The new Raptor 85

“We call them the yellow-crested crane,” says Trevor Jepson, “even if there is no such thing.”

Trevor Jepson is the boss and owner of London-based crane rental company City Lifting and talks about the Raptor, the current incarnation of gooseneck tower cranes that have been increasingly seen on the capital’s skyline over the past decade.

The term “yellow hoods” refers to the painting of the highest section of the boom where it folds. The rest of the crane is blue. The yellow marker serves the dual purpose of improving visibility for passing helicopters and adding a distinctive design that references the Swedish national colors where they are made.

This article was first published in the May 2021 issue of The Construction Index magazine. Register online.

This magazine last reported on the Raptors in City Lifting’s fleet back in October 2013. We explained how the Swedish manufacturer Artic Cranes produced a successor to the old Magni cranes from Tornborgs in Sweden in the 1970s and 80s.

City Lifting has always been the manufacturer’s largest customer. Just like Victor Kiam of Remington razor fame, Trevor Jepson liked them so much that he bought the company – well, some of it. That was 2011/12. He remains a junior shareholder and his most ardent supporter.

As with the Magni, the specialty of the Raptor is its articulated rocker tip. Luffing jibs are the preferred type of tower cranes for restricted construction sites because, unlike normal semi-jibs and flat-tops, the jib does not have to sail over neighboring properties. But the articulated luffing jib comes even closer for the more restricted locations, especially when not in use, hence its popularity in London.

“The unmatched shutdown radius is a phenomenal feature in a small space,” says Jepson.

Until recently there were three different Raptor models, all of which were in City Lifting’s fleet, the 48, the 84 and the 184. Now there’s a fourth, the newly arrived Raptor 85, an upgrade to the 84.

The Raptor 48 is the smallest crane in the family, lifting a maximum load of three tons at a radius of 17.5 m and, with its low weight, is ideal for renovation projects, says Jepson.

The Raptor 84 was Artic’s very first crane, launched in 2010. It has a maximum load capacity of four tons at a radius of 21 m or two tons at 32 m and a maximum tower height of 100 m. It can lift at a speed of up to 40 m / min. It has an extension radius of only 4 m, which is a third of the normal luffing jib crane, and a minimum working radius of only 1 m compared to 4 m or 5 m for normal luffing cranes.

The Raptor 184, which was launched on the market in 2017, is the largest to date with a 36 m long boom, a maximum load capacity of eight tons at a 22.5 m radius and a tower height of up to 150 m.

The Raptor 85, which is new this year, is similar to the 84, but faster, more powerful and more economical and uses much less electricity thanks to a central unit that feeds the regenerated electricity back into the grid or other electrical consumers on site. This means “big savings at the end of the job,” says Jepson.

The 85 can lift a maximum of five tons to a radius of 17.7 m. And it has an even tighter shutdown radius of 3.9 m.

The boom end load is the same as the 84 for full speed work, but it can lift 2.2 tons at reduced speed, which is a 10% improvement over the 84 due to the lower dynamic forces.

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Like the 184, the 85 also has two lift motors. This compensates for the boom when it is lifted and ensures greater safety as the crane has two lifting brakes instead of one.

The first unit was delivered to a Swedish customer. The second was built by City Lifting on London’s Harley Street at the end of May for a 32-week contract.

It’s a classic location for a gooseneck crane. From the street you may have no idea what prime contractor Blenheim House Construction is doing for landlord Howard de Walden Estate in Marylebone, but the presence of the tower crane tells you it’s more than a bit of decoration.

In fact, behind the preserved façade, a 19th century townhouse is being completely reconstructed from the inside to create a modern workplace with all the technology and comfort that one expects for the 21st century.

Says Jepson, “This site is only 9 x 50 m, but the Raptor 85 can operate entirely within the site limits. Since the maximum load capacity can be achieved with a single rope strand, only a small hook block is required, which is helpful when lifting next to the walls and through the flying banks.

“Another advantage of the Raptor is the small tower size [1.2m], a very fast boom speed on a level hook path and the fast slewing speed with a working radius of less than eight meters.

“The driver can always see the end of the boom because it is always at the same height as the cab. We mount floodlights and a very good camera system on the boom, which gives the driver a full view of the load and the obstacles above and below the hook. “

Another design feature of the Raptor crane is that the entire folded boom with reeving can be assembled in a single lift, which takes only 20 minutes, compared to three hours for any other crane boom, says Jepson.

Despite the undisputed advantages of the new crane, it will still be a few years before sufficient rental income is generated to be able to contribute a profit to City Lifting. That is the nature of business; It’s the old machines that are all paid that make the money. Fortunately, Jepson has these too, albeit less from month to month.

In December 2016, he bought Vertical Transportation, the Leighton Buzzard-based crane rental company that originally pioneered the gooseneck concept in the UK with Tornborgs Magni.

Tom Newell and Ray Balach founded Vertical Transportation in 1980 with Swedish support, but decided at the age of 78 and 77, respectively, that it was time to stop climbing tower cranes and end their long careers.

The takeover took place with a selection of Tornborgs Magni S-46 goosenecks (sometimes called jackknife cranes) and Krøll K103V double deck luffing jib cranes; the latter have since been upgraded with the latest controllers, inverters and motors; The former offer tower sections for the small Raptor 48s.

This article was first published in the May 2021 issue of The Construction Index magazine. Register online.

Vertical Transportation remains a separate company from City Lifting despite joint ownership, although cranes can move between the two. Vertical Transportation is looked after by Jepson’s son Sam. City Lifting has always been a family business, co-owned by Jepson and his wife Clare. Another son, Dan, is in charge of the company’s IT department and one of her daughters has just started at the company and is currently organizing all of the training.

A new generation is gradually emerging that will replace its predecessors – both within the company and within the rental fleet. And since the Raptor fleet is getting bigger and bigger and more is being paid off, the old Tornborgs are being phased out more and more. Jepson had purchased 27 five years ago, of which only eight remain.

[Editor’s note: In the printed edition, we erroneously quoted Trevor Jepson calling his crane ‘yellow-breasted’ instead of ‘yellow-crested’. Apologies, Trevor!]

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