Link-Belt Cranes has announced that its 2021 Crane Fest will take place at its headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky in September. At this year’s event, customers and dealers will be able to have a closer look at two brand new models, the TCC-550 telescopic crawler crane and the 65|HT truck crane.

The 55USt (50t) TCC-550 is the manufacturer’s lowest capacity telecrawler, replacing the popular 50t TCC-500. The main difference between the TCC-550 and its predecessor is the design and length of the boom.

The new model has a full-power 36.5–115ft (11–35m) four-section boom with two boom extend modes (EM1 and EM2). The formed greaseless boom includes Link-Belt’s Teflon-impregnated wear pads. Like all the booms on the manufacturer’s cranes, it is designed and built in-house.

“Even with five feet added to the overall length of the boom, it is lighter compared to the 110ft box boom version of the TCC- 500. This is due to the high tensile strength steel used as well as its geometry,” says Soper. He adds that a greaseless boom requires less maintenance, reducing costs for the crane owners.

The TCC-550’s fly options include a 28.5–51ft two-piece bi-fold lattice fly, stowable, offsetable to 2°, 20° and 40°; with a maximum tip height reaching 173ft. It can work at three different track widths: 15ft 2.37in fully extended, 13ft 6.11in intermediate, and 11ft 5.24in retracted.

Operators can choose between two travel speeds, with the maximum speed being 2 miles per hour (3.2kph). With a standard counterweight package of 25,000lbs, this model can be transported in just one load while staying under 100,000lbs. On the trailer, it travels at a height of 9ft 10.55in and a width of 11ft 5.24in. The Vision package—which includes winch-view camera, rearview camera and right-side swing camera—comes as standard for this model.

This is the second telecrawler the manufacturer launches in less than 18 months, having introduced the 80USt TCC-800 at last year’s ConExpo in Las Vegas. The TCC- 800 also has a four-section full power boom, offering a maximum length of 120.1ft.

Link-Belt’s investment in this market segment does not come as a surprise; apart from the significant market share it has gained in North America, the market itself is on a strong growth trajectory. “In 2020, the market grew by a significant amount. It was the only category in the mobile crane market to do so. Demand for all terrains, truck cranes, rough terrains was obviously down,” says Soper.

He believes telecrawlers are becoming more popular in the US because of a wider adoption of this crane type in general construction and the increased demand from the wind segment. He mentions a number of characteristics that make telecrawlers appealing to crane owners: “Their pick and carry capability is very good for a lot of different applications. They are also easy to transport and work with. In addition, there is less site preparation required for telecrawlers compared to truck cranes, all terrains or even rough terrains in some instances.”

Soper finds that this crane type is taking market share from both lattice boom crawler cranes and rough terrain cranes.


In recent years, there has also been an increase in the popularity of truck cranes in some parts of the world, with many of the world’s biggest manufacturers expanding or refreshing their product portfolio.

As to the reasons behind this market trend, Soper says that some owners prefer truck cranes to all terrains, because they typically have lower acquisition costs along with lower operation and maintenance costs. “Our truck cranes have a higher maximum travel speed than most all terrains on the market. Speed and efficiency are key factors in the buying decision for crane owners who intend to use the crane for multiple jobs per day.”

Link-Belt’s newest model, the 65|HT, has a different model ID to the rest of the truck crane line. “The change in the model ID indicates that we may have some new products on the horizon,” Soper highlights.

The 65USt machine will replace the oldest truck crane model in Link-Belt’s portfolio, the 60USt HTC-8660 Series II, which was introduced in 2003. The new model features the same 115ft boom used for the TCC- 550, in line with the company’s strategy for parts and component standardisation. The boom offers a maximum tip height of 125ft.

“Someone may ask why we didn't go for an even longer boom, our answer is that there is a delicate balance to consider between specification and machine cost. 115ft is an accepted boom length for the class. Also to make the boom longer it costs more and we do not want to price ourselves out of the market,” Soper says.

Improved capacities over its predecessor are delivered through two optimised boom extend modes and an increase in maximum counterweight to 18,700lbs.

Operator controls are available in either a dual or single axis configuration and have a fine metering feature for precise operation. The 65|HT features Link- Belt Pulse crane operator control system and is equipped with an EPA 2021 certified Cummins L9 engine that provides 370 hp (276 kW) at 1,700 RPM. The Vision Package includes cameras for winch-view, right-side swing view, rear-view backup, and right-side turn. In terms of transport weight, a fully equipped 65|HT can weigh less than 65,000lbs with all counterweight removed.

Despite having models in the pipeline with the new model ID, the company is not planning a full replacement of the HTC line. “In time we’ll touch everything in the lineup, but we are very successful with what we have now. For example, the 75USt HTC-8675 Series II, 100USt HTC-86100 and 110USt HTC-86110 truck cranes are very strong in the market, you don’t hold the market share we do in the truck crane segment by sitting still.”

This year, Link-Belt is seeing strong demand in the US for cranes from across its product portfolio. “There is pent-up demand from construction projects postponed last year due to the pandemic. The oil market recovery and the fact that many owners are updating their fleets are also driving demand.”

“Our inbound order rate for new cranes is up across all segments and shipments have improved relative to last year. However, supply chain headwinds may prevent the market from materialise to its full potential in the near term.”

As to what are some of the supply chain issues crane manufacturers are facing, Soper mentions the high steel prices, extended lead times, limited availability of parts and components, a shortage of shipping containers as well as labour shortages.

The company is not allowing these issues to affect its innovation drive, with Soper saying that the market should expect many exciting new Link-Belt products in the coming years.