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Trencher

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Construction Equipment
Trencor 860B Crawler Trencher
Trenchers, or ditchers as they are sometimes called, are similar to excavators in the sense that they penetrate the earth, breaking soil and rock, and remove it from the ground. They differ from excavators in that the soil is removed in one continuous movement. Trenchers are specifically used for digging trenches for pipes, but other machines have been improvised in the past to serve this purpose.

Trenchers can come in two types: ladder trenchers and wheel trenchers, and can dig trenches at speeds that other machines cannot compare to.

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] The First Trenching Machine

The first trencher was a mechanical machine that dug ditches. The  Buckeye No. 88 was developed by James B. Hill in 1893 at the Bowling Green Foundry and Machine Co. in Bowling Green, Ohio. Upon his invention, Hill founded the Van Buren Heck & Marvin Co. in 1902 to produce and manufacture his invention. The company name was short-lived and it eventually became the Buckeye Traction Ditcher Co. in 1906, a company that became well known for its contribution to developing trenching machinery.

Other companies began to see the demands for trenching machines. Companies such as the Cleveland Trencher Co., the Parsons Co., and the Barber-Greene Co. helped catapult the trenching machine into what it is today.

[edit] Early Contributions

The Cleveland Trencher Co. started off as the A.J. Penote Co. of Cleveland and developed ditchers to use within the company grounds. The company as it is today was established in 1923 when a demand of ditchers for other companies steadily arose. The Cleveland Trencher Co. is responsible for one of the first trenchers available—the Baby Digger, produced and launched in 1924.

The biggest and smallest trenching machines were produced by the Parsons Co., based in Newton, Iowa. Its first model, a ladder ditcher with a digging capacity of 12 by 2 feet (3.7 by 0.6 m), was a successful model to hit the market and served a variety of digging purposes.

The Barber-Greene Co., launched by Harry H. Barber and William B. Greene in 1916, set its roots in Aurora, Illinois and manufactured paving machines and trenching machines. Barber-Greene was one of the most popular companies for manufacturing trenchers at this time, selling the most trenchers of any company by 1926. They were also responsible for producing a hydrostatic trencher mounted on crawlers that could move just as fast as they could dig.

[edit] Hydraulic Trenchers

The first trenchers were made mechanical and consisted of a large number of parts such as drive shafts and gearboxes. After World War II, trenchers were driven and operated by hydraulics. At this time, they also started to evolve and become more advanced. With the addition of drive trains and hydraulic motors and rams, trenchers were capable of moving faster and completing the jobs sooner.

[edit] Growing Trenchers

As bigger projects demanded bigger machinery, trencher manufacturers began producing equipment that could match the needs of their suppliers. Some companies, for lack of availability, were forced to resort to their own resources to build the trencher they needed for their projects. In the 1970s and 1980s, trenchers were in high demand for the construction of pipelines. Banister Pipelines and Hensuet Pipelines Services built their own trenchers when they could not find manufacturers that produced machines of the enormous proportions they required.

Banister’s trencher, the Model 508, was the first one to have wheels and was produced in 1965. The 508 was a phenomenal success because it was capable of cutting through frozen earth. The success of this trencher led them to continue building and manufacturing trenchers and their company produced some of the biggest trencher models to appear in the market.

Hensuet also built large trenching machines. Its 168-ton Polar Bear was built on the company's premises in 1982 and had a horsepower of 2,000.[1]

1997 Ditch Witch 8020 4x4x4 Trencher-Plow

[edit] Ditch Witch Trenchers

Large was not the only way to go with trenching machines. Some companies sought out smaller trenchers that were more compact. Edwin Malzahn built a ditching machine in 1949 that was so small an operator could follow behind. Malzahn’s contribution to trenchers did not stop there. Previously Charles Machine Works, the company later went on to become known as Ditch Witch.

The Ditch Witch RT1 15, built in 1949, was the first service line trenching machine. After the appearance of this machine, hand-excavated trenches became a thing of the past. The RTI 15 was built with rubber tires to increase mobility and it featured a John Deere diesel engine with 115 horsepower and a hydrostatic propel. It was capable of digging trenches up to 94 inches (239 cm) deep and 24 inches (61 cm) wide.[2]

[edit] Further Advancements

After the 1950s, trenchers took a direction that would see no end. Not only were they larger and smaller than ever before, but their digging capabilities were being further explored. Trenchers were developed that could dig through frozen ground and others were produced to dig at rapid speeds. Tesmec, which produced the TRS 100 in 1951 was one of the first machines that could cut through hard materials, such as rocks. Its cutting-wheel could cut rock of up to four feet (1.2 m) deep. With a heavy duty digging chain it could dig an additional 10 feet (3 m). Parson's 355 model was the largest capacity ladder trencher at its prime from 1964 to 1974. It was capable of digging 25 by six feet (7.6 by 1.8 m).

[edit] Equipment

Banister’s 702 model weighed in at 115 tons, had 1,120 horsepower, and was capable of penetrating and excavating frozen earth. In moderate temperatures, it could dig as much as 20 feet (6.1 m) per minute.

The Model 812 by Banister was even larger than the 702 and twice the size of the 710  model Banister produced. Weighing 240 tons, it reached as high as 76 feet (23 m)—the equivalent of two stories—and was immediately taken apart once it served the project it was built for.

Barber-Greene produced the 44 model in 1923. It was the first of its kind, with a vertical boom ladder. It had a digging capacity of 18 inches (46 cm) by five feet (1.5 m). The 44A was later developed with a special protective feature called an automatic spring release drive sprocket, which prevented damage when the trench hit something other than dirt.[3]

Barber-Greene also produced the 705 model, known for its increased mobility, and the 777 model, the fastest and largest trencher in the world, produced in 1960. It consisted of a 144 horsepower diesel engine with digging capacities of up to 54 feet (16 m). It was fully hydraulic and could attain speeds of 0 to 44 miles (0 to 71 km) per hour in under a minute.

The Bucyrus-Ruth HU featured a boom bucket with a 180 degree swing. It was unique in that it functioned well on canal banks.

The Polar Bear, a Hensuet trencher built in 1982, consisted of a Caterpillar D9H undercarriage and a turbocharged 16V Detroit diesel engine with 2,000 horsepower. This was the largest machine to be built and was used to dig a 23-mile (37-km) trench for water pipes in Alberta.[4]

Trenchers have come a long way since their appearance in the late 19th century and it is unlikely that their development will cease in the future.[5]

[edit] Features/How it Works

Trenchers come in two main types: the wheel trencher and the ladder trencher.

[edit] Wheel Trencher

Cleveland 350 Wheel Trencher
The wheel trencher consists of a wheel with a number of buckets attached sitting atop a set of crawler tracks. The wheel rotates as it approaches the ground and the bucket it used for digging the dirt from the trench. The buckets move in one continuous stream and when the bucket reaches the highest point it can reach, the dirt is tipped out of the bucket and is removed through a chute onto a conveyor belt that runs laterally to the wheel. The process is consistently occurring as the crawler feet move in the direction the trenches are being excavated.

[edit] Ladder Trencher

Ladder trenchers differ in that they can dig deeper trenches. While this is a beneficial feature, it usually means it has more moving parts and can be considerably more costly than the wheel trencher. The ladder trencher works in the same way, using wheels and buckets. The buckets, however, are attached to a chain referred to as a ladder. The ladder descends and collects dirt into buckets and the dirt is dispatched onto a conveyor belt, much like the wheel trencher.

A recent development in trenching involves ditchers that consist of teeth that are capable of milling through even the hardest rock and eliminating the need for blasting.[6]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Additional Photos

Trecor 7337 Wheel Trencher
1966 Parsons 355L Ladder Trencher
1987 Trencor-Jetco 860L Trencher
1995 Vermeer V4750 4x4x4 Trencher
1998 Vermeer V1350 Walk-behind Trencher
2000 Vermeer V4150 Trencher
Barber-Greene TA55 Crawler Wheel Trencher
Cleveland 247 Crawler Wheel Trencher
Ditch Witch R60 4x4 Saw

[edit] References

  1. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  2. The Charles Machine Works Inc. Reference for Business. 2008-09-09.
  3. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI Publishing Company, 1998.
  4. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  5. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  6. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI Publishing Company, 1998.