When CAF USA (one of the U.S. rail transportation market leaders in the design, manufacture and maintenance of all types of railcars), Elmira, N.Y., wanted to enclose a 90-foot-wide and 24-foot-tall bridge train that was attached to an existing building, the first two shelter vendors they called said it couldn’t be done. Each of them proposed building a detached structure instead, which was not what the client wanted.
When CAF called Shelter Structures, Charly Smail went up there with an engineer and spent three days crawling around the existing building, which was constructed in 1906, to determine whether it could support the necessary loads, before saying: “It’s challenging, but we’ll find a way.”
The difficulty of the project was compounded because the bridge crane running the length of the 500-foot-long building needed to remain functional. Shelter Structures’ solution was to design a large asymmetrical fabric structure attached to the building’s outside metal wall by first creating an additional metal wall, which the crew welded to the building. That provided the needed support for the truss structure, which began there and extended out and over the gantry crane. The result was a 105-foot-wide, 62-foot-high and 312-feet-long attached fabric structure that created storage space and preserved ongoing operations for the client.
Sigrid Tornquist is a freelance writer and editor from St. Paul, Minn.