Extendible BoomsSep 24th, 2013 | By Editorial Staff | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog
Some of the younger towers may believe that the extendible boom was first introduced to America as a part of the hydraulic wrecker. Truth is, there was a round (pipe) boom wrecker developed on the West coast that would extend, and in the 70s several hydro crane manufacturers launched sales programs directed toward T & R; and, of course, those also had extendible booms.
But Holmes got the vision very early because among their post-war product offerings, the 1995 Model 440 had an extendible boom, along with the 600 and 750. And the larger two even had boom reinforcements that consisted of external steel trussing, though I don’t remember seeing many of them in the marketplace.
A savvy T & R operator could extend the boom on a 440 to pull an engine; on a 600 to set an air conditioner on top of a one-story building; and on a 750 for recovery work. But, unlike modern hydraulics, extending a boom on a Holmes wrecker could be a labor-intensive job. For example, on a 600 it was necessary to uncouple and independently lay one or both booms down on the deck. Next, the boom support lines had to be released (maybe extended) to allow the extension. Then, a boom pin had to be removed and finally, you and two or three other guys manually pulled the boom out (or better yet, you pulled it out with your 440.)
You couldn’t drive very far with the boom sticking out like a telephone pole or raised as it would knock down all the overhead utility lines and street banners. Yes, you were mostly confined to work where you had extended the boom(s) being wary of the fact that the extended boom had more leverage to swing with a load, resulting in a training experience for the uninitiated tower.
For Holmes wreckers, these X booms were more suited for the small town and rural environment since that was where the wrecker was often underutilized in T & R so the extendible booms just gave it additional work.