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Liebherr fan restores and returns 52-year-old tower crane to manufacturer

An erected vintage Liebherr tower crane
A 1969 Liebherr Form 30A/35 tower crane

The Liebherr Tower Crane Center in Bad Waldsee has a new crane: a Form 30A/35 tower crane, built in 1969. The crane's owner, Stephan Keim, loaned it to Liebherr at the beginning of January. Keim had discovered the crane in 2008 and saved it from being scrapped. He worked for years to return it to its original functional state.

Restoring the Liebherr Form 30A/35 took over a year.

A 350-kilometre trip from Aschaffenburg to Liebherr

Before the crane could be assembled at Liebherr, it was disassembled and transported from Aschaffenburg to Bad Waldsee on two lorries. The journey spanned 350-kilometres. On site, Keim and a team of Liebherr mechanics reassembled the crane within two days. Visitors can now visit the crane at the Tower Crane Center site. 

"We're excited that this part of Liebherr history has returned to us. Over the years, many historical construction machines have been taken out of service and scrapped. It's important to us to preserve our history and Stephan Keim has made an important contribution to that," said Michael Goll, head of global communication and organizational development at Liebherr-Werk Biberach GmbH.

Stephan Keim and Liebherr technicians assemble the Form 30A/35 tower crane which was dismantled into its individual parts for transport.

Restoring a 52-year-old tower crane

It took four years from the discovery of the crane to fully restore the piece of equipment; however, the restoration of the Form 30A/35 tower crane took around a year to complete.

"The crane was dilapidated when I acquired it," said Keim. "Changing the screws of the ring gear alone took a whole day. They are very difficult to reach."

Keim hadn't restored a machine of that size until then. The crane, constructed in July 1969, was completely rusty and many of its components were badly damaged or broken. The bolts were rusty and were polished, galvanized, and reused wherever possible. The whole crane was sandblasted and repainted and Keim changed every single screw. The rope pulley bearing and the control cabinet were restored as well as the ropes and wiring.

Keim was able to buy and include numerous original and spare parts that Liebherr still has in stock. Liebherr also provided 120 litres of the original yellow varnish. 

"But the driver's cabin posed a big challenge. It had rusted completely, and the metal sheets were full of holes. It was beyond repair," said Keim. 

Supported by his locksmith, he replicated the metal sheets so that they were indistinguishable from the original. After restoration, the crane has a UVV (accident prevention regulation) test badge and is once again fully operational.

A black and white photograph of Liebherr's Form 30A/35 on a construction site.

A reminder of 1970's construction sites

The Form 30A/35 was produced from 1962 until the mid-seventies. It was one of the most widely built medium-sized cranes of its time. Liebherr constructed around 3,000 models. Erecting cranes with needle jibs were the common models at the time. Until, in the mid-seventies, a new, fully modified type of cranes entered the market. They were easier to transport and more cost-efficient than the models that were common at the time. Although it gradually vanished from construction sites, the Form 30A/35 marked the beginning of a new era in Liebherr history: it was the first Liebherr crane constructed with tubular and hollow profiles instead of the previously used L-profiles. In a modernized form, this construction method is still being used in all Liebherr tower cranes.

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