“They have been called the wheelbarrow of the jobsite.” So says Brain Elkins of US crane manufacturer Link-Belt. He is talking about rough terrain cranes – he is Link-Belt’s product manager for RTs – and the ‘wheelbarrow’ description is because “every jobsite needs one and they are very simple and easy to use.” Demand for the workhorse is good, both in the US and Europe, and Link-Belt has just brought out a new one: its 85|RT, which made its debut in September at Cranefest 2021 in Lexington Kentucky.

The 85 ton (75 tonne) 85|RT comes with: a full power, fivesection formed boom that extends from 38 to 142 ft (11.6 – 43.3 m); six-speed transmission powered by a Cummins Tier 4F QSB 6.7 270 hp (201 kW) diesel engine; 18,603 lbs. (82.8 kN) of line pull on the winch; and a maximum winch speed of 485 fpm (147.8 m/min). It also has a two-piece patented SmartFly jib, of which more later, and Link-Belt’s V-CALC (Variable Confined Area Lifting Capacities) system which calculates real-time 360-degree load charts from virtually infinite outrigger configurations. The user-friendly Pulse 2.0 system indicates the crane’s available capacity.

Which all sounds excellent, but it does beg the question: why bring out an 85 ton rough terrain crane at all? Is it simply to fill a gap in the range?

“It does fill a gap, and it’s an extremely important gap” says Elkins. “Different capacity cranes are designed for different end users. You have some cranes that are specifically for owned and operated or operated and maintained services; you have other cranes that are specific for a bare rental market. What is special about the 85|RT is that it is the one crane in our rough terrain line-up that is good for many different customer bases.

It is a rough terrain not only for general contractors but also for rental fleets and for everyone in between. So the target audience was a much wider net rather than it being a niche crane for a certain audience.

“At Link-Belt we offer our 75 ton and our 100 ton cranes, and this falls nicely between them.”

It works another way as well.

“Rough terrain cranes start down as small as 30 tons and they go all the way up to 150 or 165 ton models,” Elkins continues. “The 85 to 100 ton capacity is right in the middle. Any company wants to be strong in the middle of its product lines and there is definitely high demand there. And applications that used to call for a 50 ton crane now call for 65 tons, and things that used to be done with 65 ton cranes now need bigger cranes like 75 or 85 ton.

“It is part of the advance of engineering. Bridge spans are getting bigger, we are building higher, so everything demands heavier picks. So 15 years ago the 50 to 65 ton classes used to be very strong; now we have seen that market fall and the market demand grow in the 85 to 100 ton class.”

Elkins points to another advantage of the 85|RT: its weight. “It comes in at under 105,000lbs, with its counterweight on; which means that in most US states you can transport it as a single load, without having to remove the counterweights and send them separately. And for general contractors that is a huge plus.

“If you have a 100 ton crane you are a little bit limited because every time you move it you are having to take counterweights off and send them separately as a second load; and as transportation costs increase that additional counterweight load on every single move can really add cost to the job.

“Typically general contractors used to own cranes of 65 tons and smaller because they were fairly simple to operate, were big enough for most of their lifts, and they could be moved as one load.

They would outsource any larger lift or contract that service out to a specialist.

“But these days those guys are finding that 65 or even 75 ton capacity cranes are not quite big enough for their everyday lifts; so an 85 ton RT that they can still move as one unit is very attractive to several customer bases.”

A feature new to this crane compared to Link-Belt’s 75|RT is a smart fly-jib. “We came out with the design about four years ago and used it on our 110 ton truck crane. The 85|RT is the smallest rough terrain that has this capability. It works with a hydraulic cylinder and ram, and with hard pins rather than screw pinning, and you can control it from a control box in front of the cab. It makes booming-up and booming-down a one-man operation.”


Link-Belt’s 85|RT is intended primarily for the North American market. The European market, and European manufacture, is also significant. “The Italian market for rough terrain cranes is booming,” says Michele Mortarino, sales manager for Locatelli, specialists in the type. “Reasons for the boom are that public works are starting again and Italy has a profitable tax relief with a payback plan for all investors in new machinery.

EMEA demand is going back to the standard of its pre-pandemic days. But of course thanks to demand being back to normal while supply chains struggle in global chaos, delivery times are becoming longer. No stocks are available anywhere at the moment!”

Nevertheless, Locatelli has succeeded in adding new features to its rough terrains and it presented them at the GIS exhibition in Italy (see page 31). “We presented our best selling model, the GRIL 55.50, a medium duty rough terrain crane with 37.2m boom, 50 tonne rated capacity, and a six-cylinder Cummins Stage 5 diesel engine.

We have introduced interesting new features on this model for 2022: there is a reinforced chassis to improve the intermediate lifting capacities on the outriggers – it gives a 25% increase, which we are very pleased with. There is a new ten-inch touchscreen LMI system by Cbo/3b6 called Tera 10, with several functionalities for the lifting operations; and the crane now has electrohydraulic joysticks for more precise manoeuvres, a faster Can-Bus line for better connections between the different applications, and a separated and dismountable counterweight for easier transportation on site. And there has been a complete restyling of the exterior colours and signage.”


Another rough terrain was on show at GIS, this one entirely new. Terex has launched no fewer than three new rough terrain models recently.

Its TRT 80 and TRT 90 came earlier this year; the TRT35 then joined them at GIS.

The TRT 35 is a 35 tonne rough terrain crane with a synchronised, four-section boom that gives, Terex says, the operator the best lifting performance regardless of boom length. The machine width is only 2.5m so that it can be easily manoeuvred, even on congested job sites with narrow or confined areas. Four steering options enhance this manoeuvrability.

The TRT 35 is equipped with a Cummins 4-cylinder engine, with an Eco Mode function for high power and optimised consumption.

The TRT 35 is compatible with Cummins QSB4.5 Stage IIIA – Tier 3 and Cummins QSB4.5 Stage 5 – Tier 4F engines to meet different regional needs.

Permanent four-wheel drive Powershift has two modes to satisfy operators’ driving styles: the manual mode with three speeds forward and three speeds reverse, and automatic mode with five speeds forward and three speeds reverse.

A side stowable 8m lattice jib, radio remote control, and an auxiliary winch with the same performance as the standard winch are available, as are outrigger control from the carrier, an anemometer, and cameras that are embedded within the tenz-inch touchscreen display so that the operator can watch directly from the TEOS display.

To help sell its now-widened range Terex has appointed a new distributor in Russia. Construction equipment supplier Modern Machinery Far East will supply Terex’s full range of rough terrains, and offer spare parts and machinery maintenance, throughout the Russian Far East – a region in the easternmost part of Russia, and part of Northeast Asia.

Modern Machinery has operated in Russia for over 28 years and has 20 service centres with 24-hour support across its distribution area. The company takes part in the biggest projects in mining and construction in the area.


Stil further to the east, in September Japanese manufacturer Tadano launched a new 25 tonne capacity rough terrain for the domestic market. The GR-250N is the fifth generation of Tadano’s Crevi series, which it launched in 1995. It has a 30.5m maximum boom length with a 13m full automatic jib; an automatic pump stop is designed to stop the power take-off (PTO) pump when the crane is not being operated, thus reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

And in October Tadano announced s “exponential returns” from the new manufacturing plant for rough terrains that it opened on an island waterfront site at Kozai in Japan in 2019. The plant focusses on increasing production of rough terrain cranes, and also truck cranes and main parts such as booms and cylinders, primarily for markets outside Japan. A 1MW solar-power generation system is scheduled to come on-line there this autumn; when at full capacity it will provide around 30% of the plant’s power needs.


Returning to Europe, Liebherr’s current offerings in the 90 tonne and 100 tonne class are the LRT 1090-2.1 and LRT 1100-2.1. The 100-tonne LRT 1100- 2.1 has a 50m telescopic boom with ‘Telematik’ telescoping system, on which the various telescoping sections can be extended independently with a single cylinder and then pinned to the telescopic section above. It carries 14 tonnes of counterweight. Its lifting capacity is around 15% higher than that of the 1090-2.1, which has 12 tonnes of counterweights and a slightly shorter boom at 47m; the telescoping system here consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a rope extension mechanism. There is a short assembly jib for monitored two-hook operation for safe rotation of loads.

Both models feature Liebherr’s VarioBase variable support base, developed by Liebherr as standard on its LRT cranes. They also have the LICCON 2 crane control system, which automatically interpolates the load charts for the outrigger position and slewing angle and gives individual outrigger pad load readings as the crane is operated.

A nice touch that is designed to add to safety is a three-colour ‘safe load indicator’ warning light. Mounted on the top of the cab it is visible from the ground, where riggers and other ground staff can easily see it, and it gives the safe load range for the current operating conditions. It shows green for safe, yellow for approaching safety limits, and red for overload.

Many of the functions of the Liebherr rough terrains can be activated by a single touch button. There is one-button operation for extending or retracting the sliding beams of the outriggers, and for automatic levelling of the crane when setting up on uneven terrain, and one button for selecting boom extension modes – either strong for heavy lifts or long for high or large radius lifts. A swing-away jib is available to further increase lifting heights or reach.

The outriggers can also be controlled from ground level panels mounted on each side of the crane as well as from the cab. The crane cabin is 220 mm wider than other standard cabins on the market and tilts backwards from zero to 20 degrees to increase the operator’s field of vision when working at height, which reduces operator fatigue and increases comfort.

A rear-view camera is fitted as standard to give extra safety when manoeuvring; optional side monitoring cameras on the right side of the machine increase the operators view when loading the machine onto a trailer.

Rough terrains, then, are getting bigger and more useable, with more and more add-ons for comfort and safety. We may seem to have come a long way from the wheelbarrows with which we started, but the function is the same, and demand for the useful tool is as strong as ever.