Gary “Red” Bailes of Leslie Equipment puts his pickup truck into four-wheel drive and heads up the nearly-vertical slope of the construction right of way to where the workers from ST Pipeline are installing the Big Sandy Pipeline.
Building a 68-mi. (109 km) pipeline in the rugged mountains of eastern Kentucky requires four-wheel drive to get up and down the 50 percent slopes and also requires the Allu SM Screener-Crusher to prepare the blasted and excavated sandstone for use as structural fill material.
The Allu SM Screener-Crusher is a specialty attachment for loaders, excavators, and backhoes. The device has rotating discs with hammers that pulverize and size material.
Leslie Equipment, an Allu dealer headquartered in Cowen, W.V., has sold eight of the Allu SM Screener-Crushers to ST Pipeline Inc. for its use on this job where the terrain is so steep steel cable winches connected to Deere JD700JLGP and Cat D8T bulldozers have to be used to hold 68,000-lb. (30,800 kg) John Deere 240CLC and 270CLC excavators onto the mountainsides.
ST Pipeline Inc. in Clendenin, W.V., is the contractor for Equitrans L.P., the company building the $154 million pipeline. This 20-in. (50.8 cm) natural gas pipeline is meant to relieve summer capacity constraints that restrict gas production in the eastern Kentucky basin.
ST Pipeline has six Allu Model SMH-317 and two Allu Model SMH-423 Screener-Crusher attachments at work on the Big Sandy Pipeline job.
The SMH-317 is an 80-in. (203 cm) wide unit and the SMH-423 is a 101-in. (256 cm) wide unit. The SMH-317 is equipped with three chain-driven drums with 1.5-in. (3.8 cm) disc spacing and hammers and is driven by a two-way hydraulic drive system; the SMH-423 has four drums. ST Pipeline has the Allu attachments on Deere excavators they have leased from Leslie Equipment for this project.
“Given the steepness of this terrain and the difficulty of moving materials up to the job site, we had to find something that could give us useable structural fill in place,” said Jim Shafer, owner of ST Pipeline.
“I found information about the Allu equipment on the internet and called Red Bailes at Leslie Equipment to get more information.”
Shafer’s workers use the Allu SM Screener-Crushers for several different jobs: preparing excavated soils and rock for use in pipeline saddles and ditch line barriers, temporary anchoring of installed pipe, and backfilling of the pipe prior to final grading.
“With a gas pipeline, you’ve got to be very careful not to allow any rocks to drop onto the pipe and scratch or damage the coating. If that happens, then the pipe will pit at that scratch and eventually leak,” noted Shafer.
“These Allu attachments have been just what we needed to keep up with our goal of installing 2,000 linear feet of pipe per day.”
The Big Sandy Pipeline is being installed in mostly a white sandstone geology, that has frequently required blasting of rock. The construction right of way is only 100 ft. (30 m) wide with steep drop-offs on either side.
Shafer’s men use the Allu SM Screener-Crusher to prepare the blasted and excavated rock for use in pipe saddles and in ditch line barriers (known as water breakers). The pipe saddles are soil-filled burlap bags that support the pipeline.
Water breakers also are made up of soil-filled burlap bags that are stacked to form walls around the gas pipeline. They are designed to slow the water flow in the pipeline trench on steep slopes so as to prevent washout of the soil around the pipe. The workers from ST Pipeline use the Allu SM Screener-Crusher to prepare excavated backfill and then fill the burlap bags by hand.
But the primary purpose of the Allu SM Screener-Crusher is to backfill the pipe after installation. The unit can quickly pick up 2.5 cu. yd. (1.9 cu m) of excavated soil and deliver screened fill onto the pipeline without damaging it. The excavator operator then empties larger rocks out of the bucket before picking up the next load.
“I am extremely satisfied with my Allu equipment,” said Shafer. “I’ve been installing pipelines for over 40 years and I’ve never seen anything so efficient.”
For more information on ST-Pipeline, call 304/548-7013 or visit www.stpipe.com.
For more information on Leslie Equipment, visit www.lec1.com.
For more information on Allu, call 800/939-2558 or visit www.allu.net.