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Demystifying Big Red

The TEUPEN TL 156AX, or “Big Red” as it is affectionately known, is the state-of-the-art aerial lift machine that takes center stage of the Oculus floor once a year. The Oculus is a unique structure that requires a specialized crane to get to its hard-to-reach spaces.   


We spoke to the engineers to learn more about the machine and shed some light on the annual tradition. 

Big Red Machine in Oculus


What is Big Red?

Big Red is a custom-built machine designed to reach interior spaces of the Oculus for certain maintenance and operations functions. It was created to inspect 60 exhaust fans located at the top of the Oculus. Every year, each fan must pass inspection and the engineers ensure that nothing has been trapped in the fans. If you have ever lost a balloon in the Oculus, the engineers have most likely discovered it in the fans. 


How was Big Red named?

When Big Red was brought into the Oculus, engineers were asked to submit name suggestions for it, and the winning name was “Big Red” which has followed the machine since it was brought here.  


Big Red Specs

  • Its arm can reach the highest point of the Oculus at approximately 160 feet.
  • It can extend over 50 feet horizontally with its legs.
  • It weighs 30,000 pounds.
Big Red Machine Operations


How does it operate?

Comprehensive safety control systems, onboard diagnostics and trained personnel ensure safe operation of the machine. Personnel must pass emergency repel training to operate it. One of the advantages of this machine is its safety features, including a one- or two-person cage and harness system, as well as a fall arrest system that ensures the operator is secure. This machine is also designed with stability in mind, with a 4-point leveling system that keeps the machine steady.


To move across the marble floor from its resting area, a Duradeck floor protection system is placed along its path of travel and Big Red glides across it. 


Big Red helps maintain the iconic structure of the Oculus while making it easier and safer for workers to access difficult-to-reach areas. If you visit the Oculus during February, stop by, and take a look at it either in action during the evenings and overnights, or resting on the Oculus floor during the day. During other parts of the year, you can find it in its collapsed position and stationed on the south side near the staircase towards the PATH trains. 

Big Red Machine
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