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New all-terrain crane gives Nova Scotia rental company new opportunities

March 23, 2023  By Don Horne

Grove GMK6400-1 crane.

Following its December 2022 delivery to A.W. Leil Cranes and Equipment, the first Grove GMK6400-1 to arrive in Canada has sparked a revival in fortune for the Nova Scotia-based rental services provider.

Due to fleet capacity constraints, the company had been excluded from many opportunities in its market — particularly in providing maintenance services to the dozens of wind turbines it had erected during the last wind construction boom in the early 2000s.

Photos courtesy of Manitowoc.

“Our largest crane was 400 USt, which usually left us just shy of being able to service larger wind towers, so we recognized there was a need to upsize,” said Ryan Long, A.W. Leil’s president. “We were initially looking at 500-650 USt machines, but once we started doing careful comparisons, plotting out every tiny detail in a spreadsheet, the GMK6400-1 kept shining through.”

The 450-USt GMK6400-1 more than compensates for size with features such as the self-rigging MegaWingLift and MAXbase variable-position outriggers that support a lifting performance usually only seen on seven- or eight-axle cranes. Local dealer Shawmut Equipment of Canada, Inc. provided hands-on operator and technician training to A.W. Leil’s team at handover, where the crane joined a large fleet of Grove TMS truck cranes and National Crane boom trucks. Clad in its distinctive custom wrap, the crane immediately headed out to its first wind farm on Prince Edward Island — and it hasn’t stopped working long enough to return to its Dartmouth base ever since.


Given the sparsely distributed population of the region and the scarcity of long-term projects, A.W. Leil’s cranes invariably cover far more ground than most, making the GMK6400-1’s effortless road-legal status highly appreciated.

“Taxi work is crucial for us, so the icing on the cake is that we can just head straight out, trailing a boom dolly behind,” Long added. “Other machines in the region have to spend extra time and work sending extra permits, trucks, and boom launching before every single mobilization. In the end, that’s added cost to the customer. The GMK6400-1’s easy roading really has been a major turning point for us.”

With a Shawmut technician on hand for the first setup, A.W. Leil’s Crane and Rigging Supervisor Ryan Bruce was also impressed by the speed and logical nature of the process — in particular, the easily accessible plug-in ports for the remote handset that eliminates unnecessary trips to the operator’s cab.

“But the best thing about it has to be the safety package,” Bruce stated. “Manitowoc has outdone itself with the amount of fall protection and the easy erection of safety rails on everything from boom to jib.”

“We’re not a huge company,” Long concluded, “but our fantastic new crane helps us punch above our weight and hopefully tells the market that we’re ready to take on any challenge!”

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