Wednesday, July 21, 2021

1999 "Big Blue" crane wreck while lifting a roof segment for a new stadium in Milwaukee, WI


This accident took the lives of three workmen, cost $200m and caused a one year delay. ($100m repairs and $100m legal implications) [ThinkReliability (source)]

jsonline, one of 61 photos

(new window)  Warning, the language in the video reflects the severity of the problem. Fortunately, there are no F-bombs or oh-my-Gods. You can mute the audio after the roof starts falling with no loss of information. (Before then the audio is informative in terms of the screech of the swing brake and the bangs and pops of the boom breaking.) (A crane fan at 7:40 in Science Channel's Engineering Catastrophes S3 Ep5 "Crash of the Titan" show described the screech as the cables squealing on the drum. At 9:37, the show indicates a last minute change of the position of the crane contributed to the accident, which required the load to be lifted higher than originally planned. This increased the exposure of the roof section to lateral wind-sail forces.)

I've researched this wreck before, but I could not find any notes on it. The following is from memory and current research. This accident happened in Milwaukee, WI, while building Miller Park.

An OSHA official was there because the regular operator refused to do the lift because the wind speed was too high given the weight of the load. When he left the job, he notified OSHA. Meanwhile, his boss told another operator to do the lift. When the crane started to fail, the operator jumped out of the crane rather than doing an emergency lowering of the load. If he had lowered the load, the roof and building would have still been damaged, but the crane next to this one would not have been hit. That would have saved the lives of the three men in the worker basket being held by the crane in the background. (The basket falls to the ground at 0:58.)

It was fixed and opened in another year.

I wrote the above a few years ago in the Crane Wrecks notes. I'm promoting this wreck to their own notes because I came across some additional information in the comments of this post because someone claimed that one of these Transilifts was used in the Milwaukee stadium lift that collapsed. Replies to that comment disagree. Specifically, Big Blue was a 1500t crane whereas these were 2600t. But another comment says that Big Blue was 2600t with a 800' boom consisting of 600' main and 200' fly. But this source has smaller numbers: "For Miller Park, a special crane was required to lift the roof sections. Big Blue was a monster—a 567-foot LTL-1500 Transi-Lift heavy lift crawler crane that could lift more than 450 tons." According to another comment, they did add 100' to the boom to lift the roof sections.

When you add in the weight of the cable, headache ball, rigging, etc., this lift was at 97% of capacity. [CaseStudy]
Philip Slow posted
I believe world record pick and carry at the time..approx 1500 t. Port Kembla. NSW. Pete Abdoo being one pilot.

Brad Irons commented on Philip's post with two photos. Note the person with a white hat standing in a track to give it scale.
1, cropped

2, cropped

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