Nichols Brothers Boat Builders’ new 250-ton Link-Belt 298 Series 2 lattice crawler was put to the test soon after its delivery from Triad Machinery to Whidbey Island in Puget Sound in Washington.
Based in Freeland, WA, Ice Flow LLC does business as Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB), a custom vessel construction company established in 1964.
The first major project for the new Link-Belt 298 Series 2 crawler was lifting a 125,000-pound pilot house for a new hybrid tractor tugboat.
The first major project on the books for the new crane was lifting a 125,000-pound pilot house for a new 100 by 40-foot hybrid tractor tug scheduled for early 2019 delivery to Baydelta Marine of San Francisco, CA. The pilot house was lifted 47 feet in the air and placed on the hull of the tug.
For Operator Supervisor Kyle Statia and the team at NBBB, on-time delivery of a 100-foot long tug requires maneuvering in a tight shipyard environment and safely providing all necessary components for construction. Portable containments that measure up to 85 feet long by 50 feet wide are constantly being moved around during all phases of the construction process.
“We replaced a 1970s era lattice crawler crane with this 298 and really like it for a lot of reasons, but maybe most importantly is the offset main lifting sheaves,” Statia said. “We really like the updated boom pendants on the 298 which allow for quick stowage and assembly, plus we don’t need to lube boom pendants anymore. The ability to meter individual hydraulic controls is also very handy, like adjusting winch speed while booming down and holding the load.”
For NBBB the offset main lifting head feature replaces a jib for movement of the portable containments and other components.
“The tractor tug is one of seven projects we have ongoing and having the offset sheaves gives us that extra three to four feet of clearance from the boom when doing tight lifts,” Statia said. “This keeps everyone busy and keeps the 298 moving around our yard feeding everyone with materials.”
Because the facility is tight, Statia has been impressed with the maneuverability of the 298.
“The LMI (load moment indicator) for setting limits is very easy to use,” he said. “Because this is such a tight space, the cameras and the great visibility for the operator gives everyone eyes on everything at all times. Another thing is the noise element, we’re positioned in a residential area for the most part and on either side of our property are homes – this crane is much quieter compared to the loud diesel engine we had previously.”
Delivery of the tractor tugboat is scheduled for first quarter 2019.
“We’ll deliver the ship in the next few months – this is a start-to-finish construction agreement for us,” Statia explained. “The 298 has definitely increased our lifting capacity – it about doubles the capacity we had from its predecessor – 10 percent over our other large crane, and 70 percent more joint lifting capacity.”