Going Heavy for a Transformer Transport Near Portland, Oregon
- (2) 72-foot trailers
- Kenworth C500 semi
- (2) Kenworth T800 semis
We solve heavy transportation problems for our clients daily. But it’s not every day that our work gets featured in local and national publications. Then again, it’s not every day that a load totalling almost one million pounds makes its way through difficult terrain in Klickitat County.
When charged with moving a 460,000 pound transformer near the Oregon-Washington border, our specialized transportation team out of our Portland office was up to the task. So much, in fact, that our work on this project was featured in publications like American Cranes and Transport as well as the Seattle Times.
Power equipment manufacturer HICO America needed to move a transformer from Sundale to a substation operated by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The combined weight of the transformer and equipment needed to move it came close to one million pounds. Only the extensive expertise and experience of a moving team like ours could accomplish that difficult task.
The Problem: A Transformer that Stretches the Term Superload
The state of Washington classifies a superload as any truck load beyond 200,000 pounds. It requires extra permitting and planning, because simple transportation could destroy roads or lead to worse damage. At 944,800 pounds, our rig weighed in just a little bit above the 200,000 pound threshold…
The potential problems with that type of weight are enormous. Any operator has to make sure that the roads on which the transport will occur can actually hold up to the load. When a bridge can’t support the weight of a truck driving over it, it can crumble and lead to significant damages.
The Process: Careful Planning and Extensive Rigging
The nearly 50-mile journey started with a thorough planning process. Our guys knew that a single trailer could not support the load, and a single truck could not pull it. So we devised a plan that included a 144-foot support, rigged onto two 72-foot trailers with a total of 48 axles.
That rigging took care of weight distribution. The next challenge was the power to actually move the equipment. One Kenworth C500 semi truck, loaded with concrete blocks to help in traction, would pull the trailer. Meanwhile, two C800 semi trucks would be rigged behind the trailer to add additional push power. With 550 horsepower each, they would be up for the task.
Of course, that equipment also doubled the total load from 460,000 pounds to 944,800 pounds. Being able to drive across Klickitat County required close cooperation and planning with the state’s Department of Transportation. The permitting and paperwork was only the beginning; our team also sat down with experts directly to plan the trip. We itemized the entire route, including guardrails and powerlines. One final weigh-in by the Washington State Patrol, and we were off.
The Result: Nearly One Million Pounds, Transported Nearly 50 Miles
That the trip went without incident was a testament to the extensive planning that had to go into it. Despite less than ideal subgrade on one of the roads and two concrete bridges to master, everything went smoothly. Over the course of two nights, we moved the superload at 15 miles per hour across both State Route 14 and U.S. Highway 97.
In its final location, the transformer will help to support the countless windmills in the area, and connect them to the electrical grid. It has found its long-term home, and will make a significant difference in the State of Washington for years to come, thanks in part to the help and experience of our moving experts.