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Renovation Within Reach with 1850SJ Boom Lift

Case Studies - Jan 18

Renovation Within Reach with 1850SJ Boom Lift

JLG Industries, Inc.
World-leading access equipment manufacturer
McConnellsburg, PA

When is 150 feet not 150 feet? When it’s 150 feet centered on a building with lower roof lines and other obstructions that prevent straight-line access. Such is the case that faced Shades of Color painting contractors when they won the job to refresh the clock tower on Hayes Hall at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). 

Project Manager Tim McCluskey solved the problem with the 185-foot 1850SJ Ultra Boom, which gave his crew the horizontal reach at height they needed to get the job done. “I’m glad we got that lift,” said McCluskey.

The iconic white belfry and clock tower atop Hayes Hall has been an area landmark since it was installed atop the George J. Metzger-designed building in 1928. Sprucing up the tower and its gold finial topper is part of a $21 million renovation to the building that houses UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. It is one piece of a larger $50 million rehab on the school’s 154-acre South Campus.

JLG 1850SJ Ultra Boom

“These buildings are hugely important symbolically to the school, university and community,” said Brian Carter, professor of architecture and former dean of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, who oversaw the project during most of its planning and design phase. “This restoration is an exciting project that combines elements of old and new, and serves as a flagship for practices in preservation and design.”

The South Campus was originally designed in 1930 by renowned architect E.B. Green. The school followed Green’s vision for 20 years, but with the post-World War II boom on campus UB broke from the plan. As enrollment grew, UB used almost any open space to erect “temporary” prefabricated classroom and office buildings that still stand today. The renovation will return South Campus to a state more in line with Green’s original vision.

From Asylum to Academia

Built as an insane asylum in 1874, the Hayes Hall was part of the Erie County Almshouse, Asylum and Poor Farm. The limestone building was modified in the 1890s for use as a hospital before being acquired by the university in 1909.

The structure was remodeled and renamed for university use in the mid-1920s. The wooden clock tower/belfry was installed in 1928 as part of that overhaul, a gift of newspaper heiress Kate Robinson Butler (1891-1974), who was a member of the UB governing body. In 1989, Hayes Hall was dedicated as a historic landmark by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier.

The open belfry encloses four bells. The dials of the clock are 7 feet, 4 inches in diameter and are located 105 feet above the sidewalks. The painted finial that caps the spire tops out at 150 feet. But reaching that golden orb isn’t just a matter of getting 150 feet in the air.

The dials of the clock are 7 feet, 4 inches in diameter and are located 105 feet above the sidewalks. The painted finial that caps the spire tops out at 150 feet. But reaching that golden orb isn't just a matter of getting 150 feet in the air.

The tower is set back from the primary roofline of the four-story, 82,000-square-foot building. During the renovation, straight-line access is further compromised by steel girders that brace exterior walls while structural alterations go on inside and out. Contractors are also reinforcing and waterproofing the structure’s foundation, further limiting access.

Just to make things more challenging, the fence surrounding the jobsite is tight to the building, purposely placed to minimize detours for those among the school’s 28,800 students who walk the campus.

Working Above it All

To solve the access issue, Shades of Color Project Manager McCluskey consulted the sales team at Skyworks®LLC, a regional rental company based in Buffalo, NY. While Skyworks rents 150-foot booms, they knew that this situation required the horizontal reach at height that 185-foot JLG Ultra-boom provides. The JLG 1850SJ was launched earlier this year and Skyworks purchased the first production unit off the line.

“The Skyworks guys explained how to extend and retract the axles, which is something we’ve never used before,” said McCluskey. “The LCD screen is helpful, even for an experienced operator, but the lift’s operation is very intuitive for anyone with proper training.”

Shades of Color lift operator and painter John Stoll, agrees. “I’ve been operating booms for more than two years. This one is like the other JLGs I’ve used, but with some extra features.”

Stoll says some crew members were initially nervous about the height, but the stability of the 1850SJ was reassuring. “It’s very smooth. It’s not any different than a 60 footer.”

Crew member Ron Jones has been painting via boom lifts for 22 years. “It’s much better than a lot of older machines still out there today, even the small ones. It’s like a limo compared to them.”

It's much better than a lot of older machines still out there today, even the small ones. It's like a limo compared to them.

With the 1850SJ positioned safely away from the primary structure and the foundation supports, Stoll is able to extend the boom and utilize the machine’s full working envelope. The boom provides 74 feet of horizontal reach when the platform is at the tower’s base near 100 feet, and 65 feet of reach to access the gold finial at 150 feet.

The company deploys the 1850SJ with a crew of two, several 5-gallon buckets of paint, paint rollers, brushes and accessories to minimize the number of times they extend and retract the boom.

“There’s plenty of room on the platform,” said Stoll. “It’s very comfortable and feels solid.”

Less Repositioning Saves Time

Why rollers and brushes, why not spray? Simply because the tower’s complex Baroque Revival architecture demands it. Columns and decorative urns must be painted all the way around and decorative lintels must be coated top and bottom. Thus, the crew needs to position themselves very close to the tower’s irregular work surface. This is easily done with the boom’s jib extended to it 20-foot maximum.

The vast work envelope and the jib access of the 1850SJ are critical for another reason: the work order specifies that the bell tower be coated with primer plus two coats of paint. A machine with a smaller work area would require repositioning much more frequently to apply three coats to all sides of the tower. In a congested jobsite, more moving means less working.

“I don’t know the exact number, but we’re definitely not moving this machine as much, which is good,” said McCluskey. The retractable axles also make it easier to reposition the machine in tight quarters.

Shades of Color, a certified minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE), will have completed the tower in less than a month. The full restoration of Hayes Hall, however, will run through the end of 2014.

UB’s School of Architecture and Planning is the only school of architecture and planning in the State University of New York system. With more than 800 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, it is also a leading research center focused on community development, urban design and accessibility. And we all know how important it is to have good access.