I know I’ve spent a fair amount of time on site anniversaries this year. Those include the quarter century anniversaries of my two original sites: vulcanhammer.net and Positive Infinity. But I think it would be remiss if I didn’t stop and say something about this one. I don’t have an exact date when I uploaded vulcanhammer.info, but the Wayback Machine’s first notice of it is 13 October 2007, which is pretty close (from memory) to the start. On or near that date, it began, and so the site celebrates its fifteenth anniversary.
vulcanhammer.net had grown and prospered in the first decade of the millennium, so much so that it supported itself with Google ads. But, as the banner above indicated, the site had a broad agenda. The geotechnical engineering part of that agenda was by far the largest part of its traffic. But, for me, all of this came about because of my involvement in the Vulcan Iron Works, and that included the part about the wave equation and other driven pile topics. The time had come, it seemed, to set forth that part of the site on its own.
That need was underscored by the state of the support for the Vulcan product line. Since the business had passed from my family’s hands, that support had been decidedly uneven, to say the least. The “succession” went through two transitions and finally left Chattanooga in 2005. There were (and are) many Vulcan hammers out there, how to support them? One thing that was needed was dissemination of the extensive knowledge base the factory had accumulated over the years. Some of that had already been posted on vulcanhammer.net (like the Vulcan Offshore Tips) but there was a great deal more that could be put out there. And so this site was launched in the Fall of 2007:
Once this was launched, things started to happen.
In 2008 I became a consultant for Vulcan Foundation Equipment, which had been supporting the product line on its own for many years. This has been a satisfying relationship for everyone. This site has complemented their efforts; the mission to maintain the support and propagation of the product line has been successful.
Also that year was the issuance of the first volume of the vulcanhammer.info Guide to Pile Driving Equipment, which incorporates the field service manuals for the Vulcan hammers and other important information. Now with two volumes and the first in its second edition, these guides have been valuable for those who continue to use Vulcan pile driving equipment.
In the meanwhile the site grew. Vulcan has a long and interesting history, some of which I was aware of while working there but I only became aware of some of it after the fact, especially with the proliferation of online information. And there were stories to tell too. Some of them were good, like A Fistful of Yuan: Vulcan in China, 1981-3, some strange like Nilens and Conmaco, some not so hot, like the Caldwell Steam Snow Plow. Vulcan had also branched out into just about every type of pile driving technology there was, and no matter how successful the effort it’s an opportunity to educate on the pros and cons of all of these technologies. All the while the online knowledge base of the wave equation has been expanded, a needful effort for geotechnical engineers who are involved in pile dynamics.
With the advance of the internet came the transition from static sites to dynamic ones, and especially those with content managers like WordPress. The first site of the family to make that transition was Positive Infinity, which it did in 2005 and on to WordPress in 2006. The rise of social media made the question more urgent, but other things (like a PhD pursuit) sidetracked things a bit for this site and others. With that out of the way in 2016, the question came back to the forefront. In October 2017 (five years ago this month) after several months of transition vulcanhammer.info moved in its entirety to WordPress, and has been there ever since.
With that the site has continued to grow and prosper, not only with information on Vulcan and the product line but also with related topics in engineering and of course new sections such as the one on sheet piling.
For those of you who have visited the site, thank you for your support and look forward to many more years of service to the driven pile industry.