The Pile Buck Ads 2: Vulcan #1 Hammer in Action — vulcanhammer.net

On this, the twenty-second anniversary of the beginning of this site, we present another of the ads which Pile Buck allowed us to run in their books. It shows the Vulcan #1 hammer on the South Side of Chicago. It also features the URL of the vulcanhammer.info site, which is dedicated to Vulcan hammers and […]

via The Pile Buck Ads 2: Vulcan #1 Hammer in Action — vulcanhammer.net

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The Pile Buck Ads 1: Vulcan 3100 Assembled — vulcanhammer.net

This site has never had an “advertising budget” but in the last decade the publisher Pile Buck gave it the opportunity to advertise itself in its books Sheet Pile Design by Pile Buck and Pile Driving by Pile Buck. There were five in the series, and this is the first, using the assembly of the […]

via The Pile Buck Ads 1: Vulcan 3100 Assembled — vulcanhammer.net

Picking Up Concrete Piles for Driving

One of the concepts students in geotechnical engineering courses seem to have the most trouble with is estimating stresses in concrete piles during pick-up and setting them in place to drive.  The basic problem is that it’s sometimes hard to get our heads around the analytical simplification of the actual situation.  Let’s start by looking at the operation itself.  These first photos come from a job in Delaware in 1998, using a Vulcan 530 to drive cylinder piles.

Concrete-Pile-Pickup-Delaware-1998-1
The pile starts on the ground. What we have here is “one-point pickup” where only one line is used to pick up the pile. It’s put in a certain place (more about that later) in this case using a “choker.” (Some piles have pickup lifting eyes, they are best cast into the pile at the time of manufacture.) In this position the pile is horizontal. Once the crane operator lifts the choker, the pile is supported at two points: the choker and the far end of the pile. This is the most severe case of loading during pick-up.
Concrete-Pile-Pickup-Delaware-1998-2
The pile is being lifted into position. As the pile rotates, more of the load is shifted to the choker, but that load is more and more axial in the pile and not bending.
Concrete-Pile-Pickup-Delaware-1998-3
The pile is now vertical, almost all the load is on the choker and the stresses in the pile are now axial.
Vulcan-530-1997-Dover-DE
The pile is set into a template (shown in previous photograph) and the hammer is set on top of it, preparing to drive it. The template keeps the pile vertical until enough of the pile is in the ground to support it.
Vulcan 530 Delaware 1998 7
The pile is nearly down to the desired elevation due to the blows of the impact hammer.

Depending upon the configuration of the pile, it’s also possible to have two- and three-point pickup, as we can see from these photos, taken at the construction of a terminal in Portsmouth, VA, in 2005-6.  The contractor is Weeks Marine, the same contractor that got Sully’s plane out of the Hudson after his famous “landing” in the river.

DSCN1851
A two-point pickup of a cylinder pile. The pile is off the ground and horizontal; it is simply supported at the chokers. Behind the pile is Weeks Marine’s Raymond 60X hammer.
DSCN1855
The pile is being lifted up at one end for driving. As this happens more and more of the load is shifted to the left (top) choker, just as is the case with one-point pickup. Note Weeks Marine’s large barge which they use to do this kind of work.
DSCN1858
The pile is almost vertical, almost all of the load is on the upper choker, suspended in turn from Weeks Marine’s crane.
DSCN1866
The pile is now vertical. Weeks Marine’s Raymond 60X is now atop the pile, ready to begin driving. Note the grips on the pile at the bottom of the photo. This is called a “pile monkey” and is very useful for pile alignment in the leaders (guides.)

So how to we solve problems like this?  Basically we assume that the pile is a horizontal beam, simply supported at the pickup points (or in the case of one-point pickup, at the pickup point and at the furthest end from the pick-up point) with the weight of the pile as the only load.  One thing that can be done is to raise the distributed load of the weight by a factor for inertial effects during handling.  An example of this is a 60′ long 12″ square concrete pile with a 50% increase for inertial effects with single point pick-up.  We used the CFRAME program from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to analyse the beam, although most any beam software (or in some cases tables or hand calculation) can be used for this computation.

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In this case we are displaying the output of CFRAME which shows each section of the beam/pile (i.e., one one side of the pick-up point and the other.)

According to the Prestressed Concrete Institute’s Recommended Practice for
Design, Manufacture and Installation of Prestressed Concrete Piling (1993), the maximum permissible stress (tension) for transient loads such as handling loads is as follows

F_b = 6 \sqrt {f'_c} (US Units, psi for both variables)

For SI units, this works out to

F_b = \frac {1}{2} \sqrt {f'_c} (SI Units, MPa for both variables)

Some specifications allow the prestress of the pile f_{pc} to be added to F_b , with the same units as the other variables.  Obviously with precast concrete piles (rare in the US but used elsewhere) the prestress does not apply.

FL DOT Concrete Pile Pickup
For several sizes of concrete piles, the Florida Department of Transportation recommends these permissible configurations and pick-up point locations.  The pickup locations relative to the length are fairly standard with concrete piles.

Other piles sizes and lengths can be computed using the methods described above.

Vulcan 014 and 016 Valve Gear Assembly

Above is a valve gear diagram for the Vulcan 014 and 016 hammers.  It shows the workings of the valve, its positioning during operation and other details.  Although Vulcan made improvements after this drawing (valve liners and Vari-Cycle, for example) it shows the basics of the valve which has done well in Vulcan hammers for more than a century.

More details on the 014 and 016 hammers are here.

Vulcan Sheave and Cylinder Head Assembly

Above is a Vulcan diagram of the sheave and cylinder head assembly for Vulcan #2, #1 and #0 series hammers, which include the 06, 505, 506, 0R, 08, 010, 012, 508, 510 and 512 hammers.  It includes the factory intended wire rope sizes for these hammers.  Some additional notes are as follows:

  1. Sheave and sheave head assembly safety is VERY IMPORTANT; see Vulcan Tip #65 for more details.
  2. The grease fitting is there for a reason; the sheaves need to be greased periodically.  See the Vulcan field service manuals for more information.
  3. Watch for wire rope and sheave wear, and replace when wear is excessive.
  4. Older Vulcan hammers will feature two sheaves where one is shown above; this can still be done if necessary if the hammer is in factory configuration with the proper sheaves.
  5. Vulcan traditionally assumed the “dead end” of the wire rope was on the leaders, while Raymond put it on the hammer, adding a dead end to the cylinder head to make this a reality.

From “Deal Yourself a Winner” to “A Pile Driver Talks About God”

The ad above is another Offshore Technology Conference ad from the early 1970’s.  It was aimed at its industry: the oilfield was well endowed with hard-drinking, card-playing people, a simple fact that doesn’t fit into some peoples’ idealisation of the past.  The onshore construction industry wasn’t much different, although the higher risks–and rewards–of the oilfield made everything more intense.

Contrast this with the following forty years later from Rusty Signor, then President of the Pile Driving Contractors Association and President of TX Pile, LLC, in an issue of Pile Driver:

In my last message, I ended with a different, more positive view on the news in our current world situation. This time, I am going to do another first: a book review. The book is Seven Men and The Secrets of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.

Certainly advice on engineering techniques, safety practices and legal tips are very important for our pile driving business; however, personal character development is also something to consider for most. You may or may not know of all the seven men in this book, but the ones you thought you knew are viewed from a very different standpoint than how you probably learned about them in school. The book focuses on their complete reliance on their spiritual calling. Since this is not a government publication, I can use the word God.

For instance, everyone knows about George Washington and the story of the cherry tree. However, did you know that he was a deeply religious man and that he relied on his faith in helping him make  decisions? He prayed on his knees several times a day with a Bible before him. Washington believed that God had a special purpose for his life and that providence saved him from being killed. In one battle alone, three horses were shot out from under him and he had bullet holes through his hat and clothing. He empowered his men with God-filled inspiration and they would follow him anywhere. I bet you never read that in grade school.

Another man mentioned is Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. I recently watched the movie about his story, 42. Again, the movie didn’t really focus on Robinson’s critical reliance on his faith in God to be able put up with and finally put down all the Jim Crow nonsense. He had extraordinary athletic talent in basketball, football, baseball, tennis and track and field. Robinson also had a tendency for anger explosions dealing with racial injustices. His mother and preacher led to a deeper faith that controlled his anger and justice allowed would him only to be see won that with the restraint path to and love. The manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers was an extremely religious person who was looking for this sort of man: someone talented in baseball, but who also had a strong, Bible-based character. Everyone knows the rest of the story, but generally not the one centered on God.

In the business world, sometimes we get too caught up in our challenges with competition, problems with equipment, governmental codes, etc. We just need to stop and look up like these men did – to result in your success and happiness.

“Offshore pile driving is a high-risk activity as delays can be financially punitive”

I’ve had experience on both the practical and “academic” sides of offshore pile driving and installation, but I’ve seldom seen a blunter and more accurate summary of the topic in the published literature than what’s above.  Vulcan certainly experienced that during the offshore years.

The entire paper can be obtained here.  The complete abstract is as follows:

Offshore pile driving is a high-risk activity as delays can be financially punitive. Experience of pile driving for offshore jacket structures where pile diameters are typically < 2m has led to the development of empirical pile driveability models with proven predictive capability. The application of these methods to larger diameter piles is uncertain. A major component of driveability models involves estimating the static resistance to driving, SRD, a parameter analogous to pile axial capacity. Recent research on axial capacity design has led to improved models that use Cone Penetration Test, CPT data to estimate pile capacity and include for the effects of friction fatigue and soil plugging. The applicability of these methods to estimating pile driveability for larger diameter piles is of interest. In this paper, recent CPT based axial capacity approaches, modified for mobilised base resistance and ageing, are applied to estimating driveability of 4.2m diameter piles. A database of pile installation records from North sea installations are used to benchmark the methods. Accounting for factors such as pile ageing and the relatively low displacement mobilised during individual hammer blows improves the quality of prediction of pile driveability for the conditions evaluated in this study.

The paper is Byrne, T., Gavin, K., Prendergast, L.J., Cachim, P., Doherty, P., and Chenicheri Pulukul, S. (2018) “Performance of CPT-based methods to assess monopile driveability in North Sea sands.” Ocean Engineering, 166, 76-91.  Emphasis in abstract is mine.

Vulcan 3100 Hammer: Specifications and Information

Like the 060 and even more the 040, the 3100 was a major step up for the company.  Even though it became the “gateway” to the company’s largest hammers, itself it was a dead end offshore for reasons that weren’t fully appreciated at the time, at least not by Vulcan or some of its end users.

The specifications:

The first 3100 was built for McDermott.  Even though the 560 had been introduced earlier and was lighter for the same energy, McDermott felt that the traditional “heavy ram-low striking velocity” approach was better, and also had the crane capacity to handle this size of hammer.  The hammer was ordered in the fall of 1973.

The road to completing the hammer was a rough one.  That fall was the occasion of the first oil shock, which was great news and bad news at the same time.  It was great news because the oil price spikes made the oil industry very active during that decade and early into the next one.  It was bad news because the demands on the supply chain of foundries and forge shops, coupled with the energy shortages that resulted from the oil shock itself, made lead times immensely long.  And, of course, patterns had to be built for all of the major castings.

The hammer was finally completed on 11 June 1975, but there was another twist: it was assembled on the deck of McDermott’s Derrick Barge 8 in Bayou Boeuf, Louisiana.  Vulcan traditionally preferred to ship their hammers assembled, but freight and delivery issues forced this method.  It was successful, not only making it simpler to ship the heavy hammer parts in pieces, but also to familiarize the end user’s personnel with the hammer itself.  By the 1990’s it became the standard method of delivery for hammers going to the Gulf of Mexico.

In spite of its difficult production road, the 3100 was successful from the beginning, with fewer of the “growing pains” that some of the earlier hammers had experienced.

As was the case with the 040, Vulcan used the hammer for advertising purposes, both then and many years later.

The general assembly is below (the hammer was so large, it required a two-sheet drawing.)

In spite of its success the 3100’s main claim to fame was to be the basis for the 5100.  Why was this so?

The first was obvious: the 560, virtually the same energy, was lighter and more economical to produce and operate.  The second was that, with offshore high-impedance steel piling, the higher impact velocity, problematic with concrete and wood piles, was actually preferable, albeit harder on the hammer.  The hammer never went much past its origin, in spite of the celebration that surrounded its inception.

Vulcan 060 and 360 Hammers: Specifications and Information

The success of the 040 was soon left behind by the deeper and deeper water conventional platforms were being installed into.  That in turn called for larger hammers, and Vulcan rose to the occasion with the 060.  The first 060 was built for J. Ray McDermott and delivered in the summer of 1968, a summer memorable for many other things.

First, the specifications:

The 060 had the usual growing pains, although Vulcan applied many of the lessons of the 040.  Nevertheless it became a popular hammer; in addition to McDermott, J.H. Pomeroy, Ingram, Fluor, AGIP, and Movible Offshore purchased and used the hammer.  Some photos are below.

General arrangements are shown below.

Vulcan 360

Like the 040, the 060 “became” the 360, with its conversion from a steel to an iron ram and many other modifications.  The first 360 was sold to Brown and Root and delivered in the summer of 1973.

Vulcan 040 and 340 Hammers: Specifications and Information

Vulcan’s personnel brought back many colourful stories from the field.  One of those came from Jesse Perry, Vulcan’s senior field service representative.  Offshore pile driving is a brutal, unforgiving business; offshore piles are tip elevation piles, and the expediency of “beating the pile to death” to get done in the high hourly barge rates was hard on hammers, especially those new in the product line.  One of those end users vented his frustration on Jesse, who responded by throwing his wallet on the table and telling the customer that he’d bet its contents that the hammer would work.

I never knew that Jesse ever lost his wallet in that way.

In a sense, however, Vulcan itself “threw its wallet on the table” with the 040 and 060 hammers; the 040, more than any other hammer, brought it in to the “big leagues” of offshore pile driving and, through its growing pains, made Vulcan the “stamp of quality offshore everywhere.

First, the basics: the 040 specifications.

The first 040 was sold to Ingram in August 1965; below are some photos from their barge.

Many other offshore construction concerns joined Ingram in using the 040, including McDermott, Dragados, DeLong, Santa Fe, Movible Offshore (soon Teledyne Movible Offshore,) Fluor, Brown & Root, AGIP, Creole Petroleum (now PDVSA,) and Humble Oil.

Offshore wasn’t the only place where the 040 could be found.  One of the most significant projects it was involved with was the long I-10 bridge across the Atchafalaya from Lafayette to Breaux Bridge, LA, built in 1969.

The 040 underwent many changes as it went along; early 040’s have many versions, as is evidenced by the general assemblies below.

Being the seminal hammer that it was, the 040 was useful for advertising, a usefulness that went past the Vulcan Iron Works itself.

340 Hammer

In 1972, with the introduction of the 560, Vulcan decided to rename the 040 the 340 hammer.  Vulcan also made some other important changes, such as moving to an iron (as opposed to a steel) ram.  The first 340 was delivered to McDermott in early 1973.  Specifications, a general arrangement and a photo are shown below.  It turned out to be the last hammer the Vulcan Iron Works produced, sold to PDVSA in 2000.