Vibratory Drivers, Impact-Vibration Hammers and Apartment Buildings

In Vulcan’s last years, its relationship with Soviet (and after that Russian) people and institutions enabled it to obtain some interesting information about their vibratory and impact-vibration hammers. Some of this can be found at our post Material on Vibratory and Impact-Vibration Equipment from the Soviet Union and Russia. Part of that was a collection of photographs of their machines (prototype and production) in action.

In the post Russian Impact-Vibration Pile Driving Equipment: Chapter 3, Research and Development of Impact-Vibration Hammers, and Appendices, the following is stated:

A substantial number of tests on impact-vibration hammers were conducted in Riga, Latvia, where they drove piles under dwellings. The soils in this region are characterized as soils of low and medium consistency. The piles were 300 mm square reinforced concrete piles, 10 m long. There were 496 of them driven with an average penetration velocity of 1.04 m/min. The mean driving time for the same piles with an S-330 diesel pile hammer was 0.83 m/min. Comparison with a vibratory hammer was not carried out on these piles.

Residential piles are fairly rare in the United States, confined to such places as New Orleans and this. But the big difference is in the definition of residence; in Soviet times, most of the residences built were those multi-storey apartment buildings, and sure enough they were the site where many Soviet advances in pile driving were tested. One of those photos is shown above, using an impact-vibration hammer. A couple more of these are presented here.

VI-633 impact vibration hammer, in front of an apartment building. This was one of the larger machines that the VNIIstroidormash institute designed during its impact-vibration development program in the 1960’s.
Vibratory driver V851, doing its job in the snow (unavoidable in a country like Russia.)

I’m sure that living next to this was an experience. But Soviet housing policy was centred on multi-dwelling high rise apartment buildings. Some information behind this is here:

Most of these apartments were either “two room” or “three room” (excluding the kitchen and the bathroom) dwellings with a total living space of around 40-50 square metres (that’s 430-530 square feet for the metrically challenged; I’ll use 50 square metres for simplicity’s sake.)

The Soviet system of allocating these apartments–and until its end they were allocated–was on this wise: every Soviet citizen was allocated 9 square metres (97 square feet) of living space, so the apartment they were eligible for was based on the size of their family unit.  For example, if they did live in a 50 square metre apartment, they would have to have a six member family unit before some of them could be put on a list to obtain another apartment, which explains why these apartment units frequently had multigenerational families in them.

Photos and videos of apartment buildings are becoming familiar because of the war in Ukraine. They’ve been attacked in a number of ways: by artillery shell, tank, and now of course drones. The problem with these buildings in war is that they’re sitting ducks for this kind of military action. Most of these are Soviet vintage (not difficult since Ukraine’s population has been stagnant since independence) and they come from the same country that should have learned something from the German invasion during World War II. OTOH, like the noise from pile driving equipment, they may have not cared…

Our “new urbanists” would like to warehouse us in the same manner, but before we allow this to happen we need to look at what happens when things don’t go according to plan.


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