A queston about construction cranes at night....

Why do construction cranes often suspend stuff halfway up the mast at night?

I always thought it was to stop thieves from stealing the compressor things you often see dangling from them. But the other night I saw one holding a ‘Satellite’ portable toilet system about ten stories above the street.

So my original theory is now out the window. I mean, who really wants to steal a satellite portable toilet system?

When I mentioned this to a friend, he said they did it to counteract the counterweight and keep it from blowing over.


Is he ribbing me or serious?

I’d always heard the prevent a generator (or whatever) theft explanation, which makes some sense. If what you’re describing as suspended is something along the lines of a port-o-potty, my first guess is that you ran across the current worksite of a crane operator with a sense of humour.

The theory regarding the counterweight doesn’t seem to make sense. How would a situation wherein a thing with a heavy derrière has a large protuberance pointed into the night sky be improved by hanging an unstable weight off the end of said protuberance (wow - second time this year I’ve used that word!)? Also, the weight of a port-o-potty, or a generator for that matter, is insignificant compared to that of a large construction crane’s counterweight. And ten stories up? It seems that the higher the load is suspended, the higher the center of gravity for the whole assemblage - not what you’re looking for in a windstorm.

Correct me classical Newtonian mechanics!


Yep, it is, or was, a port-o-potty suspended up in the air. Here in the Northwoods we call 'em ‘Satellites’. Don’t ask me why, but that’s the name of the company. Their closest competition, interestingly enough, comes from an outfit named ‘Biffs Biffy’s’ -Were a humorous bunch up here fer shuuure.

And on second thought, it wasn’t ten stories up, it was more like one or two. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I remember seeing this with other cranes too.

The cranes in questions aren’t the ones attached or in the middle of a building, their the moveable kind that often have extremely large masts.

I don’t know if this added info helps any…


I’m betting on the anti-theft explanation. Perhaps the crew stores tools in the port-o-potty overnight.

Don’t sell the porta-pottys short. People do in fact steal them, and they are more expensive than you think.

My $0.02:
It’s not that the crew is worried about theft of the Porta-Potty, it’s the threat of vandalism. For some reason, an unattended Porta-Potty seems to invite mayhem.

Our business uses PP’s and our contract holds us responsible for any damage to the unit. We’ve had one vandalized and they are almost un-repairable; the whole unit has to be replaced at a very substantial cost.