Crane Institute of America

Planes, Trains, and Cranes

Pair of CatsMTplane recoveryAirplanes02Beached whales in Montana?

These three aircraft fuselages look more like beached whales than sleek Boeing 737’s after their train derailed causing them to slide down an embankment into a river.

The good news is the railroads have some of the biggest hauling equipment and cranes around. This equipment is used to lift and move heavy materials all the time. Even better news is that the fuselages are still attached to their railroad cars and the cars are right side up.

To the average railroader, pulling 70 tons of railroad cars and airplane fuselages up a river bank to the rails is just another wreck clearance job. Railroad wreck clearance crews know how to push, pull and lift heavy loads like locomotives.

For this job, they positioned 4 D8s or D9s side boom cranes at the top of the riverbank near the rails to serve as anchors for their rear-mounted winches. With this 160-200 ton anchor in place, they attached their winch wire rope to the railroad car and pulled the car and cargo to the top.

Side boom cranes or tractors have a boom mounted on the side of a tracked or wheeled vehicle made by Caterpillar, Case and Kamatsu. They can be used in many crane applications but they are about the only crane that can be used, in gangs, to lay large diameter continuously welded pipe. They can be equipped with a rear mounted winch which can pull with tremendous hydraulic force while being anchored in place by 40-50 ton tractors.

Railroad cranes are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration and not by OSHA; however the highest regulatory standards should always be followed.

Railroad cranes are special purpose cranes but CIA offers a variety of training programs.