New Record Set by Crane at NYPA’s Niagara Project

Michael Saltzman

January 10, 2002


LEWISTON—Without so much as a creak or groan, the Niagara Project’s largest gantry crane last month hoisted 18 massive water bags, weighing approximately 694 tons, setting a new national record for such loads.

“The crane performed just as we expected it would, following our completion of a major overhaul of the equipment,” said Gene Zeltmann, New York Power Authority (NYPA) president and chief operating officer. “Essentially, this is a brand new crane.”

“Among other things, we replaced the cables, drive motors and braking systems,” said Ed Szpala, Niagara construction manager, noting that the work was completed over a three-month period.

“Other than its steel framework, or skeleton, we replaced virtually every component,” said Ron Ciamaga, NYPA regional manager, Western New York.

The largest of five cranes at the Niagara Project—the refurbished crane is designed to lift up to 630 tons. More weight was added to last week’s test to ensure an additional level of safety to the equipment.

Standing 90 feet high and 60 feet wide, the overhauled crane rolls along rail tracks at the project’s main generating facility, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The crane is part of the original equipment, dating back to 1961, when NYPA completed the 2,400,000-kilowatt Niagara Project and put it into service.

As the main crane at the Moses plant, the apparatus is used for maintenance and repairs of the facility’s 13 turbine-generators, lifting rotors and other major components of the units. The turbine generators are currently being upgraded, one at a time, as part of a multi-year project in which eight units have so far been upgraded. The work on the remaining units is scheduled to be completed by 2006.

It took on-site fire hydrants nearly five hours to fill the water bags for the crane test, which was undertaken on the evening of Dec. 19. NYPA is planning a similar overhaul of the main gantry crane at the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant—the Niagara Project’s auxiliary generating facility—for this fall.

The new water weight record broke the previous U.S. mark for gantry cranes—605 tons—set in Louisiana in 1999, in connection with the assembling of an offshore oil drilling platform