Thursday, August 23, 2007

This was a great spectator week.
The crew from McDowell Drilling came and drilled 31 auger cast piles. Lonnie, the "pile buck" for the crew said the hardest part of the project was fitting all the machines on our little plot. There was a huge blue drilling rig with a 40 foot boom, an orange trackhoe, a big pump, and several cement trucks. It was like watching a hippo, and elephant and a gorilla all try to change their clothes in the same closet.
To make each of the auger cast piles, the guys would move the auger drill over the spot, set the "foot" and begin drilling. Each of the piles went down between 27 and 33 feet. A geotech engineer would sample the soil coming out of the ground and decide when the depth was correct. Then the drill operator would slowly begin raising the auger while the cement guy began pumping cement, or "mud", through the hollow center of the auger. As the auger came up, the cement would fill the hole, overflowing as it reached the top. Finally a long steel rod would be lowered down into the hole followed by a round steel "cage" to hold the pile and form the "cast". And then on to the next one.
It was fascinating to watch, but definitely the most dangerous worksite I've ever seen! Everything seemed to be either heavy, caustic, sharp, or swinging. If a guy wasn't holding a chainsaw or pickax, he was holding a steel pipe, cement hose, or sledgehammer!

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