Vulcan #3 Hammer: Specifications and Information

The #3 was one of the early (pre-1900) Warrington-Vulcan hammers, along with the #2 and #1.  A general arrangement is shown above; specifications are below.

Specifications Bulletin 68
Specifications, Vulcan Bulletin 68

The #3 found itself involved in some important projects, including the construction of the original Panama Canal, as evidenced by the memo below.

A memo/drawing of modifications to two (2) #3 hammers for the Panama Canal project. Vulcan was frequently loathe to make modifications to their hammers, but they did so in this case.

The #3 fell out of favour to the larger #2 and #1 hammers (the #2 eventually suffered the same fate) but in 2008 Pile Hammer Equipment brought back the #3 hammer.  They made many changes to the hammer, including increasing the ram weight to 2,100 lbs. (a little more than the Panama Canal hammers,) increasing the stroke to 3′, adding cables and other features.  The PHE/Vulcan #3 is the newest Warrington-Vulcan hammer, and also one where a Warrington was involved in the design.  You can see a general arrangement of the hammer (with specifications) below; more information and availability can be found by contacting Pile Hammer Equipment.



An Old Idea Comes Back: China-US Arbitration in a Neutral Country

In his assessment of the prospects of US-China relations, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd makes the following suggestion to resolve intellectual property (IP) issues:

Intellectual-property protection, however, is deeply problematic. Previous agreements reached under US president Barack Obama’s administration could be reconstituted. But the jurisdictional enforcement of breaches is still hopeless.

One possible mechanism is to subject relevant contracts between Chinese and foreign firms to international commercial arbitration bodies in Singapore or Switzerland, designed to deal specifically with the enforcement of IP protection.

In both contracts Vulcan signed with the Chinese for the sale of the 560 hammers and boiler (1981 and 1983,) our agent Amtech wisely included the following provision:

18. SPECIAL PROVISIONS: Arbitration in Sweden or Canada

Not all of these special provisions were wise (or at least to the Chinese’ taste) but this one was, although thankfully for both parties we never had recourse to this process.

One thing that has always struck this observer as unwise is the typical American attitude that everything should be everywhere just like it is in the US.  Old exporters (and Vulcan certainly had a good track record in that regard) knew better, but our voices have been ignored, especially in the years of US unilateralism following the end of the Cold War.  The rise of China, whose view of life is very different from ours, should occasion the revival of a more “multilateral” approach, but such an approach will require a different style of mind than has been exhibited up until now.

Vulcan 305 and 306 Hammers: Specifications and Information

No history of the Warrington-Vulcan hammers would be complete without mentioning the 305 and 306 hammers.  The primary purposes of these designations was to harmonise them with the way Vulcan had numbered its larger hammers for many years, although these hammers incorporated changes such as cables and the possibility of Vari-Cycle II.


The most important example of these hammers was the 306 built by the new Vulcan Foundation Equipment (which was owned by the Dutch company IHC) in the early 2000’s, shown below.  The 306 incorporated the long ram which was used by the later 06 hammers and the 506.

vulcan 306 7
The Vulcan 306 ready for shipment in Vulcan Foundation Equipment’s Chattanooga facility (which was down the street from the Vulcan Iron Works’ old plant.) From left to right, Doug Scaggs, Ernie Artrip and Linda Grant.

The 305 was supposed to supersede the #1, but in reality it was never built.  Nothing can supersede the #1.  The general arrangement for that hammer is below.  Specifications for both of these hammers are on the general arrangements.


Vulcan 012 Hammer: Specifications and Information

012The 012 was the largest Warrington-Vulcan hammer with a 3′ (actually, 3.25′ for the #0 series) hammers.  It used a long ram, the same length as the later 010 hammers.  It is a very useful hammer with its relatively large ram weight, although in practical terms it was soon overshadowed by the 5′ stroke 512.

At the right is an 012 in the maroon colour Vulcan used in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  You can also see the safety warning plates Vulcan affixed to all its hammers from the late 1970’s onward.  These are useful reminders of safe operation of Vulcan hammers.

Specifications are shown below.

Specifications, Vulcan Bulletin 68T, 1991

Vulcan 010 Hammer: Specifications and Information

The 010 is one of Vulcan’s more popular hammers.  For many years it was the largest Warrington-Vulcan hammer in the line until the 012.  It was an upgrade from the 0R hammer, raising the ram weight from 9,300 lbs. to 10,000 lbs.  Another general arrangement of the 010 with the steam belt are shown below.


One interesting variant of the 010 is the so-called “front loader.”  An attempt to get away from the steam belt (and the manufacturing difficulties that went with it) it placed the air inlet right at the valve chest.  Although this made sense from several standpoints, it placed the inlet too close to the ram for many contractors, and so was not pursued.  Some of those hammers are shown below.

An important front loader is the 010 with cables to the bottom of the cylinder, as opposed to those to the head.  These cables had the “button” type lower fitting.  This cable configuration became the standard for the Warrington-Vulcan hammers in the 1980’s.


Specifications for the onshore 010 are shown below.

The 010 also has the distinction of being Vulcan’s smallest offshore hammer.  Originally designed for Fluor, it was never popular, as it was too small for virtually all offshore work.  Below is a general arrangement and the specifications for the 010 offshore hammer.

Like the 06, the 010 has two ram configurations: the short (steel) ram and the long (iron) ram.  The latter was also adapted to the 510. Below are two general arrangements for the 010 with the long ram and cables, which was the final configuration Vulcan produced.

NPO VNIIstroidormash: Soviet Construction Equipment Technology

On this site I have posted several articles on Soviet (and after that Russian) pile driving equipment, such as diesel hammers, concrete pile cutters, and vibratory and impact-vibration hammers. These are very specialised topics, even by construction industry standards; here I want to present some photos of more general interest to you heavy equipment fans. The Soviet Union was known for its commitment to heavy manufacturing and construction equipment like this is certainly a big part of that.

NPO VNIIstroidormash is the Soviet name for the Moscow-based institute which designed and tested the equipment shown below. The name means the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Construction and Road-Building Machinery. It was put together in 1975, and survived past the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 as a share society, i.e., a privatised corporation. In addition to the pile driving equipment which got me involved with the organisation, it designed many other types of equipment, and the best way to show this follows, from their catalogue produced around 1986.

DZ-110A-1 Bulldozer with laser-beam steering and control system. Surface-working accuracy +-5 cm at 10-400 mm distance from the laser source. Such a set-up is common today; at the time it was not.
Similar, laser-levelled concept with a DZ-122A-13 motor grader.
EO-4125 excavator. The excavator is probably the single most versatile and important earth moving machine on a construction site. This one sported servo-controlled valves, which makes current excavators easier to use than their older counterparts.
Excavators are versatile in that things other than the usual bucket can be mounted on the boom. In this case, the MTP-71A excavator has an extended backhoe used for large swing radii and canal digging. It’s mounted on rubber tyres (the one above is on tracks) for softer soils; it’s also easier to transport on roads. To increase the effective counterweight it sports outriggers.
EO-3323 excavator, also mounted on tyres with outriggers. The red bucket on the end has a capacity of 0.75 cu.m.
Turning to cranes, this is a 12.5 (metric) ton hydraulic truck crane. Very useful for light lifting, they’re fairly common on construction sites and other places.
40-ton truck crane, another versatile tool.

Our business used these often for the assembly of our larger hammers, but sometimes things didn’t go according to plan.

250-ton crane. For really heavy lifts, Vulcan could have used this for its biggest products. Cranes such as this were used in the early 1980’s for the modification of its biggest hammer.
DM-476 vibration roller for compaction. These machines are not really intended for deep compaction of soils but surface smoothing, which is necessary when building roads and airfields.
DZ-140 motor grader, used for final levelling of roadways before smoothing and paving. The blade is 4.8 m long.
TO-31 skid steer loader, better known on American jobsites as a “Bobcat” after the popular American brand. Maybe they should have named this a “Siberian Tiger.”
A bulldozer-ripper. Most people connect bulldozers with moving soil, but this one is designed to break up rock for removal.
Computer aided design, 1980’s style: VNIIstroidormash’s computer room.
VNIIstroidormash’s library.
VNIIstroidormash’s female ski team.

Vulcan first connected with the Institute in 1988, and our contacts continued for the next six years. Sometimes things got strange but we discovered an organisation that put out some very good designs for construction equipment. Unfortunately the Soviet manufacturing organisation was not up to proper quality control, especially in the civilian sector, and that weakness was one of those which ultimately brought the Soviet Union down.

Vulcan 08 Hammer: Specifications and Information

The Vulcan 08 was an upgrade from the venerable #0, increasing the ram weight from 7,500 lbs. to 8,000 lbs.  The 08 experienced the upgrades of the other Warrington-Vulcan hammers, including cables and the Vari-Cycle, as shown above.  (The cables shown above used the tapered lower fittings and are to the head; later Vulcan 08 hammers have button-type lower fittings and the cables run to just above the steam chest.)

Other configurations of the 08 can be seen below.

Specifications are shown below.

The 08 in action in Norfolk, VA:

Driving Speed That Makes Footage Records

Above, an ad for the Warrington-Vulcan hammer, as featured in Engineering News-Record, 1926.  Note that there are two distributors listed: one in California and the venerable Woodard Wight in New Orleans, which (with its salesman Herman Hasenkampf) went on to represent Vulcan in the Gulf during the offshore years.

Note also that Vulcan even at this date already had a “half century of experience in the design and manufacture of pile-driving equipment.”  It also touted (before the advent of diesel hammers) the advantage of “heavy ram-low velocity” which still has its advantages today.

A Sea Fight in a Fog: Revisiting the ASCE Controversy about Dynamic Formulae

It’s always good for geotechnical professors and practitioners alike to think about where our industry has been and where it’s headed.  A little while back three of our most eminent people (Garland Likins, Bengt Fellenius and Robert Holtz) came together and wrote an excellent piece for the 2Q 2012 issue of the Pile Driver (the official publication of the Pile Driving Contractors Association) on “Pile Driving Formulas”.  The article is centred on the 1941-2 discussion (that’s putting it politely) in the Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers on a committee report on the subject.

On this site there is a history of pile dynamics from the Sanders (not Stanton, as the PDCA article states) Formula to the present.  I considered adding a page on this particular topic, but with a website like this where the compensation is minimal, time failed me.  In a sense, the PDCA article fills an important gap in the narrative.  Having said that, I can’t help but think that the authors took some inspiration from what I had posted.  For example, the inventor of the Engineering News formula is not generally referred to as “Arthur Mellen Wellington” and the quote from his work is the same as the one I used, the more “spiritual” part excised.

In any case, the number of pile driving formulae increased in the first three decades of the last century to the point where, in 1930, the American Society of Civil Engineers appointed a committee to study the issue and recommend a formula.  The timing was interesting.  The following year, the Australian civil engineer David Victor Isaacs published his historic paper which first identified (and developed a method to analyse) wave propagation in precast concrete piles.  Later in the decade the British Building Research Board did their extensive research on wave propagation in piles.  The civil engineering world was taking its first steps to get beyond simple Newtonian impact mechanics in the dynamic analysis of driven piles.

The Committee finally released its report in 1941.  One recommendation was that static load tests be used in place of dynamic formulae.  This was definitely one way to solve the problem, but static load tests are long and expensive, and neglect the use of the pile hammer as a measuring tool.  Another proposed a refinement of existing dynamic formulae.  At this point the controversy erupted.  From September 1941 to February 1942 the discussion raged in the Society’s proceedings.  It involved many of the “greats” of geotechnical engineering: Karl Terzaghi, Ralph Peck, Arthur Casagrande, Gregory Tschebotarioff, Lazarus White and many others.  As is often the case in the earth sciences, from global warming to earthquake engineering, it sometimes got heated and emotional, with some defending the status quo while others pointing out the inadequacies of dynamic formulae.  The PDCA article does an excellent job in distilling this discussion to its basics.

While the end result—a “new” dynamic formula was not imposed on the industry—was a satisfactory one for the moment, the discussion revealed a great deal about geotechnical engineering, some of which has changed and some of which has not.

The first problem was that, for all of their erudition and well-deserved reputation for expertise in the field, many of the commenters were not, for want of a better term, well versed in the ins and outs of things moving, especially as rapidly as takes place during wave propagation in piles.  It is to their credit that the pioneers of this profession were able to transform a profession from a strongly empirical one to one subject to engineering analysis and quantification, and doing so in an environment of complexity and unpredictability as the earth itself.  But the skill set required to do that didn’t always lend itself to the understanding of the phenomena seen in driven piles during driving.  In that respect, the controversy resembled one description of the Trinitarian controversies of the fourth century: a “sea fight in a fog”.  While the shortcomings of the dynamic formulae were clear to those who spent time the jobsite time that these men did, the solution for the problem would have to come from somewhere else.

The second problem was that the computational power needed to analyse the problem was lacking at the time, especially to the practitioners in the field.  Isaacs solved this problem by using a graphical method, a solution seen elsewhere in the profession, but making his method general practice would have involved some kind of instrumentation to verify the results.  On the other hand the BBRB came up with the instrumentation, but their analytical method—a type of d’Alembert solution of the wave equation—was far too complex for practical implementation at the time.  Neither of these methods, even if they had been combined, adequately addressed the soil response to impact, especially along the shaft of the pile.  But in any case the Committee’s inclusion of these methods was not a significant part of their work product, and World War II put a stop to the research.  It’s tempting to think that, without that great and destructive conflict, a workable solution could have been proposed a decade earlier than it was.

The third problem was the frequently unhelpful role of building codes and standard specifications.  Codes enable owners to insure that their work is done properly.  One way they do this is by specifying methods of verification that are both easy and repeatable to evaluate.  What’s “easy” depends upon the tools of the time, but one of the reasons it has been so difficult to displace the dynamic formulae from geotechnical practice is because they—and especially the Engineering News formula—became deeply embedded in the codes and specifications by which many structures were built.  To take these away required their replacement, and risk averse owners of all kinds were reluctant to do this.

As the PDCA article rightly notes, the most prescient commenter was Raymond Concrete Pile’s A.E. Cummings, who noted the existence of Isaacs’ and the BBRB’s work on wave propagation in piles.  This is no accident.  Raymond was involved in every aspect of the installation of driven piles, from the design and manufacture of the driving equipment to the load testing of the piles.  They had a more comprehensive view of the issues involved and, being a large organization, had the means to tackle the problem.  Combined with the advent of digital computers, Cummings’ Raymond colleague E.A.L. Smith was able to write the first code suitable for the analysis of piles during impact driving, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today of course the analysis of wave propagation in piles, both predictively and inversely, is at the core of pile dynamics.  It’s worth noting, however, that, although there have been many refinements in the methodology and advances in the software used, the basic theory in use is ostensibly the same as it was in the 1970’s.  It’s also worth noting that the use of pile dynamics is still a very specialized business, not only because they involve deep foundations, but also because, as was the case seventy years ago, most geotechnical engineers (except those in research) are not specialists in dynamics or numerical methods, both of which are at the heart of the analysis of piles (and other deep foundations) during impact driving.  Finally, although it’s been a long process to displace the dynamic formulae with wave related methods of analysis in building codes and specifications, it’s unreasonable to say that newer methods will not come along to displace or upgrade them, even in this conservative industry.

One of these days, significant breaks with current practice will appear to be considered.  Hopefully we won’t go through another “sea fight in a fog” as we did in the 1940’s and make the transition to newer, vetted methods smooth and efficient, for the benefit of both our profession and for those who use the structures we design and build.

Vulcan 0R Hammer: Specifications and Information

The Vulcan 0R hammer was the same as the #0 except that it had a heavier ram.  It was relatively short-lived, its place was taken by the 010 hammer.

Vulcan 0R hammer sporting a Vari-Cycle, an unlikely combination.

Specifications for the hammer are shown below.

Specifications Bulletin 68
Specifications, Vulcan Bulletin 68