Michels Pipeline

Michels Pipeline Takes On Static Bursting

Michels Pipeline

The Grundoburst is able to burst ductile iron and steel pipe and repairs. Until recently this was a major limitation of pipe bursting equipment. Bladed rollers split the host pipe. The bursting head and expander displace the fragmented host pipe in to the surrounding soil while the new HDPE is pulled in simultaneously.

NUCA contractor Michels Pipeline Construction, Milwaukee, WI, recently tackled a water main replacement project for the Brown Deer Water Utility, Brown Deer, WI. The project gave Michels the opportunity to utilize static pipe bursting technology for the first time.

According to Brown Deer Water Utility Superintendent Marty Glodoski, the existing cast iron system suffered numerous water main breaks over the last several years. Glodoski said, “A large portion of the cast iron water system was installed in the 1950s and ‘60s. Combining the unprotected cast iron mains with copper services created a situation where the mains actually conduct current, which contributes to their deterioration. Most of the breaks can be attributed in some fashion to the electrolysis of the unprotected cast iron mains.”

Utility officials identified a 1,300-ft section of 6-inch diameter water main as a candidate for total replacement. The main had undergone extensive repair over the years and contained numerous stainless steel repair clamps. The Brown Deer Water Utility contracted Michels Pipeline to replace the existing main through static pipe bursting. Michels used the Grundoburst 800G static pipe bursting system from associate NUCA member TT Technologies, Aurora, IL.

Contractor Background

Michels Pipeline

For their first static pipe bursting project, the Michels Pipeline crew replaced over 1,300 feet of 6-inch cast iron water main with 8-inch High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The crew divided the run into two 650-foot sections. Bursting times with the Grundoburst 800G averaged 2 1/2 to 3 hours each.

Michels Pipeline has been involved in the construction industries for over 50 years. During that time, the company has grown into a national conglomerate and expanded into numerous other industries. The Brown Deer project represented the opportunity for the company to expand again into another area of utility construction, static pipe bursting.

With the introduction of advanced static bursting systems, contractors can now burst and replace ductile iron, steel and lined pipes, as well as pipes with ductile iron and steel repairs. During the process, specially designed bladed rollers are pulled through an existing line by a hydraulically powered bursting unit. As they are pulled through, they split the host pipe. An expander attached to the rollers forces the fragmented pipe into the surround soil while simultaneously pulling in the new pipe.

The bladed roller configuration is an essential part of the Grundoburst’s success. The specially designed bladed rollers actually split the host pipe instead of ripping or tearing it. This is a clean process and prevents potential damage to the product pipe.

Patented Quicklock bursting rods are linked together, not screwed together like traditional drill stems or other static systems, speeding installation and breakdown.

The Project

The Michels crew divided the 1,300-ft run into two runs of approximately 650 feet each. A launch pit was dug in the middle of the two runs and exits pits were dug on each end. After completing a temporary water bypass, the crew positioned the Grundoburst in the first exit pit and connected it to a hydraulic power pack. The crew then inserted the bursting rods through the host pipe and into the launch pit.

Once at the launch pit, the crew removed the guide rod and attached the bladed rollers, bursting head, expander and new 8-inch HDPE. The entire configuration was then pulled back through the host pipe by the hydraulic bursting unit. The power of the Grundoburst combined with the specially designed bladed roller was able to burst the pipe and all repairs. The first 650-ft run of 8-inch HDPE was installed without incident.

Crews then set to work making lateral connections with electro-fusion couplings while the Grundoburst was re-positioned for the second run. The second run was also completed with out incident. Bursting times averaged 2 1/2 to 3 hours for each run.

According to Michels’ foreman Dave Schultz the crews were excited about the use of the new technology and adapted to it quickly. Schultz said, “Everyone was pleased with the results. By the end of the first run, we were experts. I think there’s a future for static bursting with us.”


NUCA, December 2002