Industrial Moving

Nothing can explain our moving talents better than a tour thru an actual job.  We have two interesting moves in the last part of February 2022.


As part of a larger full-scale move, we were required to remove 15 fuel tanks from inside a building. Move them outside then relocate to another site.  They were 20 ft high, 12 ft wide, cylinder-shaped, and weighed 10,000 lbs each.  They each had to be laid over and transported to a door. And somehow loaded onto step-deck trailers staged outside. 

               Trouble was, the floor was not ground level, we were 5 ft up, dock level.

And the trailers had to be step decks to get thru town.  They didn’t match the dock height.  We had a plan.

               We brought our little carry deck cranes over and with our tilt decks got them inside.  We used an 18-ton and a 10.  One lifted, one-tailed the tanks.  Then we set the tanks horizontally into special carved and carpeted wooden bunks, custom made and fitted for the tanks. (we found a great source for exactly this type of custom product).  We used skates,(we have several types of skates available) under the bunks and tugged the tanks gently over to the door.  ( We have tuggers).  By inserting the bunks we were able to push the tank top out the door, over the staged trailer and a waiting 30-ton crane.  The crane hooked onto the tank and assisted the crew in drawing the tank further out the door.  With 80% of the tank out the door, the tank, still on the bunks was blocked, (our jack and roll crews carry blocking), and stabilized.  It then rigged up to both ends of the tank,(we carry many types and lengths of rigging) lifted it a few inches clear of the trailer and the interior floor; then gently swung the entire tank out the door.  It was set on the trailer, secured, and replaced with another step-deck as the crew was already bringing another tank to the door.   

               We had 2 tractors shuffling step-decks and another 45-ton crane waiting at the new site to offload and set the tanks to ground.  We were given 3 – 4 days max to complete the job and things went well we moved all the tanks in 2 days.


Our second job is smaller but equally as challenging.  It involves the movement and placing of 4,  1800 lb switchgear and a 7600 lb transformer, from storage sites on campus U of A to the new Engineering facility.  They need to be lowered into the basement, then further down, into a sub-basement.

The sub-basement is more like a dungeon.

An empty room, a 4.5 ft drop, no lifting facilities, no stairs, just straight down.  Then rolled into another room, and installed on a raised pad.

               On the main floor, the slab was 2 ft of concrete, this was the engineering structural test lab.  It was solid.

There was an opening cut into the floor for us to access the old basement.  This was a renovation, a big one.  So we could bring our carry deck into the main floor and stage it beside the hole and lift ‘everything’ into the basement.  Step One.  But there was a lot of everything as it turned out.


Down below the opening to the dungeon was mercifully close; the portal cut into the wall was decently high, over 9 ft by a single inch but it had to be, the switchgear was over 8 and had a 6-inch lift lug on each corner.  We thought of using chain hoists from the dungeon ceiling, or gantries to get the units down, and that would have worked until we realized the ceiling in the lower chamber exactly matched the portal door height.  There was no room for hanging chain hoists or gantry beams.  

               The head of electrical, U of A is a cagey old bird, Thel.

He suggested we use a plate and block it up from below, stabilize it from the sub-basement floor, then roll the units out onto the plate and slowly jack them down.  The plate was a good idea, but the jacks designed for this type of operation are extremely heavy and Big.  And the lowering up and down, one block at a time.  The Egyptian method; I wouldn’t have a crew left after that.

If we could find the right plate, and lift from it, that would give the chain hoists room to work.  And we had a plate, it was exactly 10 ft by 5.

Perfect we thought and there were holes already predrilled, inset about 1.5 inches on each side. More perfect. 

But the more we thought about moving the units from the solid floor of the basement onto the free-hanging plate, we realized it wasn’t stable enough.  We had to block it up, plus there was water or drain pipes floor level, sticking out of the wall, right where we were lowering, working.  We needed to stay about 6 inches away from the wall.

That wasn’t good. 

               We found a railway moving cart, solid as a tank, with large metal wheels.  It was large enough to stack blocking on and hold the plate, solid enough to support the weight, and had wheels so we could slide it up to the wall, then away.  And we realized once we had the switch gear or transformer on the plate, and the hoist taking the weight we could roll the cart and the blocking away, ready for another lift later.  We could make that work.

And we had a tugger, a battery-powered capstan winch, to pull the plate up to the floor edge and hold it there. 

               We prepared.  To install lift points in the ceiling, we checked with the campus and General engineers, had plates designed, and built, (we have welders, and access to engineering and inspection), engineered and certified to cover the lifting weights, and had both plates and insert wedge anchors cleared.  The crane slab weight was also cleared.  The crew was pre oriented, (HR took care of that) machine and rigging inspections were registered. (admin staff helped a ton here)  Full Job Hazard Assessment completed. (Safety helped here)

               We rented scaffolding to get up to the dungeon ceiling and work.  Checked on rules for overheight.  Picked up a Hilti drill, 2 concrete drill bits, the wedge anchors, 4 two-ton chain hoists, and made sure the entire jack and roll gearbox and blocking were coming to the site.

               We also brought 2 pallet jacks, one was a specialty item with 6 ft forks that we hoped would fit right under the switchgear and be able to roll it onto the plate, off at the bottom, and may almost be able to set the chunky little beast into place on the pad. It was useful but not quite the perfect thing we’d hoped.

               The initial move we made was to drill and install the plates and lifting points into the dungeon roof.

We measured and marked where we thought the holes should be in relation to the plate position, knowing we had to stay fairly wide, and that there would be a need for some movement ahead to clear the piping at floor level.

               The drilling was draining but went well until we started hitting rebar.

We had rebar-type bits, but they were ineffective when we hit the rebar.  We tried again and again, pushing our heads into the ceiling remember, but it was useless.  We had to drill multiple holes, almost at every point.  We kept using the plate as a template to measure exactly where to drill.

Once the anchors were in, the plate had to fit over the bolts.  We managed to get the holes all drilled, the wedge anchors in place, and the plates bolted up.  We hung the chain hoists and we were ready to roll; tired but ready.

               With the carry deck set up by the floor opening, we offloaded all our jack and roll gear, and part of the crew went to load the switch gears, while we lowered the plate and pallet jacks into the basement thru the hole. 

               Once we got the plate hanging, we brought our rail wagon down and lowered it into the dungeon.  The blocking we keep in a rolling container, we sent the entire thing down the hole and kept it in the main basement.  We transferred enough of the wood into the dungeon to block up the floor of the rail car to the plate level when it was in the loading position. 

               We set our capstan winch down the hallway and secured it so we could tug and anchor the plate to the floor edge.

               We brought the first switch gear down and moved some electrical cables that were either redundant or loosely dangling on the sides of our hole.  The switch set perfectly onto our long forked pallet jack.  This was going to work and it was still low enough to clear the portal header.

               The plate seemed to be at the perfect height.  We rolled the wagon under and slipped wedges and lowered the hoists until it was solid.  We pushed it all forward against the floor edge and the tugger pulled it tight, then held it.  The plate was pretty solid.  We stepped out onto the steel.  Nothing moved.  Not a quiver.

It was better than we expected.

We rolled the pallet jack forward and it went on the plate smooth and steady.  We lowered the jack height, blocked the switch, just to make sure, and threw a strap over the entire thing to secure everything.  Then we were ready to lower the hoist.  We loosened our tugger, and let the plate roll out just a little, the wagon was solid. We lifted on the plate just enough to clear the blocking and rolled the blocking cart out.  Then we started the hoist down. 

               Everything went to the ground safely. If you try this at home, one thing to remember is that on each hoist was a different person, and each person has his own pace.  Pay attention.

               Everything went well, with the switch gears, tedious, a lot of lifting and jacking, and too much chain hoisting, until we got to the transformer.  When we tried to roll it onto our plate, it was heavier, 8000 lbs, but we weren’t worried about that, our blocking and hosts were solid, and we realized the body of the x form was exactly 5 ft. the out plate was 5 ft.  Our holes, where our plate lift points were, 4 ft 10 inches apart.

The x form wasn’t going to squeeze between.  Once we got it on, it might not be too bad, the plate was long enough that the far hoist points would not be involved.

               So if we got by the initial lift points we might be ok.  To do that we would have to release the hoist or remove it.

The upper edge would scrape against the hoist gear body, we turned the hook back away to give us another ½ inch, and we blocked up from the floor itself to further stabilize the plate, but we did NOT want to totally relax our chain hoists and take the risk that our blocking would hold until we shoved the entire unit onto the plate.  We needed to widen our lift points. 

               We found a suitable, stout sling and ran it under the plate.  We left the bottom shackles in place, turned them over, so the screw was inserted from the bottom, and not sticking out the top  We released the hoist point for a moment, brought our sling up from underneath, and ran it through the shackle that protruded just beyond the edge of the plate.  The shackles just stabilized,  where the sling was, kept it in place.  It still would press hard against the plate edge and we softened and double softened that edge.  Then we hooked the chain hoist into these slings and it gave us the entire plate to work with, barely though. 

               We tightened up the chain hoists and double-checked our slings, softeners, and blocking.  Then we lowered the x form, and its length and width made for a tricky, slow, process, of turning, lowering, and squeezing forward.  We landed it partially on the plate on small skates and set the back on the pallet jack.  We tried to roll it forward, but that did not go well.  We reset it down and released the front chains, lifting the rear and slowly lifted and coaxed it forward with the boom of our crane extending bit by bit, and lowering just as we neared a threshold.   But it went on, barely squeezed between the hoists, the slings, the chains rattling and racing thru their gears.  It was on, and we secured it, blocked it, and released both holdbacks, we had put two on this time.  The little wagon barely moved when we lifted, but we cleared the blocks, rolled it out, and started the long drop down.  The long adjusting chains seemed to catch in every crevice and hook, every edge; it was a start and stop the process. But we finally got to the ground, and the final placement, the rest of the jack and roll wrestling match began.

But at that point, we knew we had won.  We were in the dungeon.


These jack and roll moves require a wide variety of tools, lots of different gear, specialized equipment; and the skill and experience to know how to use them. Encore has all of this in Spades.

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