The Titan Crane makes its mark on breakwater

Buchanie reader Ken Wallace sent us the following article, which was taken from the Buchan Observer back in March 1892 following our picture of the Titan Crane working at the breakwater in Peterhead. The report reads as follows:

Friday, 2nd June 2017, 12:10 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 8:52 pm
The Titan was sent to Peterhead in sections, none of which weighed more than 12 tons
The Titan was sent to Peterhead in sections, none of which weighed more than 12 tons

In the course of the next few weeks the block-setting Titan crane to be used in connection with the harbour of refuge works at Peterhead will have been erected and ready for use.

The breakwater across the bay of Peterhead will be formed of blocks of concrete weighing from 25 to 45 tons each. The stormy character of the sea and the great depth of water in the line of the breakwater necessitated the adoption of an exceedingly massive and strong design for the breakwater, requiring for its construction blocks of great size, and a block-setting Titan of corresponding dimensions and power.

By means of this Titan, or travelling crane, the blocks will be put in position, and it will stand on the finished portion of the breakwater, and the blocks will be brought to it on wagons and barge. The crane will then lift them and swing round to the front, and lower them on to their intended bed, where they will be set by divers. As the new work is brought up to the “service” level the Titan will move forward, and continue till the structure attains the required length.

The drawings for this huge machine were prepared in the office of the late Sir John Coode, who was engineer-in-chief of the harbour of refuge works, and the construction of the crane was carried out under the supervision of Mr. Mathews, M. Inst., now one of the partners of the firm.

The crane is capable of lifting and lowering the load, revolving round the centre through a complete circle, and racking the load in and out horizontally.

The machine is also self propelling. It is carried on springs by 32 wheels running on two lines of railway - one placed on the level of the breakwater roadway, and the other on the parapet. This requires a difference of height of the sides of the under-carriage of about eleven feet.

The Titan resembles a swing bridge mounted upon a travelling under-carriage. Its extreme length is 160 feet of which 110 feet is the measurement from the revolving centre to the sea end of the crane, and 50 feet is occupied at the rear of the ballast receptacle, and for machinery platform.

At this end of the platform there is also a vertical steam boiler and the engines. longside the steam cylinders are two, hydraulic brake cylinders. These Matthew’s patent cylinders for permitting the weight to be lowered at any given rate by throttling of the two water running from one end of the cylinder to the other. In addition, there is an ordinary hand brake for holding the gearing fast.

The hydraulic brakes give a remarkably smooth means of lowering under absolute control, as it is impossible with these brakes to subject the machine to jerks.

The levers for working the machine are all brought together into a convenient position, so that one man can control the entire working of the machine without shifting position. The material of the structure is mild steel of high quality. The Titan can pick up a test load of 62½ tons and swing it round the circumference of a circle 200 feet in diameter. This particular test was made while the crane was temporarily fitted up at Messrs. Stothert & Pitt’s works at Bath, and the full weight of 62½ tons was handled with ease and complete control at the extreme distance of 100 feet.

A useful provision to facilitate the final placing of the blocks by divers is the introduction of conical steel rollers m so that two men can now perfectly adjust the blocks, whereas without these 30men would be required. The Titan was sent to Peterhead in sections, none of which weighed more than 12 tons. The cost of transmission by rail exceeded £800. The work of fitting up the Titan began at the end of October 1891, so that the mere fitting up of the crane occupied the time of about 30 men for nearly six months.