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Rockwheel D20 trenching in West Virginia sandstone and blue rock...a microcosm on the paradigm shift in rock excavation

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Apr 13, 2017 6:40:13 AM

With winter finally coming to a close the construction season in the Mid-Atlantic region is picking up steam.  With this seasonal uptick we at Alpine Rockwheel are getting more and more calls as excavation contractors and engineers recognize the benefit of Rockwheels as an alternative to hydraulic hammers in many rock removal applications. Excavator mounted rock grinding attachments (Rockwheels) have reached a tipping point where it has become clear that something has been missing from the toolbox for economical removal of rock.

Here it is in a nutshell:  Ground strength varies along a continuum starting from soft ground that can be excavated with buckets (with or without ripper teeth) to extremely hard rock that requires heavy hammers or drill-and-blast.  Between these two extremes is a wide range of rock strength from approx. 1200 to 15,000-psi where excavator mounted rock cutting attachments are the most effective tool.  They are more efficient because:

  • Continuos grinding:  Less time re-positioning the tool compared to hammers
  • Higher production:  3-5x the producting of hammers in suitable rock (especially in layered rock!)
  • Precision:  eliminate overbreak and dont excavate more than you have to
  • Reusable cuttings:  ground rock can be recyled onsite as backfill or more easily transported

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Case in point is a recent rock trenching job in West Virginia.  The contractor had to trench through 3-ft of sandstone underlain by  3 1/2 ft  of blue rock (limestone).  In addition, they were crossing some existing utilites that could not be disturbed.   Knowing the limitations of hydraulic hammers in terms of ability to cut smooth trench walls and flat bottoms he decided to use a D20 Rockwheel hydraulic rotary rock grinding attachment.  Installed on a 20-ton excavator the Rockwheel exceeded expectations in terms of productivity and finished product.  In the photo below you can see the rock layers, smooth exact side walls, and a crossing utility line that was undisturbed.  

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Could a hammer have done this job?  Sure, but it would have been much less efficient and cost effective.   Hammers will always have a place in the the excavation of rock but the current paradigm shift is raising awareness that there is a better option for a wide range of rock types.  It's all about the right tool for the job and having a toolbox equipped with a range of options.

Alpine maintains a national rental fleet so you can try this equipment for yourself without a purchase commitment. Excavator dealers and rental houses can utilize our rental fleet to offer their excavators equipped with Rockwheel rock cutting attachments.    From our long history in the mining and underground contruction markets we are excited to bring rock grinding technology to your excavator!  Contact us to let us know how we can help.  Tel.  814-466-7134  email.  chip@alpinecutters.com  www.alpinecutters.com 

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Topics: Cutter Heads, Trenching, Excavation, Rockwheel

D20 Rockwheel for rapidly removes outcropping limestone....then grinds some large stumps!

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Mar 11, 2017 10:40:32 AM

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If you live in Pennsylvania, USA chances are there is underlying bedrock which at times is exposed at the surface as outcroppings.  This prevalence of rock (limestone, shale, & sandstone) presents a challenge for any form of earth work be it trenching (sewer and water), preparation of foundations for buildings, grading along roads, and even farming where outcropping rock can damage expensive planting and harvesting machinery.  

The traditional solution to this problem is to use hydraulic hammers.  While these tools can get the job done, drawbacks exist.  Hammers (a.k.a. breakers or hoerams) are very loud and have high vibrations which affects the surrounding rock mass and upsets neighbors. In addition, hammers are not capable of precise removal of the rock.  Overbreak is a common problem resulting in extra time and expense.  Moverover, the large chunks of broken rock cannot be reused without additional crushing otherwise it musted be hauled offsite which is costly.  There is frequently a need to remove only a thin layer of rock, say 6"-12", but with hydraulic hammers twice that can in inadvertantly removed.

There is a far more efficient and economical option.  Alpine Rockwheel rock and concrete grinding attachments are the solution.  These excavator mounted rock and concrete cutting attachments can rapidly remove the rock to a precise cut line (within 1"-2" with a skilled operator, or better when a depth control guide is used).    Moreover, in trenching or footer jobs, rock grinding attachments leave smooth walls, sharp corners and flat bottoms.  Trench profiles with rock cutting attachments are slot shaped compared to the V shape common with hammer.  This means you're not excavating unnecessary material.  Finally, you're left with a crushed stone that can be reused as backfill.

This winter a business owner in Shippensburg, PA wanted to expand his builiding but immediately adjacent to the existing struture was a 6-8 ft thick limestone bedrock outcrop in the way.   The customer decided to use a D20 (95-hp) Rockwheel excavator mounted rock grinder (Rockwheel) on a Volvo EC220.  The Rockwheel is powered by the standard auxilliary hydrualic kit of the excavator and installs like a hammer with a simple two line system.  With a peak torque of over 13,000 ft lb, the Rockwheel was very affective and made quick work of the rock removal.  The excavator operator quickly learned the correct down pressure to maximize rock cutting performance and was impressed by how smooth the D20 cut, espeically compared to using a hammer.  Once the main job was done, they installed a set of wood cutting teeth and removed several large diameter stumps. 

All in all, it was a very successful job!

 

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Topics: Cutter Heads, Excavation

New mine scaling drum outperforms the competition!

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Dec 19, 2016 2:26:47 PM

In a head-to-head trial the Alpine Rockwheel model D30M (mining version) hydraulic rock cutting attachment was found to cut smoother, stronger and more continuously when compared to a competitive unit the customer was testing.  This was an ideal comparison because the same excavator, operators, and rock types were involved, minimizing variables.  The smoother cutting was largely attributed to the drum shape and pattern of teeth on the cutting drums.  A higher density pick lacing with optimal spacing for limestone rock was developed by Alpine specifically for this type of mine scaling job.  In addition, Alpine made sure the drum speed and torque were optimized.  Other features of the D30M include:  heavy duty housing, square drive shaft, simple 2-hose system, integrated water sprays for dust suppression, and innovative valving to protect the hydraulic motor.  

There was less wear and tear on the excavator and the consumption of carbide teeth was signifiantly lower which offers signifiance savings and minimizes downtime.

Hydraulically driven rotary cutterhead attachments are rapidly gaining popularity in  underground drill-and-blast operations.  Mine manages tell us that excavator based rock cutting machines reduce scaling time by 50+% saving several hours per day.  In addition, there is less hand scaling and the need to re-scale an area because of failed inspections is practically eliminated.  

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Alpine Rockwheels represent the most advanced and robust hydraulic rock grinding attachments on the markets.  Excavator mounting rock cutting machines are available for carriers of all sizes from 2 to 100+ tons.  Contact us at www.alpinecutters.com to see how these tools can improve efficiency in your operation.

 

 

 

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Topics: Rockwheel, Mining

G45 Rockwheel takes 14,000 psi rock to task in New York wastewater treatment plant construction

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Nov 1, 2016 9:51:49 AM

Two 200-hp G45 Rockwheels installed on CAT349 excavators have helped the contactor complete a challenging rock excavation project in New York state.  Geo technical data indicated rock to be in the 14,000 psi range.  Because they were excavating next to an operating treatment plant, hammers and explosives were too risky because of possible collateral damage.  In addition the rock excavation went right up to newly set caisson walls and concrete support pillars.  The G45 rockwheels were favored because of low disturbance to surrounding structures and becasue of their ability to cut continuously.  In additon to the two G45 Rockwheels a smaller AX20 and D10 were used where even more precision was required.  Excavator mounted rock cutting tools from Alpine Rockwheel are available world wide.  www.alpinecutters.com

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Topics: Excavation, Rockwheel

Alpine D10 Rockwheel Cutting Potash

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Oct 6, 2016 4:23:26 PM

The Alpine D10 Rockwheel is the tool of choice for cutting potash.  Here you see the tool working in the Canadian potash mines for scaling, floor leveling, and trimming the back (roof) of the tunnel network.  This 40-hp (30-kW) cutter is part of the Rockwheel product line that ranges from 13 to 300-hp.
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Topics: Tunneling, Rockwheel, Mining

High precision rock removal with D30 Rockwheel

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Aug 9, 2016 7:10:33 PM

The Rockwheel D30 is getting some great press from down under.  Extremely precise rock grinding with minimum disturbance to the adjacent material.  The same applies to tunneling work and concrete removal on sensitve structures. Alpine stocks the full line of Rockwheels for excavators in every size class.  Rental rock grinders are always available as well so you can try them on your equipment at your jobsite.  The Rockwheel will prove its worth!Australia.jpg
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Topics: Roadheaders, Tunneling, Excavation, Rockwheel

Alpine Rockwheel in Construction Equipment Magazine

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Jun 14, 2016 10:58:45 AM

 

The word is getting out. See our recognition in Construction Equipment Magazine.   Alpine Rockwheels are the go-to tool for rock removal when conditions are too hard for ripping with a bucket yet not so hard that heavy hammer is needed.   Rockwheel rock and concrete grinders are the right tool for the job between 1000 and 15,000 psi rock.  In fracutred rock, they are exceptionally effective.  

http://editiondigital.net/publication/?i=306769#{"issue_id":306769,"page":"42"}

 

 

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Topics: Rockwheel

Precision rock removal with Alpine Rockwheel

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

May 31, 2016 4:57:16 PM

An interesting project is underway in the State of Indiana in the USA.  The contractor is using an Alpine D30 Rockwheel installed on a CAT336 excavator to precisely remove 4-ft of hard limestone shelf rock in order to place 96-ft long concrete box culverts in a river tributary.  The job required rapid and precise rock removal as well as a smooth, flat finished surface.  The D30 rock grinder was the ideal tool for this job.  Hydraulic hammers were not an option because of the rough irregular surface they create and inability to cut accurately within inches to get the final grade right.  A further benefit was the generation of ground rock which can be reused onsite rather than hauled away.  Alpine Rockwheels are the go-to tool for rapid and precise rock cutting.  See video:  https://youtu.be/a1PdLC_feac 

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Topics: Excavation, Rockwheel

Alpine D20 RockWheel for Rock Trenching: When is a RockWheel the best call?

Posted by Chip Kogelmann

Jun 12, 2015 3:08:27 PM

With regard to trenching in rock, a frequent question I get from customers and equipment dealers is "When do I use a RockWheel vs. a hammer or ripper bucket?"  The answer is somewhat simple, the RockWheel is the best option when the ground is too hard to rip with a bucket yet not so hard that a heavy hammer is required.  There is a wide range of rock strength that falls within this RockWheel Zone as the figure below illustrates.

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Of course we live in a world of nuances and gradients where the choice isnt always so easy so here are a few other pointers on when a RockWheel should be the tool of choice for a rock trenching job:

  • If the hammer is just punching holes in the rock, a RockWheel is a better option.
  • If noise and seismic disturbance (e.g. in residential area or near sensitive structures) is an issue, the quieter, smooth cutting RockWheel is a better option.
  • If you want to create reusable fill (2" and smaller rock cuttings) and not bring in a crusher, a RockWheel is a better option
  • If a flat trench bottom is required, the RockWheel is a good choice.  Even if you option to break out the rock with a hammer, the RockWheel can be used to trim the walls and trench bottom.
  • If the rock is highly fractured, the RockWheel is an excellent choice because the many teeth on the drums will act as multiple rippers and excavator very rapidly.
  • If a slot cut it desired, not the "V" trench one gets with a hammer, a RockWheel is an excellent choice.

An Alpine D20 RockWheel was rencently employed for sewer line trenching in upstate, NY.  The very hard shale was not rippable with the CAT 345 bucket with Tiger Teeth and becasue it was in a residential zone with concerns about noise, a hammer was problematic. Alpine installed a D20 RockWheel on a new LinkBelt 250X4 (Tier 4).  The LinkBelt was easily programmed to allow three speed & torque settings for the RockWheel and the customer made rapid headway in the trenching job.  When the rock was softer he went for faster drum RPMs and when  harder rock was encountered, they went for lower RPMs but more torque in seconds.  The result was a trench cut to the excact cross section without any overbreak or extra width at the top as is often the case when trenching with a hammer.  Moreover, the milled rock made for perfect pipe bedding and backfill, saving the cost of bringing in this material.

 

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Here are a few photos:IMG_7800

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Topics: Cutter Heads

How to: Do's and Don'ts of Rockwheel Operation

Posted by Ryan Leech

May 29, 2015 11:00:00 AM

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Operationally, the Rockwheel is a simple tool: push the button and the drums spin, rock is engaged and it starts cutting. To help operators get optimal work out of a Rockwheel, we made a short video on how to hit the "sweet spot" while cutting. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Concrete Grinding, Rockwheel, How-to