October 2017 Vol. 72 No. 10


A Buried Maze of Pipes Puts the FastBack System to the Test

Our customer was a large gas distribution contractor who was facing a tough challenge: they had a short bore job that required crossing six different utilities. This 120-foot bore to install a 3-inch polyethylene gas main meant weaving through one 6-inch high pressure gas main, one 6-inch low pressure cast iron gas main, one 6-inch water main and three communications lines. It was a three-dimensional puzzle buried in the ground. Though the red clay soil made for relatively easy drilling, this job required precision and careful attention. There was no room for error.

The pilot bore went smoothly. Once at the receiving pit, the directional housing had two FastReam Cutter Blocks installed. Two of the MudBoost fluid ports were opened up to supply more fluid during the reaming and pullback. A QuickSwivel was bolted to the blade and the 3” polyethylene pipe was attached.

The two FastReam Cutter Blocks make a great backreamer for soft to medium-hard soils. But another advantage is that there are only two blades spaced apart and offset 180 degrees from one another. Because of this, the operator was able to carefully adjust the position of the blades to avoid a strike on one of the existing utilities while crossing. This was the perfect set-up for a job of this complexity.

FastBack reamers are inspired by the design of our Terminator-style reamer, which was originally developed or drilling clay. It’s an efficient cutter in soft to medium soils–but its advantage is that it only has two blades. Because of this, the operator can carefully adjust the position of the blades to avoid a strike on a line. Our pullback got off to a great start. Everything was going beautifully. And then we reached the utilities.
When we got to the exposed pipes in each pit, we stopped the job to assess the situation. This is where we had to be very careful. But the FastBack System was up to the job. We pulled one blade over, then rotated 180 degrees. Then we pulled the other blade over.

With a normal reamer, this action is impossible because the blades are positioned too close. But the FastBack design is primed for this type of accuracy. We were able to lace the pipe through while maintaining enough clearance from all other lines.

Before we began, the crew was skeptical. Why not just trench the job? they asked. There was the inevitable grumbling that comes with trying something new. After we finished, however, the crew was blown away with the amount of time it saved. With a full trench, this job would have taken at least two days for trenching, install and backfill. With the FastBack System, the whole job was completed in a single day. The drilling only took a couple of hours. The majority of the time was spent manually hollowing out the areas surrounding the existing lines.

Our FastBack System was the perfect solution to a complicated job like this one. But our original impetus to develop this groundbreaking (no pun intended) tooling was to make drillers safer and more efficient. The FastBack System reduces the need to haul a breakout system down into the pit to install the reamer. Now crews can simply install FastReam cutter blocks directly to the housing by using a set of Allen wrenches and other small tools. Cleaning the housing and installing the cutter blocks can be completed in a few minutes. The result is safer, quicker and easier to manage equipment that helps drillers get the job done better.

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