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.
A Vulcan 040 driving pile off of Ingram’s barge, 1966.
Getting ready to pick up a Vulcan 040 on Ingram’s Derrick Barge #3, 1966
A crew boat comes along side of Ingram’s DB 3, 1966
A side view of a Vulcan 040 driving pile offshore in the Gulf of Mexico from Ingram’s DB 3, 1966. Note the batter (angle) of the pile. Batter conditions were standard for offshore piling and it was one reason why the environment was so hard on the equipment.
Looking down on the deck of Ingram’s DB 3 in the Gulf of Mexico, 1966.
Ingram personnel and equipment picking up their Vulcan 040, 1967. Note the absence of cables; the keyed hammers were ultimately unable to withstand the punishment of the offshore environment and were superseded by cables.
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.
The 040 was subject to many changes and variations in its early years. One of those was the addition of the Vari-Cycle energy selection system. This was the first 040 to feature Vari-Cycle, sold to Dragados, the Spanish contractor currently building an additional tunnel in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia.
Some of the Chattanooga facility employees gathered around the 040, perhaps the first one, at the plant. In a suit and tie is Campbell V. Adams, Vulcan’s design engineer, whose 400C was the “parent” of the 040.
Anothe 040 ready to ship. Standing next to it is George C. Wandell, Vulcan’s design engineer during the early and mid-1970’s. He had worked for Raymond before that and would depart for Conmaco.
Just a little extra weight on the ram: the 044, a variant of the 040. Only one was built, for Tidewater Construction (now Skanska.)
The back side of the Dragados 040, at the Chattanooga facility.
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.
He retained his wallet; Jesse Perry, Vulcan’s field service manager, taking a break during the driving of the large concrete cylinder piles by the Vulcan 040 for the I-10 project for Prestressed Concrete Piles.
Lowering a capblock follower and concrete pile cap into the leaders at the Prestressed Concrete Pile project to build the I-10 bridge over the Atchafalaya, 1969.
The 040 in action installing the cylinder piles for the I-10 between Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, LA, 1969.
A close-up of the 040 cylinder during exhaust. The large hose is the steam hose that powers the hammer, the small hoses are the Vari-Cycle hoses that shift the trip shifter one way or the other to vary the stroke.
A drawing showing it it’s done with the Vari-Cycle.
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.
Vulcan’s first offshore catalogue, Bulletin 65, with the 040 (probably Ingram’s) and the out-of-place drilling operation. The smaller hammers found themselves driving drilling casing from time to time, but the 040 was pretty much for jacket piles.
The 040 continues to dominate the cover with Bulletin 65. The hammer now sports cables and the many other improvements made during the early history of the machine.
The tradition continues: the Vulcanhammer.info Guide to Pile Driving Equipment, published in 2010, sported the 040 sold to Creole Petroleum (now PDVSA.)
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 340 S/N GC-8245, shipped to McDermott in February 1973.
Vulcan Drawing DWPB-1961 (Offshore Hammer Specifications)
General arrangement for the 340 hammer.
Offshore Hammer, Onshore Style Leaders: the last Vulcan offshore hammer produced, a 340 for the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, starting up in 2000. Note that the leaders are fixed ones: this is to facilitate driving the large concrete cylinder piles used for platforms in Lake Maracaibo.