Fairbairn Steam Crane

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The Fairbairn steam crane is a type of harbourside crane of an ‘improved design’, patented in 1850 by Sir William Fairbairn. The crane’s innovation was in the use of a curved jib, made of riveted wrought iron platework to form a square-section box girder. This could reach further into the hold of a ship, clear of the deep gunwales alongside the quay. A typical size for these cranes would be able to lift 35 tons at a radius of 35 feet (11 m). They were powered by self-contained steam engines, with both boiler and engine mounted on-board the crane.




Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed., vol. 7) (New York, NY: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1910)


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