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Silent Runner Blade Cuts Through Busch Stadium

Fri January 05, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Heitkamp Masonry and a number of other St. Louis, Mo., contractors found themselves confronted with a tall order when they landed the job of building St. Louis’ new Busch Stadium.

In 18 months, they not only had to build the new stadium, but the project took place during baseball season.

The old structure, located on the same site, had to come down while the new one went up with no interruption of service.

The job required 750,000 hand-laid bricks and one million architectural concrete masonry units to be fabricated or obtained, cut and laid in 18 months.

The project was performed in two phases.

The first entailed building as much of the new ballpark as possible prior to the implosion of the old one. When the old Busch Stadium was imploded, completion of the new in-progress stadium (the second phase) was completed as rapidly as possible. At one point the old and new structures were only a few feet apart, so it was a carefully engineered process.

According to Heitkamp Masonry’s project manager for the job, Geoffrey Hart, success is all in the planning.

“The logistics on a job like that are incredible. It takes about a year of pre-planning before the job, then 10 to 12 hour-a-day supervision while the job is in progress,” he said.

Heitkamp Masonry was responsible for the brick and concrete works for the stadium, including rest rooms, concessions and outbuildings as well as the granite, horizontal pavement and precast work.

This kind of planning also must include tools used on the job.

“The actual tools being used are up to the individual contractors, but tools, such as saws and blades, need to be budgeted or at least accounted for,” said Hart. “On a job that size, you know you will be buying and renting a lot of equipment, so a lot of thought goes into it.”

Planning Supported by Suppliers

To support the planning and to keep a job of this nature on track, a contractor’s suppliers must be very responsive.

Once the Busch Stadium job started, tools and supplies were required on a daily basis. Because of the tight time frame, response had to be near-instant.

Hart credits Bill Brennan and his company, Brennan Tools and Fastening Systems, who had representatives on site constantly to ensure Heitkamp Masonry and other contractors had everything they needed.

Brennan Tools has been a provider of specialty tools, fasteners and anchors since 1958 and met the challenge head-on, planning its inventory for the job beforehand.

During construction, it consistently delivered items right to the job within 24 hours of being ordered. It provided secure on-site containers where materials for later shifts were placed so that second- and third-shift deliveries weren’t necessary.

“Bill was really a great resource, simply because he was so close to the project,” Hart said. “This was mainly because his representatives were always down there to respond to anything we needed at a moment’s notice. They were a great convenience, providing excellent service at a competitive price.”

A Saw Blade Proves the Point

Much of the work being done at Busch Stadium was indoors, and this presented an immediate problem for Hart and his workers.

Heitkamp Masonry was not the only contractor working on this project, and the saws used for cutting masonry were notoriously loud.

Because of their noise level, masonry saws must typically be used some distance from the work being performed, out of safety concern for other tradesman on the job site. Under normal circumstances this would have added time to a severely tight schedule.

Early on in the Busch Stadium job, Bill Brennan saw the problem of the tight time schedule, and realized that Heitkamp Masonry could not afford to have saws located a distance away from the job. At the same time, running the saws in close proximity to other tradesman for 18 months was also not an option.

Brennan knew that Target had a fairly new silent core masonry diamond blade on the market that would reduce the normally-screeching noise level to nearly zero, making it possible to work close to the job without adversely affecting hearing around the site.

“I knew how effective the Silent Runner blades were, so I bought the first blade myself and gave it to Heitkamp to try out,” said Brennan. “Target was so confident in their blade they told me that if Heitkamp didn’t like it, they’d reimburse me.”

Because the Silent Runner blade works by resonating inside the blade instead of outside, the high degree of noise normally inherent with such blades is eliminated, allowing other contractors to work in the same vicinity.

“They tried it and said it was spectacular,” Brennan said.

“When you’ve got a guy on the job eight hours a day, the less noise the better,” Heitkamp’s Hart said. “It really helped us. It was certainly a silent blade and didn’t give off the sharp, piercing noise that a regular blade would. It kept contractors working around us very happy.”

The careful preparation, supplier support and smooth supervision paid off.

The new Busch Stadium was completed within its near-impossible target date and opened on April 10 as the St. Louis Cardinals took the field against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The new stadium sports a brick-and-steel appearance as opposed to the former solid concrete, wider concourses, elevators and escalators between levels, improved fan amenities and improved baseball sight lines.

There are new gathering areas which allow fans to roam the park and take in the game from numerous vantage-points.

Though most fans will never know it, it all came about through detailed planning well-executed by contractors such as Heitkamp Masonry and supported by suppliers such as Brennan Tools and Fastening Systems.

For more information on the Silent Runner, call 800/288-5040 or visit

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