Archive for

Beginners Guide to Overhead Cranes

With the economic situation as it is many manufacturing businesses are closing down and several workshops are closing each week in the UK.

With this increasing problem a great deal of these old factory units are being put into moth balls or reused as something else. The problem is lots of these units have overhead gantry cranes up in the roof of the workshop and they can not be left as they are for health and safety reasons.

They need to be removed but this is a job for specialists. The steel work can be 20 or 30 tons in weight and as high as 30 metres in the air so a step ladder and a transit van is not really going to do the job.

What you need is a specialist firm with the knowledge and equipment to carry out the job correctly.

Firms that do specialise in overhead cranes, swing jibs, and gantry cranes of all types are few and far between but if you can you need one that will buy the second-hand crane from you as it will mean you can effectively get the crane removed for nothing and you may even get paid for it also.

Overhead cranes are sometimes referred to as bridge cranes, single girder cranes, double girder cranes or gantry cranes and are used through British industry in large and small factory units in a variety of industrial markets.

The typical workshop overhead crane consists of parallel runways with a traveling bridge which spans between the two across the width of the workshop. This allows the electric chain or rope hoist, the part that does the lifting, to move across between the bridges electrically.

When people think of cranes they often picture a building site tower crane or the type that are used on the back of a lorry, but overhead cranes are mainly for the manufacturing industry or for production line uses.

It makes economic sense to have an overhead crane or jib crane installed in a factory unit or workshop as they last for years and the cost of hiring mobile cranes for lots of heavy lifting is prohibitive.

Overhead cranes are now so much more technologically advanced and have in recent years made great strides in improving performance and safety. These modern cranes are so well made that they will last for decades if serviced correctly on a regular basis. Modern overhead cranes are much easier to maintain and operate.

They are a variety of different hoisting and cross travel speeds with differing performance on acceleration and braking parameters depending on what you are intending to use the crane for. The team of experts you hire should have all industry requirements and be able to advise you on the suitability of any workshop lifting gear you may be interested in.

If your factory unit has unusual dimensions or specifications then a site visit can be arranged to give you the benefit of their experience and advice on your requirements and needs.

The modern overhead crane has load-sway damping which you can activate when using the cross travel motion. The advantages of the modern electric chain hoists are that they have variable speed control with options for limit switches. This means that even very delicate things can be moved around and located from and to anywhere on the workshop floor with total care.

Installation by our team takes the minimal amount of time so that your business is not put on hold any longer than is absolutely necessary. Also our installation engineers have a reputation second to none so you can be assured it will be installed right first time.

Please contact today for any gantry crane sales inquiries. We also have the UK’s largest stock of used overhead cranes.

Free Markets Work Beyond U.S. Borders

Of course as our economy shrinks then spending as a percentage of our GDP rises. That is because the spending has remained constant while the GDP is shrinking. This is not evidence solely of a spending problem! It is evidence of job loss which has lead to shrinking revenues, while government spending has remained constant. The only way to get us back on track is to bring jobs back to the US.. Problem is, only the Invisible hand can do that… and we are going to be waiting a very long time for that to happen. Just the reality and unforeseen consequence of a free market economy. It works even beyond our borders.

Here is how it works. Large manufacturing corporations used to employ thousands of Americans. Those thousands of Americans had disposable income to spend. Small business open their doors to offer goods and services and take advantage of that excess income. Those small businesses in turn hire employees of their own who then have disposable income, and so on and so forth. That is the basic premise of trickle down economics… but its not that simple… things never are. The other side of the equation is Trickle up economics. Business will only open their doors and hire when their is disposable income to exploit. Money doesn’t just flow down, it flows up as well.

Over the past few decades those large companies that employed thousands of Americans have slowly closed up shop here, and moved overseas. Smart move for them. They can then take advantage of low wages, little to no environmental controls or worker regulations. They can manufacture overseas, ship the goods back here, sell for less and still make more money. In some instances companies like Wall-mart force companies overseas by simply telling them to meet this price or they will stop selling their goods. Rather than have their products booted out of the largest and most popular store chain in the world, they move overseas to meet the new cost. All of this is detrimental to our economy.

This brings me to my second and most important point. A companies sole concern is not the well being of the United States or any other nation. They worry about the bottom line and their shareholders. As they should if they want to remain competitive and successful. Part of the problem is that many Americans seem to attribute patriotism or sense of nation with corporations. While this is sometimes the case, there are instances of some companies sticking around at the expense of their bottom line, to keep American’s employed. They are in the minority though.

The problems we face today are vast, and their are no easy solutions. As those jobs have moved overseas into emerging markets in India and China, a large chunk of the American workforce was left unemployed and competing for jobs that once depended on the disposable incomes they put into the system. Let us also not forget that China and India offers a workforce that is 10 times the size of the American workforce. As more and more American’s became unemployed, small businesses that depended on that disposable income begin to lose business and begin to shed employees of their own. Eventually they end up closing their doors. Essentially we have gone from Trickle down/Up economics to Trickle down recession. As the jobs disappear at the top, they begin to disappear down the line as less and less disposable income becomes available. What income most people have left goes towards food, bills and keeping a roof over their heads… if they are lucky. Let’s not forget that when the housing market crashed many American’s became unemployed and lost their homes. It is very difficult for a homeless person to gain meaningful employment. They certainly can not get any sort of benefits since most require a mailing address or physical address. On top of that many employers tend to not hire the homeless due to certain preconceived notions that go along with the homeless tag. Many people think, lazy, crazy, unreliable, or dangerous when it comes to the word homeless.

Yet another factor making it more difficult to bring down our jobless numbers, not that it matters because there are fewer and fewer jobs with more and more people competing for those jobs. So, the private sector now lies decimated, because many of us just don’t realize how important a large singular corporation supporting thousands of workers is to the overall economy’s well being. Revenues going into the government at both the state and local level has shrunk as well. At the same time government agencies and spending has remained constant. A once thriving economy was able to support its size, but no longer.

Now comes phase two of our economic demise… it has already begun at the local, state and federal levels. Public sector employees are now losing their jobs. They are not taking revenue any longer, but they are also not contributing in taxes or their excess income to the economy to support small businesses. To make matters worse, education takes a hit. An educated nation is a more successful one. America will fall further and further behind. On top of this many Americans in towns all across the country are being asked to donate money they don’t have to support programs that taxes were originally supposed to pay for. Fire fighting, ambulance, and police services. Some citizens are being asked to pay extra when they need any of these services. Taxes were supposed to pay for these services. This is beginning to happen with many other areas. American’s are being asked to donate extra money that they don’t have. It is getting so bad now that some people have resorted to committing crimes to gain access to basic medical care.

As the private sector shrinks, next the public sector will shrink, our education and health level will shrink, and our infrastructure, roads bridges etc will begin to crumble. Along with buildings, machinery, and equipment that will sit dormant and unused. The last and final frontier of this great nation… our infrastructure, will crumble. The sad thing is there is nothing we can do about this. No President, Congressman, Senator, or any one else can change this. A business is going to do what is in its best interest. Free market forces have shifted manufacturing overseas because it is more profitable to do so. We could cut all environmental regulations, destroy all unions, abolish all workers rights and child labor laws, and abolish all corporate taxes and it still would not be enough to lure big business back to the US. The reason being is simply wages. Most of those emerging economies such as china and India do not have all of the regulations we do anyways, and on top of this; their employees make a good deal less than their counter parts in those other countries.

A good example would be a Huffy bike factory that shut its doors and moved to china. An American employee at that plant was making $15.00 an hour. His counterpart in China is making $2.00 an hour to do the same exact job. Probably being forced to work longer hours as well. So you can see it is hard to compete with wages like that. Unless we either change the name of the game or cheat we will have to wait this thing out. This could take years barring any unforeseen disasters in either of those two countries. Workers in China and India will eventually begin to demand rights, environmental controls and higher wages. As things get better, their wages will rise. As things get worse here, our wages and prices will fall. Eventually our employees… the few that are lucky enough to be working… ‘s wages will fall below that of the wages of their counter parts overseas. Once the cost of doing business here is cheaper than the cost of doing business overseas, then we will start to see those large umbrella corporations that support our entire economy will begin to come back to the united states. This unfortunately could take 10-20- 50 or more years. It all depends on a vast number of things that could go wrong in those emerging economies that could shift jobs back here sooner. We just don’t know.

I would also like to end by saying that I know some of you may think of Companies like Wall-mart, McDonald’s, and others as proof that large companies are still here. I would like to point out that those companies are service industry companies that grew during the good times of excess income in this country. Many of these service industries will begin to see harder and harder times as more and more American’s remain unemployed and without money. People think the economy is bad now. Wait until unemployment, social security, food stamps, and all of the government assisted money goes away. A good deal of these finances are propping up what is left of our economy. These funds cannot hold out much longer since its revenue going out with less tax revenue coming in. And I know social security should be there, but someone thought it would be a good idea to borrow from it and not pay it back. I doubt any of us have an accurate picture of just what state our social security funds are in.

With regard to the current discussions taking place in government today. We need to close tax loopholes, reform the healthcare system, re regulate wall street, end the Bush tax cuts, and go through our entire federal government to eliminate duplicate programs, unnecessary programs, and waste. Of course this is simply what we should do, but won’t make much of a difference in our current predicament. Best it can do is buy us time and ease our pain for a while. Unfortunately, until American’s get back to work, things are going to get worse. And unless we can get large corporations to hate money, that is not going to happen any time soon.

The Naugatuck Railroad

A quintessential, lower-New England town, Thomaston, Connecticut, was characterized by its Saint Thomas and First Methodist churches; its single, wind-swept, leave-blanketed Main Street; and the carved, jack-o-lantern faces peering out of the windows of its 19th-century buildings on a blue, but temperature-nipping Halloween weekend.

The red brick Thomaston Station, flanked by small hills whose increasingly thread-bare trees had relinquished their colorful leaves to autumn’s wind, had been fed by a single main track and was located next to the sprawling, equally red-bricked, but now closed Plume and Atwood Brass Mill. They both had a story to tell. Like the life-representing leaves released to history and relegated to memory, the location exuded a rich past, which I eagerly listened to as I awaited the Naugatuck Railroad’s 2:00 p.m. departure. Paradoxically, the silence was the loudest speaker.

Originally part of the Farmington Proprietor’s 1684 purchase of Mattatuck Plantation, Thomaston itself had achieved independence in 1739 as the “Northbury Parish,” uniting with the Waterbury Parish in 1780 to form Watertown, but separating almost as quickly and becoming “Plymouth Hollow.”

Seth Thomas, of timepiece fame, settled in the village in 1813. Expansion intermittently earned it the unofficial name of “Thomas Town” until it was permanently changed to the present “Thomaston” in 1875 to honor the very man who had largely been responsible for its existence.

His factories, now numbering many, churned out watches and mantel and tower clocks, and he was responsible for the Naugatuck Railroad’s routing through town in order for him to be able to link it with the ever-expanding brass center in Waterbury.

Chartered in 1845, the Naugatuck Railroad itself was created to connect Bridgeport in the south with Winsted in the north on Naugatuck River-paralleling track, its initial construction commencing three years later, in April, with service from the just-completed New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad junction to Seymour subsequently inaugurated on May 15, 1849. Extensions to Waterbury followed on June 11 and Winsted on September 24.

The former line, simply designated the “New Haven,” carried more passengers than freight on a route system which, at its peak, encompassed most of New England, stretching from New York to Providence and Boston, and it eventually acquired several other, smaller companies, including the Maine Central and the Boston and Maine. The Naugatuck Railroad was one of them. Initially leasing it on May 24, 1887, it altogether absorbed it 19 years later, in 1906, but passenger service was discontinued on more than half the line, from Waterbury to Torrington and Winsted, in 1958, and five years later the track was completely abandoned between these two cities.

Because of the weakening New England industrial base during the 1960s, which reduced demand for rail services, the New Haven Railroad was forced into a merger with Penn Central in 1969, but further deterioration, due to freight customer loss and track disrepair, resulted in its own bankruptcy. The line north of Waterbury had, by this time, been renamed “Torrington Secondary Track,” after its destination.

Incorporated into the government-created and -sponsored Conrail, the former Penn Central had operated the Waterbury Branch until the Connecticut Department of Transportation had purchased the line between Devon and Torrington in 1982, leasing the track to the Boston and Maine Railroad for its own freight service north of Waterbury. Victim, like so many previous operators, to declining demand and revenue, it discontinued operations in 1995, after it itself had become part of the Guilford Rail System.

On June 7 of that year, the Railroad Museum of New England obtained a state charter for a wholly-owned operating subsidiary designated “Naugatuck Railroad” after the original, 1845 enterprise, leasing track from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Outlining its mission, it states, “the Railroad Museum of New England, Inc., is a not-for-profit educational and historical organization founded in January 1968. Its mission is to establish an interpretive facility where the story of the region’s railroad heritage can be effectively told. We have an extensive collection of New England rolling stock, including locomotives of all types, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses. We have New England railroad artifacts dating from the 1840s to the present-everything from tickets to signal towers.”

Its Naugatuck Railroad subsidiary, having turned its first wheel in September of 1996, operates historic excursion trains from Thomaston to Waterville throughout the year, including a myriad of seasonal- and holiday-appropriate rides and periodic steam engine runs.

Center of its activities is the Thomaston Station. Replacing the original, smaller, wooden depot located on the other side of the track, the 2,424-square-foot, wooden frame and brick building, with interior plaster walls and ceilings, had been constructed in 1881 by the first Naugatuck Railroad and currently occupies a 1.11-acre site on East Main Street.

After the last passenger train had departed in 1958, it had been used for several purposes: as a freight agent’s office until 1968, as a storage location for the Plume and Atwood Brass Mill, and as a small engine repair shop in the early 1990s. But a vandal-set fire in 1993, spreading from an inside corner and raging up the attic stairs, destroyed the roof.

Monetary donations from the Thomaston Savings Bank permitted roof, chimney, and upper masonry repairs to commence in 1997, followed by interior cleaning, and the installation of a ticket window, gift shop counter, and exhibit panels took place two years later, while a second grant, made in 2001, enabled a new canopy deck to be installed and the original platform canopies to be restored.

A 600-foot-long display track, located behind the building, had been lowered and reconstructed, and today cradled a stationary freight train “pulled” by New Haven diesel locomotives 6690 and 6691, which were attached to a collection of box and tank cars and the prerequisite red caboose numbered C-507. Posing on the spur line, it stood across from the station’s “Baggage Room” door.

The depot, to serve as the cornerstone of an ultimate, 1950s, working railroad station, will be joined by an extended, paved, and lighted platform; an operating control tower; hand-operated crossing gates; a crossing tender’s shanty; a mail crane; a water shed for steam engine servicing; and a hand-operated freight derrick.

The earlier, 1200 noon run, a three-coach collection pulled by diesel locomotive 2203 which somehow reflected the season with its orange and brown livery, screeched to a stop in front of the station at 1330 beneath a gray ceiling and deposited a menagerie of Halloween-costumed kids who promptly stormed the depot door to collect their pumpkins.

Replenished with a second, considerably-costumed group, the train vocally assaulted the silence with its high-shrilled whistle and released its brakes, inching past the station building and the side track-supported freight train as soon as its car couplings had tensed into weight-pulling movement, plunging into the autumnal forest in a southerly direction.

The hills sprouted bursts of burnt orange, glowing gold, auburn, and brown. Protestingly screeching as its wheels adhered to the track’s curves, the short chain of vintage coaches paralleled the almost-black reflective surface of the Naugatuck River, which was periodically highlighted by tiny, silver-sizzled rapids.

Carving out the valley of the same name, the waterway, the largest in Connecticut and a sub-basin of the Housatonic River, spans 39 miles from Norfolk to Derby, passing through the two counties of New Haven and Litchfield and 12 towns in the process. Originally used by the American Indians for sustenance and subsequently serving the English after their own settlement along it, it had facilitated post-Industrial Revolution production in the form of hydropower. Coupled with its paralleling tracks, it had enabled both manufacture and transportation of raw materials and finished products, such as vulcanized rubber, naugahide, brass, and metal clock parts. Today, after considerable revitalization, it provides recreation, fishing, and nature-related activities.

Approaching the south end of town, where the valley narrowed, the train moved under the Reynold’s Bridge, a concrete arch structure carrying Waterbury Road and constructed in the early-1920s. One of the few remaining bridges after the Great Flood of 1955, it marked the location of the small, no-longer existent station of the same name.

Trundling past the WHYCo Factory, the three coaches continued in their southerly direction, momentarily traversing the switch which led to the east side lead track to the new Thomaston Shop. The culmination of seven years of planning and construction, the five-track rail yard and 11,700-square-foot restoration building replaced the previous, 20-foot-long, deck girder bridge facility atop the former power canal one mile from Waterville where proper inspection of a four-axle locomotive had required up to six hours to complete. Tree and bush clearing at the new, two-acre site along the Naugatuck Railroad’s main line began in 1998, followed by prerequisite rock blasting and crushing, drainage, and grading. A 1,000-foot-long roadbed serves as the lead track to the area, built, as is the remainder of the yard’s track and switches, of 107-pound rails. The 65- by 180-foot shop, accessed by four 18-foot-high by 14-foot-wide main doors, is insulated, heated, and lighted for indoor, all-weather use, and two, 131-pound rail tracks run through it. A 60-foot-long, 48-inch-deep inspection pit facilitates under-car inspection and maintenance.

The concrete abutment at the north end of the Thomaston Shop indicates the location of the former Waterbury-Thomaston trolley line, which had crossed both the railroad and the river.

The Jericho Bridge, marking the spot where the flood had significantly altered the landscape, provided river-crossing access into Watertown.

Continuing to bore its way through a virtual tunnel of leaf-clinging trees and bare, skeletal, white and gray limbs, the diesel engine pulled its coaches toward Waterville, momentarily rustling the crunchy, mosaic blankets representing the collected “flesh” of the once foliage-rich trees now lying beside the track in post-life surrender. Like an oil-black mirror, the river reflected the season’s colorful denouement.

The track, reconfigured because of the flood damage, crossed Frost Bridge Road, arcing into a sharp s-curve before entering the town of Waterville over the Chase Bridge.

Threading its way through the Naugatuck Railroad’s Chase Yard, comprised of a motley collection of steam engines and coaches, the train clacked past the sprawling, former Chase Metal Works factory complex at a snail’s pace, south of which was Waterville Station.

The town itself, as evidenced by its large brass mills, had once been sustained by this industry, and was today a sub-section of greater Waterbury itself.

Ceasing motion, the train terminated its southerly, outbound journey, the locomotive disconnecting and passing its coaches on the Huntington Avenue siding before recoupling itself to the former end car.

My own coach, number 4980, had been built in 1924 by Canadian Car Foundry for Canadian National Railways and was typical of the type used for long-distance travel, inclusive of that on New England services operated by Central Vermont and Grand Trunk Railways. Converted in 1969, it served Montreal commuter routes until it had been retired in 1991, at which time it had been acquired by Thomas V. Brown and donated to the Railroad Museum of New England.

Inching away from its southern terminus, my living history excursion train recrossed the town of Waterville, moving past the Chase Metal Works Factory and the coaches lining the rail yard.

The silver rails ahead seemed to slice through the dense forest. The hills, as if torched, flamed orange, gold, and chestnut, the restored cars resettling into rhythmic, lateral rocks as their wheels screamed at every curve and track imperfection.

The Thomaston Station, soon moving by on the left side, quickly yielded to the red brick Plume and Atwood factory across the road.

Tracing its roots to the brass mill the Thomas Manufacturing Company had organized in 1854 to roll metal for clock movements, it had been known as “Holmes, Booth, and Atwood” when this concern had purchased it in 1869, adopting the “Plume and Atwood” name two years later. Incorporated in 1880, it had produced a comprehensive line of lamps, lamp trimmings, gas burners, and brass lamp parts, becoming one of the railroad’s major freight customers for more than a century-the railroad itself thus complementing and facilitating Thomaston’s very purpose. It had been the center of Plume and Atwood’s Waterbury-relocated manufacturing division and main office.

Dorset-Rex had acquired the plant in the late-1950s, but the Hurricane Diane flood had severely damaged its tooling, equipment, and buildings.

Climbing a considerable grade, the diesel engine pulled its cars between some tall rock faces, following the left-curving track past green pine and conifer to the face of Thomaston Dam, plying the eight miles of rail between Thomaston and Litchfield laid as a result of the flood. Part of a network of flood control dams constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Naugatuck Valley Basin, the $14 million project, completed in 1960, had been integral to the town’s recovery after six inches of rain had caused the river to overflow and its banks to collapse. The dam itself prevented further downstream damage.

The first train to ply the new route had been a 28-car-long freight service operated by the New Haven Railroad and pulled by Alco RS-3 diesel locomotives 561 and 533, destined for Torrington and Winsted.

Pushed by its engine, my own train slowly negotiated the track past the rock faces; the abandoned, Plume and Atwood Brass Mill; and over the road crossing in the reverse direction, ceasing motion with a gentle screech from its brakes in front of the Thomaston Station and ending its 20-mile excursion.

Descending the three steps to the platform, the adults emerged from their scenic and historic ride. Descending the same steps, the Halloween-costumed kids emerged from theirs.