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Those Amazing Cranes Building A New Buffalo

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I was walking into the Sabres game last night, and you can’t help but notice those two large cranes at the site of the new Harbor Center building going up next to the arena. Every morning, those two crane operators climb all the way to the top of the crane, and because it’s such a long climb straight up, they usually stay there for the whole day.

They bring their lunch, snacks and whatever they plan to drink. There’s even a toilet on board.

The ones at the Harbor Center are about 120 feet tall, but unsupported, they can rise as high as 265 feet – that would be almost as tall as the M&T Bank Building downtown.

They’re used to lift steel, concrete, tools, generators and all other kinds of building materials.

How much can it lift? Just under 20 tons. Counterweights at the other end of the crane keep if from tipping over. And on-board computers prevent the operator from ever making a mistake. The computers are always calculating the weight, and if it’s too much to lift – it shuts itself down.

The crane doesn’t tip over because it’s bolted into a concrete pad that itself weighs 200 tons.

And as the building grows, so does the crane. The crane lifts new 10-foot-high sections into place, basically building itself. To take the crane down, they just reverse the process.

How about operating a crane as a career? When you consider salary, benefits and overtime, some of them in New York City make nearly half a million dollars a year.

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