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.
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:
- Sheave and sheave head assembly safety is VERY IMPORTANT; see Vulcan Tip #65 for more details.
- The grease fitting is there for a reason; the sheaves need to be greased periodically. See the Vulcan field service manuals for more information.
- Watch for wire rope and sheave wear, and replace when wear is excessive.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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’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.
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.
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:
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.
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.