Crane Accidents

Recovering a Stuck Boom Lift


West Sussex, UK

When a 125ft boom lift become stuck up to its axles in mud in a tight location in the UK, recovery was a challenging affair.

The machine, a Genie S125 owned by Nationwide Platforms was being used by a Birmingham based office refurbishment company to work on the Inland Revenue’s tax office in Worthing, West Sussex. After a week of working on a grassed area without moving and with heavy rains, the 20 ton plus machine sank up to its axles and became wedged against a low wall, with the boom trapped between trees and the building.

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The trapped boom lift is hitched up for recovery

The refurbishment company called on vehicle recovery specialist A.Long Recovery of Heathfield, Sussex, to extract the machine. Having looked at a set of photographs from the scene, the company, which has plenty of experience recovering vehicle mounted aerial lifts, arrived on site the following morning for its first self-propelled boom lift recovery job. A site assessment was performed and risks considered, these included: limiting further damage to the grass, brick walls and trees and ensuring pedestrians could pass safely and that access was clear for the office staff and the users of the adjacent bus stop.

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cables were connected front and back

Longs positioned its Peterbilt 379 recovery truck on the pavement/sidewalk allowing safe access around one side for the public and office staff. Cones, pedestrian barriers and Harris fencing were used to prevent inadvertent access to the work area and spreader mats were placed under the Peterbilt’s stabiliser legs to prevent damage to the pavement and grass. Winch lines were attached to Genie’s front and rear tie down points, with a snatch block attached to a tree behind the lift to pull the rear end of the machine, in order to shunt it out from its position.

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The lift was first of all pulled back to clear the boom from behind the tree

Owner operator Andy Long said: “You have to have an in-depth working knowledge of all the equipment that you are recovering – to understand their operating systems and the stresses and strains on the vehicle, in order to have the best outcome for the customer and avoid further damage to the machine. You want the retrieved vehicle to be working with you and not against you. Because the machine was out of level only limited functionality was available, the boom could not be raised to any significant height and was therefore, trapped between the building and trees. The lift was therefore winched as far back as possible, allowing the boom to clear the trees before it was winched forwards. Once the lift’s wheels began to move, they were able to be steered, helping with the recovery.”

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Once clear the machine was able to help itself a little

“We decided to winch the boom backwards while crabbing the wheels thus enabling the wheels to free themselves from the wall. The boom meanwhile was extremely close to other trees and the side of the building. While gently winching backwards and using the Peterbilt’s second winch as a control line at the front we were able to manoeuvre the lift gently away from the building.”

“At various stages a number of re-rigging operations were required to thread ourselves out from the trees and away from the building. To add to the complexity a number of underground services had to be avoided. Throughout the entire process paramount importance was placed on performing a successful recovery, causing no further damage. The customer was extremely happy with our speedy response which caused them minimal downtime on their job.”

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And back onto terra firma

A.Long Recovery operates an eclectic range of recovery vehicles, many of them historic, such as a Griffet cantilever boom truck crane, a Scammel Crusader, a Leyland Martian and a Centurion armoured recovery vehicle.

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The big American recovery truck

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