This colorful tower was a crankshaft from a ship's engine. Specifically it is from a Baldwin Hamilton Engine. It was out of a ship that was broken up in a ship demolition yard Kearney NJ. Zach Stakis of Aeromotive Engineering bought a Crankshaft Grinding machine for Marine Engines, and was using this particular shaft to set up his machine. Around 1990 the shaft was repurposed as iconic Red Hook art.
Aero machining is a very precise type of engineering. A crankshaft turns the up and down motion of an engine's pistons to a a rotational motion, such as a spinning propeller.