Chase scenes are among the most entertaining aspects of action movies, and movie makers work diligently to “one-up” each other to create spectacular chases that involve rapidly moving vehicles, stunning crashes, and explosions. Such was the case with last summer’s “Terminator III – Rise of the Machines” movie, which featured a remarkable chase scene involving a Demag crane supplied by Champion Crane of Hollywood, CA.
In the crane chase scene, the evil robot T-X, played by Kristanna Loken, drives off in the 165t Demag AC 395 in an attempt to capture and kill good-guy robot T-3, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The storyline goes that the female robot can hack into and control the computerized mechanisms of machines, and she is aptly able to drive and operate the crane, leaving scads of damage in her wake—crushed cars, downed electrical poles, and demolished buildings. And of course, the scene is filled with requisite explosions, smoke, fires, and flying sparks.
While this is not common duty for such a crane, the starring Demag almost lost its role due to damage it sustained during a practice run by a stunt driver a few days before the spectacular chase scene was to be shot. While the stunt driver was not injured, the crane required major repairs after being flipped and rolled.
The decision was whether to repair or replace the crane. Technicians at WHECO Corp.’s Los Angeles shop were dispatched to assess the damage and to see if they could fix it in time for the filming sequence. Firemen’s Fund, the insurer of the machine, hoped for the best, and they got it from WHECO. Click here to view the repair job.
Filmmaker contracts stipulated a stiff financial penalty if the machine wasn’t available at a certain time for filming. The timeframe for getting a different machine, shipping it to Los Angeles, painting it, and retrofitting it for the filming was not a cost-effective option.
“After inspecting the crane, which had flipped twice, we determined it could be fixed,” said Jack Huffsmith, general manager of WHECO’s Los Angeles division. “The unique thing is that when it flipped, it bounced so high that the boom didn’t even touch the ground.”
Regardless, one side of the crane was badly damaged, with the sheet metal, oil tanks, and operators cabs badly crushed. Much of the carrier sheet metal was crunched too, Huffsmith said.
WHECO was given two weeks to get the crane to its shop, repair it, and get it back to an old Boeing Aircraft manufacturing facility that had been converted to a movie set.
“We did it in eleven days,” said Huffsmith. “It required us working eighteen-hour days.”
Luckily, the main “movie component” modifications weren’t badly damaged. For its role in the movie, the crane had been modified with roll cages in both cabs and steel bumpers, which was a plus.
WHECO’s team of technicians is not daunted by heavy damage or tight timeframes. A worldwide leader in crane and capital equipment repair and restoration, WHECO specializes in crane accident restoration. The company has restored hundreds of cranes that have sustained similar damage by being rolled or flipped on construction sites. Uniquely, the company provides engineered solutions to the repair and restoration process, producing repaired equipment that is warranted, certified, and often “better than new,” and in this case, “camera ready.”
“WHECO’s goal is to produce warranted, certified repairs—whether we are repairing a bent or broken crane boom or restoring a damaged crane to like-new condition,” said Dave Wood, president of the company, based in Pasco, WA, and with plants in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. “At our specialized facilities, our skilled technical team analyzes and creates an individualized strategy for repairing even the most heavily damaged equipment.”
Wood said that while no job is “routine,” the so-called “Terminator” project was certainly an interesting one.
“This repair, while not typical, in that it involved a crane with a starring role in a movie, demonstrates the necessity of our services,” said Wood. “Insurers, contractors, and even manufacturers are realizing that the repair versus replacement question can be answered with ‘repair.’”
For more information about WHECO, call 1-800-937-4772 or visit their website at www.wheco.com.