West Shore Constructors

West Shore Constructors have been using Boscaro products purchased from Bigfoot for some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced at Neptune Terminal, a billion-dollar project in North Vancouver.

“We work in some pretty challenging environments,” said Brian Casper, Construction Superintendent with West Shore Constructors. “So we need equipment that we can rely on to be durable and safe. That’s why we work closely with Bigfoot.”

West Shore has been a leader in Western Canada’s heavy construction industry for more than fifty years. They are known for their outstanding work in bridge building, pile driving, marine construction, and industrial transport. “We’re not a huge company,” said Supervisor Michael Kobelka, “but we have a lot of machinery and equipment, so we can pretty much handle anything.”

In 2020, West Shore has been a part of a billion-dollar construction project at North Vancouver’s Neptune Terminal, where they have been using some very specialized equipment from Bigfoot’s Boscaro line of products.

Working in Cofferdam Cells

“At Neptune, we were asked to build a massive cofferdam for the new coal dumper,” explained Kobelka. “When it’s all finished, they will be able to bring two rail cars at a time directly over the pit, where they’ll be flipped upside down to dump out the coal. Then the conveyors will load the ships. It’s a huge project.”

West Shore has been building the cofferdam with multiple cells, driving in piles almost one meter in diameter, interlocking all the way around the perimeter. The main cell needed to be almost twenty meters deep and twenty meters wide. “We started digging from the top with our excavators, but we couldn’t go very far down because it’s such a big cell,” said Casper. “So we had to lower the excavators inside the cell with our cranes, but we still needed a way to get the material out.”

The solution was a Boscaro self-dumping bin that West Shore had purchased from Bigfoot. They could simply lower the bin into the hole, fill it with material and then lift it straight out.

“We’ve been using that dumping bin constantly on this project,” said Casper, “and we’ve probably hoisted out about 150,000 meters of material with it. It’s been invaluable.”

Self-Dumping Bin & Spreader Bar

History with Bigfoot

West Shore has been dealing with Bigfoot for years as a supplier of quality products for both rental and purchase, but Kobelka and Casper both got to know Bigfoot initially through it’s training programs.

“Most of our guys at West Shore have gone through Bigfoot’s rigging courses,” said Kobelka. “For guys like us who have been in the industry for more than thirty years and have attended multiple training sessions, I can honestly say that those courses at Bigfoot are some of the best I’ve ever taken.”

Whether through the training courses or through years of steady business-to-business sales and service, West Shore and Bigfoot have developed a strong relationship of trust. “Now, when we need a new product, we’ll call Bigfoot right away or we’ll go to their website,” said Casper. “And if they don’t have what we need, they always talk to us straight and refer us to someone else who can help. We appreciate that kind of honesty and integrity.”

“We’ve never had any issues with our purchases from Bigfoot,” said Kobelka. “They always provide great products and great service.”

Westshore Terminals / Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver

Other Boscaro Products

In addition to the Boscaro dumping bin, West Shore also purchased several other key pieces of equipment from Bigfoot that have been put to good use on the Neptune project. “We needed a heavy duty spreader bar,” said Kobelka, “so we could lower a Komatsu 138 down into the hole. You can’t do that with just any spreader bar.”

West Shore bought the Boscaro 110-ton system and they’ve been using it steadily at Neptune.

“We’ve been craving a good quality spreader bar for a long time, and this one is holding up extremely well,” said Casper.

West Shore has come to expect the highest quality standards from Boscaro. “We’ve been using their man baskets for years,” Casper said, “and we recently bought another one from Bigfoot. For access in and out of these cells at Neptune, we regularly have to use man baskets off of the crane. They get used a lot, day and night, and we always keep one on hand, in case of emergency, if we need to do a rescue.”

For West Shore, the close working relationship with Bigfoot and the top-quality products from Boscaro continue to be indispensable at Neptune, one of their most challenging projects to date.

**This article was previously published in Modern Contractor (December 2020) and Equipment and Contracting (Vol 2, Issue 5). 

Like most projects, there are always a lot of moving pieces specifically when working in a delicate environment like a hospital. In this specific job, construction would take place right on top of a cardiac unit that had several labs- all required to keep functioning during the construction. “You’re working in an existing operating hospital. The more you can keep construction out of that hospital, the better you are. Our whole logistic plan was geared around that idea.”

To read the full case study,  Click here 


When the Dominion Diamond Corporation needed a newer, safer, and more efficient solution for an ongoing challenge in their mining operations, they called Bigfoot Crane Company.

Dominion Diamond Corporation is a Canadian mining company that has become a major supplier of rough diamonds to the world market. Their operation at the Ekati Diamond Mine near the Arctic Circle often requires specialized equipment that can withstand challenging work environments and harsh climates.

In order to bring rough diamonds to the surface, the company utilizes a team of skilled workers known as High Wall Scalers. This specialized crew works in the open pits to remove hazards, like large rocks and boulders, from the sheer, vertical walls of the mine, which can be as high as thirty meters.

“The High Wall Scalers are there to protect other crew members,” said Chantal Lavoie, Chief Operating Officer for Dominion Diamond Corporation. “They’ll scale down from the walls of the mine using a scaling bar to push or pry the rocks off or an airbag to loosen them. If the rock is too big to move, they’ll anchor it in place by installing ground support.”

It’s this last activity that necessitated the need for a rock-scaling basket. Lavoie noted that if there was a large area where ground support was needed, the basket let the team go in and install ground support materials in a more efficient manner. The company had used a similar piece of equipment years before but wanted something bigger and better.

Enter Bigfoot.

Working with the engineering team at Dominion Diamond Corporation, Bigfoot designed and built a customized rock scaling basket according to the company’s specific requirements.

Lavoie noted: “We wanted to make sure this was going to work for the crew, so one of the first things we did was reach out to them to see what kind of improvements would help them do their job.”

Bigfoot delivered a completely customized finished product that turned out to be, according to Lavoie, better than expected.

The new man basket is ergonomically designed, with adjustable wall supports, covered sides and a solid bottom to cut down on wind. Best of all, according to Lavoie, the new basket significantly improved crew safety and allowed workers to use a different type of drill that was more efficient for them.

“The customized basket has doubled high-wall scaler productivity,” said Lavoie. “The team is pleased with how fast and how efficiently it works. It also allowed us to extend our operating season.”

“This was a good investment for us,” Lavoie concluded. “The equipment works well in our specific operating environment and given our specific and unique requirements.”

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about Boscaro man baskets, click here.

Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors needed to cut a 100-foot water tank, add a 40-foot extension, then put the suspended piece back on. For a company with more than 30 years of experience in constructing, installing, renovating and rebuilding large above-ground water tanks across the US, the project should have been routine.

It was anything but. Call it a perfect storm combining hazards and challenges that most project engineers do their best to avoid. “We were limited by sight constraints,” says Kurt Fuller, Engineer of Record for Phoenix. “Our three large cranes had limited mobility and were set up on a very tight work site. On top of that, we were directly adjacent to a community high school.”

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Anemometer systems, click here.

Built back in 1889, during Washington State’s short-lived mining boom, the Pride of the Woods mine was abandoned by the 1920s, leaving behind mine tailings laden with toxic metals like arsenic and lead. These tailings had been leaching into the soil and nearby groundwater, posing serious health and environmental threats to both man and nature.

It fell to the U.S. Forest Service to handle reclamation for this mine and other abandoned sites in the area. While other sites had access roads to allow for more conventional clean-up, the Pride of the Woods was unique. Located in the pristine Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area, no road had ever been built and none would be permitted–not even for this project.

The challenge in getting Pride of the Woods mine cleaned up became two-fold: how to remove environmental waste without altering the existing environmental footprint in order to protect delicate eco-systems, endangered species, and cultural and historical artifacts.

It was decided that fly-in helicopters would be used. The Oregon-based company, Columbia Helicopters, was hired to bring in excavators and buckets. The plan was for the excavators to dig out the contaminated rocks and soil and dump them into the bins, which were then flown out and taken to a nearby repository for safe storage.

“It was definitely a challenge,” said Dave Horrax, Project Manager with Columbia Helicopters. While Columbia Helicopters could have used their own homemade bins or fill sacs, Horrax noted that they were difficult to load, and they had to be manually hooked up every time. He added, “We also needed to be sure that whatever product was used would be able to withstand heavy loads and extremely rough terrain.”

“I found the Boscaro self-dumping bins online through Bigfoot Crane Company,” Horrax said. “And since I knew up front what my weight limitations were, I was able to find the bin that I needed.”

Horrax ordered three A-200D Boscaro Self-Dumping Bins: two alternated between load and transit while one was kept in reserve.

About two thousand cubic yards of waste rock – 887 total bin loads – was removed during the site clean-up. The project took 12 days and actually required less time than originally planned, due in large part to the efficiency of the Boscaro bins. The mechanical arm on each bin allowed for easy hook-up and earned some serious respect from the helicopter pilots.

“The bins worked flawlessly from beginning to end,” said Horrax. “Plus, they’re so well-made. They stood up to pretty much everything we put them through.”

For Horrax and the whole crew, the best part was that the site clean-up was done with minimal environmental impact.

“I’ll definitely be using the Boscaro bins again,” he concluded, “and I’ll be recommending them to others.”

To read the full Self Dumping Bin Assist Mine Clean Up case study, click here.

For more information about Boscaro Self Dumping Bins, click here.

Windy smartphone anemometer

Safety is paramount on any production set and in an industry where getting just the right shot can make all the difference, that safety is even more critical when people and equipment are being lifted high in the air.

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Anemometer systems, click here.

Shooting Range Wind Sensor: Check & Mate

California’s Jim Ramsay entered the Extreme Benchrest competition as an amateur marksman but he finished it by besting the pros. His not-so-secret weapon? A shooting range wind sensor or more importantly, a Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor. Even more impressive was that it was his first time in competition and he had less than two months to practice.

What is Extreme Benchrest?

Extreme Benchrest is an annual rifle competition held in Arizona and hosted by Airguns of Arizona and the Phoenix Airgun Club. Benchrest refers to the gun sitting on a gun rest, meaning the operator isn’t standing or sitting, isolating all the variables. “The competition comes down to trigger control, breathing, gun performance and individual interaction with the gun,” says Jim. “The biggest factor is the wind.” In the competition, all participants qualify at 75 yards. Four relays are held, two for each category. The top ten from each round are chosen to compete on the final day of competition at 100 yards. The target consists of concentric circles, with the largest circle being 5.25 inches in diameter. The closer a participant is to the center (a bullseye roughly the size of an aspirin tablet), the higher the score.

Measuring Wind Speed

Up until now, measuring wind speed at a rifle competition was done mainly through the use of wind flags. This is a skill in itself since it takes a lot of training and experience to equate the flags to a miles per hour figure. “Ballistics programs take into account wind speed, miles per hour and wind direction,” says Jim. This calculates a wind adjustment value. Jim wanted to apply that same principle in the competition and began by looking for equipment measuring wind speed that would be used in construction. He wanted a wireless one for the shooting range so it could transmit data back to his smartphone. An online search turned up Navis along with the supplier, BigfootCrane. “Even from reading the brochure online, it seemed to be exactly what I needed so I got a system sent out to me.”

What Set Navis Apart

The most valuable part of the software, Jim says, is being able to see a running average with a history over the previous two minutes. This let him gauge where the averages were occurring. When it came to Extreme Benchrest, he was able to base his calculations on the average then adjust for that particular, which gave him a very qualified window of opportunity. “There was definite strategy involved. I could watch the running history to see much I had to adjust, just by using the sighters to see when the wind speed would return.” Jim figures he was the only person using the Navis Wind Speed Sensor technology at the competition. One competitor had a hand-held anemometer but it was mounted to his rifle scope, which meant he was measuring wind there rather than at the target. This would preclude him from being able to factor in other variables like speed or velocity. Jim set his Navis anemometer at the one-third mark, which is where he believed the most influential winds were located. “Ideally, you want to have the system close enough to accurately characterize wind environment but not next to the table where you’ll get disturbances as the wind flows around things.”

“The Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor performed even better than I expected, providing me with accurate real-time information right in the palm of my hand.”

Hitting the Mark

After the competition ended, Jim was asked if what he was using was a weather station. It only took a few minutes to explain what he had and how it worked. Not surprisingly, he ended up exchanging contact information with people who wanted to follow up with him at a later time. He noted that while several of the pros belong to an older demographic, there were younger members of the crowd who were only too eager to embrace the latest technology. “The Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor was a big hit with everyone but I really appreciated it at a completely different level because I hadn’t had time to fully train using the wind flag system.”

Focused on the 10-ring. Wind system visible downrange     Wind system with winning target and gold medal!

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Wireless Wind Speed Sensor, click here.

Raising the Roof Without Lowering Productivity

The Situation: The Paradox Hotel in downtown Vancouver needed a way to hoist all the pieces of the steel canopy at its podium up as high as seventy feet above street level. The crane had to stay in place for several months and operate within a narrow space between two existing high-rises, all without blocking the street and the sidewalk or interfering with a second crane on the same site.

Special Challenge 1: Busy street, busy sidewalk. Don’t block either. Ever.

The City of Vancouver would not allow a crane to block any part of West Georgia Street for long periods of time. The same went for the sidewalk. So, we engineered a twenty-foot stand over the sidewalk and set the self-erecting crane on top of that. People could easily pass underneath. One problem. We still needed City approval to block the street while the crane was lifted onto its stand. However, it turned out that we had another project at the Fortis Building just down the block which also needed a crane lifted onto the site. So, we waited several months for street closure approval, then piggybacked both jobs together on the same day, the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s.

Special Challenge 2: Wide reach in a narrow space.

The steel for the building’s base canopy needed to be placed between two high-rises, which meant limited mobility for the crane. The Potain Self-Erecting Tower Crane features a hydraulic unfolding jib which allowed us to retract the jib throughout the project. When folded, the crane could swing out over the street to pick up steel from trucks and offload it onto the site. Once the steel was between the two buildings, the crane could fold its jib out to reach to all of the difficult places. By law, a self-erecting crane must be able to weathervane, slewing 360° when not in use. Since this crane couldn’t do this within the narrow space, we implemented an engineered tie-down to secure the jib when out of service.

Special Challenge 3: Choreograph a two-crane tango.

A tower crane was already working the site erecting the main structure tower, but it couldn’t be utilized to place the steel at the podium since it was working at capacity adding floors. We organized a safe work schedule and radio contact between both crane operators, allowing them to safely lift off different trucks in the same loading zone without interfering with each other.

The Solution in Summary: It was a tall logistical order, but we came up with an integrated plan that included:

  1. A 35-metre Potain HD40A Self-Erecting Tower Crane mounted on an engineered 20-foot stand set up over the sidewalk, allowing foot traffic to move freely underneath
  2. An innovative hydraulic jib allowed the crane to maneuver between the two high-rises
  3. Radio coordination between the two crane operators, which enabled smooth operations

To read the full case study, click here.

Within a week of being hired, we had installed a 45 metre Koenig K70 with an 8,800 lb. maximum lift up close and a 2,000 lb capacity at a 148 foot radius. All at about a quarter of the cost to hire a mobile crane.

To read the full case study, click here.