Thursday, October 18, 2018

Building and installing offshore oil platforms

(For what it is worth, this is my 2000th posting in this blog. Google's search function for authors broke April 3, 2018, which has greatly reduced one of my motivations for writing the blog --- a memory aid. Fortunately, I have used labels so that I can still find some of them.)

Normally, I would just add the first photo below to tandem lifts. But John provided enough photos in the posting's comments that it is worth its own posting. These photos provide some insight into the expense of drilling offshore ore wells.

See also Turning an Oil Rig Jacket.

The initial photos and comments are from a John Katok posting. Francis Letecia Reyna Pawelek also contributed to that posting.

Two 4600 Ringers in tandem lifting 12 bouyancy tanks into place during the fabrication of the Exxon LENA guyed tower project at Brown & Root's Harbor Island yard in 1982. Each tank was 20 ft diameter x 200 feet long and weighed 225 tons and all were place in position from the one location over a 300 feet distance from tower elev. -160 to elev. -460.

Its of the sailout of the tower from our fabrication yard, seen in the background, and out the Corpus Christi Channel on June 10, 1983. It was loaded out onto the BAR 376 launch barge 160'wide x 560' long x 36 deep. The 1,100 feet long tower rested on 6 skidways while being fabricated onshore but then transitioned to 4 skidways ( we offloaded the skids at the top and bottom using a wedged timber system) when loading it on the barge as the 30,000 ton structure was pulled on over the 30-hour operation. The top of the tower cantilevered over the bow 200 feet, and over the stern 300 feet.The tow took 2 days from CC to offshore Louisianna.

Here's the launch, largest side launch in history, took 8.3 seconds, tower was traveling at 55 fps or 35 mph when it hit the water, and raising the starboard side of the barge out of the water. The launch was initiated using 24 exploding bolts ( frangable nuts) to seperate 12 each 20"diameter holdback pipes, the same nuts/bolts as were used on the space shuttle during launch to hold the shuttle rocket on the pad during initial thrust up. I shot the only video of the launch ( those early years when video cameras just started coming out commerically). It was awesome!

Here's the tower during installation using the derrick barge Oceanbuilder, after completing the fab side, I went offshore for the entire installation campaign, it had a 2000 ton crane. The bouyancy tanks helped keep it uprighted at 85 degrees after launch and up to when the barge could then get hold and set it into final position, and drive the 8 piles and 58 conductor pipes. Tim, did you happen to ever work on the Oceanbuilder?

The Atlas was the other barge offshore when LENA was installed, it installed the 20 guy lines and anchor piles. The lines were wire rope 5-3/8" diameter x 3,200 feet long, and had a 200 ton clump weight ( like a flat wide bicycle chain design) on each. We installed the first thrusters ever on a flat bottom derrick barge, and it worked fairly well up until we got in a 10 foot sea state, 30 mph wind and/or a 6 knot current. ATLAS had a 2,000 ton crane too, maybe that capacity was over the stern.
John Katok One night we were setting one of the 8 main piles ( 54" diameter x 2-1/4" wt, x 1000 foot long, about 625 tons, with a Varco elevator, and that elevator sheared across its 11" x 11" cross section and sent that main boom into the sky, and rocking back and forth like nothing I had ever seen, thought we were going to get showered with boom, it was one of those defining moments. Luckily the boom checked out okay and we continued on. Varco had to do some explaining though.

Calvin Hutchins How much $$$$$ in that picture?

John Katok The project or the cranes? The project in 1983 cost about $700mm so that would be about $3.5 billion in todays dollars. If you meant the cost of the cranes, I don't really know, we had 24 down at that yard at the peak but the peak lasted several years, we mostly had 4100s, maybe eight 4600s, two 6000s and spare booms.Maybe $150mm. We only rented a few.

Harry Hedge That's a lot of rigs in one spot,

John Katok We split the tower into six box sections. The two that made up the very top ( left side) each weighed 2,400 tons. I wish i could post the photos of the 14 cranes, spaced only a few feet apart in some cases, making those 2,400 ton lifts. A box lift is more complex since when you reach the tip over point its likely to accelerate away, so we had 3 catch cranes on the receiving side plus two hold back winches. The crane operators and supervision were awesome and landed those boxes right in their cradles every time.

Francis Letecia Reyna Pawelek Did you all ever see the quarter mile long BULLWINKLE offshore rig built in ingleside? Kiewitt and another company was involved in that job 
I got some nice pictures I’ll have to post too I think.

John Katok Yes, 1,350’ water depth, 55,000 tons, and loaded out onto the 851 launch barge circa 1988-89. Laying on its side the base was over 420’ tall.

Francis Letecia Reyna Pawelek I still got some pictures left and a couple sections of the parts and had som big cranes made by pip who lived nearby too

Here’s a couple guys of gulf marines yard


Then I found what I presume to be platform construction photos in some other "crane" postings and moved them here.

A lot more than just two cranes on this lift. I believe the section they lifted was built to the right of the bottom section. Look at the tracks for the cranes. They not only lifted that section in unison, they are moving it over the bottom section in unison! The dirt in these erection yards gets real hard. Note that they don't need any mats.

Larry Arthur Hoerres posted
This is serious pic you don't see this everyday this was several years ago its got the most cranes on one pic in all the world
Willie Cromwell 4000's and 4100's
Joe Leonard And just think - not one computer. An actual human had to string a tape and look at a load chart. And nobody on a cell phone. Must be magic.
David Beard Yes Joe, the generation coming up now couldn't handle this.

Larry posted again
Mike Keilen I get the pick and travel, but why all the jibs? Where and when was this?
Ed Flores Don't know about this one but the ones I did were in McDermott's yard in Amelia Louisiana. All yard cranes were equipped with jibs no point in removing them. All picks were at 60% of chart.

Shawn Douglas commented on a posting
Shawn Douglas commented on a posting
Jim Browne commented on the above posting
Ben Stalvey posted
Those who worked at the large oil fabrication jacket yards. Who's yard and Manitowocs would these have belonged to????????
Ben StalveyGroup Admin A few 4600 series 4 ringers in this shot
Ben StalveyGroup Admin A 6000 can also be seen in this shot with white jib
Steve Khail I shot this photo for Manitowoc. It's a Brown & Root fab yard near Port Aransas, TX.
Ross Rodger posted
The first roll up in Hi-Fab Nigg. Early 70's. 4100's and 4600 S3
Ben StalveyGroup Admin America no doubt
Ross Rodger Scotland, Brown and Roots Highlands Fabricators.


Charles Daville posted, cropped

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

BNSF/NP 1908 Hi-Line Bridge over Sheyenne River at Valley City

(Bridge Hunter, John MarvigSatellite)

Jerry Huddleston Flickr 2009 Photo, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
When you get peaches, make peach cobbler! A pair of peachy SD70MACs drag coal buckets across the former NP Hi-Line Bridge at Valley City, ND. Opened in 1908 as part of a reworked main across ND, a 3,860' long and 162' tall bridge was required to span the valley.
1909 Postcard from Bridge Hunter
Ken Bryan posted
Eastbound coal train on the Hi-Line Bridge over the Sheyenne River in Valley City. 

John Marvig from Bridge Hunter
[An interesting patch job.]

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Milwaukee's Rockton to Oglesby Branch

This map shows that Milwaukee Road's first route in Illinois entered the state at the middle of the north boundary and headed to the river towns on the west side.

Bill Molony posted, cropped

Bill Molony posted, cropped

A comment on Bill's posting explains:
Matt McClure The MILW line built west from Racine is the oldest MR line. It was built as a serious competitor to Galena & Chicago Union Railroad to Turner Junction. The thought was Racine could be a serious threat to Chicago in the 1840s.

It wasn't until 1872 that Milwaukee built their route from Chicago to meet their original Illinois route at Kittredge in 1880. In 1881, it built south from Rockton to Rockford and acquired trackage rights on the CB&Q/Chicago & Iowa to Davis Junction to tap the industry in Rockford and to connect their two Illinois routes.

Later they used the CB&Q route through Rochelle, IL to Stewart Junction and then built their own track down to Ladd. They added a branch to Cherry to access a coal mine owned by a subsidiary. [Harold J. Krewer The infamous mine at Cherry, IL (where 259 miners died in a 1909 fire) was on a short branch of the Milwaukee out of Ladd, IL and was in fact owned by its subsidiary, the St. Paul Coal Co. Every pound of coal out of that hole went into a Milwaukee Road locomotive.] Then they joined the NYC/II&I at Seatonville to share their bridge across the Illinois River to Granville where they built a branch to the east to access a coal mine at Oglesby.

I had originally thought Milwaukee built to Oglesby to tap the cement manufacturing industry of Buzzi Unicem and Lehigh Portland. But another comment on Bill's posting indicated their target was another coal mine.
Stuart B. Slaymaker Lots of coal on them thar branches. Oglesby, and especially the south end of the C.T.H. & S.E...

As the map indicates, the Milwaukee Road not only used the II&I between Seatonville and Granville, it also used its branches to DePue and McNabb.

The output of the coal mines in Cherry and Oglesby were not able to meet Milwaukee's demand for coal during WWI. So in 1921 they leased the Chicago, Terre Haute & South Eastern for 999 years to gain access to some of the many coal mines in southern Indiana. [DeBruler]

According to my 2005 SPV Map, the northern part between Rockton and Flagg Center (connection to BNSF mainline to St. Paul and the Northwest Pacific) was operated by Illinois, Chicago & Eastern (ICE). Canadian Pacific now owns the ICE assets. Everything south of Steward Junction has been abandoned.

I now need to update the following postings (that I can remember) to replace text with a link to this posting. After I fix these postings (don't hold your breath), this is a list of towns on this route that I have more information.

Monday, October 15, 2018

CB&Q's Chicago & Iowa Railroad

It seems different maps have different mistakes. But, if you look at enough maps, you can become confident of the railroad's route.

This map provides an overview of where the railroad was from the perspective of Oregon, IL. But the east end is wrong because the route went through Rochelle. In fact, the segment of the C&I between Oregon and Rochelle was chartered in 1857 as Ogle & Carroll County Railroad and reached Oregon in 1871. This gave Oregon access to the railroad network with a connection to the C&NW in Rochelle. James Frederick Joy included this segment in the Burlington & Michigan Central that ran from Aurora (CB&Q connection) to Forreston (IC connection) in 1872. By 1874, Francis Hinkley had built the Chicago, Rockford & Northern 24 miles from Flagg Center to Rockford. Both of these segments became consolidated as the Chicago & Iowa Railroad. In 1885, the Chicago Burlington & Northern was chartered and its construction from Oregon to St. Paul, MN was completed in 1886. Oregon itself was a destination because it promoted itself as a resort town. [OregonDepot]
This 1874 map correctly shows the C&I route going through Rochelle, but it also shows the line extended west from Forreston to Bellevue, IA. I have determined that line is a mistake. There is a "CH & IA" label along the route between Oregon and Rochelle. But it also shows the "CH&RRR" (as best as I can read it) shared the route between Shabbona and Aurora. I included the routes all the way down to Galesburg to show the original CB&Q line. Note the lines through Shabbona and the Illinois Grand Trunk Railway west of Mendota have yet to be acquired by CB&Q.
LoC: 1874
This map confirms the Shabbona-Aurora segment was built by the C&I/Burlington & Michigan Central.
LoC: 1872 Milwaukee

Rochelle simplifies the corporate history and confirms the Chicago & Iowa Railroad was built through Rochelle in 1870.

The reason for the branch up to Rockford is interesting. Rockford enjoyed an early railroad connection because the Galena & Chicago Union arrived in 1852. But in just four years Rockford's businessmen thought the rates were too high and worked to break G&CU's railroad monopoly. In 1857 they received a charter for the Kenosha & Rockford Railroad. In spite of an economic depression, the railroad entered town in 1859. But Chicago & North Western absorbed both railroads serving Rockford. In 1874, F. E. Hinkley, the president of the C&I, proposed a branch from Rochelle to Rockford to break the C&NW monopoly. [Rockford]

The segment from Oregon to Aurora is now part of BNSF's mainline to St. Paul and the Northwest Pacific. The branch to Rockford is now part of the Illinois Railway. My 2005 SPV Map shows the segment between Mt. Morris and Forreston has been abandoned. There are still tracks between Oregon and Mt. Morris, but a pile of dirt next to the parking lot on the industrial spur does not bode well for rail service. The grain elevator does not have rail service. So it appears the segment west of Oregon is no longer used.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

CP/ICE/Milw 2004 Scherzer Bridge over Black River in La Crosse, WI

(Bridge HunterJohn A. Weeks III, no John Marvig, 3D Satellite)

While watching the video below, I could not identify what type of drawbridge was over the Black River, even when I looked at a 3D Satellite image. It seemed to be a Scherzer rolling lift bridge, but I could not clearly identify the quarter-round rolling members, even in the photos on Bridge Hunter. But John's photo below clearly shows a rolling member. I didn't know they still built this design.

The predecessor bridge was a swing bridge. So the US Coast Guard has been successful in getting a swing bridge removed from the Mississippi River. But John explains that this channel is used by recreational boats. Commercial (barge) traffic uses the west channel. When I looked at the satellite image, it appeared the Black River was just another channel of the Mississippi River. John explains "the Black River was once a separate river in this area, but it was captured a few miles up river by the Mississippi a few centuries ago." [Weeks-#7]

John A. Weeks III

(new window) They get to the bridge at about 4:06. It sounds like the private car has a flat wheel.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

CP/ICE/Milw 1901 Bridge over Mississippi at LaCrescent, MN

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, John A. Weeks IIIJohn Marvig3D Satellite)

Dennis Weber posted
A Look @ Freight Cars on CP's Mississippi River Bridge LaCrescent,Mn. 9-2017 CP Train 471.
Originally, it was steam powered. It was converted to electricity in 1952. It is staffed 24/7. [Historic Bridges] It was rebuilt in 1928. The US Coast Guard condemned it in 1998 and ordered that the swing span be replaced with a lift span. So far the replacement has been just talk. This is one of four bridges that island-hops across the Mississippi and Black Rivers between La Crosse, WI and LaCrescent, MN. "La Crosse is one of three places that the Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train crosses the Mississippi River, with the other two being Hastings, MN, and Little Falls, MN." [Weeks]
I'm not exactly sure where this bridge falls for priority. It's a critical line for oil and freight to and from Chicago. However, it depends on who's paying for the replacement (and it probably won't be the railroad). If it's paid for by the coast guard (who is the only ones who want it replaced, due to the navigation channel), it may be a while. It's behind Clinton, Iowa and likely Dubque, Iowa for replacement due to narrow navigation channels. However, the railroad intends to double track the bridges here and further up the river at Hastings within the next few decades, so it may happen then. [Bridge Hunter, Posted September 23, 2015, by John Marvig]

John A. Weeks III

HeavyMovableStructures, Photo 3 in Home Page scroll
[The photo is not identified, but it sure looks like this bridge. Unfortunately, the link I was after,, is broke. Poking around the site quickly comes to "Under Construction" text.]
(new window)

(new window) They get to the bridge at about 4:06. It sounds like the private car has a flat wheel.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A "trolley" system for cranes


I wonder if this project is for a new causeway for the new Bonner Bridge. The photos below show a Manitowoc 2250 being built on a platform that runs on rails held up by piles. It looks like the assist crane is also a 2250. A comment by Todd Rennix indicates that six cranes will be on this job when it is up to speed.

Judging by the houses in the background in the third and fourth photo, I assume this work is on and/or along the Outer Banks. (It looks like those houses survived their hurricane better than the houses along the Florida Panhandle.) a trolley system is probably being built to minimize the impact of the crane work on the land. It might be hard to build a road strong enough for the cranes to travel on. Even if they could economically build a strong road, the road would destroy a lot of land. The piles holding up the trolley rails have the advantage that they can go as deep as needed to provide a good foundation and they leave a small impact on the land after they are removed.

Patrick Scales posted four photos.