It’s not your typical project. Golfers in their carts buzz through the job site and stop to ask the crew for quick directions to the next tee box. The crew takes their break and a chance to escape from July’s hot sun underneath the porch awning of the clubhouse. Blockouts are needed for cart paths instead of driveways. And off in the distance is a gorgeous view of the Black Hills in South Dakota.
Tru-Form Construction Inc., based out of Blackhawk, S.D., is a company that specializes in projects that are less than typical. Two partners, Matt Leon and Jon LaFramboise, founded the company in 1995. In 1999, they bought their first slipform curb and gutter machine, a GOMACO GT-3200. They entered into street paving in 2004 and bought another machine, a GOMACO C-450 finisher. Their business continued to grow as they earned a reputation for professionalism and a quality product.
Tru-Form decided 2006 was the year to further expand and buy another machine for curb and gutter, and the versatility to slipform sidewalk and various other applications. They turned once again to GOMACO and purchased a GT-3600.
The first project with their new GT-3600 was full of challenges. They slipformed approximately 4,000 ft. (1219 m) of curb and gutter for a parking lot and entrance road at the Southern Hills Golf Course in Hot Springs, S.D. Very little of the project was slipformed on flat land, and steep grades, up to 14 percent, created a challenge just getting the concrete out of the ready-mix trucks.
Tight offsets and radii were in abundance on the course with dimensions of 10 ft. (3 m) inside radii and also ones with a 6-ft. (1.8 m) outside radius. The dimensions on the state of South Dakota standard curb and gutter include a 12-in. (305 mm) tall curb back with a 32-in. (813 mm) wide gutter.
The flow line of the gutter had to be changed from a catch to a spill or vice versa through several of the radii. Tru-Form equipped their GT-3600 with a GOMACO auto-transition and slope compensation software system that allows the machine to make the changes automatically. The changes are programmed into the G21 controller and a timing wheel on the back track of the GT-3600 measures out the needed distance.
“You program in the distance you need for the full tilt curb and then how far you need to get back to a full catch curb. When it’s time to start the tilt, you just tell the G21 controller, flip a switch, and it automatically does it for you,” Jon LaFramboise, vice-president of Tru-Form Construction, explained. “To tilt curb in a transition, obviously it changes the elevation of what the stringline should be. If you don’t change the elevation of the stringline, the machine will actually drop so the elevation of the curb will sink, which it shouldn’t do. The curb needs to stay at the same elevation. With this automatic slope control, it tells the sensors to read lower or read higher so the back of the curb stays at the correct elevation.
“It’s tipping just the front and keeping the curb elevation the same, which is very hard to do without the automatic slope, because it’s hard to set the stringline exactly right. Instead of us having to change the stringline, the automatic slope changes the sensor itself and it makes it much easier for us. The operator loves it and it’s very simple for him.”
The GT-3600’s All-Track Steering (ATS) is another feature that Tru-Form and its operator are enjoying, especially in the tight radii. It’s a feature new to them and they weren’t afraid to test it out on their first project.
“With a front-steer machine, your mold doesn’t stay correctly on-line,” LaFramboise said. “If you have a 12-in. (305 mm) offset, it won’t stay at that offset all the way around a radius and it’s hard to keep your curb exactly where the engineers staked it. The GT-3600 stays on-line all the time and is actually steering the mold right to the stringline because of the set up of the sensors.
“I think the All-Track Steer is going to perform better for us and we’re learning how to fully use it. We’ll learn all the radius tricks, especially on this project with all this tight stuff right away, and when we get into an easier project, it’s really going to go fast.”
All-Track Steering offers other advantages, too, and saves Tru-Form a lot of time just getting their machine on the stringline.
“Unless you get lucky with a front-steer only machine, it’s going to take five or six times going back and forth to get it perfectly on-line,” LaFramboise explained. “With the All-Track Steer, we just pull the machine up a little ways and then back it up. It steers itself right onto the line and back into the existing curb or right on-line where it should be. It’s much, much easier and a big time saver for us.”
Speed is an issue for Tru-Form Construction and the company is always looking for ways to save time and materials. They’re used to spending only three days on a project before moving on to the next one. They needed a machine that could quickly move around their job sites, get on and off line quickly and be easy to transport from job-to-job. The GT-3600 matched all of these requirements and more.
Their machine is equipped with the two-speed track motors with a travel speed up to 125 ft. per minute (38 mpm). It’s a feature that LaFramboise described as being “awesome.”
All new GT-3600s are equipped with Commander III style legs with “smart” cylinders. The “smart” cylinders will give Tru-Form an advantage because, with the G21 controller, operators can teach the cylinders the desired degree of leg rotation and keep the tracks from hitting any objects on minimum-clearance projects.
The GT-3600’s new Hook-and-Go mold mount helps make changing molds faster and easier.
“The Hook-and-Go is fantastic and it takes virtually no time to change a mold with it,” LaFramboise said. “We move around a lot and do change molds quite often from job-to-job. With the Hook-and-Go, there’s no pins. You just clip the mold in there, put your hold-down in the back, put pressure on, and go. It works out nice and makes it really easy to change molds.”
Its curb and gutter molds are all equipped with driveway blockouts, or for this project, golf cart path blockouts. The project required eight cart path cutouts and several more for handicap ramps.
“The blockouts make our job a lot easier and we don’t have all the waste,” LaFramboise explained. “We don’t have to have an extra guy there shoveling the concrete away. There’s not a big mess when we’re done and obviously, when you’re doing a lot of cutouts, you’re saving money on product because you’re not wasting a lot of concrete. We used them all the time on our GT-3200 and they’re working just as well on our new GT-3600.”
On the last day of its Southern Hills project, Tru-Form, as a company, hit a milestone. It was the first day in their company’s history that they had two curb and gutter machines pouring on different projects on the same day.
“It’s what I wanted to do and why we bought the second machine,” LaFramboise said. “I wanted to see them both slipforming one day and we’re making that happen. They’ll both be going and that’s great for me.”
The company will experience another first on a project in Gillette, Wyo., this summer. It’ll be working on a project with approximately 12,000 ft. (3658 m) of roll-over curb and gutter, and paving a street 40 ft. (12 m) wide with its C-450. Once the curb and gutter is in place, Tru-Form will slipform its first sidewalk behind it with its new GT-3600.
(This story is reprinted with permission from GOMACO World Magazine.)