The EZ Compact Mast Climber: Unconventional Scaffold for Tight Spaces

Words: Dan Kamys


By Clint Bridges

“I hate frames!” How many times have you heard that phrase? I hear this one a lot, too: “I’d love to use EZ Scaffold, but this is not a mast climber job. I don’t want to use frames, but I don’t have a choice.” The fact is, we will never completely eliminate the need for frame scaffold. However, the use of mast climbers dramatically increases safety and production while decreasing labor. In the three cases described below, McGee Brothers in Greensboro, N.C.; Luna Masonry in Henderson, Tenn.; and C&C Masonry from Carrollton, Ga., turned to EZ Scaffold to use mast climbers in unconventional areas — jobs for which frame scaffold would traditionally have been used.

Case 1: McGee Brothers

McGee BrothersCliff McGee, assistant vice president of McGee Brothers, had a masonry elevator shaft to build. The interior dimensions were 7’ 10” x 8’ 6”. The shaft had to be built from the inside — by no means the perfect conditions to lay block on any scaffold, and definitely not a job where mast climbers would normally be considered. McGee remembered seeing information on a new type of mast climber made by EZ Scaffold, a compact mast climber that can be rolled through a 3’ 0” door and set up by hand. He thought this would be the perfect wall to test it out. McGee BrothersEZ Scaffold provided training and certification for McGee’s employees. The platform was shipped already assembled and was installed using a telescoping forklift. The towers were added by hand as the wall was built. The mast climber was dismantled the same way, pulling the platform out through the elevator door. McGee BrothersMatt Mahoney, supervisor for McGee Brothers, said that being able to raise and lower the platform as needed is one of the benefits of using the EZ Compact Mast Climber instead of conventional frame “buck” scaffold. According to Mahoney, “Anything we used would be difficult, and the room would have been limited. Using buck scaffold, we would have had to get the bucks up there and constantly stop work to raise boards and get more material. I really liked the EZ Compact Mast Climber. It helped being able to run it up and down for access with personnel and material. The walls were to be painted. The mast climber gave us the ability to easily lower the platform to rub and point the walls. I can’t wait to use it on a larger elevator shaft.”

Case 2: Luna Masonry

Luna MasonryRufino Gill with Luna Masonry was working on several school jobs, and was looking for a scaffold that was safer, didn’t require as much labor, and was more flexible for partition and corridor walls. “I have good guys, and we do good work,” said Gill. “But no matter how good you are, it is almost impossible to keep a frame scaffold safe, much less compliant.”
Luna Masonry Luna Masonry
The EZ Scaffold Compact Mast Climber keeps all boards and guardrails in place as you are going up the wall. The adjustability of the platform allowed Luna to work both sides of hallways off the same scaffold, without having to move it or reconfigure. When Luna moved the scaffold, the built-in casters on the base allowed them to roll it into place without taking it apart. They could leave the platforms assembled, boards in place and not remove the guardrail. According to Gill, “Labor is a major issue now more than ever. We have to do more with less. The EZ Compact Mast Climber allows us spend less time installing scaffold and requires less labor. Not having to constantly worry about, as well as spend so much time fixing, scaffold issues allows us to spend more of our day getting block in the wall, being productive.”

Case 3: C&C Masonry

C&C MasonryScott Cunningham with C&C Masonry had an entirely different situation. Have you ever had a job where you scratch your head and ask, “How do they expect me to lay brick there?” This particular job had alcoves that were 7’ 7” wide x 4’ 2” deep before they tapered in 3’ to a narrow opening of 3’ 5”. Again, this was not an ideal scaffold job. Cunningham turned to his EZ Scaffold salesman, Curtis Jones, who thought he could provide a solution with the new EZ Scaffold Compact Mast Climber. EZ Scaffold provided wedge decks to fit the wall dimensions of the alcove. But when the installation began, the wood framer was off by as much as 6”. The wall narrowed as it went up. Of course this was not a problem to the general contractor — the mason would make it look good, right? But the flexibility of the EZ Scaffold Mast Climber was what made it possible to adjust outriggers to fit the tighter wall. Similar to the McGee job, C&C was able to lower and raise the platform to provide access for employees and for cleaning the wall, making a tough job easy. C&C MasonryIt is more important now than ever to be as efficient and productive as possible. One way in which costs can get out of hand on a job is to not have enough scaffold and/or to not have the right scaffold. If you ever heard the late Sam McGee, founding member of McGee Brothers, speak, he touted, “Get him on the wall and get a brick in his hand” and “three brick a minute.” If the employee has nowhere to work because there is not enough scaffold, the scaffold is not ready or there is no brick to lay or mud to lay it with, he is not being productive. This can be the difference between 500–600 brick a day, two brick a minute, and more than 1,000 brick a day, three brick a minute. C&C MasonryThe purpose of a mast climber is to position personnel at their most productive and safest working level. A 1990 article in Masonry Construction* references an independent study by the University of Texas, which shows that using adjustable scaffolding rather than conventional tubular scaffolds increased productivity by more than 20 percent. The article illustrated how just a 10 percent increase in production can double your profit — or, these days, more than double. It makes sense. People are more productive when they are comfortable, especially when they are not bent over or reaching over their heads. Mast climbers can dramatically save labor and increase production, allowing you to do more with less. The EZ Scaffold Compact Mast Climber provides an alternative to using frames in areas where mast climbers would not traditionally have been considered. It’s an alternative that is safer, more productive and saves labor. The fact is, we’ll never completely get rid of conventional frame scaffold, but we can try.
Clint Bridges is vice president of EZ Scaffold in Columbia, Tenn. He can be reached at *B. Suprenant, “Tower Scaffolding Increases Productivity by 20%,” Masonry Construction, January 1990, pp. 20–23.  
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