Here is the crane that lifted the million program

HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY. Elis Lindén wanted to simplify material handling on the buildings. He revolutionized the crane industry and became one of Sweden’s richest men.

The inventor Elis Lindén, who started as a carpenter at the age of fifteen, knew from personal experience how much time and energy was spent carrying materials back and forth in the workplace. But if you place the crane in the middle of the construction and give it a long reach sideways, maybe it can take over much of the knocking while lifting the stuff to the height?

What made this possible was a self-balanced construction with a vertical pillar or mast, which had a horizontal, asymmetrically balanced lifting boom at the top. This was provided with a counterweight at the short end, the so-called machine arm.

The swivel unit – the motor and the gear – was mounted on the upper part of the mast, which allowed the lifting boom to rotate. The long end of the boom formed the “working arm”, along the underside of which a trolley went to move the load in and out relative to the mast.

The inventor Elis Lindén in a picture from the family’s own photo album, which has been donated to Lars Mjörning, the Industrial History Association in Västerås. Photo: Private / Lars Mjörning

The straight vertical construction allowed the crane to be placed close to the construction site. Thanks to a simple demountable truss construction, it could also be placed in the elevator shaft in the middle of the house.

A first prototype was tested at an HSB building in Arboga in November 1949, and proved to be very successful. Soon Elis Lindén and his crane carried out a high-rise building under their own auspices in Västerås, and it was clear: the Lindén crane was here to stay.

In the newly started company AB Byggnadskranar, Elis Lindén continued to develop her invention. Among other things, he developed a rail-bound variant, which had the crane moved along the building for increased work space. Larger and more powerful cranes were also developed, with lifting heights upwards of 80 meters and 70 meters of outriggers horizontally. Smaller models were mounted on truck chassis, and thus became self-transporting tower cranes.

And during the Swedish record years’ construction boom, the Linden cranes made a big impact. Among other things, they were used in the construction of the 26-storey DN scraper in Stockholm, which was Sweden’s tallest building when it was completed in 1964.

Linden cranes in use during the construction of the DN scraper in Stockholm 1963. Photo: Stig A Nilsson / DN / TT

The real breakthrough for the crane type came when the million program began. From 1965 to 1975, one million homes were built in Sweden, a third of which were in high-rise buildings, and Linden cranes loomed over the horizon around all our larger towns.

Read more: The Norwegian excavator had to pull forward with the bucket

In 1970, Elis Lindén received the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering’s gold medal for her invention. When he died eight years later, his company had 10 percent of the world market for construction cranes. Elis Lindén, son of a farm blacksmith at Skyllberg’s mill outside Askersund, had become a very wealthy man.

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