If there is a universal piece of erection equipment, it is the crane. Mounted on wheels or tractor threads, it is extremely mobile, both on the job and in moving from job to job. Practically all buildings are erected with this efficient raising device.
The exception, of course, is the skyscraper whose height exceeds the reach of the crane. Operating on ground level, cranes have been used to erect buildings of about 20 stories, the maximum height being dependent on the length of the boom and width of building.
The guy derrick is a widely used raising device for erection of tall buildings.
Its principal asset is the ease by which it may be jumped from tier to tier as erection proceeds upward. The boom and mast reverse position; each in turn serves to lift up the other. It requires about 2 h to make a two-story jump.
Stiff-leg derricks and gin poles are two other rigs sometimes used, usually in the role of auxiliaries to cranes or guy derricks. Gin poles are the most elementary simply a guyed boom. The base must be secure because of the danger of kicking out. The device is useful for the raising of incidental materials, for dismantling and lowering of larger rigs, and for erection of steel on light construction where the services of a crane are unwarranted.
Stiff-leg derricks are most efficient where they may be set up to remain for long periods of time. They have been used to erect multistory buildings but are not in popular favor because of the long time required to jump from tier to tier. Among the principal uses for stiff legs are (1) unloading steel from railroad cars for transfer to trucks, (2) storage and sorting, and (3) when placed on a flat roof, raising steel to roof level, where it may be sorted and placed within each of a guy derrick.
Less time for jumping the raising equipment is needed for cranes mounted on steel box-type towers, about three stories high, that are seated on interior elevator wells or similar shafts for erecting steel. These tower cranes are simply jacked upward hydraulically or raised by cables, with the previously erected steel-work serving as supports. In another method, a stiff-leg derrick is mounted on a trussed platform, spanning two or more columns, and so powered that it can creep up the erected exterior columns. In addition to the advantage of faster jumps, these methods permit steel erection to proceed as soon as the higher working level is reached.