Friday, May 28, 2010


Memorial Day weekend.

Monday May 31, Runnion Equipment Company, of course, is closed for business.

This is the first long weekend of the summer season - (although summer doesn't officially begin until June 21). We'll have some time to spend outside doing some yardwork, relaxing, checking out the antique car shows... and deciding which of my grills to use:


More importantly, do you recall why we have the day off?
Do you remember what it is about?

Will you take some time out of your weekend to say "Thanks"?

If you don't know any Veterans or active service people, DO something in keeping with the spirit of the day of rememberance. Take your kids to one of the Veteran's services taking place in your neighborhood, take a minute to write a check to one of the Veteran's organizations or the USO, fly the flag - say a silent prayer.

I started the day out right... the Korean War Vet in front of me at Dunkin Donuts let me buy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Have you ever wondered how some boom truck operators seem to extend & retract loads smoothly while others tend to shake loads so badly, bindings loosen or material falls off? – (both dangerous situations !)

Besides a lack of operator experience, the leading physical cause of that shaky boom is a metal on metal condition within the telescope known as “boom chatter”. Boom chatter can occur when; wear pads are missing – (possibly fallen out because of loose bolts or improper installation), wear pads have been worn down with use, or wear pads have been improperly serviced and are running dry.

Our experience has shown us that the leading cause of boom chatter is poor service or lack of service to the wear pads.

To be sure, some newer models of cranes include “self-lubricating” wear pads, but the fact is that all wear pads require lubrication in order to do their job and all wear pads also need to be inspected regularly to make sure they are in place and functioning as outlined in all crane operations and service manuals. (Be sure to note that the inspection and lubrication are considered to be the responsibility of the operator.)

All wear pads contact adjacent telescoping sections. When the factory installed lube wears off of the wear pads, chatter is the result. If you are concerned about longevity of your boom truck, it is imperative that you do not allow your wear pads to lose all their lube and run “dry”. It is equally important to use the correct type of grease on your telescoping boom assembly. In addition to chatter, dry wear pads can also tear loose and dislodge other wear pads causing irreparable damage to the adjacent telescoping section with metal to metal contact

The factory recommends that you lubricate your wear pads using a product with superior lubricity that functions throughout wide ranging temperature variations such as Mag I by Lubriplate which is a lithium polymer that maintains its lubricating properties between
-60 F and +300 F. There are other synthetic products available that will do as good a job as well. Stay away from petroleum based greases such as chassis grease which will actually cause rather than correct the chatter. In lower temps it has a tendency to gell up and grab, at higher operating temps, chassis grease may melt away entirely.

Manufacturers supply us with access holes for a grease gun needle in order to get lubricant to some of the wear pads, but the most difficult wear pads to lubricate and the most likely to cause boom chatter, are those on the inner tops of the telescope sections. These pads wear against the inside top of their adjacent sections during operation and lubricant must be worked into the inside top of the sections – no small project going against gravity!

Our Service Department has developed a three step process to get to these outer/inner top areas of the sections. The process requires an operator to extend, retract, boom up and boom down several times as our tech systematically applies the lubricant to the necessary pads in an effort to work the lubricant into the proper areas. If it sounds complicated, it is - don’t try this at home – call or email our shop and make an appointment. Better yet, make sure you come to one of our free maintenance seminars and we will show you how it is done!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Crane mats, floats, outrigger pads – call them what you will, but if you own a boom-truck, you should have a set or two with your crane at all times. It’s almost like carrying a portable foundation.

The steel foot pads on the end of crane outriggers – from the factory - are generally small and are designed for good ground conditions. “Good ground conditions” is a loaded phrase that requires some consideration.

You can gain valuable insight into the ability of soil to support loads by referring to OSHA 1926, Subpart P, Appendix A. Find more info on the calculations here. Among the many responsibilities of the crane operators is his or her ability to be able to assess the ground area in which they will be setting up. The ground surface must have enough stability and bearing capacity to support the dead weight of the boom truck, the load, the rigging, and shock (impact) loads and any dynamic conditions such as swinging, hoisting, lowering and traveling.

It is pretty obvious that the ground pressure developed by a crane on its outriggers is huge. As the load is swung around and the crane rotates over the various corners, those pressures are not equal over the outriggers and indeed vary based on the operating conditions and quadrants, for example, there may be times when only one outrigger is taking the majority of the weight of the crane and the load.

If the ground under that outrigger is not firm, level and well compacted, that outrigger can punch through the ground and cause catastrophic crane failure.

Questionable but otherwise reasonable ground requires the use of outrigger “floats” or “crane mats” which are placed under the outrigger pad to disburse the weight of the crane and the load over more ground area than just the steel pad. Crane mats and floats should be made out of substantial materials – generally dense wood, high pressure plywood or composite materials and they must always be larger than the outrigger, factory foot pad. We have seen “home made” outrigger pads made out of pressure treated pine and we suggest that this is a very bad idea. While it may work in a muddy field with a small load, that pine is a soft wood that will compress or shatter when it comes into contact with something solid such as clay, tree roots, boulders, broken concrete or bedrock – while the weight of the outrigger is pushing from above.

Undeniably, many soils on a job site are questionable, so pro-active safety management requires the use of supplemental crane mats much of the time if not all the time. Keep in mind as well that supplemental floats and crane mats can also provide protection to asphalt and decorative stone or concrete surfaces which are easily damaged by the steel outrigger pads.

Don’t forget too, that an asphalt or paved surface like a parking lot is no guarantee that the subsurface will support the weight of the crane on the outriggers – a problem that many boom-truck owners discover as first time operators – and those hard concrete surfaces that seem indestructible may be vaulted or may be poured over a hollow drain pipe.
Many times the ground or gravel under the concrete or asphalt may be washed out in spots creating voids and potential weak spots. Your floats can spread the weight out and save you a potential insurance claim, contractor back charges, or worse.


A good operator knows that your boom truck has to be on solid level footing - always. Floats and crane mats do not change that fact and when they are in use, they must be level. Remember that if your boom truck is not set up level to within 1% (or as per manufacturer instructions) – your load chart does not apply! Be aware that in a 20 foot span, 1% is only two inches off-level! Anything past this point and your crane can lose 15 – 20% or more of the rated capacity. If your outrigger pad is set down on an unleveled float, it may slide off under load and set off a catastrophic chain of events with disastrous results.

Call our Parts Department for more information on the wooden and composite pads we have in stock as well as the special order pads or cribbing that we can order for you.

Get a set of outrigger floats for your boom truck. Operate safely, and operate smartly!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Bucket trucks and bucket vans allow homeowners and property managers the ability to handle routine maintenance on their properties in cases where ladders or scaffolding are impractical. Many first time renters of our equipment are surprised to find how easy it is to operate the equipment and to get their projects completed quickly and affordably with a bucket truck or bucket van.

For the person considering bucket truck rental for the first time, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

1 - Figure out the size of the bucket you need. A single man bucket usually holds three hundred to three hundred fifty pounds. A two man bucket can hold up to seven hundred and fifty pounds.

2 – Determine out how high you need the bucket to reach and consider space restrictions in regard to the truck itself – pay close regard to power lines in the area. Discuss your application with the rental company and ask for their recommendations. Bucket boom lengths and working height vary from model to model and high reach areas may require specialized platform type aerial lifts.

3 – Determine how much you intend to spend on the bucket truck rental. You will generally get a better rate the longer the rental period. If you can guarantee the rental company a set time period, you may be able to negotiate a better rental rate. Ask.

4 – If you or your employees do not have experience operating a bucket truck, you may need to have an operator included in the rental. The cost for a crane operator is extra.

5 – Consider the type of truck you will need since it will depend on your working conditions and personal preferences – standard or automatic transmission, fuel type and even the make of the truck and bucket boom. You may also have a preference on whether or not the boom runs with a hydraulic or an electric system.

6 – Find out if the rental unit you need requires a CDL licensed driver. A standard class C license will be good for most bucket trucks less than 26,000 pounds. Once you get into the bigger units, the vehicle weighs more and a commercial driver license will be required.

7 – Find out about the tool storage and power options. Depending on the project, you may need a larger or specialized space to hold the tools and equipment you need. Do you have electrical tools that require a plug at the base of the boom or in the bucket?

8 – Ask about insurance requirements. You will need to provide proof of insurance coverage. Auto Liability, General Liability and Property coverage for the value of the unit may be required and the limits may be sizeable. Bucket trucks are expensive and complicated machines and are costly to repair.

9 – Discuss service and repair options with the bucket truck rental company. If something goes wrong with the rental unit, you want to find out who is responsible for the cost of repairs. Be aware that long term rentals may require you to provide maintenance to the unit. Also find out if the company can replace the unit if you have a problem with it.

10 – Review the safe-operation requirements with the rental company and be sure that you are supplied with safety harnesses and lanyards and that you understand the use and application of these necessary safety devices. There may be an extra cost for these items.

11 – READ THE RENTAL CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN IT! Make sure you understand your responsibilities before you drive your bucket truck or bucket van out of the rental company’s yard!

Answers to these and any other questions you may have regarding bucket truck, bucket van or crane rental may be addressed to our Rental Manager at:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Power Take-off (PTO) to Hydraulic Pump Connection - Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One of the most important (and most often neglected) components of crane operation and maintenance is the connection between the power take-off (PTO) and the hydraulic pump.

While you are swinging trusses with your National Crane 8100, an impressive 23 ton capacity, 60,000# GVW machine, or lifting a co-worker in a basket on the end of your National 1300H, be aware - the entire crane operation is utterly dependent on a rather simple looking, 7/8" - 1 1/4" thick, 18 inch long piece of machined steel with 1/4 inch splines; humming along under the truck engaged with it's transmission.

If the humming stops. So does your crane.

Most machines in use today use a direct mounted pump which eliminates the need for a drive shaft between the pump and the PTO. While this does provide a nice clean installation, it is not maintenance free. Pumps today require 200 - 450 horsepower to run your machine and this conversion of power to crane operation is accomplished through that 7/8" - 1 1/4" diameter "splined shaft".

New shaft and splines on top, well worn shaft and splines below.

To make matters more interesting, the connection is NOT lubricated by the PTO or the pump at their connection area. This critical connection must be manually lubricated and it requires hi-temp grease. Hydraulic systems can run 100 degrees over air temperature - a point that is sure to melt out standard chassis grease. Some PTO's do have a greaseable shaft, but most of the time there is no zerk or aperture to get to this connection. The only alternative is partial removal of the pump in order to get the lubricant to the point of contact.

Proper inspection and servicing of the splines on that shaft will greatly reduce the possibility of spline failure which WILL result in a complete loss of crane/outrigger operation - certainly at the worst possible time in the middle of a job. The splines are subject to wear under the extreme pressures and temps in which they work and at some point, with enough wear, the splines will be unable to mesh or may distort and thin to the point of snapping off. If the splines happen to give while your crane is open and working, you will not be closing it without help from a crane service company - most towing companies are not experienced or equipped to handle crane recovery.

Most manufacturers recommend inspecting and servicing the splines twice a year. Our shop technicians provide this service and we recommend it to our customers when they come in for their annual crane inspection. Our experience has taught us (and we highly recommend) shaft replacement at 80% + wear on those splines

If you don't know or can't remember the last time your splines were checked, get the maintenance scheduled for safety sake and to head off a sizeable repair bill. Crane repair, after-the-fact is always costly.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ArmLift Bucket Trailer Mount

Something new, something different, something versatile. Municipalities, campus and shopping center maintenance departments can all find something to like about our Armlift model A38 trailer mount.

As spec'd for our last customer, this particular unit is a heavy duty DC unit. It is equipped with a heavy duty DC pump/motor with a 904 deep cycle battery and a 40 amp automatic battery charger. There is also a 12 volt emergency backup system at the bucket and the base.

It is a side hung bucket with a 300 pound capacity, featuring all steel booms, two speed hydraulic operation with a 38 foot working height and 20 foot of side reach. The ring and worm gear are sealed and maintenance free.

The 7,000lb GVW trailer has a tongue weight of 238lbs, a deck height of 22 inches, an adjustable front hitch and four manual outriggers with a 10' 6" span.

This versatile ArmLift trailer can be optioned out to your spec. It has attracted a lot of attention at our facility.