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Overhead crane pulls its weight

ROULEAU, Sask. – For an overhead crane in a shop to be most effective, it should be able to reach all corners of the building.

Daryl Tiessen’s crane can move from one end of his shop to the other and across its full width.

“It was part of a building installed at Westank in Regina,” said Tiessen, who farms near Rouleau.

“Another farmer had bought the building with the intention of setting it up at his farm, but then he passed away. It was in his auction sale, so I bought the structural steel plus the overhead crane.”

Tiessen wasn’t going to put the crane in initially. He thought it was extra work, but a friend said he had to do it.

“We erected the whole shop with a bin crane and we put the overhead crane in before we put any of the cladding on the shop. So it wasn’t nearly as big a job as I thought it might be. Now, it’s one of the handiest things we’ve got,” he said.

The crane runs back and forth, from the main door to the rear of the shop, on tracks that are half-inch-thick steel, eight-by-eight I-beams. Those side rails are welded to the structural frame of the building.

“The cross beam is 16 inches deep and six inches wide. It was rated at three tonnes, as was the original lifting mechanism,” said Tiessen.

“When I brought it home, it had a three-phase electric system on it. It would be nice to have the whole crane powered but I thought if I’m going to make this thing work, I might as well just go mechanical.”

Rather than bring in three-phase power just for the crane, the original electric chain hoist was removed and Tiessen replaced it with a manual three tonne chain hoist.

“If you were doing any kind of manufacturing, it might be worth it to have an electric hoist, but we might use it every day for a week, then it sits there for two months.”

To move the cross beam, the original system had a power drive. Tiessen was able to salvage a hand chain winch system and modify it to fit, so he can move the beam back and forth the length of the shop.

The shop has a 20 foot sidewall with about 17 feet of clearance underneath the crane. Tiessen has used it to build a liquid cart for his air drill and a self-propelled sprayer in his shop. This winter, he plans to work on his air drill in the shop.

The crane also comes in handy when making repairs.

“I had the planetary go out on the four-wheel drive and we’ve got triples on it. I was able to lift all three triples at one time, then pull them off at one time,” he said.

“This fall when the hydro went on the combine, I was able to lift the hydro up over the side of the combine and save a lot of hours. A loader wouldn’t have lifted high enough.”

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