When the team at Willard were asked if we could build the largest heated suction table we’d ever produced, we jumped at the chance as we always like a good challenge. Here we present the challenges and rewards of designing and installing such a project.
The request came from an existing customer of ours, Fælleskonserveringen, ‘The Joint Conservation Association of Danish Museums’ an institution, which undertakes the preservation of works of art. Bbased at Kronborg Castle at Helsingor Denmark, the Castle is a breathtakingly beautiful and famous for its association with Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The request was to be a total design, build and install project, which included transportation of the equipment, as well as, installation and commissioning.
The table took approximately 7 months to complete and due to its size of over 3 metres x 4 metres, it gradually became more and more difficult to manoeuvre the assembled table. From the very beginning of production we had been concerned with transporting the table from our workshops to Denmark and more importantly ensuring that it would be possible to fit the table into the conservation studio located within the Castle grounds.
With the table still in component form, before final assembly, our technicians flew to Denmark and visited the Conservation Studios at Kronborg Castle, to assess the proposed route through the Castle. This made it possible to make any fine adjustments during the assembly of the table, to accommodate the method of transportation and final installation within the conservation studio.
With this achieved and with the table nearing completion, we set about arranging the transportation of the finished equipment. Due to its enormous size, it was not going to be possible to transport the table flat or for that matter vertically! As with all Willard suction tables, the smooth and flat condition of finished work surface is of paramount importance. After some consideration and with several computer generated models, we decided to build a purpose made cradle, which would enable us to hold the table top section securely, but at an angle of 45 degrees, this provided just enough space for the table top to fit inside a dedicated canvas covered articulated trailer, which was hired for the duration of the delivery process, along with a very skilled fork lift operator and truck driver.
The day of dispatch went like clockwork thanks to our team of technicians who had everything calculated down to the last nut & bolt. The first job of the day was the removal of the doors to our workshops in order to create sufficient space. The table top was fitted with a protective impact resistant cover and was winched up to the required angle to ensure a smooth exit from our workshop and into the loading area, where it was to be fitted onto the purpose made cradle for transportation. The table was then loaded and fitted onto the truck with only inches to spare, once all components were loaded and secured onto the truck, the journey to Denmark commenced.
Five days later, the table arrived safely at the castle accompanied by 2 of our technicians who had travelled independently, to be there on the day. We had also engaged the services of a group of specialist removal experts for this stage of the project.
The table top, having been removed from the truck, was still fixed to the cradle and due to its large size, the only way to get the table into the Castle, was over the high perimeter wall. This required the use a crane to lift the table over the high wall and then lower it within the grounds. With the table at the top of the wall, it took on the characteristics of a giant sail and it was necessary to steady it with people and ropes to avoid the ice cold winds from whipping it straight off to the adjacent sea!
Once inside the grounds of the castle, there was one final obstacle to encounter, which was the means of accessing the Conservation Studios. Fortunately, the Institution had already fitted a very large slot in the wall of their studio, which is generally used for the arrival and removal of the very large canvases. The slot usually has a frame and a secure hinged door (rather like a very large vertical letter box!) however, in order to get the table into the studio it was necessary for both door and frame to be removed.
With the table top now removed from the transportation support frame, it is positioned vertically in preparation for the final part of its journey.
Gradually and very carefully the table top was taken through the wall inch by inch, taking great care to ensure no damage was sustained to either the table top or the building.
Inside the studio, the table top was then gradually lowered in to a horizontal position, the sub-frame, legs and control panel were all installed and all the packaging was then finally removed.
The fully assembled table was then connected to the electrical supply and the process of commissioning and final calibration was completed!
Our special thanks go to all the staff at Fælleskonserveringen for commissioning Willard Conservation for this project and for all of their help and assistance throughout the project from beginning to completion. Thank you to Andy and the team for their professional service and for helping to make the installation of the table such a great success.