Although it is part of the global Lampson organisation, Lampson (Australia) Pty has, nonetheless, forged its own identity, and gone its own way in terms of the types of work it undertakes and its internal engineering activities.

For example, it works closely with the mining industry developing heavy cross country haulage capabilities to move giant draglines and shovels, while the engineering capabilities have recently included a remanufacturing program for its Manitowoc crawler cranes, to bring them to a specification comparable with anything currently offered on the market.

Outlining the background for this decision, CEO Phil Lunn says that his company’s fleet of cranes was aging, although in terms of operating hours it was still young and structurally sound. However, newer cranes on the market had features that appealed to the dry hire market, and Lampson Australia faced a dilemma – renew its fleet, scrap older machines, or upgrade its existing machines.

In comparing its older machines with newer cranes on the market, Lampson found that its cranes were comparatively low in their structural range, but high in their stability range. As a result they were less prone to fatigue. The company surveyed it operators, service personnel, rigging supervisors, and project managers to find out what they looked for in a crane. The results showed that project managers were interested in appearance and performance, the rigging supervisors in performance, the operators in cab controls, and the mechanical supervisors in what was behind the cab.

A significant consideration was that the cranes are dry-hired so it was important that they be safe and easy to operate, to protect the user as well as the asset value of the cranes themselves.

In taking on board the wishes of the interested parties and applying them to a redesign of the Manitowoc 4100, engineer John Lee and Lunn came up with a design that, when evaluated, indicated that the asset value of the remanufactured crane exceeded the cost of the work involved to achieve it so approval was given for the project to proceed, with the rebuilt cranes known as the Millennium Series (the conversion has also been undertaken for the 3900, 4000, and 4600 models).

Lampson’s traditional major services have been renowned for their thoroughness, and the first stage of the Millennium rebuild is to pull the machine down and inspect it thoroughly. This showed the machines to be structurally sound, with no rust in the heavy structure, although some was found in the lighter structure. The decision was made to develop a glass fibre shell with modern lines, and use stainless steel where possible for new metal work.

The cab has a larger glass area, for improved operator vision, and the outer skin of the shell is Kevlar, for impact resistance. The cab is sealed for dust and noise, and a switch turns the air conditioning on when the cab door is closed. The exhaust is routed inside the house, significantly reducing noise levels to 91dB.

Inside the cab, the driver now controls crane functions through two joysticks, and controls have been converted to electric-over-pneumatic-over-mechanical. A Lampson-developed load monitoring and control system provides the operator with a screen display of operating capacity, and protects against overload. The cab screen display also monitors the engine.

Sensors in four slew ring rollers detect uneven loading due to out-of-level or wind forces, and reduce the available capacity automatically. It is also possible to reduce the capacity of the machine to adjust for the experience level of the operator. A column of instruments is now fitted to the left hand cab pillar, within the operator’s line of sight. A closed circuit television, with cameras in two locations to cover traditional blind spots, provides the operator with 360-degree vision around the crane.

A new electronic Tier 2-compliant Cummins engine is fitted, and this has an electronic throttle control that adjusts revs according to the crane load. The hoist controls have been changed so that the hoists drive down as well as up. The drive is initially through the brake, until revs rise and the brake is fully released. A deadman control instantly applies the brakes if the operator releases control of the joysticks.

The crane is now able to self-erect. Hydraulic rams have been installed to unload the house and carbody from a 50-tonne low loader. Rams and quick attach points have been fitted to attach and remove the tracks for transport. Sheaves have been incorporated in the boom butt to allow the crane to lift its counterweight and tracks, and assemble boom components.

Hydraulic rams lift all the counterweights onto a tray at the rear of the machine. New counterweights have been cast, with separate central and side components, to make them easier to transport. The flatter profile central counterweights are transported on a trailer under the boom, and there is now no need for a wide load permit to carry any component of the cranes.

The counterweight now pivots at the top, and as a safety measure the bottom is extended to stabilise the crane when it reaches rated capacity. At that point the crane can only be operated to render it safe.

Stainless steel ladders, steps and walkways have been added to provide safe access to the crane for operation and maintenance. Centralised lubrication simplifies this maintenance.

Lampson is now working on its fifth model 4100 conversion and its second model 3900 conversion. It has completed three model 4600 conversions and has also converted a model 4000, which is used as a yard crane and demonstration machine when new features are tested. The plans are to complete five machines a year in Australia and commence conversions at Lampson in the US.

Pic captions


The starting point of the Millennium rebuild is to strip a crane to bare chassis and fully inspect it


Phil Lunn at the joystick controls of a Millennium series 4100


A Tier 2 Cummins engine is installed, with electronic throttle control, and the exhaust is routed inside the house to reduce noise levels


Sheaves in the boom butt allow the crane to lift tracks and counterweight, and assemble the boom


A hydraulic ram and quick attach points allow the tracks to be removed quickly for transport


A completed Millennium series 4100


A 3900 supported on self-erecting rams (note new counterweight supports at rear)


Easily transported individual cast counterweights are now used, for easy transport and erection