The History of The Wrecking Ball

When many think of demolition, right after controlled building implosions, many think about the wrecking ball. Though advanced hydraulic technology and a need for more accurate demolitions has all but retired the wrecking ball, we’ll admit it — there’s nothing quite as fun as seeing a wrecking ball in action. In this piece, we’re going to take a quick look at the history of the wrecking ball and its place in modern demolition.

Wrecking Ball Design

Wrecking balls can range in weight from around 1,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds of forged steel. The wrecking ball was essentially an extension of the manual sledgehammer in terms of might and accuracy. The reason wrecking balls are spherical is to allow for easier retrieval after making their way through the structures they demolish. The ball is attached to massive chains that suspend the wrecking ball from cranes or even helicopters. The method of demolition is quite straight-forward. Either a crane or other higher attachment sways to allow the ball to swing like a pendulum. In order to demolish horizontal structures, wrecking balls can be hoisted above the structure and dropped on top of it, much like dropping a hammer on your foot.

The Pros of Wrecking Ball Demolition

Though it seems like a downright primitive method of demolition, the wrecking ball didn’t really come on the demolition scene until the late 1880s. Between the 1930s and 1960s, the wrecking ball was one of the most popular methods of mass demolition. One of the biggest reasons for the wrecking ball’s popularity in the demolition industry of that time was the low cost of demolition. What had taken considerable time and manpower, the wrecking ball could handle in a matter of minutes with a minimally required crew.

The Cons of Wrecking Ball Demolition

The wrecking ball eventually fell out of popularity for a variety of reasons. The mess of using a wrecking ball was a factor in its downfall as some earlier building materials now exposed by such demolition were discovered to be quite hazardous. Another wrecking ball downfall was the increased desire to recycle some building materials from demolitions — a difficult task once a structure had been demolished via wrecking ball. Yet another nail in the coffin of the wrecking ball was the increase in hydraulic technology of demolition equipment. Suddenly, great power could be pinpointed to demolish sites with great accuracy. Despite their shortcomings, some wrecking balls are still used in the demolition of isolated hazardous materials — demolition jobs deemed too dangerous for more precise demolition.

Whether you need an entire building removed or more precise demolition, the demolition experts at DT Specialized Services can assist you.