Transformer Replacement Epitomizes Reynolds’ Use of Hydra-Slide Fleet

Reynolds Transfer and Storage used Hydra-Slide hydraulic skidding equipment to complete the removal and replacement of a transformer at a utility company in its home city of Madison, Wisconsin recently.

The multifaceted project involved removal of the existing 237,000-lb. (118.5-ton) transformer, which was installed by Reynolds in 1984, and installation of a 170,000-lb. (85-ton) replacement, which was redundant but in working order at another site. Integral to safe completion were a 300-ton capacity HT300 heavy track hydraulic skidding system and a 10 ft. x 10 ft., 500-ton capacity turntable, both chosen for their lightweight and suitability to the substation environment. A telehandler was utilized for moving equipment around the site.

Thomas Reynolds, president at Reynolds Transfer and Storage, explained that “the move occurred within a substation so that the existing pad could be removed and replaced with a design that is consistent with current standards. We then moved it to a remote site by sliding over 1,000 ft. The 20 ft. and 10 ft. Hydra-Slide track lengths were leap-frogged ahead to provide for continuous movement with less total track length.”

The majority (700 ft.) of that ground was covered in a single day with three changes of direction and a 90-degree turn to get through an opening with only 1 ft. of clearance.

Reynolds continued: “When the new pad was ready, we went to Fond Du Lac, loaded the replacement unit onto our 85-ton capacity trailer and hauled it to Madison. We needed to take the trailer apart just to get into the substation for unloading. The substation is very congested and energized so we unloaded and slid from the trailer onto the new pad. We also needed to rotate the new unit 90 degrees and then went over the new 4 ft.-deep pit and onto the pad for final placement.”

A four-port propane Hydra-Pac, also from Hydra-Slide, was used to power the skidding system. Reynolds also owns a larger, six-port system for even bigger projects. In this instance, an umbrella was used to protect the operator from direct sunlight. A common challenge for rigging professionals working at substations is that these sites are in their nature exposed to the sunlight without shade or protection from rain.

Onsite, Reynolds was represented by up to six people at any one time, sourced from a heavy rigging team of 16. Inevitably, the project involved street occupancy permits and road closures.

Reynolds said: “Our crew of experts is vital to every job. Using common sense and experience, we have been able to succeed despite difficult situations. I am very proud of our people and their willingness to work with me through difficult jobs and challenging times. I also appreciate that our customers that see the Hydra-Slide [equipment] as the best solution.”

Heavy history

Reynolds Transfer and Storage has been a family-owned and operated company since foundation 132 years ago; it has been engaged in heavy equipment movement since day one. At that time, Thomas Reynolds, president, recalled, “We used shaft rollers and a lot of plates on top of full railroad ties. It was physically demanding work. It still is—but not like that. I often revisit photos of us moving heavy loads, such as transformers, with wood rollers.”

Today’s fleet of Hydra-Slide equipment looks different. In addition to the HT300 skidding system and 500-ton capacity turntable systems referenced above, it also has a HT500 skidding system, a 150-ton capacity turntable and jacks in 150-ton and 100-ton capacities.

“All equipment is well designed and safe, which helps us gain the trust of our customers,” said Reynolds. “I buy everything that I need from Hydra-Slide because their customer service is so remarkable. If I have a problem with anything, I contact them, and they will quickly get me a temporary fix or a replacement. If they determine that a supplier is not producing the quality that they need, they find a new one. I have had very few issues, but when I do, their support is unmatched.”

The breadth of the fleet enables Reynolds to meet the requirements of a variety of projects, principally involving the haulage and / or installation of delicate, heavy and oversized equipment. Electron microscopes, plasma physics testing equipment, switchgear buildings and control houses have all been moved by Hydra-Slide’s simple and safe solution. Its heaviest move to date is 675,000 lbs. (337.5 tons)

Reynolds said: “We have adapted it to situations where we needed to go over or under many obstacles. It is safe and well built. The load chart span capacity allows us to span over unsupported areas. This is important because cranes are not always viable due to the physical constraints of an area, as well as the clearance rules for, say, an energized substation. Gantries, SPMTs [self-propelled modular transporters], shaft rollers and steel would involve winch lines that get in the way and can cause accidents in the event of [winch] failure.”

He added: “Environmentally we are committed to our future. There are fewer resources used to produce the Hydra-Slide, get us to the job, and maintain the systems because they are simple. Our customers appreciate that simplicity and predictability of what we accomplish.”

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