In the Catalogue: Vulcan Leaders, Rigs and Accessories, 1906-1931

Although Vulcan became a “one-product” company with the success of the Warrington-Vulcan hammers, it furnished a wide variety of accessories and other products to go with its successful pile hammers. From the turn of the century until the Great Depression, Vulcan issued one catalogue to cover the entire line of steam hammers, drop hammers, accessories and, towards the end, extractors. (And the sales catalogue included the service manual!)

Below we present some samples of the rigs and leaders which Vulcan offered. Most of these appeared in Vulcan’s comprehensive brochure through several revisions from 1906 until the last comprehensive catalogue in 1931.

The first of Vulcan’s product line to rate its own, two-colour, letter sized catalogue was the Super-Vulcan closed type hammer, which was introduced in 1928. 1931 represented the last year of the comprehensive catalogue; in 1934 (shortly after Chet Warrington took over the business,) the catalogue was broken up into product lines. By World War II all of Vulcan’s sales and service literature was in the letter size, two-colour, product specific format. This would continue until the late 1970’s, when four-colour literature was introduced and maintained until the end of the business.

Early Sheet Piling Caps

An early (1909) Vulcan sheeting cap showing the cushion arrangement. The teardrop shaped wood block was adapted from Casgrain’s design for drop hammers, complete with the Norway iron band at the top to prevent brooming of the block.

The Warrington-Vulcan steam hammer came into being just before some major innovations in driven piles were introduced. One of those innovations was steel sheet piling, which were introduced on both sides of the Atlantic around the beginning of the twentieth century. Vulcan quickly adapted its hammers to sheet pile installation and developed a set of driving accessories.

One of the challenges of adapting to sheet piling is to produce caps that adapt to the countours of the sheeting. Although it’s possible to use a “flat face” cap (like the one on the right) to drive sheeting, generally it’s better to use a cap with “islands” which are shaped to mate with the sheeting between the islands. In this way the hammer can assist in guiding the sheets downward.

The top of the block actually was inserted into a standard Vulcan base. That in turn is a reminder of another important fact about Vulcan air/steam hammers: the standard base, with its conical receptacle, wasn’t developed first for the accessories familiar to Vulcan hammer users, but for direct insertion of a wood pile with or without (better with) a band to prevent brooming. It was later that the standard cushion pot was developed to mate with the existing conical base recesses.

The cushioning effect of the block was essential, especially because the original Warrington-Vulcan design used an integrally cast ram point. It soon became evident (especially with the deveopment of steel piling) that this would not do, and by World War I Vulcan was transitioning to steel ram points in its rams.

Below: two spreads from the 1914 catalogue showing various sheet piling sections current at the time from Lackawanna, United States Steel, Friestedt, Carnegie, Jones & Laughlin and Wemlinger. Note that Z-sheeting is missing from the lineups; it does not come into play until after World War I. Centre flanges are also common on sheeting at the time. The tee that Lackawanna made was riveted together with angle iron, and rivets still appear on both Friestedt and Carnegie sections.

In someone else’s catalogue: hammer specifications in the 1920 Carnegie Steel sheet pile catalogue.  The list includes hammers which are still in active use.  Note that MKT and Union included air consumption, even at this early date; Vulcan stuck with steam only.


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