main boom and a 140 foot luffing jib.

“This crane is manually operated with a certified operator,” he says, noting that Maxim Crane Works is assisting Olsen Steel with handling the unit.

When complete the West Tower project will increase the hospital's beds by 114. These new state-of-the-art “smart beds,” at a hefty $736,000 each, will monitor critically ill patients. In addition, the new expansion will also have a new family care center, a larger care unit and updated equipment and infrastructure. Started last autumn with site prep, the whole project is scheduled for completion by January 2009, Dobyns says.

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