The foul poles at Baltimore’s Camden Yards serve two functions. As transplants from the old Memorial Stadium, they bring more than three decades of prior history to the now 22-year-old baseball stadium. And as vertical extensions of foul lines on the field, they help umpires determine whether a fly ball is fair or foul during game play. For this reason, it is important that the poles are regularly painted and highly visible for day and night games. But the crisscross ironwork poles are 70 ft. tall, which can present a challenge to those tasked with painting them.
Last year, Maryland Stadium Authority turned to Rentals Unlimited, Inc. in Clarksburg, MD, and the JLG X700AJ compact crawler boom for help. According to Jim Joyce, sales manager of the equipment and truck rental company, and a long-term JLG customer, painting the foul poles challenged his company to recommend a piece of equipment with a footprint small enough to fit on the ball field’s warning track and offer enough reach to access the top of the poles.
“Running a machine across the actual playing field was out of the question,” he said. “So, we measured the warning track and were confident the compact crawler boom would easily fit on the track and provide access to the poles.”
Compact Size Meets Challenge
With a width of just 3 ft. 3 in., a 440-lb. platform capacity and non-marking tracks, the X700AJ proved to be the optimal choice for the ballpark application, enabling contractors to apply two coats of yellow paint top to bottom on each of the two poles.
“Everyone who saw the machine before we put it to work was surprised by its capabilities,” said Joyce. “I think it was the boom’s size that threw them. It weighs just 7,000 lbs. but extends to 70 ft., and it’s easy to operate.”
The compact size and vertical reach of the lift has made it a profitable addition to the fleet at Rentals Unlimited. “The crawler is a unique piece of equipment. Its compact size means it’s easy to transport and once on the jobsite, it will go through 39-in. doorways and fit into other hard-to-reach areas. The machine is self-leveling, so if it’s on uneven ground, it will level itself. And it’s able to climb up and down steps with rubber tracks that won’t harm sensitive flooring or landscaping.”
In addition, the X700AJ is environmentally friendly, with an optional Lithium-ion battery for cleaner, greener operation. Dual power onboard — gas or electric engines accompanied by an electric AC motor — are standard to reduce noise and emissions in public spaces. Other features include a hydraulic jib for greater reach, rotation of platform and a zero-turn radius with counter rotation.
Versatility Leads to Interesting Assignments
The versatility of the machine has taken Joyce and his company on some interesting assignments beyond the Camden Yards application. “We took it down a flight of steps and through some doors at a facility that housed an Olympic-size pool in the Washington, D.C., area,” he said. “Once inside, we drove the boom down inside the empty pool and used the leveling feature so we could safely position the machine on the sloped bottom of the pool. This provided access to the roof about 60 ft. above the pool and enabled workers to replace several rusted roof panels.”
Joyce described another application in which the machine climbed a long flight of stairs and drove through a 42-in. door in a large medical facility. “Then there was the large retail store in Virginia. The compact crawler boom was the only piece of equipment small enough to fit through the front doors and still offer enough reach to allow workers to wash the large windows positioned well above the doors. This machine just opens up a whole avenue of opportunities for the rental business, and its success seems to have a snowball effect.
“That’s the story here,” Joyce continues. “Expand your fleet with the purchase of a compact crawler boom and open up new doors. And the great thing is, they don’t have to be big doors – just 39 in. and you can move right through them.”