We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Steam Crane?

By Jordan Weagly
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
AboutMechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AboutMechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A steam crane is a type of crane powered by pressurized steam and used primarily in the 1800s. The steam that powers the machine is produced by an attached boiler and is used to fuel the various components of the steam engine cranes. Once a common sight at many docks and industrial facilities, a steam crane provided an effective means of lifting materials that might otherwise be impossible to move. Steam was eventually replaced by fossil fuels as a primary energy source, and these cranes fell out of popular use.

Many steam cranes had a similar design that resulted from the heavy metals and machinery used to make the lifts. For instance, the water tank was usually designed to be vertical and mounted opposite the main lift components. Called the jib and the load, these parts were generally quite heavy in a steam crane. When the vertical boiler was filled with water it could offset the heavy weight of the crane machinery and provide the counterweight required for heavy lifting.

Another similarity between many steam cranes was that they were likely to be one of two configurations. The first configuration was a mobile steam crane that moved around on rail tracks, wheels or via some other mobile platform. This design's major benefit was that it could be moved to assist in a particular job or transferred from place to place. Another typical configuration for a steam crane was for it to be fixed in one location, which may have allowed for more consistent performance and more power.

Whatever the configuration, a steam crane was usually made and installed to perform specific tasks related to heavy lifting. Often used as lifts for goods during the shipping process, many of these cranes were installed at docks to facilitate the loading and unloading of goods from incoming or outgoing ships. One type of crane, a locomotive yard crane, would have been tied to a dock railway system and responsible for unloading ships at various points along the dock.

One reason for the similarities among many steam cranes was that only a few major manufacturers created and sold steam cranes for commercial and industrial use. Many steam cranes that were once important parts of the mercantile industry in the United Kingdom have been preserved by various historical societies. Of the steam cranes preserved, one popular and common version was the fairbairn steam crane produced by William Fairbairn and Sons between 1816 and 1864.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.