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New York Contractor Grapples With Huntington Harbor’s Rising Tides

Wed September 13, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Time and tide wait for no man: so agrees Stan Thompson of Thompson Brothers Pile Corporation of Huntington, NY.

And he should know.

Thompson, a specialist in marine construction, is building a revetment (a facing of stone, cement, sandbags, etc. built to protect a wall or embankment) 300 ft. (90 m) long and as high as 45 ft. (14 m), on the shore of Huntington Harbor. Problem is, with the base being set 6 ft. (1.8 m) below the low tide water mark, he has only a six-hour window of opportunity in which to construct sections of the base before the tide comes rolling back in.

By trial and error, Thompson discovered he could dig a 4 ft. (1.2 m) wide, 25- to 30-ft. (7.5 to 9 m) long trench, line it with filter fabric, layer the bottom with 30- to 50-lb. (14 to 23 kg) grade stone, and then place the 4- to 5-ton (3.6 to 4.5 t) toe stones before the tide returned. The action of the returning tide neatly filled the trench with sand around the toe stones, providing a perfect erosion barrier at the base of the revetment.

Attaching a Bodine heavy-duty grapple to his Yutani 240 hydraulic excavator allowed Thompson to take maximum advantage of his window of opportunity. “Maneuvering the rocks with a bucket or using chains was both clumsy and dangerous, and we could never precisely place the rock; the finished revetment is much neater when constructed with a grapple, and the grapple takes much less time.” said Thompson.

“The grapple allows me not only to quickly construct the base, but it also allows me to piece together the 3- to 4-ton capstones, all the way up the embankment, like a jigsaw puzzle,” he added.

Thompson would normally construct a 20-ft. (6 m) high barrier, the private, $150,000 contract specified the barrier be 45 ft. (13 m) high at one end to protect the neighbor’s sea wall from erosion.

According to Rick Heiser, project foreman, the contract started in January and finished in early May. “Without the Bodine grapple, we would have been working all summer,” he said. “After the fabric and base stone is laid on the hillside, it’s child’s play to fit in the capstones with the grapple, and sometimes, in nice weather, it’s even fun.”

Stan Thompson, along with his brother John, started Thompson Brothers Pile Corp. in 1972, specializing in all types of marine construction, including but not limited to timber and steel bulk-heading, docks and marinas. In the late 1970s, John Thompson broke away, moved to Las Vegas and started Thompson Machinery Sales, a dealership in heavy construction equipment.

In the late 1980s, Stan began to specialize in stone work.

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