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Crane Industry Icon and Innovator Robert Dieleman has Passed

Nov. 10, 2021 - Robert “Bob” Dieleman passed away Oct. 31, 2021, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Dieleman was the former owner of Jake’s Crane & Rigging, Las Vegas, Nevada, and a prolific inventor in the crane and heavy-haul industries.

Many remember him as a legendary crane man with a penchant for suspenders. He saw the sensibility in his trademark uniform early on as they let him work with both hands on a job site more securely than just a tool belt.

Dieleman was an innovator and inventor, always interested in the latest technology. With a keen engineering mind, he organized, funded, and spearheaded several significant and forward-thinking heavy-lift and heavy-haul projects, as well as the equipment to perform them.

One of the most notable was the JXS, a Cal-Trans compliant 700,000-lb. capacity heavy-haul trailer that earned 13 patents, as well as the SC&RA’s project-of-the-year award in 1990.

Another was the SL 400, nicknamed “Crystal May,” a street-legal 400-ton lattice-boom truck crane. The innovative crane doubled the capacity of roadable cranes at the time and opened the door for future innovations in crane mobilization.

SL400 with low-profile dolly

A third was his redesigning and remanufacturing FMC tower gantry TG 1900 and TG 2300 cranes. Dieleman bought several, then redesigned the hydraulic system, engine, and cab, as well as including a proprietary computer system. Jake’s then used many of those cranes to help build projects on the Las Vegas Strip.

In the 1990s, Dieleman pioneered development of a hydrogas suspension system, then more common in Europe but just starting in America.

Even in retirement, Dieleman received three patents on a manufacturer-friendly transport system that has pivoting goosenecks for rapid deployment.

SL400 sets up TG 1900 at Hoover Dam

Throughout his life, Dieleman traveled to exotic places and made friends along the way. He spent years operating at the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

He also grew up working for and later running Jake’s Crane & Rigging, which was founded by his father and built many of the hotels on Las Vegas’ world-famous Strip.

During his career, Dieleman never missed a Bauma tradeshow, including the year the Icelandic volcano eruption kept most Americans at home.

He would go out of his way to help people, compassionate and always available to help. Believing enlightenment was the ultimate pursuit, he meditated, practiced qi gong, and avidly read books about spirituality.

Dieleman is survived by his wife, Kay, children, Crystal Dieleman and Jacob Dieleman; grandson, Jacob Johnson, sister Kathie Coon, brother Dick, and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jake and Ruth; brother, Roger; and niece, Kristi Coon.

A celebration of life will be held from Nov. 19, from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., at Red Rock Country Club, 2250 Red Springs Dr., Las Vegas, 89135. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends remember Bob Dieleman by doing as he would have: performing a random act of kindness. 


Crane Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.