me one of the most enigmatic parts of the entire Titan I complex
(apart from the silo itself) are the cribwork structures that once
resided in the silos and supported the great and terrible force
freshly born of the developing nuclear age.
cribwork was a wealth of steel and as such was seen as pure dollar
signs to the salvage contractor whose profits were measured in sheer
tons of cold steel. It is then little surprise that nearly
every single Titan I site no longer holds this 14-story monolith
within its protective confines.
do not really know exactly how these structures were removed when it
comes down to the gritty details, but I do know it involved a cutting
torch and very large cranes. The planning, which must have been
rather complicated to safely and quickly complete such a task, no
doubt varied from contractor to contractor and surely took weeks or
months to complete.
sites were left with some major features of the silo interior intact,
such as the fuel terminal or even portions of the valuable stainless
steel piped LOX terminal left behind, but few retained some if any
portions of the towering cribwork.
its absence it is difficult to appreciate the size and complexity of the cribwork
. My time at the two Lowry sites I was fortunate
enough to get to see revealed nothing of what comprised these
features since nothing remained unless it was submerged at the bottom
of the flooded launchers.
held little hope of ever seeing the cribwork-- it was gone from all
the sites (so I thought); I could find no detailed operational photos
save but a few disjointed and scattered views, and I could find no
plans or blueprints showing how they were put together and exactly how
they functioned. The best I could come up with was a few
diagrams from the Titan I Operational Manual (AKA: "the dash
1" so named due to the document's trailing digit in the Air
Force's Tech Order numbering scheme: 21M-HGM25A-1-1).
NOTE: Many images in this section are very high resolution
and may take a while to load. The images are much larger than
they are displayed here, so if you save and view them you can see
them at full resolution. Please be patient and enjoy the
"Dash One" diagram of the cribwork leaves many questions
unanswered for the terminally curious like myself.
the spiral staircase was a luxury afforded only to the Operational Test
Facility at Vandenberg (VAFB) only. The operational sites had to
schlep up and down the ladder or wait for the personnel elevator to
time bore a few more pictures of the cribwork, mostly taken during
construction such as these following pictures and those in section
I, and a few others but I
wanted to see more.
and missile launcher platform being fabricated
courtesy of Fred Epler
missile launcher platform upon which the missile itself would be
installed. The flame bucket opening is visible at the trailing end
of the structure in this photo.
courtesy of Fred Epler
top of the personnel elevator and an access ladder near shock mounts
close to the bottom of the silo.
courtesy of Fred Epler
launcher and umbilical tower prior to missile emplacement
courtesy of Fred Epler
I heard that at one or more Titan I sites, the cribwork still existed
in whole or in part and I was deeply intrigued. I really wanted
to see the cribwork for myself and get some pictures to remember it
and to show others what it looked like.
that time I was still watching over 724-C and I hoped that someone
might let me see one of the sites with cribwork in exchange for a
grand tour of 724-C. Alas, that never happened and I never did
get to see the cribwork up close or tour one of the other Titan I
724-C was purchased and I could no longer visit the site without
permission and about a year later I moved out of Colorado as well.
it turned out that I would get to visit a Titan I site again, I had
given up hope of seeing the cribwork.
luck would have it, I would get to see the cribwork after all, just
not in person. First I found pictures of the cribwork at www.siloworld.com
and later I was fortunate enough to be shown pictures of the cribwork
and be allowed to show them here for others to see.
there follows many of those fascinating pictures I saw. I hope
you enjoy them as much as I do. These pictures were taken by
Lance R. Wright and scanned and provided by Fred Epler.
Additional photos were taken and provided by Walter Silva. Many
thanks to them for their efforts, contributions and for sharing these
first group of photos all show the very top at the silo cap from below
and looking upward from the cribwork itself. So, working our way
from the top down...
straight up here you see one of the four pillow blocks (upper left) that
supported the cribwork as well as one of the lateral crib stabilization
jacks (top center). These systems comprised a part of the locking
and stabilizing mechanism for the cribwork.
view of the east side of the upper cribwork
up from beneath some of the upper maintenance platforms
maintenance platform below the hydraulic ram placement for one of the
following pictures are photo-montages assembled to give a
broader and more complete view of the cribwork. The pictures
were carefully fitted together to achieve this effect of a much larger
field of view than the camera could provide. As I progress
though the cribwork there will be more such montages that show a very
complete picture of the cribwork. Some of the individual shots
will be recognizable in these images. The photographer carefully
took these photos from one position to allow the images to be
assembled in this way. It is a simple method but it has striking
results and I am very happy that the effort was taken to do this.
showing the entire east side of the cribwork shown from below.
Note the lateral crib jacks that extend out from the structure to secure
it in place.
view with more cribwork visible
around more, the shape of the cribwork really starts to emerge as
well as its size and complexity. This next group of photos
show the catwalk level of the cribwork.
from the launcher elevator motor platform. One of its enormous
suspension springs is visible on the left.
steel jaw once bore the entire weight of one of the silo's huge concrete
and steel doors-- approximately 220 tons.
platform and suspension at the cap catwalk level. The former
location of this platform is where I was able to climb up onto the
catwalk level in my crazy adventures described in sections IV
platform once held the two very large motors that raised and lowered the
disconcerting cantilevered platforms that circumvent the pillow blocks
how the vertical crib jacks have been removed. If I am not
mistaken, this cribwork is suspended only by the giant rusting spring
suspension system far below under the cold, dark water that fills the
bottom two-thirds of the silo.
cribwork is continued in the next large section. Click below
to see more cribwork.
Missile Silos Part
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