The History Of The Crane
The crane has revolutionised the way in which mankind has approached construction. Without it, many of the spectacular buildings we have seen throughout history would be nothing more than a pipe dream. Cranes now use a v belt pulley, but they have greatly evolved over the course of history.
The first cranes to be used for construction were invented by the Ancient Greeks and were powered either by men or animals, such as donkeys. These machines allowed for tall buildings to be built, and subsequently revolutionised the concept of construction. As time passed, cranes became bigger, using the feature of a human treadwheel for power transmission, allowing the crane to lift heavier weights.
It was not only buildings that cranes played a significant role in constructing. By the late Middle Ages, harbour cranes had been introduced for loading and unloading ships, and to assist with their construction. Due to the nature of their work, they needed to be very strong, and many were built into stone towers for extra strength and stability.
Many of these early cranes were constructed from wood, but by the time of the Industrial Revolution, cast iron and steel became the popular materials to use.
For centuries, cranes were operated by the power supplied from human operators or animals, although machines using watermills and windmills were capable of being driven by natural powers. The very first example of mechanical power being used in the operation of the crane was with the introduction of the stream engine. The earliest example of a crane using such technology was in the 18th or 19 century, with many such machines continuing to exist until the late 20th century. The internal combustion engines, electric motors and hydraulic systems used to power the modern cranes mean that they have a much greater ability to lift heavier loads than the cranes that have come before them. Manual cranes are still used, but only in situations where power would otherwise be wasted. The most famous example of a steam crane is arguably the Fairbairn Steam crane, the oldest surviving exhibit of its type in Britain. It was built in 1878 by Victorian engineer William Fairbaim, and was made from wrought-iron plates riveted together to make a strong tubular-section girder.
There are many different types of crane, each made for a specific application. Sizes can range from the small jib cranes, which are found inside workshops, to the taller tower cranes used for constructing high-rise structures. Mini cranes were used in the construction of tall buildings for a short while, mainly due to the fact their ability to reach tight spaces allowed for an easier construction process. The other type of modern crane that is commonly found is the floating crane, used to build oil-rigs and retrieve sunken ships.