Vulcan 030 Hammer: Specifications and Information

The Vulcan 030 was an extension of the 020 with a longer, heavier ram.  It was first designed and built in an onshore version with the same 37″ jaws as the 020.  A general arrangement is below.

The onshore 030 found itself on many interesting projects, such as the replacement of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge between St. Petersburg and Bradenton, FL, after it was hit by a ship and fell into Tampa Bay.

Like the 020, the 030 went offshore, too.  The first offshore 030 was built for H.B. Fowler in 1965; a general arrangement is shown below.

The original offshore Vulcan 030, built for H.B. Fowler in 1965 and J.H. Pomeroy in 1967.  Note the column keys that hold the hammer together; they were replaced by cables, as keys were hard to maintain in the punishing offshore environment.

Equipped with cables and (after the first three) a 22″ ram point (the first three had a 21″ one,) the offshore 030 was used by contractors such as Northwestern, Dragados and Fluor.

Specifications for the offshore 030 are below.

Vulcan Drawing DWPB-1961 (Offshore Hammer Specifications)

Photos of the hammer are below.

In its later specification sheets Vulcan listed a Vulcan 330 hammer, but it is essentially the same as the 030, and was not built.

Specifications, Vulcan Bulletin 68T, 1991

A True Russo-Chinese Alliance is Probably Premature

Amidst all of the conventional wisdom about a tight relationship between Moscow and Beijing, a caution:

Fifty years later, the ferocity of the skirmish between Mao Zedong’s China and Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union seems to belong to a very distant past—so distant, indeed, that many foreign-policy experts are convinced that an anti-U.S. alliance between the two countries is emerging. Yet even half a century on, such an assessment stretches the evidence beyond what it can bear. On closer inspection, Chinese-Russian economic, foreign policy, and military cooperation is less than impressive. The history of relations between the two countries is fraught, and they play vastly different roles in the world economy, making a divergence in their objectives all but unavoidable. In short, reports of a Russian-Chinese alliance have been greatly exaggerated.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Vulcan had involvement in both.  In our series A Fistful of Yuan, which dates from 2007, the following observation comes:

To his credit, it remained for Richard Nixon to re-open the door with China as the U.S.’s involvement in Vietnam wound down and the Chinese crawled out from under the landslide of the Cultural Revolution. Nixon wisely saw the natural rivalry between China and the then Soviet Union. United by ideology, the two nations were divided by history, a division that manifested itself when Soviet “experts” were given the boot in the early 1960’s. (This should give pause to enthusiasts of a China-Russia front against American “hegemony” today.)

Vulcan’s subsequent involvement in Russia revealed a system that, although had many commonalities with China, had many important differences as well.

The real question at this point is not whether the United States can benefit from this mutual unease.  The real question is whether it will pull itself together long enough to do so.

Vulcan 020 Hammer: Specifications and Information

The 020 hammer, derived from the 200C hammer, is an important part of Vulcan’s product line.  A big hammer when it was introduced, it was key in making Vulcan a serious participant in the offshore hammer market, and also with larger onshore and marine projects as well.  It was also the progenitor for hammers such as the 520, 030, 530 and 535.

General arrangements are below.  The 020 was originally developed as an onshore hammer (the photo at the top of the page shows one in on the job) with 37″ jaws.  If the hammer had a significant weakness, it was that: the jaws were too small to accommodate more than 30″ concrete pile or 36″ steel pipe pile.

The offshore hammer sported 54″ male jaws and could drive up to 48″ steel pipe pile.

The first offshore 020 was made for Ingram Contractors in 1965.  Many offshore contractors purchased and used the hammers, including McDermott, DeLong, Teledyne Movable Offshore, Fluor and ETPM, along with onshore contractors such as T.L. James, Boh Brothers, Contratistas Costaneros and J.H. Pomeroy.

And the specifications:

Like the 014 and 016, the 020 wandered between the raised and lowered steam chest design, and also whether the hammer had a steam belt or not.  Steam belts allowed the air or steam to pass from one side of the hammer to another.  For onshore hammers, this allowed the steam chest to be run on the inside of the leaders.  Offshore hammers traditionally ran their steam chest in front (outside) of the leaders, which means that they dispensed with the steam belt.

Also, like the 200C, the 020 had two different sizes of ram points for onshore and offshore hammers, although with two different sizes of cushion pots.

If you have one of these hammers and want to order parts or rehabilitate the hammer, get the serial number and make sure which configuration you’re ordering for.

Vulcan 014 and 016 Hammers: Specifications and Information

The 014 and 016 hammers were the first single-acting hammers Vulcan produced based on the Super-Vulcan design.  The main difference between the two was the ram weight, as can be seen below.




These hammers are without the Vari-Cycle feature; the drawing at the very top shows the Vari-Cycle added.

Specifications for the onshore hammers (which sported 32″ female jaws) are below.




The 016 was the basis of the Conmaco 160, which Vulcan first produced for Conmaco before they “struck out on their own.”

Vulcan also produced these hammers in an offshore configuration with 54″ male jaws, as shown below.  The first of these was for Ingram Contractors (at the time the same ownership as the book distribution company) in 1968.  T.L. James and McDermott also purchased these hammers.




Specifications for the offshore hammers are below.

Vulcan Drawing DWPB-1961 (Offshore Hammer Specifications)

One major difference between the offshore and onshore models is the raised vs. lowered steam chest.  The onshore model cylinder design was modelled after the Super-Vulcan hammers, which required a steam chest raised above the bottom of the cylinder.  For the offshore hammers this was dispensed with and the steam chest design was more like the Warrington-Vulcan hammers, low on the cylinder.  The main benefits were a shorter slide bar and less chance for core burn-in in the air/steam passages.

The heavier build of these hammers (as opposed to the earlier single-acting hammers) was more beneficial offshore than onshore.  The frame is more durable (although it’s hard to argue with a configuration that lasts 120 years!) but this added to the weight.

Vulcan toyed with the idea of a 5′ stroke version of the 014 and 016 hammers; this is the 016 version, or the 516. Vulcan never built this and towards the end gravitated towards a 5′ stroke version of the larger Raymond “0” series hammers, which were closer to the original Warrington-Vulcan concept and lighter.

The weight of the 014 and 016 may have put them at something of a disadvantage, but they have given good service in the sixty-years they’ve been out, as can be seen in this video (courtesy of Pile Hammer Equipment.)


Vulcan 400C and 600C Hammers: Specifications and Information

The Vulcan 400C and 600C were the company’s “final frontier” on the Super-Vulcan hammers.  It invested a considerable amount of resources in the engineering of these products, both offshore and (in the case of the 400C) onshore.

Promotion wasn’t lacking in the specifications either, as can be seen below.

Yet the fact remains that neither of these hammers was ever built.  Why was this so?

For the onshore hammer, demand for hammers this large onshore only came on Vulcan’s “radar screen” in the mid- and late 1960’s, and by that time the offshore market was dominating Vulcan’s activity.  There was also the persistent “blow rate” controversy.

For offshore, on paper a differential acting hammer made perfect sense.  Hourly barge rates were (and are) high; the more rapidly the work got done, the better.  This probably inspired McDermott to purchase the several 140C hammers that it did.  And the length of the piles was the last nail in the coffin for pile driving formulae; the wave equation and pile driving analysers were taking over.  The energy into the pile could be monitored, as noted in Pile Installation by Pile Driving.

However, there were other issues.  In some cases the pile rebound timed itself to return with the next blow, resulting in the “dancing on the pile” issue Vulcan ran into sometimes with the smaller Super-Vulcan hammers.  Beyond that, the air or steam consumption of these hammers was considerable.  The 600C, for example, used the same boiler size as the 560 with 40% less striking energy.  To penetrate a hard layer, the additional energy was worth more than the higher blow rate.  That could have been compensated for by designing a Super-Vulcan hammer with a 5′ equivalent stroke, but Vulcan never tried to present this to its customers.

It’s yet another “what-if” situation that Vulcan faced in its long history.

Indicator Devices and Cards for Vulcan Hammers

The indicator card, and the devices that produced them, have been around about as long as there have been steam engines.  The basic idea is simple: as the piston of the engine moved, a pressure indicator moved a needle and pen up and down on a paper (usually a rotating drum) and produced what’s called in thermodynamics a pV diagram, shown below.

indicator card
An indicator card, taken from A Practical Treatise on the Steam Engine Indicator and Indicator Diagrams by Amice, edited and enlarged by W. Worby Beaumont, 1888. The area of the central region would indicate the energy output of the engine. The displacement is noted on the x-axis and the pressure on the y-axis. The straight lines over the region are probably a method of graphical integration, although even then (before the advent of CAD and numerical integration) a planimeter would be much easier.

The steam engine (or any reciprocating engine, they’re also used with internal combustion engines as well) is somewhat straightforward in that it has a fixed stroke.  With an impact pile hammer, you have a free piston engine whose stroke is not determined by the rotation of the crankshaft.  Vulcan’s attempt to attach an indicator mechanism to its smallest hammer (the DGH-100,) shown above, is a little tricky.  The telltale rod coming out the top of the ram moves the pen radially around the drum through a lever and cord mechanism.  The pressure from the hammer moves the pen up and down on the drum.  Either the pressure above the piston or below can be fed to the indicator mechanism, as shown below.


Vulcan’s motivation in looking at this was probably due to questions about the downward assist of the air pressure on the top of the piston.  This question challenged Vulcan during the whole life of its differential-acting hammers.

Whether Vulcan actually did this is unknown.  Vulcan used a more modern approach to determine pressure-time and pressure-displacement histories in its linear vibrator, and the analysis software Vulcan developed electronically generated indicator cards for its single-compound hammer.

The “indicator card” developed for the S/C hammer, using an HP-85 computer, 1982. The output was actually printed on thermal tape. The HP-85, with its Basic programming and VisiCalc spreadsheet, was a useful device for hammer design and trade union negotiations alike.

Mechanical indicator mechanisms are still used for slower, reciprocating engines (usually steam) but no matter how they’re made, indicator cards–and the concept behind them–are important in the performance analysis of reciprocating engines of all kinds.


Vulcan 200C Hammer: Specifications and Information

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.



Vulcan 140C Hammer: Specifications and Information

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 Vulcan 140C hammer, perhaps the earliest general arrangement.

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 offshore 140C, with male jaws and outside cables.

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.



A Vulcan 140C hammer installing sand drains.

Another application for the 140C was the sand drain hammer, shown at the left. Sand drains are not conventional driven piles but are used for accelerating consolidation drainage, as described here.  The cylinder head is different (to allow for a retractable hook to raise the hammer)  but otherwise the hammer is pretty much the same as a standard onshore 140C.


Raymond-Vulcan 80C Hammer: Specifications and Information

As was the case with its 65C, Raymond made multiple improvements to the Vulcan 80C hammer, but used a slightly different approach.

Probably because the patents on the Super-Vulcan hammers hadn’t run when Raymond saw the need to modify the Vulcan hammers, Raymond started by extensive modifications on the Vulcan 80C, which are similar to those they made later on the 65C.  The result is the hammer shown above.  There is no doubt that Raymond probably had as much money in the modifications–or more–than the original hammers, but as Charlie Guild observed to me, Raymond had “no idea” what their costs were.

That may not have been a problem.  For one thing, Raymond’s superintendents had a reputation of being hard on the equipment; it was cheaper, in their view, to damage the equipment rather than to stop the job.  Raymond’s equipment designers responded to this by making these hammers more rugged than the original Vulcan hammers, and that’s saying quite a bit.

Probably the modification that gave the best return on the investment was the conversion from column keys to cables, one that Vulcan eventually did on its hammers.  With the 80C, it was faced with the same problem as Vulcan: how to deal with the steam belt, which got in the way of running the cables straight out of the columns.  Vulcan’s solution is discussed here; Raymond opted to shift the cables slightly off column centre, using eccentric and concentric column sleeves.  The result, coupled with running the cables to the head, worked well, especially with the Raymond Step-Taper piles, which were probably the most grueling test of a pile hammer ever devised for onshore piles.

It’s noteworthy that Pile Hammer Equipment, in its approach, “dog-legs” the cables a bit as they go to the head while keeping them concentric with the column, thus avoiding the steam belt.

Raymond went on to develop a “true” Raymond 80C as it had done with the 65C, but at this point documentation lacks for this hammer.

Specifications for Raymond’s 80C and other air/steam differential hammers are below.