Knuckleboom vs. Wallboard Crane

NashvilleTN

Member
Location
USA
I am trying to do some research and am unable to find a comparison of these two crane types. I am finding plenty of literature of knuckleboom vs stick boom, but not these two types.

I am curious what the differences are, advantages/disadvantages of each. Capacity at max reach, boom speed, hydraulic flow for grapplesaw, durability of boom, overall length of truck. That is all the differences I have gathered so far and the knuckle boom seems to win every category.

Are those the main differences? Does the knuckleboom blow the wallboard crane away all together? I am just wondering because I have seen quite a few people with grapplesaw rigs on wallboard booms with seemingly great success. I have not been able to find a discussion about it. Wallboard cranes are ALOT cheaper to get into and easier to find than a knuckleboom with similar reach.
 

Steve Connally

Well-Known Member
They are 2 different types of equipment. The knuckle boom is an articulating boom crane. The material handler is an articulating material handler. One is a crane and the other is not. The material handler is cheaper, probably faster, articulates less, has a lesser load chart and is being used in a manner different than it was designed for. So many guys are getting them because they are a cheap option. You have to talk to someone who actually owns one and made the choice for any reason other than they wanted to get into it cheap. I personally would not even consider a material handler, ever, for any reason. Not for how I work Thats just my opinion. Not really worth a whole lot.
 

oceans

Well-Known Member
Location
MA, USA
Wallboard Booms are going to have the Main/Jib Knuckle closer to the Truck when compared to a Knuckle Boom. That’s going to limit you up & over capabilities.

Knuckle Booms often have manual extensions on the Jib, which makes the properly angled Grapple Saw Adapter easier to fab and install.

Check the Wallboard Load Charts and see if they come anywhere close to what a Knuckle Boom can do at a shorter radius.

Knuckle Booms also open up greater possibilities in truck configuration due to how they stow. If it matters to the buyer, you can put more boom on smaller truck than you can with a Wallboard.

The benefits of a Wallboard include pre-plumbed for all required functions at the tip, plenty of deck to carry lots of material, and taller, rectangular profile boom slider cross sections which can handle certain forces differently than more square profile cross sections. Also, you can probably find a used unit fairly cheap by comparison to a new truck, avoiding FET, and emissions restrictions (if that matters to you).
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
They are 2 different types of equipment. The knuckle boom is an articulating boom crane. The material handler is an articulating material handler. One is a crane and the other is not. The material handler is cheaper, probably faster, articulates less, has a lesser load chart and is being used in a manner different than it was designed for. So many guys are getting them because they are a cheap option. You have to talk to someone who actually owns one and made the choice for any reason other than they wanted to get into it cheap. I personally would not even consider a material handler, ever, for any reason. Not for how I work Thats just my opinion. Not really worth a whole lot.
I can’t speak to much of this, except to comment on the speed - wallboard cranes are slow. Very slow. A friend of mine happened to end up with one set up on a log truck. It was somewhat accidental, he apparently thought he was buying a regular grapple truck. The truck is really slow, breaks down a lot because it’s not being used for it’s designed purpose, and has no real lifting capacity.

He wants to replace it, but can’t find a boom to put on the truck in its place.
 

NashvilleTN

Member
Location
USA
I can’t speak to much of this, except to comment on the speed - wallboard cranes are slow. Very slow. A friend of mine happened to end up with one set up on a log truck. It was somewhat accidental, he apparently thought he was buying a regular grapple truck. The truck is really slow, breaks down a lot because it’s not being used for it’s designed purpose, and has no real lifting capacity.

He wants to replace it, but can’t find a boom to put on the truck in its place.

I have actually seen a few grapple trucks with a shortened wallboard boom on it and thought it looked awesome but no way had faith in their durability packing/crushing stuff into the box
 

NashvilleTN

Member
Location
USA
They are 2 different types of equipment. The knuckle boom is an articulating boom crane. The material handler is an articulating material handler. One is a crane and the other is not. The material handler is cheaper, probably faster, articulates less, has a lesser load chart and is being used in a manner different than it was designed for. So many guys are getting them because they are a cheap option. You have to talk to someone who actually owns one and made the choice for any reason other than they wanted to get into it cheap. I personally would not even consider a material handler, ever, for any reason. Not for how I work Thats just my opinion. Not really worth a whole lot.

Gotcha so you can pretty much rule them out and won’t be doing yourself any favors if you get one trying to get into the grapplesaw game
 

Steve Connally

Well-Known Member
I can’t speak to much of this, except to comment on the speed - wallboard cranes are slow. Very slow. A friend of mine happened to end up with one set up on a log truck. It was somewhat accidental, he apparently thought he was buying a regular grapple truck. The truck is really slow, breaks down a lot because it’s not being used for it’s designed purpose, and has no real lifting capacity.

He wants to replace it, but can’t find a boom to put on the truck in its place.
Ok Thanks Learned something. I always thought they were quicker. Guess I watched too many sped up IG videos.

@NashvilleTN Only rule them out if you know you want to rule them out. Get deeply educated before you decide. What I have noticed, and its human nature I suppose, guys want to get into the game for as cheap as possible. Thats a personal choice. If you can get in cheap and work up to a new crane instead of a material handler, good for you. My business model doesn't support that approach. I have to go with the absolute best and biggest even if the payments scare the shit out of me. You get exactly what you pay for and with what I do, every bit of down time costs me ten fold. I went cheap on a chassis with my first crane. It bit me in the ass bad. I paid 60 for the cab and chassis and when I sold it I had 67k in repairs to it. I should have.........blah blah blah. I learned a valuable lesson. Take what @oceans gave you and look into the points. He searched quite a bit and learned a lot to make an educated decision. I knew exactly what I wanted when I bought it so I didn't research other options. What I will say is I see so many guys buy their unit based on all the wrong factors. Stuff like truck length and vertical reach. Everyone is so hung up on reach. The longer the boom, the less capacity. The truth is you can do a lot of trees with an 110' boom but when you get down to where you have to take the saw off, you are in the 45 degree boom angle chart. Thats where it really matters. That will be the difference between the wallboard crane and the Knuckleboom. I Have a new 88 with a 170 jib. There are other guys out the with 88's and a 125 jib. They got the 125 because they have about 8' more reach than the 170. Here's the kicker. I had a 125 on my 50. Their 88 can pick as much as my 50 when they are using the 125 jib. Hundreds of thousands more for 8'. A 170 is 2350lbs at 112' A 125 is 1540 at 118'. I can pick 2850 at 109' Its crazy how little people actually know about how to spec out their unit. It's confusing but there are ways to learn about it and Eric hit the nail on the head. If you ever have questions, i'd be happy to help! Good luck in your search but don't rule out anything until you are well educated as to why its not a viable option.
 

oceans

Well-Known Member
Location
MA, USA
I think an older wallboard truck would work for a really small company. Like, really small. Kinda like mine. If I had a truck that could take apart the majority of “easier” trees with just me and the truck, the rest of the crew could be knocking out other work. There, you could justify loading the whole tree onto the truck and driving back to the yard.

I would suspect a bigger company would want a truck that does nothing but take trees apart. Big a$$ boom with other support vehicles behind it. In that case, a knuckle boom would make much more sense.
 

climbhightree

Well-Known Member
Location
Lebanon, Pa USA
Not all wallboards are the same. This guy had one custom build, and it would crush my truck. I bet he would even give Steve's old truck a run. I tried to get him to respond, on here, but so far he hasn't. Hopefully you can see it (a group post). Edit-probably can't since a private group. He has a Fassi F600se

 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Not all wallboards are the same. This guy had one custom build, and it would crush my truck. I bet he would even give Steve's old truck a run. I tried to get him to respond, on here, but so far he hasn't. Hopefully you can see it (a group post). Edit-probably can't since a private group. He has a Fassi F600se

Thank you for the post!

The Facebook page is not public, all I can see is the cover photo, Canary’s three trucks.
 

climbhightree

Well-Known Member
Location
Lebanon, Pa USA
Thank you for the post!

The Facebook page is not public, all I can see is the cover photo, Canary’s three trucks.
This is his truck. I'll try again to get him to post on here. Said he used to be on here a lot, but hasn't been for a long time.
 

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AxeTree

Active Member
Location
central ohio
Wall board booms are great for the money. I have owned 6 Fassi 390 booms a Cormach 74’ drywall boom and two Hiab 435 booms. And an Effer 655 6s6s (I buy and sell and do tree work) drywall booms are built pretty stupid proof, and affordable. If money is no concern by all
Means a k booms is more Versatile. But so far my favorite one to Run was the 74’ Cormach. It was super fast, saw is aways on it and only had two stabilizers to set. Down fall was only 74’ of boom. We used it on a few street tree projects and the job with a kboom Would have added a ton of extra time to the job. Having to set up 4-5
Stabilizers unfold and attach the saw I would have had a lot of the smaller trees we did already done on the ground ready to pick up. By the time I would have my Effer ready to work. There’s Benefits to each one. But a drywall boom is a great way to earn enough Money for a k boom.
Feel free to call with any questions i am
Pretty familiar with both types.
937-243-6752 jason
 

Gus_B

Member
Location
Toronto
In the long run a "Drywall crane" like the Hiab 435K Treezilla will outlast any equivalent flyjib crane.
Less moving parts, less extensions and all the extensions especially the last one are incredibly robust, large and beefy which will handle the deflection after the cut is made much better. It also costs and weighs less than an equivalent reach crane with the same capacity.
The down side is the horizontal reach and maneuverability of the crane in tight areas around poles and lines. It seems that more and more people seem to think 90ft + is what the magic number is.
The Hiab 435K has now been replaced with the HIAB K HiPro 505 which maxes out at 82' horizontal with 1,540 lbs but in the air the capacity is huge at almost 90ft vertical holding 6,170 lbs.
Larger steel sections + Less moving parts = less repairs and longer crane life.
There's advantages and disadvantages to both styles but on the question of durability and reliability a HIAB K crane will outlast any flyjib crane hands down. Also if setup time is important to you with a K crane you don't need to unfold it and attach the grapple every time you use it.
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deevo

Well-Known Member
In the long run a "Drywall crane" like the Hiab 435K Treezilla will outlast any equivalent flyjib crane.
Less moving parts, less extensions and all the extensions especially the last one are incredibly robust, large and beefy which will handle the deflection after the cut is made much better. It also costs and weighs less than an equivalent reach crane with the same capacity.
The down side is the horizontal reach and maneuverability of the crane in tight areas around poles and lines. It seems that more and more people seem to think 90ft + is what the magic number is.
The Hiab 435K has now been replaced with the HIAB K HiPro 505 which maxes out at 82' horizontal with 1,540 lbs but in the air the capacity is huge at almost 90ft vertical holding 6,170 lbs.
Larger steel sections + Less moving parts = less repairs and longer crane life.
There's advantages and disadvantages to both styles but on the question of durability and reliability a HIAB K crane will outlast any flyjib crane hands down. Also if setup time is important to you with a K crane you don't need to unfold it and attach the grapple every time you use it.
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Is that one in Ontario Gus ?
 

Gus_B

Member
Location
Toronto
Hi guys I'd like to add a few more things to this thread. Please note that I sell Fly-jib knuckle booms predominantly to the tree removal industry but I do believe there is a market for dual articulating drywall cranes (HIAB, FASSI, PALFINGER, CORMACH, EFFER ETC..).
I think what many are missing is that the new long reach "Material Handling" cranes have both inner boom and outer boom extensions which makes the "over and out" extension comparison to fly-jib cranes moot. Maneuverability in tight areas is still an issue because of the long inner and outer crane sleeves, no doubt about this but the positive to this is less extensions required which translates to less moving parts and maintenance as I said above.

Now I read about the "Slow Speed" of drywall cranes up above. Please consider that these Drywall cranes were set in speed to handle drywall in a vertical position on hydraulic forks that have Teflon slide pads. The drywall is not "clamped" or secured but sitting loosely on the Teflon slide pads so the laborers can slide the board off easily into the room/house they are loading. In other words any sudden movements will cause the drywall to slide loose and fall to the ground. Drywall cranes are set up to a certain speed for a reason...not to drop drywall due to sudden high speed movements as the board sitting on the forks is technically "not secure". It's literally balancing on open forks sitting on Teflon slide pads.
With a higher percentage PTO and Higher percentage pump I assure you these cranes will fly.
It's all about setup and application. A "Drywall crane" can fly like crazy if the company setting it up knows it will be running a secure grapple where the load cant just slide off the forks (eg. Mecanil tree Grapple). Another example is commercial log loaders in the logging industry.
All/most drywall cranes are set up for handling Drywall so the speed is always clocked back significantly.
You'd be amazed at how quick these can be cranked up to but any responsible dealer limits the speed because dropping drywall 3-10 stories is not something we want to hear our building supply customers come back to us with. Drywall crane operators tend to be cowboys so as a result we slow the cranes down to avoid "droppings" and avoid the owners of the building supplies to give us shit for the crane being "Too Fast"......Yes I've had this complaint.
In other words we purposely slow drywall cranes down so they don't drop unsecured drywall sitting on slippery Teflon slide pads.

A grapple situation is something else entirely because the load is "clamped and secured" which will allow us to speed up the crane significantly but we still need to maintain horizontal side to side movements speeds which can thankfully be programmed.

Used Drywall cranes are set up for drywall handling. New drywall cranes set up for tree handling are set up for tree handling. Huge difference in what speed the crane is set at if you are a responsible dealer.

In other words.....Drywall/Material handling cranes can be just as fast if not faster compared to fly-jib cranes.

Pro's: Less expensive, lighter compared to equivalent knuckle-boom fly-jib crane, less maintenance, longer life, (possible better re-sale value due to other markets that may be interested in package) and much faster set-up and take down.

Cons: Limited Hydraulic reach compared to fly-jib crane, Not nearly as maneuverable as a fly-jib crane in tight Urban areas, makes adding a dump body extremely difficult, Re-sale may be difficult to other tree companies due to lack of knowledge.

Both Fly-Jib Cranes and Material Handling (Drywall Cranes) can get the job done.
Do your research thoroughly before you drop big coin on any package.
Email and call several dealers, if they don't answer you in a timely fashion or give you the time of day don't waste any time on them. Move on.
 

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