Welcome to vulcanhammer.info, the site about Vulcan Iron Works, which manufactured the durable air/steam line of pile driving equipment for more than a century. Many of its products are still in service today, providing reliable performance all over the world. There’s a lot here, use the search box below if you’re having trouble finding something. Also look at the end of an article, there are helpful links to more information with every post.
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.
The 200C was another important hammer in the Vulcan line, being the “basis” for the single-acting 020, 030, 520, 530 and 535 hammers. The 200C was also important because, like the 140C, it was made in both onshore and offshore configurations. Some general arrangements of both are shown below.
One important note for the 200C and its single-acting counterparts is that the onshore and offshore hammers, in addition to different jaws, have different sizes ram points and driving accessories. The difference is explained here.
Specifications for each (on different spec tables) are shown below.
The Vulcan 200C hammer. This image dates back to Vulcan’s intended website of the 1990’s.
Not all Vulcan hammers in the field were full size. This scale, working model of a Vulcan 200C was mode of brass by Frits Teerling, Brown & Root’s redoubtable equipment superintendent.
Vulcan 200C hammer driving piles offshore. This hammer is small by offshore standards; the leaders shown are simple. This was taken from the crew helicopter as it approached the derrick barge; a spectacular shot of a fairly ordinary operation.
The 140C was a groundbreaker in many respects because of its place in Vulcan’s product line.
First, it was one of the first of Vulcan’s hammers to be larger than the Warrington-Vulcan hammers. Second, it was the first with a “single-acting version,” in this case the 014. In that respect it was a significant break from the Warrington-Vulcan construction, being much heavier.
The 140C was one of the first (if not the first) Vulcan hammer to be taken offshore. McDermott purchased one (actually the “onshore” version, as shown above) in 1954, and several thereafter, the last one in 1956. Vulcan developed a true offshore 140C, using the Super-Vulcan derived design that became standard with Vulcan’s offshore hammers. The 140C was the smallest Vulcan offshore hammer which was really viable; a general arrangement is shown below.
The hammer sported the 54″ male jaws, which were standard on Vulcan offshore hammers, single-acting and differential-acting alike, for hammers up to the 530 and 535.
Specifications for onshore and offshore 140C alike are shown below.
Without a doubt, one of the most interesting photos Vulcan had in its collection was this one, taken of a Vulcan #0 driving reinforced concrete sheet piles 500 mm x 600 mm x 21.9 m long (20″ x 24″ x 72′) for the New Harbor Wall in Havana, Cuba. The piles are being driven off of the Cristóbal Colon floating derrick, owned and operated by the contractor, Arellano y Mendoza. The photo is dated 1927.
Above is the differential acting hammer cycle, an explanation from the Raymond Superintendent’s Handbook, with some specifications. The cycle is the same for both Raymond and Vulcan hammers. The 65C specifications given above are for the Raymond 65C, not the Vulcan 65C.
Vulcan’s success with the 80C lead its customers to ask the same question they asked about the 08: could a larger hammer be fit in the frame. In the case of the 08, there was already the 0R and 010, and the 012, 508, 510 and 512 were to come. As was the case with the 65C, Vulcan simply put a false head on the top to increase the weight needed to keep the hammer in place due to the increased pressure. The result was the 85C and the 100C. General arrangements are below.
The Vulcan 80C was the Super-Vulcan counterpart to the Warrington-Vulcan 08, and was one of the more successful differential-acting hammer sizes Vulcan produced.
Specifications are below.
Bulletin 70F Specifications
Bulletin 70D Specifications
Bulletin 70A Specifications
Some photos, job and shop, are shown below.
Vulcan 80C cable hammer, S/N GH-1070, taken 17 January 1979 at the Chattanooga plant. Vulcan was relatively late in the life of the product line in putting cables on the differential-acting hammers, and when it did the “pockets” (which you can see on either side of the cylinder just below the steam chest) made it impossible to jack the cables. Both Raymond and Pile Hammer Equipment had better methods of cabling the Super-Vulcan hammers.
Vulcan 80C hammer driving 55′ long 12″ concrete piles for the Bay Area Municipal Utilities District Sewage Treatment Plant in Oakland, California; H.F Lauritzen Company was the contractor. This is a good example of a fixed leader arrangement, which offers the best support for hammer and pile alike. This is especially important for concrete piles.
Some general arrangements, Chicago and Chattanooga, are shown below.
The 65C is the counterpart to the Warrington-Vulcan 06 hammer. Upsizing single-acting hammers is a fairly straightforward process as long as the frame is capable of withstanding the load. Doing the same thing with differential-acting hammers such as the 50C is an entirely different matter, as the 65C shows.
Specifications are on the general arrangement above and are also shown below.
Vulcan eventually addressed these issues with the 65CA; the ad for it from Onshore Tip 61 is shown below.
Vulcan 50C hammer, installing sheet piling, Chicago, 1974. Note the yellow Decelflo muffler on top of the hammer; this was one of the first uses of the exhaust muffler.
Vulcan 50C driving piles on a batter using swinging leaders, Hudson, OH. Swinging leaders are usually used to drive plumb piles, but in this case the leaders are stabbed in the ground so that the whole assembly can be leaned back. It’s done but requires considerable skill on the part of the contractor.
Vulcan 50C, driving sheet piling. Vulcan hammers weren’t known to be sheet pile specialists but, as these photos show, they got the job done anyway. As was the case before, an “offshore” type leader was used, where a stub leader was hung from a crane and lowered with the hammer. This is good when the pile is supported at the ground, either by a template or in this case other sheet piles.
A concept for the muffler: mount it directly on the back of the hammer, using a bracket integral to the hammer. A special cylinder head would transmit the air from the exhaust to the muffler. Unfortunately the Decelflo program didn’t get far enough for Vulcan to try this concept.
Vulcan 50C hammer with a two-cable arrangement and 26″ jaws, Chattanooga facility, 16 August 1968. The cable arrangement is similar to the one Vulcan adopted on the offshore hammers. Although it required the use of 26″ jaws, it was surely superior to the “pocket” cables Vulcan adopted about ten years later.