Utility contractor DeMuth, Inc., Volo, Ill., was recently contracted to install several hundred feet of copper water services in an established neighborhood in Wilmette, Ill. Because of an existing roadway and the area’s sidewalks and driveways, DeMuth President, John DeMuth, opted for a compact directional drilling application.
He said, “The project was done in conjunction with a water main replacement project. The existing cast iron main had deteriorated and was being replaced with ductile iron. The city decided to upgrade the water services in addition to replacing the main line. We suggested using a trenchless application to minimize disruption.”
DeMuth Inc. has extensive drilling experience and over 35 years in the utility construction industry. Working with associate NUCA member TT Technologies, Aurora, Ill., DeMuth utilized the recently introduced Grundodrill 4X compact directional drilling unit to replace the water services.
While the directional drilling industry as a whole has seen a downturn over the last few years, directional drilling continues to be a viable and useful technology in many sectors. The water, gas and electric industries continue to utilize the technology. In fact, “last mile” installations and “street to the house” utility installations are proving to be a growing market for compact directional drills.
Service installations less than 200 feet have prompted interest in smaller drill rigs. These smaller drills have impressive capabilities and can operate in tight working conditions and sensitive areas.
Directional Drilling Capabilities
According to TT Technologies Directional Drilling Specialist Mark Schneider, the development of smaller drills is something that the market has experienced recently. He said, “With the lack of longer range, medium diameter drill work, the industry has moved toward shorter, smaller diameter installations, in tight working conditions. The technology in today’s smaller drills has increased their capability and made them easier to use.”
With some “mini” drills offering as much as 9,200 lbs. of thrust and pullback, the machines are able to accomplish a wide range of installation tasks. In addition to water services, DeMuth has already used his compact drill for 4-inch and 6-inch sanitary sewer pipe installation and sees more work in the future.
According to Schneider the drill also offers operational efficiency in terms of its vice cycling system. He said, “A computerized Smart Vice system simplifies the drilling process by automating the drill’s vice cycling operations. The operator has single push button control of the function. That helps improve efficiency and speeds up drill times. The vice is also self-centering, reducing wear and tear. The operator can return to manual control with a flip of a switch.”
Schneider continued, “These compact drills work well in residential areas. They can be transported on a trailer pulled by a pick up truck and require minimal crews to operate. The 4X’s special steel track with bonded rubber pads offers excellent traction and durability while minimizing potential damage to concrete and turf which is important in residential settings.”
On The Job
The project in Wilmette called for the replacement of 1-inch water copper water services with 1 1/2-inch services. Bores averaged 40 feet. The Demuth crew needed to navigate around several existing utilities during each bore. Once the pilot bore was complete the crew would attach the new service to the drill rod string with a shackle and cable grip. The new service was then pulled back into place. Crews then tied the new connection into the main. Boring times ranged from 1 to 1 1/2 hours per installation.
According to Demuth, compact directional drilling was an ideal solution for this project. He said, “The job was originally specified as open cut, but it would have been very disruptive. The compact drill provided a great opportunity to replace the services quickly and avoid major disruption. Everyone was very pleased with the results.”
by Jim Schill
NUCA, June 2003