Case Study: Relocating the Watch Box – W.F. Magann Corporation

W.F. Magann Corporation rented a Modulift modular spreader beam from Lifting Gear Hire and was able to fulfill their contractual obligations to delicately relocate the historical structure known as the Watch Box.


The Situation

W.F. Magann Corporation was subcontracted by Summit Construction to assist in relocating the Watch Box, a historic structure at NSF Indian Head (a naval research facility in Maryland) that once guarded the Washington Navy Yard during the Civil War.


A historic structure that Abraham Lincoln would often visit, the Watch Box played a vital role in keeping the Navy Yard secure and it remains to this day as the only surviving example from that period of time. Considering it’s the 150th anniversary of the end of the civil war, the Navy decided to restore the structure and return it the Navy Yard where it originally belonged.


To complete the job, Ayers House Movers, another subcontracted construction company, needed to lift the structure from its foundation, and move it onto the waterfront where W.F. Magann Corporation would place in on their barge and float it up the river to the Washington Navy Shipyard in Washington D.C and set it back on land for Ayers to move it inside the shipyard.

But of course, there were challenges to be had along the way. Modulift modular spreader bean


The Challenge

Lifting the Watch Box without causing damage to its delicate structure was the biggest challenge. The Navy informed W.F. Magann Corporation and Ayers House Movers to not physically alter the Watch Box in any way which meant they couldn’t install screws or nails in order to brace the structure to move and lift it. This made the actual rigging and lifting very challenging.


Project Engineer, Nick Scribner of W.F. Magann Corporation said, “We needed to make sure where Ayer’s lifting points were going to be located.


“We also needed to know how we were going to insert a shackle into their beam and make sure it was going to fit in properly and not interfere with the structure.”


Amid the struggles, timing, staying on schedule, and making sure Magann and Ayers had the right equipment to perform the job presented themselves as challenges, as well.


The Solution

Scribner realized that proper communication and coordination with Ayers was the most efficient way to solve the challenges involved.


“We literally just had to talk things the whole way through,” Scribner elaborated. “We just had to be super careful about the rigging altogether. Proper coordinating was the key and using the right equipment, too. In this field, timing is everything and getting things done on time can be challenging. Ayers was top notch and made the process that much easier.”


To get the right equipment at the right time, W.F. Magann contacted Lifting Gear Hire and rented a 4-way Modulift modular spreader beam.


The Results

Using a rented 4-way Modulift spreader beam from Lifting Gear Hire, W.F. Magann was able to complete the job within the anticipated timeframe. And the project was deemed a success.


“It’s rather funny because we didn’t think the 4-way modular system even existed,” Scribner said. “You can find 2-way spreaders, but not 4-way spreaders … then we contacted LGH and they had a 4-way system. It was perfect. They had equipment no one else had. And we were able to rent it, too. Renting is a great idea especially for short-term projects like this.”


W.F. Magann was able to lift the structure, using straps and shackles onto their barge where they, in turn, took the structure across the river and placed it gently back onto land inside the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. with a Manitowoc 400 Crane. Ayres then transported the box to its final position within the Yard.


Scribner added, “Like I said, timing is everything in this business. So, for Lifting Gear Hire to provide us the equipment earlier than expected meant we could get the job done even quicker. The equipment was reliable and durable which was crucial for us because we couldn’t alter the structure in any way. So we had to trust our equipment to do its job perfectly. LGH sent everything we needed and we got the job done safely. We’ve rented from LGH before and we’ve never had problems. They have a huge selection and we always have great experiences with them. We’ll definitely use them again in the future.” Modulift modular spreader bean


Equipment Used:

C-Mod Modulift modular spreader beam



Lifting Gear Hire is the largest single organization in North America devoted exclusively to the provision of lifting and moving equipment for rent. LGH holds a comprehensive inventory for hoisting, rigging, jacking, pulling, material handling, and safety equipment. Rental equipment is available from over 20 locations throughout North America, and LGH customers are supported by local Rental Representatives.


About W.F. Magann Corporation

W. F. Magann Corporation is a diversified general contractor for the heavy industrial, marine, and concrete construction industries. As a diversified general contractor, we offer the full range of design, construction and quality assurance capabilities necessary to complete your project on time and within budget.