13/07/2006 - 05:00 am

Compact Carrydeck Crane Redefines Robust: Shuttlelift 3339 keeps it simple

Part One

If you're not familiar with Sturgeon Bay, Wis., you can find it by driving 45 minutes northeast of Green Bay. It sits on a sliver of land that is bounded by the Green Bay (for which the city is named) and Lake Michigan. This is a big area for both commercial and pleasure boating, and it was here that Marine Travelift built its first product – a self-propelled, rubber-tired straddle crane to pick and carry boats. Today, Marine Travelift builds a leading line of gantry cranes for all industries as well as its growing line of Shuttlelift Carrydeck industrial cranes, including the 3339 unit (Image 1) reviewed here.

Before getting down to the details about this capable machine's versatility and performance, it's interesting to take a short walk down memory lane first. I learned from visiting the Shuttlelift website (www.shuttlelift.com) that Carrydeck cranes were originated by Drott Manufacturing of Wausau, Wis. in 1959. Production of the Drott 60RM2 – nicknamed the Go Devil 60 – began in 1960. In 1962, Drott upgraded the unit to the very popular 85RM2. The 85 nomenclature stood for 8,500 pounds of lift capacity. Drott also built the smaller 20RR2 and larger 160RF2, 200RF2 and 250RF2 carrydeck cranes. J.I. Case, a Tenneco company, purchased Drott in 1968 and continued production of the 85RM2 through 1976. Capacity of the later 85RM2s was upgraded to 10,500 pounds. In 1977, Case introduced the all-new 3330, 7.5-ton capacity carrydeck crane. Case manufactured several thousand cranes of this size before discontinuing production in 1984. Marine Travelift purchased the Carrydeck product line from Case in 1988. Shuttlelift President, Gerald Lamer, was a carrydeck project design engineer for Drott on the development of the first carrydeck cranes. Later, Lamer was the chief engineer of the product line until 1975, when he and his brother Allan purchased Marine Travelift. Shuttlelift was purchased by Travelift in 1988 and immediately began production of Carrydeck cranes with an improved model 3330C and low-profile version of the 3330CL.

Shuttlelift, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Marine Travelift, has become the fastest growing line of industrial cranes in the world. Of course the agreement it struck with Manitowoc Crane Group to produce its line of Grove Yard Boss cranes has helped in many ways. The added business has allowed Shuttlelift to ramp up production and introduce new and improved products at a faster rate.

The 3339 is the latest addition to Shuttlelift's expanding line of industrial cranes that now numbers six models with a variety of boom options. The 3339 is the culmination of suggestions made by customers and dealers on how to improve its predecessor, the 3330. It will be sold by Grove badged as the YB4409-2

As with just about any piece of equipment these days, product is shipping as fast as the paint dries. I was fortunate enough to find two ready-to-ship units available for my inspection recently. Waiting for a truck and headed to Houston, these units will go to work in the Shell refinery. These compact cranes are ideal for industrial applications and the tight quarters found in refineries and petrochemical plants. Although they have been sold to the end-user, the majority of carrydeck cranes go into rental fleet service, such as the ones recently purchased by ALL Erection and Crane Rental, Cleveland.

One of the more noteworthy capabilities of this crane is its ability to pick a 9-ton load and swing the boom throughout its 360 degrees of continuous rotation while on outriggers. Note that the independently operated outriggers (Image 2) are now standard equipment. In addition, the pad size has been increased to reduce ground pressure when on its toes. The 3339 comes with a three-section, fully hydraulic main boom that extends to 31 feet and offers two jib options: One is a fixed 12-foot tapered tube; the other has a rectangular slide-out 6-foot stinger for 18 total feet.

Kurt Minten, industrial Carrydeck crane manager for Shuttlelift, explains that the boom head can be easily pivoted into one of five different positions. That's Minten in Image 3, demonstrating just how easy this task is to accomplish. The offset angle of the head can be set at zero, +30, and + 80 degrees. The offset is achieved as a function of the pivoting head plus it can be adjusted to -15 and -30 degrees. As shown in Image 4, you can see the improved tip clearance that can be achieved. The one on the left is in the normal operating position while the other is set at the maximum +80 degrees.

This pivoting head design allows for lower head profile on a wider range of operating boom angles. Maximum boom angle is 72 degrees. In this position, the dimension from the tip of the boom to the base of the hook opening is a tight 41 inches.

Line pull has jumped from 10,000 to 14,000 pounds, and the standard 9/16th-inch diameter EEIPS wire rope can be reeled off at a brisk 120 fpm. A nice feature is “Quick Reeve” style rigging (Image 5), which allows you to change back and forth between two parts to single part line – without having to disassemble the wedge and socket.

Recognizing how important it is to limit the amount of tail swing for a machine used predominately in tight quarters, Shuttlelift has worked hard to hold tail swing to just 52 inches. Overall height has also been reduced to 7'3”. This not only allows improved access to low overhead jobs, but it also enables the unit to be containerized in standard hard top containers for export – something Shuttlelift seems to be doing more and more of lately.

Watch for the follow-up on this nifty little product in Part Two of this Equipment Review in our next issue of Lift and Access 360. There I will discuss this compact crane in more detail, offering my firsthand impressions of the construction and operation of this little powerhouse.

Part Two

The 3339 is the latest addition to Shuttlelift's expanding line of industrial cranes that now numbers six models with a variety of boom options. Produced by the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., company, the 3339 is the culmination of suggestions made by customers and dealers on how to improve its predecessor, the 3330. Called an industrial by some, or described as a carry deck crane by others, the 3339 can lift a 9-ton load and rotate it 360 degrees while on outriggers. For a little history on the Shuttlelift Carrydeck, see Part One.

The crane also comes with a three-section fully hydraulic main boom that extends to 31 feet. Two jib options include a fixed 12-foot lattice jib and a 12-foot lattice plus 6-foot slide out stinger. Jib locking pins (Image 2) are tapered at each end to make it easier to fit from either side.

It does not take long to realize that crane boasts two distinct attributes: quality and simplicity.

Kurt Minten, Shuttlelift's industrial Carrydeck crane manager, explained that all metal parts are shot blasted, primed and pre-painted before assembly. Once assembled then the crane is run back through for touch up. To limit rust, all pins are zinc plated or stainless steel. Mitten also pointed out that the main chassis structure is a twin box channel design and carriers a five-year structural warranty. Upon my inspection, I didn't find a speck of rust, a sloppy looking weld, or a paint run anywhere on this machine. In addition, where appropriate, steel lines are used to prevent stress, as in Image 3.

This is also a very simply designed crane • simple to service, simple to operate, which adds up to a winning combination. Starting with the controls, there are several large valve levers shown in Image 3. These are direct linkage full pressure hydraulic valves that control all boom functions. (Image 4)

Some might argue that this is a little too simplistic. True they require a little more wrist effort than required on a pilot or electro/hydraulic system but you cannot argue with their precise, smooth and very sensitive feeling of control.

This feature is important for working in tight space where precise handling is demanded, a typical application for industrial cranes. Of course, there is nothing easier to trouble shoot or repair than a simple full-pressure hydraulic system.

The most complicated part of this crane, relatively speaking, is the load safety system. A bare bones load indicator (LI) system is standard. But it is possible to step up to a rated capacity limiter (RCL) system. Both systems, supplied by Load Systems International, are wireless. A wired, full feature LMI, provided by Rayco-Wylie, is also available as an option. This unit, which was waiting to be shipped to a refinery, included a Mercotac mercury swivel between the upper and lower, which provides longer service life in this application.

Overall width and height requirements dictate that the cab be compact, but I was surprised to find that despite my 6'5” frame, leg room was not a

problem. The cab (Image 5) is narrow, however, so plus-sized guys might feel a little cramped. The only complaint anyone can have is with the rigid straight back seat. Although I would not want to spend an eight-hour shift in there, that would not be the norm for this type of crane.

In Part One, I described the pivoting boom head design. Notice in Image 6 how the boom head position can be altered. To reposition the boom head, all you have to do is lower the block to the ground pull a torpedo-shaped pin and with one arm relocate the head in the desired position and reinsert the pin. Notice the winch that is mounted about bumper high • a great feature for improved load spotting.

All Shuttlelift Carrydeck cranes rated at 10.5 tons and below utilize a front wheel drive system. The 3339 features three steering modes: 2 wheel, 4

wheel and crab. The drive axle is provided by Carraro with a MICO-supplied SAHR brake fitted to the drive line's input shaft. Pneumatic tires are standard but both foam-filled and non-marking options are available.

GM and Cummins are the two engine options. The GM is a 70 hp, 3 liter gas model. Gas/LP is a no charge option. The Cummins is an 85 hp, 3.3 liter turbo-diesel model. The unit I reviewed was equipped with the Cummins diesel engine.

Service points on the engine were acceptable although I wouldn't want to have to replace the starter in the field. Sound from the Cummins

engine was minimal thanks in part to a tight engine enclosure, an important feature for the people working around the crane. An optional enclosed cab, equipped on the test unit, also helped to limit noise.

Full pressure operational valves are supplied by Husco. A four-speed forward and reverse synchromesh transmission is supplied by JCB subsidiary I.T.L. This engine-transmission combo produces a fast maximum travel speed of 22.2 mph. To power all the boom and steering functions the engine is coupled to a pair of supply pumps. First in line is a variable displacement piston pump with a through shaft that drives the two-section gear pump.

A base model is listed at $100,500 and the target market has been identified as being primarily rental service. With only a handful of suppliers of these pocket-sized cranes, there are opportunities to carve out and develop a niche market with better than average returns. Whether you call it an industrial crane or a carry deck crane this is a quality product with tons (9 tons to be exact) of ability.


  • The 3339 is able to pick a 9-ton load and swing the boom throughout its 360 degrees of continuous rotation while on outriggers.
  • The boom head can be easily pivoted into one of five different positions for a wide range of operating boom angles.
  • This model is simple to service and simple to operate.


  • The compact cab is room enough, but the rigid straight back seat is less than comfortable.
  • Service points on the engine were acceptable although I wouldn't want to have to replace the starter in the field.


High quality construction and simple design are paired together with features ideal for the rental market.


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