Choice of dip: HUGE

March 25, 2003

The world's largest galvanizing kettle recently hot-dipped the heaviest single item ever in North America--and maybe even the world. 

On Jan. 10, a single bridge tower anchor fabricated from 50-gage steel and weighing 86,000 lb was gently raised from the "super kettle" at the A-Plus Galvanizing Inc. plant, Salina, Kan. This tower anchor will eventually be a key component in the construction of a new cable-stayed bridge in Columbus, Ohio.

The world's largest galvanizing kettle recently hot-dipped the heaviest single item ever in North America--and maybe even the world. 

On Jan. 10, a single bridge tower anchor fabricated from 50-gage steel and weighing 86,000 lb was gently raised from the "super kettle" at the A-Plus Galvanizing Inc. plant, Salina, Kan. This tower anchor will eventually be a key component in the construction of a new cable-stayed bridge in Columbus, Ohio.

The event was all in a day's work for Brian Morgan, operations manager for A-Plus. Morgan said the whole process began a while back when A-Plus was contacted by PDM Bridge, a contract bridge fabricator from Wausau, Wis. According to Morgan, they were in need of a galvanizer with significant capacity. PDM Bridge had heard of the Salina firm through sources in the industry. 

"I dealt with PDM Bridge directly before the product was ever built concerning specifications about our capacity. In the beginning, once I was shown the drawings and knew the dimension and weight requirements, I was able to assist them with information about our capabilities and capacity concerning galvanizing."

As you can imagine, there was a lot of communication between A-Plus Galvanizing, PDM Bridge and the bridge designer before the part was fabricated in Wisconsin and transported to Kansas for galvanizing.

The 31/2-hour process started with the 43-ton steel anchor being dipped into a cleaning solution. Then two rinses were followed by a sulfuric acid bath that cleans the steel. The anchor went through two rinse tanks before heading to the flux tank, which was filled with a zinc ammonium chloride solution that removes oxides and prevents oxidation prior to galvanizing. The final phase was the dipping into the A-Plus Galvanizing super kettle which was filled with molten zinc at around 830°F.

After being completely submerged for approximately 10 minutes in the kettle, the piece was lifted out by one of the four 50-ton cranes at A-Plus. The galvanized part then spent between 6-8 hours cooling, going through inspection and preparation for transportation back to Wisconsin.

"The capabilities and the capacity of this kettle and our facility to handle beams such as bridge structures opens up the market for large items to be galvanized by single dipping," said Morgan. "In the past, items this size would normally be painted for limited protection because it would not fit the physical capacity of the galvanizing industry. Any time you can single dip an item, it's better quality."

Ray Iesalnieks, project manager for PDM Bridge, is a bridge contractor with considerable experience in fabricating complex bridge structures. He worked in conjunction with structural engineer and bridge designer Dave Jones of Jones-Stuckey Ltd., Columbus, Ohio, to develop the tower anchor, which required galvanizing.

"In the beginning, we had two options supplied by the designer, and that was to either galvanize or metalize," said Iesalnieks. "We were not able to metalize, which requires a spray-coating process. It wasn't feasible in this situation. We had heard about A-Plus Galvanizing but this was the first major project we had tried with them. Due to the weight of the item it required a galvanizing operation with a lot of crane capacity and a big kettle."  

The cable-stayed bridge will be the gateway entrance for the Ohio State University campus crossing over the Olentangy River in Columbus.

According to bridge designer Dave Jones, the bridge is a two-span cable with the tower at the middle. It has a 387-ft span and is 165 ft above the roadway.

The tower anchor will be used where the cables are tied off at the top of the tower. The two pieces of galvanized steel, standing 40 ft tall, will be encased in concrete. Jones said, "We felt concrete alone wouldn't withstand the forces. So we solved this problem by going to steel. The reason we galvanized it was because the bridge owner, Franklin County Ohio, wanted a life span of over 100 years. We could have metalized it, but felt that the steel could be galvanized. At the time, I didn't know that the anchor would be the heaviest item to be hot-dipped galvanized. This was a complete surprise to me. We knew it was heavy but we didn't know it was the heaviest.

"We designed the project, then put it out on bid. The contractor who got the bid ($15.4 million) then had PDM Bridge work on the steel fabrication for the tower anchors. They found A-Plus Galvanizing with the needed kett-le and crane capacity. This galvanizing project went a lot smoother than a lot of them. I've heard from PDM Bridge that these parts are fitting up very well." 

Tom Langill, technical director of the American Galvanizers Association, was at the A-Plus plant to witness the dipping event. 

"To my knowledge this was the heaviest single item to be hot-dipped galvanized in North America," he said. "In many galvanizing operations, you couldn't do that size of piece because you had to consider a bath and crane capacity large enough to accommodate that size of piece.

"The features worked out by the designer, fabricator and galvanizer allowed this piece to be galvanized very smoothly. In the past, a project of that size and weight wouldn't have been considered for hot-dip galvanizing. You may have had to paint that size of piece and therefore all the surrounding pieces that went with it. The fact is, we can now galvanize larger and heavier items."

With a kettle that measures 82 ft long, 10 ft wide and 12 ft deep, one can imagine the possibilities for the next record to be broken.

Sponsored Recommendations

Concrete Protection That’s Easy on the Environment and Tough to Beat

PoreShield's concrete penetration capabilities go just as deep as our American roots. PoreShield is a plant-based, eco-friendly alternative to solvent-based concrete sealers.

Proven Concrete Protection That’s Safe & Sustainable

Real-life DOT field tests and university researchers have found that PoreShieldTM lasts for 10+ years and extends the life of concrete.

Revolutionizing Concrete Protection - A Sustainable Solution for Lasting Durability

The concrete at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center is subject to several potential sources of damage including livestock biowaste, food/beverage waste, and freeze/thaw...

The Future of Concrete Preservation

PoreShield is a cost-effective, nontoxic alternative to traditional concrete sealers. It works differently, absorbing deep into the concrete pores to block damage from salt ions...