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.
One of the typical information items Vulcan would send out would be the “general arrangement” (or assembly, to use the Raymond terminology) of a hammer, or a sub-assembly such as a capblock follower. These were also included in the offshore field service manuals. Sometimes they would feature the specifications of the hammer. They are useful for basic clearance and other dimensions or to understand the basic layout of the machine.
Some of these were put in data format. We feature for download some collections of these as follows:
Vulcan 020 Offshore Hammer Specification Sheet. Not a general arrangement per se, but a specification sheet (in US and SI units) along with parts of the general arrangement on the back. These were issued in the 1970’s and were very popular for many years.
Vulcan/Raymond 60X Hammer, with and without Vari-Cycle II
Vulcan/Foster Vibratory Hammer. Vulcan manufactured L.B. Foster vibratory hammers during the 1990’s on a “private label” basis. These are the general assemblies for the 1050 and 4200.
Some of our general arrangements are in image format; we present some of them below.
The general arrangement of the HC-8 Airmizer hammer with cables holding it together.
We also have an extensive collection of these (including the specification sheets) in other “traditional formats.” If you would like to contact us about obtaining these, click here. We also have extensive information in our Vulcan Data Manual.
One thing most people notice first about pile driving jobs is that they generate an elevated level of noise. Until the 1960’s, most people simply put up with this and many other aspects of industrialisation and development. In the early 1970’s, Vulcan and other pile driving equipment manufacturers were confronted with new regulations–both at the federal and local level–which sought to regulate the noise output of construction equipment. Needless to say, pile driving equipment was high on the list.
Vulcan’s first reaction was to study the issue. It retained the services of United Acoustical Consultants in Glastonbury, CT, and its principal, Stannard Potter, to study the nature of noise output of Vulcan hammers. In December 1972 they conducted a study of a Vulcan #1 at the Chattanooga facility, and the report on the test is shown here.
Vulcan hammers, although durable and simple, suffered from two specific difficulties for noise abatement: a) their open construction gave little natural noise attentuation, and b) their lack of a recoil dampener increased the impact load on the frame, thus making it difficult to attach shrouds and other devices to attenuate sound. However, one of the results of the study was that a large proportion of the sound emission from an operating Vulcan hammer came from the exhaust. Since muffling the exhaust was simpler than doing same with the impact, Vulcan commissioned Potter to design an exhaust muffler, which it called the Decelfo Muffler.
The muffer was simple, a box which directed the air or steam output of the exhaust through perforated pipe surrounded by acoustical foam. The drawing shows a stacked arrangement for the muffler, but Vulcan never employed this arrangement.
The first test of the Decelflo took place in October 1973 in the Alameda yard of Santa Fe construction in Alameda, California. It involved muffling a Vulcan 020 hammer.
As shown below, the test was successful; the muffer performed as anticipated and its used resulted in reduction of hammer noise.
Flush with this success, Vulcan continued in its development of the muffler. In July 1974 it had another opportunity to demonstrate (and verify) the Decelflo’s capabilities, this time in Chicago at a sheet piling project. Below: the Decelflo mounted on top of the Vulcan hammer, in this case a 50C. The hose connection from the exhaust port to the muffler can be clearly seen, along with its connection to the hammer via the sheave pin. For a photo of the muffer in action during pile driving, click here.
Vulcan had great plans for the Decelflo; at this time it was working on a method to mount the muffler directly on the hammer, as shown below.
But then things took a strange twist.
To begin with, there was considerable contractor resistance to the concept of having to add another device to the hammer assembly. Mounting it above the hammer lengthened the leaders required to operate the hammer, and the large installed base of Vulcan hammers dictated that this would be the normal way the muffler would be mounted.
Beyond that, the level of noise emissions, and how people perceive them, vary widely from one jobsite to another. This variation is a function of the location of the job (urban, remote, etc.), the presence or absence of neighbouring buildings to reflect the sound, and whatever ambient noise is in proximity to the jobsite. For example, driving piling next to an existing interstate, with the road noise already present, may not be very perceptible.
Finally, as far as those working on the jobsite are concerned, contractors (and OSHA) found it simpler to deal with noise emissions from pile drivers and other equipment on site by providing hearing protection to the workers, which of course is standard on jobsites today.
In any case, the Decelflo muffler was never very popular, “noise pollution” never achieved the notoriety of air and water pollution, and both Vulcan and its customer base moved on to other concerns. For his part Stan Potter moved on to patent the Decelflo concept independently of Vulcan.
Thruflo (Geothermal) Muffer
The need to attenuate noise combined with another concern of the era, the need for alternative energy resources, with the geothermal muffer. An experimental product, it nevertheless touched on issues that are still important today.
Geothermal energy is possible when the hot magma which exists in the earth is close enough to the surface and the underground water to turn the latter into steam, which can be used to drive the turbines and generators to produce electric power. The means that the source of geothermal energy is not only free economically, but also that carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) is not emitted in the production of electricity.
In the course of producing energy, the steam is vented to the atmosphere, and unmuffled this can produce a high noise level.
Vulcan built a prototype and tested it in its own facility in August 1974.
Note: This study was commissioned by Vulcan and conducted in early December 1972 by United Acoustical Consultants of Glastonbury, CT, and dated 23rd June 1973. The report was submitted by the President of UAC, Mr. Stannard M. Potter. It has been released publicly by Vulcan at various times since its completion. This is the text for “Volume II” to the entire study. The graphs and other external references given in the report are not available. The fine print for this document applies.
A. DESCRIPTION OF TESTS
During the week of December 4th through December 9th, 1972, tests were conducted on a standard Vulcan Hammer, Size 1, at the Pile Hammer Test Stand in Chattanooga. Tennessee.
1. Test Site
The normal structural steel test rig was removed and a special wooden support was provided to support the hammer in the test pit. The wooden beam structure prevented the secondary noise source from the steel structure from intervening with the hammer noise.
Unfortunately, the test stand site is within 75′ of the main manufacturing area of the Vulcan Plant. This provides a serious reflection of the noise from the hammer. There are other reflecting surfaces nearby. though they are smaller and at greater distances (250′). To the east of the test stand, the ground surface is hard pavement for all of the microphone locations. Although the site had acoustic shortcomings, it was felt that the proximity of the Vulcan Plant and its personnel was an obvious advantage over a possible “free field” at some distance from the plant. UAC’s Instrument Van was located in a supply shed next to the boiler room for the test stand at a distance of about 60′.
For the noise tests, the boiler and steam supply for the hammer were replaced by a truck-mounted air compressor unit. The truck was located in the front parking lot, as far away as the hoses would reach. A special muffler was designed to augment the exhaust noise reduction of the air compressor’s muffler. During the first two tests, this muffler proved inadequate and was replaced by a second unit, starting with Test 3 of the Muffled Auxiliary Exhaust.
The weather throughout the testing period was frequently cold and rainy. Wind protection was provided for the microphones and a plastic shield was built of thin vinyl in tent form over the hammer test rig to facilitate working during the rain during Test 11.
Four microphone outputs were recorded on magnetic tape simultaneously. Three were data positions and one was for general announcements.
Close to The Hammer – generally 6″ away from the radiating surface. (See Vulcan Drawing D-10249)
7 different microphone placements.
25′ from the centreline of the Hammer
3 positions: Northeast, East, Southeast
50′ from the centerline of the Hammer
3 positions: Northeast, East, Southeast
Direct readings of Peak Impact Noise were made on an oscilloscope for later verification of laboratory playback.
For most of the tests. a direct field chart was made of the A-weighted output for use in direct assessment of the signal character during each of the tests.
A detailed list of the instrumentation is at the end of this section.
3. Hammer Configurations
There were eleven basic changes made to the hammer and its cushion, as listed below:
Bare Hammer – Steel Cushion
Mufflex Auxiliary Exhaust and Air Compressor
Nylon Slide Bar
Wrapped Base + Double Auxiliary Exhaust
Damped Ram – 1″ Plate and EAR on Ram
Ram Cover – Armaplate
Steel Strike Plate
Micarta Strike Plate
Test No. 1
The Bare Hammer – Steel Cushion was a standard Vulcan Hammer, Size 1.
Test No. 2
During the second test. the exhaust noise us muffled by coupling a flexible hose (heavy duty rubber) to the hammer exhaust port and piping the noise about 40′ away behind an embankment. The hose terminated in a wooden box lined with fibreglass. Unfortunately the seal between the rubber hose and the exhaust discharge duct leaked and it was not until Test No. 10 – Damped Ram – that the leak was properly sealed.
Test No. 3
A single chamber plywood box stuffed with fiberglass was affixed to the Auxiliary Exhaust Port with an opening transverse to the normal auxiliary exhaust airflow.
Tests No. 4 thru 7 are self-explanatory
Test No. 5
The base of the hammer was covered so that as much of the exterior radiating surface as possible was enclosed with 2″ of polyurethane foam. This was covered with a second layer of foam attached to a lead vinyl sheet manufactured by Ferro Composites. Norwalk, Conn. At the same time the Auxiliary Exhaust Muffler was rebuilt to contain a second chamber. Again, the plywood box was lined with flberglass and protected with netting and the gas flow exhausted to atmosphere through a side port transverse to the normal auxiliary exhaust air flow.
Test No. 9
The cylinder was treated in the same manner as the base.
Test No. 10
A sheet of rubber-like damping material (nominally 1/4″ thick) with the trade name EAR, manufactured by the National Research Company, a Division of Cabot Industries Cambridge. Mass., was clamped between the outer surfaces of the ram and a 1″ steel plate. The plate was attached to the ram with nuts and lock washers on previously installed ram studs. Unfortunately, due to the non-uniformity of the ram castings. only a small percentage of the radiating area was actually damped even after machining some surfaces of the ram.
Test No. 11
A cover comprising a steel plate bonded to rubber (about 1/4″ thick) with the trade name ARMAPLATE, manufactured by Goodyear, was fashioned to cover the entire exterior part of the ram. Tests were run with a) a Steel Strike Plate and b) a Micarta Strike Plate.
B. METHODS OF ANALYSIS
1. instrumentation for Impact Analysis
Three different types of instruments were compared to evaluate the Peak Level of impact. Since this part of the noise cycle is a sharp transient the response characteristics of instruments are bound to give different values.
a. General Radio Impact Analyser
This Is an instrument which is designed to retain the Peak Sound Level on a meter so that the meter can he read easily. Though it has several different settings such as Time Average, Peak and Quasi Peak, we only tested the Peak.
b. Dumont Oscilloscope with a compressed time base
The vertical deflection of the scope trace was read from a persistent screen with a recticle which had been calibrated previously. With the exception of the inaccuracy in the visual readout the scope has the fastest and most accurate response of all the instruments.
c. Sanborn Graphic Level Recorder
The electronic circuitry controlling the writing pen ballistics was redesigned to give a nominal 0.005 seconds rise time. In any such display device with transient stimuli, the pen tends to over ride the actual peak level due to inertia. For the analysis used in this report, an actual writing speed of 6000 millimetres/sec. without overshoot was obtained. By moving the paper fast enough under the deflecting pen, a very clear display of the noise amplitude variation (Sound Pressure level in dB vs. time) is obtained. A comparison of all three methods indicated similar spectra. Though the Peak Impact levels from the Sanborn charts were lower (between 3 and 9 dB) than the Impact Analyser and Scope, it appeared to be consistent. The Sanborn Graphic Level Recorder has the very important advantage that it shows all the detail in the complete noise cycle while the Impact Analyser and the Scope show only Peak Impact level. This allowed us to make a detailed analysis of the various parts of the cycle affecting the total noise emanations. It was decided that the knowledge of the detailed parts of the cycle was more important than the absolute value of the Peak Impact level. Correction factors were added to all Band Pressure Levels affected by the high writing speed circuitry to provide a flat response. Accordingly. the method of analysis used for tape playbacks on tile Sanborn Graphic level Recorder
2. Sanborn Charts
a. Noise Signatures
To determine the uniformity of the noise spectra and the reliability of using a single cycle for analysis, copies of the charts showing the variation in Noise Signatures were made for linear, dB(A), 63 Hz and 2000 Hz. These data will be found in Volume III of this report. To obtain the dB Level on the ordinate (vertical direction) for any of the charts, reference should be made to the digital information presented for the Peak Impact Level in dB re 20 u N/m&Mac178; given in Tables IA thru F in Volume II. The Noise Signature charts are identified by a GR73 No. in the upper right-hand corner of each page. Turning to the tabulated digital data, the Noise Signature identifying numbers will be found under the Column “Graph 73-” in the right-hand column of each table. The noise levels in dB are listed under the appropriate column for each of the Octave Bands, Lin and dB(A).
To obtain the Sound Pressure Level of any portion of any cycle, relate the digital data to the Impact Peak. For example, GR73-024 is the analogue output for three successive cycles of the Bare hammer – Test 1, for the Microphone A located at the Base of the Hammer with a steel cushion. The synchronous readout on four channels, top to bottom, is for –
LIN short for Linear Weighting Network: includes all frequencies with a flat frequency response for engineering purposes and some contract specifications.
dB(A) short for “A” Weighting Network: it weighs the frequency response of the spectra closely with human auditory response and is frequently used in legislation.
63Hz short for 63 Hertz Octave Band Pressure level: the lower practical band for noise evaluation both for engineering and subjective purposes.
2000 Hz same as above except the Octave Band Center frequency is 2000 Hertz instead of 63 Hz.
Thus, in studying these charts. one can see
how repetitive the noise signatures are, and
roughly whether the peaks comprise low frequencies (costly to fix) or high frequencies (easier to reduce).
The smallest divisions are 1 dB for the ordinate and 0.02 seconds for the abscissa. The heavy lines are 5 dB and 0.1 seconds, respectively. A “blip” at one second intervals is given at the bottom or 5th trace on each chart.
On certain charts the 4th channel is the “Ticker” signal from the trip switch installed to insure identification of the ram position. It replaces the 2000Hz trace. Another variation of chart (GR73-165 thru 179), the dbA(A) channel has moved from channel 2 to 4.
For discussion or the noise signatures, we have arbitrarily divided the cycle of GR73-024 as follows:
Impact – the vertical rise of the trace indicating the instant of impact is used as the time reference.
Rise – the period of lifting the ram.
Exhaust – that part of the cycle normally dominated by the exhaust.
Fall – the remainder of the cycle before the next impact.
Obviously, the time periods will vary slightly with the variation of pressure and ram weight (especially with the EAR, Test 10). but the four basic parts of the cycle will be useful for reference.
To determine the sound pressure level of any part of the analogue trace, say the exhaust peak of 024 LIN, refer to the digital tables in Volume II for the appropriate reference Line GR73-024, find the Peak Impact Sound Pressure Level = 137 dB. On GR73-024 in Volume III, we have written in these values above the peaks. Again. referring to the LIN trace, note the dB level reduces after impact to 113 dB at the beginning of the Rise period and reaches as low as 103 dB before Exhaust. The Peak Exhaust of this cycle is about 123.5 or 124 dB. The next Exhaust Peak is 123 dB.
b.Noise Cycle Spectra
The Noise Cycle Spectra are a composite of the Linear, db(A) and eight Octave Bands from 63 Hz – 8000 Hz Noise Signatures for the same hammer noise cycle. These are published for each test and source microphone location as well as 50′ East. The number above the impact part of the cycle is the Sound Pressure level for the Octave Band or Weighting Network at Peak Impact. It is from these spectra that the digital data were obtained. For any part of the noise cycle, the Sound Pressure level in dB re 20 u N/m&Mac178; can be determined referencing the Sanborn Chart grid system and file units described above. Since the subjective reaction to the hammer noise Is a function of frequency, it is important to know how the noise varies with frequency. This spectral information also is important as to the control measures that are required to reduce the noise.
3. Digital Data
When there is a large body of steady state analysis to be done, it is most efficiently done with a Real Time Analyser. In the case of the many events during the pile hammer noise cycle, the Real Time Analyser falls short. The analyser needs to be started at the precise instant the event of interest occurs. The synchronization problem associated with the event time and the analyser starting time is, at present, unsolved. If the hammer cycle was constant to within a fraction of the impact duration, one could then program a computer to start the analyser at the instant desired. Of course, the hammer cycles are not that constant, particularly during a test program involving changes to the ram weight. For this reason, the digital data, determined in this study, have all been obtained manually from the analogue readouts on the Sanborn charts.
4. Statistical Distribution Analysis
Though major events such as ram impact, exhaust and impacts from the valve tripping mechanism are discernible from the noise signature, the affect of different hammer configurations is not readily determined for the entire noise signature. To assess the changes in the total signature, Statistical Distribution Analyses were made for certain microphone locations and hammer configurations.
These data are determined from an inspection of the noise signature at each 50th/sec interval. If the cycles are dissimilar, more than one cycle is analysed. The results are then tabulated for each level and the cumulative percentages are determined. The data are plotted on probability graph paper to show the deviation from Gaussian distribution. From each individual random source. the curve should be a straight line when plotted on the probability paper. Thus, sharp discontinuities in the curvature of the Statistical distribution indicate the dominance of another type of random source. For the most part, the curves show few straight line portions other than ambient. We interpret this to mean that several of the sources are intermingled in the noise signature at any one time.
The data are very useful because, at any individual percentage of the time, the effectiveness of each hammer configuration can be assessed by merely subtracting the differences between the Statistical Distribution Levels.
One will notice on each Statistical Distribution plot that there are two different abscissas. At the bottom of the graph, the percentages are Indicated as the “% Time Noise is Lower Than the Indicated Level”. At the top of the graph, the reverse percentage in plotted as the “‘% Time Noise is Higher Than the Indicated Level”. It is the latter scale which is finding increasing acceptance by legislative bodies and standards organizations.
These Sound Pressure Levels in dB are simply referred to as L followed by the percentage. For example, “L40” means that 40% of the time the noise is above the level quoted for “L40”.
C. RESULTS OF TESTS
The results of file tests are contained in Volumes II and III as follows:
UAC Drawing No. DWG. NO. 730V2
Section E is actually a graphical summary of file tests which are on a drawing labelled “Peak Impact”. The drawing is folded and tucked in the pocket in the front of Volume II’s binder. This summary shows the variation of the Linear Sound Pressure Level as a function of time for each test and each microphone location. These are representative cycles taken from the noise signatures. This drawing affords an overview of the entire test.
Tables IA thru F
Noise Cycle Spectra – Graphs No. 188 thru 277
Statistical Distribution Analyses – Tables II, III, IV
Graphs No. 398 thru 402e, 435 thru 475
Graphs No- 024 thru 179B
For access to any particular data. use the GR73 number cross referenced in the Data Index.
D. ANALYSIS OF DATA
a. Noise Signatures and Cycle Spectra
a. Test 1 – BARE
At each of the microphone positions. there are two dominant noise sources and their Peak Sound Levels are listed below:
2 – Ram
3 – Exhaust
4 – Trip
5 – Top Cyl.
6 – Bot. Cyl.
7 – Aux.
Except when the mike is at the Exhaust the Impact noise dominates.
As the mike is moved away from the base, the level is lower except at the Trip and the Auxiliary Exhaust. It may well be that the piston at impact transmits to the cylinder wall and certainly the columns do. The Auxiliary Exhaust ports open directly to the interior of the cylinder which acts like a reverberation chamber. These differences are minor but do show clues to the sources. Generally, the whole hammer radiates during Impact as one would expect with such rigid connections between the supporting structure. The levels range around 135 dB and project to 25′ at 112 dB and 104 dB at 50′. It is recognized that the area is reverberant around the Test Stand and, if anything, levels at 25′ and 50′ are probably high. From this data, we calculate an equivalent spherical radius equal to roughly 1.5′. Calculated radius is 2.9′. Obviously. the whole hammer is not radiating or it has directional characteristics.
Certainly the Exhaust appears to be directional as one might expect from examination of the above table. Moving from Position 3 to Position 2, a distance of only 4′, changed the Impact noise by only2 dB while the Exhaust noise changed 18 dB. Measuring perpendicular to the Exhaust axis at distances of 25′ and 50′, the levels drop by 38 and 43 dB, respectively, showing the source radius to be only 0.315′ in contrast to the estimated physical radius of 0.47′. Obviously. the Exhaust is not only small but directional. The Exhaust source, though small in size and directional, is a very potent 144 dB or 6 dB higher than the apparent peak Impact noise.
See Table A for the estimated Equivalent Radiating Area Spherical Radii of other hammer parts.
The Exhaust directionality is partially attested, as the far field mikes are moved to the Southeast Positions (more in line with the Exhaust). Though the increase is a modest 2 dB for 50′, it is a drop of 2 dB for the 25′ mike distance. The reason for this is not clear except for the less reverberant condition (no direct reflections – See Vulcan drawing P168). Note that the Trip Mike Position 4 is only 3′ away but the level is lower than the Ram at 4.5′. This shows how easy the shadowing of the valve chest can hide the dominantly short wave lengths of the Exhaust which peaks at 2000 Hertz as shown in the Noise Cycle Spectra GR73-190. All of these factors must be considered in designing the control measures.
VULCAN HAMMER NOISE
SOURCE RADIATING AREAS
Total Area = 104.8 Square Feet
% of Total Mech. Area
Equivalent Spherical Radius
5. Valve Chest
7. Piston Rod
2. Auxiliary Exhaust
b. Other tests
Other observations of interest are:
The trip noise shows up before and after the Exhaust.
The Bottom Rear Cylinder radiates a similar shaped bulge after impact as the Auxiliary Exhaust.
An unexplained increasing level just prior to Impact as seen principally at the Exhaust which disappears in the Damped Ram, Test 10 – possibly piston rod seal leakage.
Exhaust Port seal leakage clearly disappears in Test 10.
The Nylon Slide Bar allows a possibly puzzling increase in its impact noise over the steel bar. Subjectively, the steel bar has a ringing that the Nylon Slide Bar lacks. The data, however, do not bear this out. Though the presumed Exhaust leak between the Trip Impacts disappears, it does so when the cylinder is wrapped in Test 9 instead of Test 10 when the leak was fixed. The inconsistency of this signature may well be due to the flexibility of the Nylon. particularly after the Cylinder wrapping.
One of the most dramatic changes in the Impact noise occurs when the Peak level drops from 134 dB to 123 dB at the Top Cylinder after it was wrapped.
Most of the change in the Peak Impact level was very gradual and actually negative at times. It shows the difficulties attendant to a noise reduction program of this type. When the overall reduction is dependent on a lot of small changes, much control must be exercised over the test technique and accuracy.
It is quite obvious in studying the 25 and 50′ signature that much of the significant source noise sort of “washes out” as one gets further from the hammer. This is particularly true of high frequencies and one should be cautious in expecting this to happen with low frequencies. If the low frequencies are high enough in level, they will still control the measurement even though the hammer may seem a lot quieter.
By similar observation and calculation. one comes to the conclusion that the principal sources are listed below in approximate order of importance.
2. Statistical Distribution Analysis
Though the Peak Impact Level dominates the undetailed information of the enforcer’s meter, it is not a significant measure of the quietness quotient. For example. the difference in Peak Impact Levels between Tests 1 and 10 is only 1 dB and 4 dB at 25′ and 50′, respectively. Obviously, some other measure is required to evaluate the substantial reduction in Loudness observed by the listener. Statistical Distribution Analysis helps fill this need since it measures the entire signature every 0.02 seconds.
a. Linear Probability Graphs
From the Probability Graphs. data has been summarized in Tables II, III and IV showing the differences between incremental changes in hammer configuration an well as the overall. These overall differences have been plotted as Probability Graph Noise Reductions, GR73-447 thru 453. showing the maximum reduction from Test 1 to 10 as 32 dB at L20 and the Auxiliary Exhaust Position. The maximum source noise reductions are tabulated below:
1 – Base
2 – Ram
3 – Exhaust
4 – Trip
5 – Top Cyl.
6 – Bot. Cyl.
7 – Aux. Ex.
Comparative Noise Reductions are shown at the L40, L30, L20 and L3 Percentiles for each change in hammer configuration at 50′ East. The pattern clearly speaks well for the Damped Ram, though we must caution that the Exhaust leak was also fixed during this test. Still it shows as the best at most of the Percentiles and we have noted before that only a small percentage of the damping plate was actually constraining the EAR to the Ram. Even so, a substantial reduction was obtained. This, coupled with the fact that the Ram has the largest Radiating Area, makes it the number one control measure to be applied in the hammer redesign.
In Graph GR73-454, the overall differences are given for each test change while Graph GR73-455 more clearly shows the contribution of each change by itself.
c. Octave Probability
From these graphs. the data in Table V has been derived which in turn has lead to the Statistical Spectra Summary graphs.
d. Statistical Spectra Summary Graph
Finally, the “proof of the pudding” is in the actual reductions achieved at likely observer distances. Graphs 472 thru 475 show the overall reduction in noise at a distance of 50′ for the L40, L30, L20 and L3 Percentiles. Levels of Noise Reduction for the annoying frequencies of 500 Hz and above ranged from 14 – 20 dB for all except the brief Percentile of L3 where the Noise Reduction ranged from 4 to 12 dB.
With the above evidence. it is proven that a concerted design and evaluation effort will pay substantial dividends in quieter pile hammers. Recommendations for appropriate control measures are given in Volume I of this report.
Leaders is the generic term for the guide which allows the pile hammer to be positioned on top of the pile and then started to drive the pile to its desired head elevation. Although not a prominent part of Vulcan product line, the company did produce leaders of many kinds. This page is also intended to give an overview of pile hammer leaders in general.
Leaders can be broadly categorised in two ways: the method by which they interface with the hammer and the way by which they are connected to (and guided by) the crane.
Pile hammer leaders basically guide the hammer in one of two ways: from the side or from the back.
Vulcan hammers–in common with most American pile hammers–were guided from both sides of the hammer, with both hammer and pile between the guides. Leaders such as this are referred to as “U-type” leaders. Most of the Vulcan hammers shown on this site are riding in U-type leaders, both onshore and offshore.
European practice prefers to guide the hammer from the back. This is generally referred to as a “spud” type leader. The spuds have both a structure for stiffness and rails to interface with the hammer. These rails can be of several types, including round rails (Delmag, Nilens) or two channels back to back (Russian.)
A Delmag diesel hammer using a European spud-type leader. Although not a Vulcan hammer, this photo was taken in the process of preparing a bid for Vulcan to design and fabricate the leaders for this hammer. Photo taken near West Palm Beach, FL.
Vulcan hammers were also driven in front of the leaders. This Super-Vulcan hammer is using what Raymond hands referred to as an “outboard extension.” Because air/steam hammers tend to be heavy, the extension had to be very rugged.
There are several methods of interfacing the leaders with the crane, depending upon the nature of the job and the preference of the contractor:
Fixed Leaders and Spotters
Offshore Leaders, Stub-Type Leaders or Flying Extensions
The most common type of leaders, these are simply suspended from the crane (at some distance.) For most plumb pile applications, they are suitable.
An example of swinging leaders in use. The concrete piles are being driven for a marina in Norfolk, VA, September 2009. The leaders are suspended from the crane and are hanging from the hook block. There is an additional line for the Vulcan hammer as well. the “headache ball” immediately to the left of the leaders is a useful part of the rigging. Although the hammer is heavy, when the hammer is disconnected from the cable, if there is no weight, the weight of the cable behind the boom point will pull the cable back through the boom point. To remedy this problem requires one of two solutions: Lay the boom down and rethread the cable. Send someone up the boom to pull the cable through, a very dangerous operation and one that should be avoided at all costs (although this webmaster has seen it done.) The headache ball, in reality, saves many other headaches on the job.
Swinging leaders used to drive a batter pile in Arkansas. Swinging leaders can be used to drive batter piles, but this requires a) leads with good structural integrity (a must in any case,) b) a good place on the ground to stab or secure the leaders, to prevent slippage and c) a skilled, experienced crane operator.
The Vulcan IC-30 diesel hammer in “U-type” leaders. The leader is a swinging type adapted to work as a stub-type leader, similar to the offshore hammers.
Underhung leaders are attached to the boom point, either rigidly or through a cable. Underhung leaders at one time were popular, but have been largely displaced by fixed leaders.
Underhung leaders using a spotter at the base to adjust the angle of the leaders.
Underhung leaders, using the barge itself as the method to keep the leaders at the proper angle.
Fixed (Extended) Leaders
Fixed leaders are connected to the crane at two points: the boom point, generally using a swivelling connector, and at the base of a crane using a spotter. This setup allows the maximum manoeverability of the pile hammer, which is especially important for complex batter piles. It is also generally more efficient in moving from one pile to the other. The concepts and examples of the various features of fixed leaders are shown in the photographs below.
Definition of “in” and “out” batter in English and French, from the Nilens literature, showing a spud type leader.
An example of a complete fixed leader system is shown. The leaders themselves were fixed at two points: the boom point and the spotter. Included in fixed leaders is the ability to perform in and out batter using the spotter, to lift and lower the pile and hammer using the headblock and rooster sheaves, and in this case to perform side batter using the moonbeam spotter.
The “universal saddle adapter,” to mate the fixed leaders to the crane boom. Note the ladder on the sides of the leaders are made of rebar, to create a skid-resistant rung.
The hydraulic moonbeam spotter, built for the U.S. government. Unfortunately,even in the 1970’s, the moonbeam spotters were being displaced by hydraulic “parallelogram” type spotters, which afforded more flexibility in manoevering the leaders and hammer.
Transition to hydraulics: a cable spotter in Vulcan’s facility in the early 1990’s, a part of Vulcan’s nascent used equipment efforts. In the front is the connection to the leaders, the back to the crane. The spotter is hinged at the rear so that it can move up and down; at the front it is set up to allow the side motion of the leaders as well.Completely hydraulic spotters have displaced cable and moonbeam alike. Also, some leaders are able to move vertically relative to both the boom point and spotter connections. These are very useful for driving piles that are well below the crane, such as is common with railway applications.
The “universal saddle adapter,” to mate the fixed leaders to the crane boom. Note the ladder on the sides of the leaders are made of rebar, to create a skid-resistant rung.
Details of various types of leader-crane interfaces, left and right, by number: 1. Drop hammer leads. The hole between the channels allows for the cable which lifts the ram to run. 2. Lifting bale for swinging or underhung leaders. This bale is commonly hinged with swinging leaders. 3. Straight adapter places, also used with underhung leaders. 4. Straight Saddle Adapter, for fixed leaders which don’t require side batter.
Details of various types of leader-crane interfaces, left and right, by number: 5. Universal Saddle Adapter, which allows side batter of the leaders. 6. Trackback slide carriage, which adds another degree of freedom: up and down the boom point, if not too often. 7. Trackback wheel carriage, for more frequent up and down the boom point. 8. Rooster sheaves, to help direct the hoisting lines from the boom point to the headblock at the top of the leaders.
A headblock for leaders the Special Products division built for the U.S. Army. Headblocks are essential with fixed leaders as the lines which raise and lower the hammer, lines for picking up the pile, and in some cases lines for drills and other accessories are included.
A telescoping spotter with manual adjustment for the extension and no provision for side-to-side motion for the batter. The simplest form of spotter.
Stub (Offshore) Type Leaders
These leaders are a shortened version of swinging leaders. They are intended for use with a template, which both holds the pile in place and sets the batter angle of the pile as well. Virtually all of Vulcan hammers used offshore were run in these leaders.
From a corporate standpoint, the Vulcan Expanding Mandrel (right) was one of its more forgettable products. But the application of mandrel-driven shell piles is an important one in deep foundations, as it represents, from a design standpoint, an interesting combination of driven and drilled piles.
Pile Shells and Mandrels
Driven piles can be divided into two types: low displacement piles (such as H-beams and to some extent open-ended pipe piles) and high displacement piles (wood piles, concrete piles and closed-ended pipe piles.) Which one you use depends upon the application and the geotechinical environment you’re working in.
Advocates of drilled piles, such as drilled shafts and auger-cast piles, note that, once you’ve drilled the hole into the ground (or while you’re drilling,) you can fill the hole with reinforcing steel and concrete and have a deep foundation. The main weakness to that approach is that, in many soils, the soil will either completely collapse into the hole or contaminate the concrete during the pour, thus compromising the integrity of the foundation.
Closed-ended pipe piles eliminate this by providing a barrier between the concrete (which the pile is filled with after driving) and the soil, both along the shaft and at the toe of the pile. They also provide whatever advantage there is in displacing the soil during driving. However, to prevent collapse during driving, a minimum wall thickness is required for driving which is beyond what is necessary for the structural integrity of the foundation.
So what if the wall thickness could be reduced, saving the expense of steel unnecessary to the foundation? The answer to that “what if” is mandrel-driven piles. By using a heavy mandrel which is inserted into the pile before installation and driving the mandrel, the impact force is transmitted along the pile shaft, thus reducing the driving stresses the pile experiences (as opposed to transmitted all of them through the pile head.) Getting a mandrel that can survive the rigours of driving has been one of the greatest challenges of driven piles.
The most elaborate system of shell piles (as opposed to regular pipe piles) and mandrels developed was the Raymond Step-Taper system, with its matched system of pile configurations and mandrel cores. This was used successfully for many years, but is a very specialised operation. (Another solution to driving Step-Taper Piles was a hammer which actually was inserted into the pile, as described in the Vulcanhammer.info Guide to Pile Driving Equipment.)
A more generic solution was to use corrugated steel pile, similar to the corrugated pipe used in storm water drainage. Thin walled, reasonably rugged in handing and economical, corrugated shell pile is probably the most common type of mandrel-driven pile in use. The shell is lifted into place in the leaders, the mandrel is inserted into the pile and locked into place, the mandrel and pile are driven into the ground, the mandrel is removed and the shell pile filled with concrete. To prevent soil from plugging the shell, a boot is frequently used at the pile toe. Shell piles can also be installed on a batter (as shown above,) something that drilled piles have serious difficulty with.
An interesting side note is that it is necessary in many cases to cut off portions of the shell for proper pile length. In Third World countries, the cut-offs find their way into use as culverts in poor sections where the authorities have not seen fit to provide proper drainage.
More details on this can be found in Vulcan Bulletin 90, which you can download by clicking on the cover image to the right. This also shows a cross-section of Vulcan’s mandrel as well.
Vulcan Expanding Mandrel
Vulcan’s Expanding Mandrel was designed by Clemens Hoppe of Hercules Concrete Pile, patented under U.S. Patent 2,977,770, and licensed to Vulcan. It was produced in two sizes, 12″ and 14″, which corresponded to the two sizes of shells it was intended to mate with. The driving head at the top of the mandrel was configured to mate with either a Vulcan #1 or Vulcan #0 series of hammers.
The mandrel used a system of cams to expand the mating surface of the mandrel to the corrugations of the shell. A manual cam lever at the top of the mandrel is used to expand the mandrel once it has been inserted into the shell. Once the pile is driven, in theory the lever could be used to radially collapse the mandrel and permit its extraction from the driven shell.
“In theory” is important because the Vulcan mandrel, in common with just about every other mandrel in use, was prone to become jammed due to the impact of driving. This brings up one aspect of mandrel use that is well known amongst those who do it: mandrel driving is some of the most difficult driving a pile driver can experience (offshore pile driving is probably the most difficult of all.) To start with, the mandrel is by definition a “high impedance” transmitter of force, which means that it presents a high apparent resistance to the hammer.
Beyond that, when the mandrel jams, the most common method of freeing it up is a delightful procedure called “bumping out,” where a sling is wound around the mandrel head to a beam above the ram. The ram is sent upward to impact the beam; like a pile extractor, the sling transmits the upward impact to the mandrel head and (hopefully) loosens the mandrel to allow its extraction. Raymond superintendents were especially adept at this, which helped earn them a reputation as hard on the equipment. It also inspired Raymond to develop the full-length column rods and later cables to hold its hammers together, something which Vulcan belatedly adopted.
The Vulcan Expanding Mandrel, manufactured primarily at the West Palm Beach facility, was mildly successful, but never dominant in the shell pile market. Although Vulcan’s distribution system was part of the problem, the Vulcan mandrel lacked the durability of the more popular Rusché and Guild Mandrels (something that the latter’s inventor, Charlie Guild, wasn’t shy about reiterating!) Both Guild and Fred Rusché were serious Christians; perhaps their experience in the shell pile installation business was an impetus for that!
Charlie Guild may not have cared for the Vulcan mandrel, but the air/steam hammer is another story: below is a photo showing one of Charlie’s Cobi mandrels used with a Vulcan hammer.
The Vulcan Expanding Mandrel, probably having just been removed from the shell pile it has just driven at a job in Indio, California, near Palm Springs. At the start of driving, the shell is hoisted into the leaders and the mandrel lifted above the head of the shell and inserted into the shell. In the event that the leaders weren’t long enough for both mandrel and shell, a “doodle pipe” could be used. This is a pipe slightly larger than the shell’s outside diameter, driven at one place on the jobsite and completely clear of internal soil. A shell would be first inserted into the doodle pipe, then the mandrel lowered into the shell and expanded, and finally the assembly would be lifted out of the doodle pipe and positioned for proper installation.
Expanding Mandrel on the same site, being driven with its shell by a Vulcan hammer.
Nice job sites were a fringe benefit of the mandrel. Here it’s being used in the installation of the foundation of an addition for the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach, FL. Today the Cadillac Hotel (a Marriott Courtyard hotel) is on the National Register of Historical Places. Guess that includes the foundation!
And after your’re done: because they were intended to be filled with concrete, it was sometimes necessary to clean them out. Vulcan’s solution was the Sly-Vac Pump, which used compressed air to lift the sand and water out of the hole and prepare it for concrete placement.
The 1970’s saw the end of the production of the Vulcan Expanding Mandrel.
Energy conservation is an important consideration today in a world where the competition for energy sources is intensified by rising demand. But making best use of fuel isn’t new, and both the Vulcanaire Supertherm and the Airmizer hammers were Vulcan’s contribution to energy savings.
Both of these products were the original idea of Moses Hornstein, the owner of Horn Construction in Merrick, NY. He was evidently focused on saving fuel and energy in the operation of his hammers.
The installation of the VULCANAIRE SUPERTHERM is intended to raise the volume of air produced by compressor through the expansion of air by the use of heat. To achieve this; exhaust gases, which are normally wasted, are diverted through the use of a diverter valve and transferred through a heat exchanger through which also passes air from the receiver on the compressor. The temperature of the air is maintained within certain limits by the use of an automatic control device to produce the greater volume of air to be used on equipment at an elevated temperature.
The objective for the contractor was to use a smaller compressor to power the same size of pile hammer.
Although the unit worked as intended and performed well, the simple concept didn’t translate into a simple design. With numerous parts and complex fabrication and assembly, the unit was uneconomical to produce and difficult to install. Air compressor manufacturers learned how to use hot exhaust gases in other ways to improve the energy efficiency of their products.
By the late 1970’s, even with the elevated energy prices of the era, production of the Vulcanaire Supertherm had gone cold.
Hornstein was not content with increasing the efficiency of his compressors: he and Vulcan commissioned the Austrian engineer John J. Kupka to develop the “Airmizer” hammers. These were compound hammers similar to MKT’s “C” hammers, and used a similar cycle that James N. Warrington used with the California hammers. Some photos of this hammer are shown below.
HC-6 hammer, front view. It had a 6,000 lb. ram, and, unlike many of the other Airmizer hammers, was held together with cables rather than tie rods. Vulcan’s aversion for tie rods was consistent; addition of cables was probably a major improvement for the hammer.
Back view of the HC-8 hammer.
Front view of the HC-8 hammer, which had a 8,000 lb. ram.
An angled view of the HC-8 hammer.
HC-10 Airmizer hammer, with a 10,000 lb. ram.
HC-10 Airmizer hammer, with a 10,000 lb. ram. The “front door” of the hammer both protected the fluid valve from being hit (the MKT and Nilens hammers did not) and allowed for easy access. Vulcan wags, however, would say that easy access was necessary with a fluid valve, which was a long-standing Vulcan peeve.
The general arrangement of the HC-8 Airmizer hammer with cables holding it together.
Expensive to build and complex in construction, the Airmizer hammers were less successful than the Supertherm, and the remaining inventory was scrapped in the late 1970’s.
Creating excitement in a “need-driven” type of equipment like pile driving equipment isn’t easy, especially one with as long of a history as Vulcan’s. Vulcan tried to do just that with the 106 hammer, a hammer which both technically and from a marketing standpoint came in with a great deal of promise but never quite lived up to it.
The introduction of the Vari-Cycle in the late 1960’s made it possible to change the energy of a Vulcan hammer without having to change the operating pressure. Installing the Vari-Cycle in the #1 and #0 series hammers was problematic due to leader clearance issues, but another issue was that many specifications required a certain ram weight. Additionally, the desire was there to make some improvements to the design which, although successful, was certainly not perfect.
The result of this was the 106 hammer, the “Switch-Hitter,” complete with the baseball theme as shown in the literature cover at the right. Although it was certainly possible to change the ram in a #1 hammer to an 06, the idea here was to allow this to be done without disassembling the hammer.
Other than the removable weights, the biggest objective for this hammer was to remove the keys, which are the most persistent maintenance item on a Vulcan hammer. That included the ram keys (the “Octo-Conic” system worked, but not the way it was designed,) the slide bar key, and the upper column keys, which were replaced with the column nuts. The lower column keys were left on the hammer. The 106 saw the introduction of the valve detent, designed to reduce valve flutter and the use of the ubiquitous door springs on the valve.
The 106 was introduced in 1971. Vulcan was issued a patent on these innovations (U.S. Patent 3,566,977) but, as was all too often case with pile driving equipment, the innovations didn’t pan out as expected.
The biggest problem was in the removable weights. Once installed, these would “belly out” and freeze in the space provided, and the “Switch-Hitter” would no longer switch. So the central purpose of the hammer was defeated.
Beyond that, the column nut/key combination was soon to be overshadowed by the installation of tie cables on Vulcan hammers. Already standard on Vulcan offshore hammers and Raymond hammers, the “cable through the column” arrangement was superior to the set-up on the 106.
The only innovation to be propagated from the 106 to the other hammers was the valve detent, which, although helpful, did not overcome thing such as hammer icing and the use of motor oil.
When Vulcan designed its open type differential hammers in the early 1930’s, it developed the single-acting product line from the 014 up from that. Here’s an attempt to “back engineer” the concept onto a classic Warrington-Vulcan hammer: an 06 with a raised steam chest, from the early 1960’s. Mercifully this was never tried, because the longer passage from the cylinder to the steam chest would have only encouraged more core burn-it, as it did with the offshore hammers.
A good idea gone awry: the “810” hammer. The 106 hammer featured removable weights from the ram in order to change the energy of the hammer by changing the ram weight. Here we have an 8,000 lb. ram which could be “up-weighted” to a 10,000 lb. ram. Unfortunately the weights got stuck in the ram, and the concept got stuck in the “round file.”
Vulcan produced a fair number of proposed sizes for its offshore hammers. It was frequently difficult to keep up with its customers’ demand for new sizes, in part because the size requirements could change during the development of a hammer size. One hammer that did not get built was the 430; this drawing dates from 1976. With the 560 five years earlier, Vulcan broke out of the 3′ stroke restriction and never looked back with its offshore hammers. The 430 “split the difference” with a 4′ stroke, a common stroke with some lines of hydraulic hammers. Two years later the 530 (and later the 520 and 535) appeared in Vulcan’s line. One big difference was the cables: this hammer put them to the top of the hammer like the 3′ stroke hammers, while the later hammers went only to the steam chest.
An attempt to expand the DGH hammer line was the DGH-500. The California series of hammers had at least three active sizes, and this was an attempt to match that, from 1971. Unfortunately the popularity of hydraulic tools made life hard enough for a pneumatic tool like the DGH-100, and with the uninspiring sales of the larger DGH-900, Vulcan opted to let this concept sit.
The 1960’s and early 1970’s saw hammers such as the 040, 060, 560 and 3100 push the Vulcan line to new horizons. Yet, the design was basically the same as the Warrington-Vulcan hammers of the 1890’s. The question then arose: would the design “upscale” indefinitely? This pair of hammers showed that some at Vulcan were beginning to have their doubts. Like the first differential hammers, the 3250 (3′ stroke, 150 kip ram, 450 ft-kip energy) and 4150 (4′ stroke, same ram, 600 ft-kip energy) had a “closed type” construction. Drawing some inspiration from the IPH-16, the hammer employed the “ram in a can” approach, where the ran ran in a tube like the diesel hammers. A protruding rod at the top had a cam for the valves, which were actuated by rods similar to Raymond’s 150C hammer. The ram was connected to the cylinder using the Warrington-Vulcan type connection (as opposed to the Super-Vulcan type connection) but rods were wedged into place to hold the connection together. The new Hydra-Nuts and cables were used to hold the hammer together. Patented in 1974, Vulcan presented the hammer to some of its customer base. So why did they not try this? McDermott, with the memory of the IPH-16, was probably unenthusiastic about a new style hammer this large. And the size may have been the key issue: going to a new concept with this size hammer may have been off-putting in general, better to stick with the “tried and true” design. That’s what Vulcan did with the 5100, but had this or another different approach been tried with the larger hammers, many of the difficulties Vulcan ran into with them may have been avoided.
As we noted elsewhere, Vulcan was an innovator from the beginning of the air/steam line in the 1880’s until the end of the Illinois corporation and beyond. Unfortunately, from the mid-1990’s on, Vulcan was unable to take its ideas and put them into reality. An example of this is the Sea Water Hammer. But there were other projects in the works; below are just a few of them.
Offshore wasn’t the only place where Vulcan was applying Raymond technology. When faced with hammers with ram weights larger than 10 kips, Raymond opted to use the #0 frame for hammers such as the 3/0, 4/0, 5/0 and 8/0, all with 3.25′ strokes and 12.5, 15, 17.5 and 25 kip rams respectively. This resulted in a lighter hammer than, say, the Vulcan 014, 016 or 020 hammers.
Vulcan had plans to directly incorporate cable versions of all of these hammers, but ultimately developed 5′ stroke versions of them, incorporating Raymond features both from existing Raymond hammers and from those which they were unable to bring to reality. The “flagship” of this line was the 525, featured at the right. It was a 5′ stroke version of the 8/0, albeit with a single piece ram. It would have incorporated a 125 ft-kip hammer into a 37 kip machine.
Below are links to the general assemblies and specifications of this series of hammers:
Interestingly enough, Vulcan’s last new production hammer model was the 5110, which “did a Raymond” by putting a 110 kip ram into a 560 frame. This hammer was delivered to Global in 1996 and has been successfully used offshore.
Vulcan 488 Vibratory Hammer
In 1994 Vulcan put together a design for a successor for the 4600 hammer. It was intended to compete in the larger vibratory market, especially for the driving and extraction of casings for drilled shafts. It was also suitable for driving larger sheet piling projects as well. The result of that effort was the 488 hammer; a view of the exciter is shown at the left. It included many of the features of the Foster vibratory hammers that Vulcan was producing at the time.
Vulcan 1400A Vibratory Hammer
The 400 and 1400 vibratory hammers, the first high frequency vibrators produced in North America, were introduced in 1987 and 1988, respectively, and both were successful models. Both, however, had their limitations. Both were long hammers, and although they could get into tight places, low centre-of-gravity vibros are easier to handle. Moreover neither hammer was really suited for excavator mounting and downcrowding.
The 400A addressed these concerns and became a successful hammer. In 1997 a preliminary design was drawn up for the 1400A, shown below. Unfortunately Vulcan abruptly discontinued all work on vibratory hammers after this. Click here for more information on this hammer. The design has since been completed by Pile Hammer Equipment for its excavator mast.
Everyone has an experience in their life that they count the greatest. Corporations do, too. For Vulcan Iron Works, that experience was its involvement in offshore oil development.
Come join us as we take a look at Vulcan’s involvement offshore, which follows a fascinating (and very profitable) saga of American commercial history. You can click here to start or pick one of the topics below:
Vulcan Presentation, and Menck Offshore Steam Hammer Data. A presentation prepared by Vulcan’s Executive Vice President, P.M. Warrington, for use at sales presentations for offshore customers during the mid-1980’s. Also contains valuable and additional information on Menck offshore steam hammers.
About the Photos
When putting together this collection, we wanted to tell the story of both the construction of conventional platforms. It’s tempting just to surf the web and take “stock photos;” however, we chose to use something closer to home. Virtually all of the photos in this section were either taken by Vulcan employees or were commissioned by Vulcan and taken by professional photographers. Many of these photos were rescued from destruction when Vulcan sold its Chattanooga facility; they are a priceless legacy of a great endeavour.
For their part Vulcan’s employees were not photographers; they were service, sales, technical and management people. The photos weren’t always the best, but they told the story better than just about anything else we can think of, and modern digital processing has improved many of these shots. Most of them are named in the narrative.
Although there may be others, three professional photographers are known to have their work in this collection: