Texas-based Proserv Crane & Equipment has delivered a high capacity bridge crane to a manufacturer of oilfield drilling equipment in Houston. The crane has a span of 20.7m (68ft) and a main hook capacity of 227t (250 US ton) and an auxiliary hoist, on its own trolley, with a capacity of 113t (125 ton).

What is unusal about this crane, however, is that it is almost entirely made up from components salvaged from an order some 20 years ago. “Aside from new Electromotive variable frequency controls and new box girders and walkways, everything was salvaged from nuclear polar cranes which were manufactured in the 1980s but were never installed because the construction projects were cancelled,” says Proserve president Neal Wilson. The original cranes were made by Ederer but came to Proserve as ‘new surplus’ via used crane broker Tom Romine.

Wilson won this contract having installed a similar crane for an almost identical project for another customer a few years ago. On that occasion a 200 ton Whiting spent fuel cast handling crane was adapted. It too had been built for a nuclear project that had been cancelled. Lifting capacity and span were both increased for the new application. For this job Proserv also designed and built an A-frame type outdoor runway and also engineered its foundations.

Wilson says that even today there is still a lot of equipment lying around that was built for cancelled nuclear power stations in the 1980s and has never been used since.

Rigid design requirements regarding safety and seismic conditions for cranes in nuclear power plant applications means that they are over-engineered compared with cranes for conventional industrial applications. It was impractical to use the original girders built for the nuclear application as, at 33m (109ft) long and weighing 3t per metre (2,000 lb per foot), they were too expensive to transport across several states and their weight would have increased the loading liability on the building structure.

Despite the fact that the girders were uneconomical to reuse in the latest application, there were still massive savings to be made from the ‘new surplus’ option. Says Wilson: “Our customer realised savings of several hundred thousand dollars by buying remanufactured surplus equipment instead of new equipment.” And that was on a contract worth close to $750,000.

As the economy recovers Proserv intends to do more projects of this type in future. Wilson has the components in stock to build several more cranes in the 250 ton to 400 ton capacity range.

At its 5,500m2 manufacturing facility in north Houston, Proserv has the capacity to manufacture overhead cranes up to 200 ton capacity with spans up to 36m (120ft). Top running and underhung single and double girder and gantry cranes, beam or patented track monorail systems, runways and specials can be built. All cranes are fully assembled before shipping and given a no load running test.