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911 Artifacts Rigged and Placed In National September 11 Museum


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The R. Baker & Son team transported the cross from St. Peter’s Church to the museum after a ceremony attended by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and recovery workers.

September 21, 2011—This summer, prior to the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, R. Baker & Son lowered several large artifacts from Ground Zero in the National September 11 Memorial Museum (9/11 Memorial Museum). The museum is scheduled to open in September 2012. 

The artifact installation was a collective effort with R.Baker, curators, conservators, and the design and construction staff of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

In all, R. Baker, a rigging contractor with offices in New Jersey and New York, will rig and place some 30 artifacts into the museum, which is built below grade level. Among them are two fire trucks, an ambulance, and the iconic World Trade Center cross—intersecting steel beams discovered in the rubble. The cross was erected at Ground Zero, where it stood for several years as a symbol of solace. In 2006, the cross was temporarily moved to nearby St. Peter’s Church.  Ken Paszkewicz, who is serving as R. Baker’s senior project manager on the job said, “This is one of the most unique projects of my entire career.”

 

In July, firefighters, family members, and friends of firefighters who died on September 11, 2001 were joined by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano as FDNY's Ladder Company 3 truck and Engine 21 were lowered into the museum by a 350-ton Liebherr LR 1350 operated by Bay Crane. “This represents a final resting place. It was like a burial ceremony for the families,” said Paszkewicz.

 

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Bay Crane's Liebherr LR 1350 lowers Ladder 3 into the museum.

But preparing for that moment took a lot of planning and engineering, explained Paszkewicz, “especially considering the condition the fire trucks were in.” The challenge was in figuring out how to lower the 58,000-pound ladder truck vertically through a narrow opening into the museum 70 feet below ground, then return it to its horizontal position, using only one crane. Central to the project was Bay Crane Service’s crane operator, whom Paszkewicz says he hand-picked for the job. Bay Crane, with offices in Long Island City and Hicksville, N.Y., is a family-owned crane rental company founded in 1939.

 

The solution to the rigging dilemma was a custom-designed frame for the ladder truck dubbed the Rigging Apparatus for Fire Trucks or RAFT device. The RAFT consists of two main 21-inch diameter beams connected by smaller members. The frame, which measures 11’ wide x 13’ high x 40’ long, provides a structure from which the crane could be rigged. The chassis of the ladder truck is attached inside the frame to keep it secure through the lift. At the low-end of the RAFT, R. Baker designed tailing axles, which were used to pull the truck into a horizontal position with a Versa-Lift 25/35 forklift as it was lowered into the museum. Ideal for material handling in tight quarters, the Versa-Lift 25/35 can lift loads of 25,000 to 35,000 pounds.

 

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Tailing axles are used to maneuver the fire truck to a horizontal position.

The tailing axles serve an additional purpose. The ladder truck is located in a temporary position while the museum’s interior is completed. When the time comes, “the frame and tailing axles will act like a skate, to move the fire truck to its final position,” said Paszkewicz.

 

A similar process was used for the other emergency vehicle artifacts, each with their own custom-designed RAFT. Except for removing any fuel and hydraulic fluids for environmental purposes, the fire trucks have been preserved in the condition they were found, and were protected by shink-wrap during the lifting process.

 

Among the other artifacts R. Baker has lowered into the museum are a taxi cab, recovered steel, elevator motors, and a portion of an antenna from the north tower. The heaviest load weighed 65,000 pounds. In the coming months, R. Baker will continue to lower more artifacts into the museum as construction continues on the project.

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