It’s here a last: Soils in Construction, the Sixth Edition, now available from Waveland Press. Many of you (and especially those who are familiar with the companion site vulcanhammer.info) are aware that I’ve spent much of my career in geotechnical engineering and deep foundations dealing with contractors. As such I am both sympathetic with their […]
Vulcan hammers appear often in geotechnical engineering textbooks and other reference material. It’s rare that it would happen outside of that discipline, but happen it did.
In 1960 the first edition of Mechanics of Materials by Archie Higdon, Edward H Ohlsen and William B. Stiles was published with the 1200A extractor photo shown above. The purpose of including it was to illustrate concentric axial stresses through the connecting links on the side from point A to point B, and specifically through the plane c-c. Vulcan granted permission to use the photo the year it left Chicago and moved to Chattanooga.
Evidently the illustration “made an impact;” it was retained through the Fourth Edition in 1985, by which time they had picked up two additional authors, John A. Weese and William F. Riley. It was in the Second Edition when this webmaster discovered it while taking Mechanics of Materials at Texas A&M in the mid-1970’s.
The 1200A had been introduced a few years before it appeared in this textbook and Vulcan went to some pretty silly lengths to publicise it. The textbook was one of the more sober ones. Below are the specifications to all of Vulcan’s extractors.
The photo above shows an overview of driving accessories for Vulcan onshore hammers from the 1970’s, from Vulcan Bulletin 68M. These apply both to the Warrington-Vulcan single-acting hammers and the Super-Vulcan differential-acting hammers.
More information on driving accessories can be found here:
It’s been a while, but we hope it’s worth the wait: the monograph Effective Hyperbolic Strain-Softened Shear Modulus for Driven PIles in Clay is now available. It was presented at the Research Dialogues for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 9-10 April 2019. The abstract is as follows:
Abstract: Although it is widely understood that soils are non-linear materials, it is also common practice to treat them as elastic, elastic-plastic, or another combination of states that includes linear elasticity as part of their deformation. Assuming hyperbolic behavior, a common way of relating the two theories is the use of strain-softened hyperbolic shear moduli. Applying this concept, however, must be done with care, especially with geotechnical structures where large stress and strain gradients take place, as is the case with driven piles. In this paper a homogenized value for strain-softened shear moduli is investigated for both shaft and toe resistance in…
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The Vulcan 030 was an extension of the 020 with a longer, heavier ram. It was first designed and built in an onshore version with the same 37″ jaws as the 020. A general arrangement is below.
The onshore 030 found itself on many interesting projects, such as the replacement of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge between St. Petersburg and Bradenton, FL, after it was hit by a ship and fell into Tampa Bay.
Like the 020, the 030 went offshore, too. The first offshore 030 was built for H.B. Fowler in 1965; a general arrangement is shown below.
Equipped with cables and (after the first three) a 22″ ram point (the first three had a 21″ one,) the offshore 030 was used by contractors such as Northwestern, Dragados and Fluor.
Specifications for the offshore 030 are below.
Photos of the hammer are below.
In its later specification sheets Vulcan listed a Vulcan 330 hammer, but it is essentially the same as the 030, and was not built.
Amidst all of the conventional wisdom about a tight relationship between Moscow and Beijing, a caution:
Fifty years later, the ferocity of the skirmish between Mao Zedong’s China and Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union seems to belong to a very distant past—so distant, indeed, that many foreign-policy experts are convinced that an anti-U.S. alliance between the two countries is emerging. Yet even half a century on, such an assessment stretches the evidence beyond what it can bear. On closer inspection, Chinese-Russian economic, foreign policy, and military cooperation is less than impressive. The history of relations between the two countries is fraught, and they play vastly different roles in the world economy, making a divergence in their objectives all but unavoidable. In short, reports of a Russian-Chinese alliance have been greatly exaggerated.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Vulcan had involvement in both. In our series A Fistful of Yuan, which dates from 2007, the following observation comes:
To his credit, it remained for Richard Nixon to re-open the door with China as the U.S.’s involvement in Vietnam wound down and the Chinese crawled out from under the landslide of the Cultural Revolution. Nixon wisely saw the natural rivalry between China and the then Soviet Union. United by ideology, the two nations were divided by history, a division that manifested itself when Soviet “experts” were given the boot in the early 1960’s. (This should give pause to enthusiasts of a China-Russia front against American “hegemony” today.)
Vulcan’s subsequent involvement in Russia revealed a system that, although had many commonalities with China, had many important differences as well.
The real question at this point is not whether the United States can benefit from this mutual unease. The real question is whether it will pull itself together long enough to do so.
The 020 hammer, derived from the 200C hammer, is an important part of Vulcan’s product line. A big hammer when it was introduced, it was key in making Vulcan a serious participant in the offshore hammer market, and also with larger onshore and marine projects as well. It was also the progenitor for hammers such as the 520, 030, 530 and 535.
General arrangements are below. The 020 was originally developed as an onshore hammer (the photo at the top of the page shows one in on the job) with 37″ jaws. If the hammer had a significant weakness, it was that: the jaws were too small to accommodate more than 30″ concrete pile or 36″ steel pipe pile.
The offshore hammer sported 54″ male jaws and could drive up to 48″ steel pipe pile.
The first offshore 020 was made for Ingram Contractors in 1965. Many offshore contractors purchased and used the hammers, including McDermott, DeLong, Teledyne Movable Offshore, Fluor and ETPM, along with onshore contractors such as T.L. James, Boh Brothers, Contratistas Costaneros and J.H. Pomeroy.
And the specifications:
Like the 014 and 016, the 020 wandered between the raised and lowered steam chest design, and also whether the hammer had a steam belt or not. Steam belts allowed the air or steam to pass from one side of the hammer to another. For onshore hammers, this allowed the steam chest to be run on the inside of the leaders. Offshore hammers traditionally ran their steam chest in front (outside) of the leaders, which means that they dispensed with the steam belt.
Also, like the 200C, the 020 had two different sizes of ram points for onshore and offshore hammers, although with two different sizes of cushion pots.
If you have one of these hammers and want to order parts or rehabilitate the hammer, get the serial number and make sure which configuration you’re ordering for.
The 014 and 016 hammers were the first single-acting hammers Vulcan produced based on the Super-Vulcan design. The main difference between the two was the ram weight, as can be seen below.
These hammers are without the Vari-Cycle feature; the drawing at the very top shows the Vari-Cycle added.
Specifications for the onshore hammers (which sported 32″ female jaws) are below.
The 016 was the basis of the Conmaco 160, which Vulcan first produced for Conmaco before they “struck out on their own.”
Vulcan also produced these hammers in an offshore configuration with 54″ male jaws, as shown below. The first of these was for Ingram Contractors (at the time the same ownership as the book distribution company) in 1968. T.L. James and McDermott also purchased these hammers.
Specifications for the offshore hammers are below.
One major difference between the offshore and onshore models is the raised vs. lowered steam chest. The onshore model cylinder design was modelled after the Super-Vulcan hammers, which required a steam chest raised above the bottom of the cylinder. For the offshore hammers this was dispensed with and the steam chest design was more like the Warrington-Vulcan hammers, low on the cylinder. The main benefits were a shorter slide bar and less chance for core burn-in in the air/steam passages.
The heavier build of these hammers (as opposed to the earlier single-acting hammers) was more beneficial offshore than onshore. The frame is more durable (although it’s hard to argue with a configuration that lasts 120 years!) but this added to the weight.
The weight of the 014 and 016 may have put them at something of a disadvantage, but they have given good service in the sixty-years they’ve been out, as can be seen in this video (courtesy of Pile Hammer Equipment.)
The Vulcan 400C and 600C were the company’s “final frontier” on the Super-Vulcan hammers. It invested a considerable amount of resources in the engineering of these products, both offshore and (in the case of the 400C) onshore.
Promotion wasn’t lacking in the specifications either, as can be seen below.
Yet the fact remains that neither of these hammers was ever built. Why was this so?
For the onshore hammer, demand for hammers this large onshore only came on Vulcan’s “radar screen” in the mid- and late 1960’s, and by that time the offshore market was dominating Vulcan’s activity. There was also the persistent “blow rate” controversy.
For offshore, on paper a differential acting hammer made perfect sense. Hourly barge rates were (and are) high; the more rapidly the work got done, the better. This probably inspired McDermott to purchase the several 140C hammers that it did. And the length of the piles was the last nail in the coffin for pile driving formulae; the wave equation and pile driving analysers were taking over. The energy into the pile could be monitored, as noted in Pile Installation by Pile Driving.
However, there were other issues. In some cases the pile rebound timed itself to return with the next blow, resulting in the “dancing on the pile” issue Vulcan ran into sometimes with the smaller Super-Vulcan hammers. Beyond that, the air or steam consumption of these hammers was considerable. The 600C, for example, used the same boiler size as the 560 with 40% less striking energy. To penetrate a hard layer, the additional energy was worth more than the higher blow rate. That could have been compensated for by designing a Super-Vulcan hammer with a 5′ equivalent stroke, but Vulcan never tried to present this to its customers.
It’s yet another “what-if” situation that Vulcan faced in its long history.
Above is an order form Vulcan included in its Bulletin 40 on leaders. Below is an explanation of that form.
It’s still a pretty handy guide when you’re thinking about purchasing or renting pile hammer leaders.