Lexington, KY – Ice Flow LLC dba Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) of Freeland, Washington new 250-ton (227-mt) 298 Series 2 lattice crawler was put to the test quickly, following its delivery to Whidbey Island in Puget Sound from Triad Machinery.

NBBB is a custom vessel construction company established in 1964. The first major project on the books for their Link-Belt 298 Series 2 was lifting a 125,000 lb. (56 700 kg) pilot house for a new 100 ft. (30.4 m) x 40 ft. (12.1 m) hybrid tractor tug scheduled for early 2019 delivery to Baydelta Marine of San Francisco, CA. The pilot house was lifted 47 ft. (14.3 m) in the air and placed on the main module or hull of the tug.

For Operator Supervisor Kyle Statia and the team at NBBB, on-time delivery of a 100 ft. (30.4 m) long tug requires maneuvering in a tight shipyard environment and safely providing all necessary components for construction. Portable containments which measure up to 85 ft. (25.9 m) long by 50 ft. (15.2 m) wide are constantly moved around during all phases of the construction process.

“We replaced a 1970’s era lattice crawler crane with this 298 and really like it for a lot of reasons but maybe most importantly is the offset main lifting sheaves,” said Operator Supervisor for Nichol Bros. Kyle Statia. “We really like the updated boom pendants on the 298 which allow for quick stowage and assembly, plus we don’t need to lube boom pendants anymore. The ability to meter individual hydraulic controls is also very handy, like adjusting winch speed while booming down and holding the load.”    

For NBBB the offset main lifting head feature replaces a jib for movement of the portable containments and other components.

“The tractor tug is one of seven projects we have ongoing and having the offset sheaves gives us that extra 3 to 4 feet of clearance from the boom when doing tight lifts. This keeps everyone busy and keeps the 298 moving around our yard feeding everyone with materials,” said Statia.

“We are a really tight facility and maneuverability for the 298 is great. The LMI (load moment indicator) for setting limits is very easy to use. Because this is such a tight space the cameras and the great visibility for the operator gives everyone eyes on everything at all times. Another thing is the noise element, we’re positioned in a residential area for the most part - on either side of our property are homes – this crane is much quieter compared to the loud diesel engine we had previously,” says Statia.

Delivery of the tractor tugboat is scheduled for first quarter 2019.

“We’ll deliver the ship in the next few months – this is a start-to-finish construction agreement for us. The 298 has definitely increased our lifting capacity, it’s about double the capacity we had from its predecessor, 10 percent over our other large crane, and 70 percent more joint lifting capacity,” said Statia.