Knuckle Boom Crane

As cities grow, the space to work in to lift things, shrink. Your typical stick boom cranes are fantastic for working in open space construction sites. But what do you do in mature neighborhoods or tight city work spaces? Knuckle Boom cranes to the rescue.

Knuckle cranes can deploy in some very tight space to make some incredible air conditioning unit lifts.
Knuckle cranes can deploy in some very tight spaces, to make some incredible HVAC lifts.

What is a knuckle boom?

The best way to describe it, is to have a look at your finger. You have knuckles in your finger that allow your finger to bend in a different direction. A knuckle boom has these same types of bending points in their boom, identical to your finger. In some applications, this allows the knuckle crane to have a much shorter boom to do the exact same lift as a traditional stick crane.

Knuckle cranes can reach in close to pickup roof trusses, reducing the amount of swinging around in the air.

Why is this important?

Your typical stick crane has what they call a winch line that comes down and hooks onto the freight that it is lifting. The longer that line is, the more your goods can swing around in the air. The more it swings, the harder it is to control. The more likely it is going to hit something. When you can hook directly onto the boom or shorten the length of that line, the safer your crane lift will become. For roofers, this means everything.

It also means that you can use a smaller crane to perform the exact same lift! “How, you say?” Well to reach further out, a standard stick crane has to reach higher to accomplish this and drop a longer line back down. “So what happens when you run out of boom?” You have to get a larger crane. Larger crane, means more money. But, if the boom can bend, it does not need to be as long to reach out. A smaller knuckle crane can perform the exact same job that a larger stick boom crane would be required, because it does not have to reach as high up to get the distance out. Doing the job better and safer. Not convinced? Just watch a knuckle boom crane work, the differences should be very obvious to everyone.

While there are a number of crane jobs that both types of cranes can physically do. You have to ask, “why would I not want to use the better crane?” Knuckle cranes are faster and safer, and we have not even talked about the best part: Most new knuckle cranes are operated by remote control. The crane operator can move around with the load. They can move to a spot where they can see firsthand for themselves which way is best to lift. The kid in all of us says: “Best toy ever!”

They also come in all sizes!

Mini crane in backyard being used to lift large steel beams in construction of a backyard addition to a house.
Mini crane with a knuckle boom attached to it.

In the old crane world, it was all about what tonnage of crane do you need? Do you need: 20, 30, 50, 70, 90 ton crane? People would use the weight of the crane to identify what size of crane they needed for their lift. This was because all standard stick boom cranes worked the same way with the same specs. Not the case with knuckle cranes. With knuckle cranes it is all about weight of object to lift and how far am I lifting the center of that object from where the crane boom attaches to the crane truck. With those two figures, you can know what exactly what size of knuckle boom to order.

Want to learn more?

Call our office and talk to one of our crane specialists to see how knuckle boom cranes might work best for you.