Monday, January 1, 2018

Demolition with wrecking balls

(Update: Demolition Fork     After "explosive demolition failed, Rock Island used a wrecking ball to bring down a coaling tower.)

Brick buildings come down a lot easier than reinforced concrete buildings.
Screenshot @ -0:22
It used to be that buildings were torn down by swinging a wrecking ball against them. But, with the advent of hydraulic excavators and explosives ("energetic felling"), one seldom sees wrecking ball action anymore.

For two story buildings, a regular excavator with a "thumb" added can do the job.
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For metal intensive structures such as truss bridges, they replace the bucket with hydraulic shears. An excavator can also use a bigger version of the hydro-hammer attachment that is on this skid steer.

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I agree with the comments that this photo as been rotated 45 degrees. But it is still an example of a hydro-hammer attachment.

Rotated and Zoomed

Special long-boom crawlers are built that specialize in tearing down taller buildings. But the comments on the following posting indicate that a wrecking ball is still the "weapon of choice" for very tall structures such as smokestacks. Especially in industrial settings, as opposed to urban areas, were safety (collateral damage) is not an issue.

Steven Xzin posted
David Guarino commented on Steven's posting
This ended the use of wrecking balls. You can still get an option to run most conventional cranes in free fall.
Jim Browne commented on Steven's posting
From what I've seen wrecking balls are more productive than excavators, just less controlled.
Instead of swinging the boom to swing the "ball," this crane uses a second cable between the house and the ball to swing the ball. Or in the case of the beginning of the video, the second cable pulls the ball that is inside the silo.

(new window) Around 4:10, the part that fell down hit the crane and rocked the boom. Around 4:30 the crane does the sideways swinging of the ball that I'm more used to seeing. At 5:39, judging by the sound, the chain hit the boom! It is a good thing it didn't wreck that. He hit the boom again at 7:17 and 8:07. When he is working at those high angles, most of the force of the second cable is adding additional downward force on the boom.

A wrecking ball was used to tear down part of the Cline Avenue Bridge.
(new window)

Reminders of growing up in Chicagoland posted
[Edgewater Beach Hotel. Torn down for the Breakers.]

Steve Robinson posted
Imagine doing this today over Live traffic
Bob Brickman Picture looks to be 1971 or so.Mike Michaud Ole Pump n Hope
I think this crane is using a wrecking ball, but I couldn't find it in any of the photos.
Robert Daly posted three photos with the comment: "More photos to depress y'all--demolition of the North Western Station headhouse, October 1984."




James Vaughn commented on a Ben Stalvey share
During the demo
James Vaughn commented on a Ben Stalvey share
Almost done
Two of four photos posted by Kevin Conrad with the comment: "Old Northern Pacific Grain Growers mill being demolished, Spokane, WA 5-25-19"

Street View
The east side of that elevator had some rather modern bins. Looking at a satellite image, it looks like it could receive and ship by rail. But the sidings were short.
3D Satellite
The elevator in the background of the first photo is ADM Milling. It not only has a yellow fall protector, it has a roof over part of the fall protector.
3D Satellite

Mario Torres posted four photos and a video with the comment:
The Manitowoc 3900W has started demolition work. Although a high-reach demolition excavator with shear might have been better for demolition of this steel-framed building, it was nevertheless fun to watch this vintage 1988 3900W work. Nice to see an older friction machine still at work in the age of hydraulic, joystick machines.
Gareth Wood There's still many advantages using a ball, providing a good operator can be found.
Jaime Chier Gareth Wood 100% agree. Have both a high reach and crane and ball. Just set our crane up yesterday. On the operator thing. I only have 5 years left that I want to work. Been looking for someone to train. Have a good Oiler now but he has a long way to go.
Gareth Wood Jaime Chier nobody runs balls on demolition here in England now, I'm probably one of the last owner operators about, mostly breaking rocks in quarries now though.
Jaime Chier Gareth Wood well on a 15 story I don’t want to even think about what it would cost to buy a high reach to effectively work that high.
Jim Browne High reaches have their place, but they are remarkably slow. A good ball operator will out-produce them all the time. Obviously you can't use them everywhere and high reach machines can be surgical but its amazing how fast a drop ball machine will take a building down.




I thought wrecking balls were swung into the building. But the above post and the following show that the ball is sometimes just dropped.

Morio Torres posted four photos with the comment:
It seems that Link-Belt cranes (at least for Potts & Callahan) were the best cranes around for demolition work. In 1993, when I photographed their LS-218, it was balling a parking garage. Another time, it found itself doing the same thing to a brewery complex. I wonder if that crane is still around, doing its thing with the ball.



A video of an excavator using a wrecking ball. (source) Sometimes when he whipped that ball, he would lift the rear end of the crawlers off the ground. He has already knocked the surface concrete off the other columns. That would allow the outer layer of rebar to bend.

A wrecking ball helping to bring down a Rock Island coaling tower in 1953.

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