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Night manoeuvres with a crawler crane

Dan Gilkes examines the logistics of moving a 60 tonne giant off site and through one of the most built-up

areas in London

HOW DO you move a 4.2 m wide, 60 tonne, crawler crane from a site at London Bridge, one of the busiest areas in the capital?

To start with you do it at night as there is less traffic about then. But that still doesnt get around the sheer size of the load.

The crane, an NCK Ajax belonging to Taylor Woodrow Foundation Engineering, was working 12 m below ground on a part of the Jubilee Line extension contract. It was lifted out of the job by a mobile crane and then transported by west London heavy haulage contractor KCS Crane and Transport Services.

A Special Types low-loader with a capacity of 75 tonnes was needed to carry the load. The combined length of KCSs specialist low-loader was more than 23.5 m not a machine you would want to be driving through the back streets of a city at any time of the day or night.

But this was no ordinary trailer. The latest addition to the KCS fleet, the King GTL100 has four steering axles at the rear. The trailers steering system can be used in automatic or manual modes, depending on the manoeuvrability required.

The auto setting is used during normal running on the road. When in this mode, the four axles turn hydraulically in the opposite direction to the steering wheels of the tractor unit. This greatly reduces the turning circle of the combination.

For really tight manoeuvring the trailer carries a separate engine-driven hydraulic line that is controlled by a joystick on a remote lead. An operator walking beside the trailer can steer the axles whichever way is required, no matter what is happening at the tractor end.

The trailer, pulled by a Volvo F16 6x4, has a gross combination weight of up to 100 tonnes. The crane was escorted out of central London by the police, and was then taken to another Taylor Woodrow site at Blackwater Valley.

KCS, with offices in Camberley, Surrey, runs a mixed fleet of extendable trailers, low-loaders and specialist heavy haulage equipment.