Vermeer Solves Explosives Ban on L.B. Enterprises Job

Sat July 31, 2004 - Midwest Edition
April Goodwin

When Rick Brown’s company, L.B. Enterprises, was hired to do site gradation work for the construction of a new Kohl’s department store in Belton, MO, he was faced with a challenge. Due to the site’s residential location, using explosives was not an option.

In addition, one contracted requirement was that rock be crushed to 6 in. (15.2 cm) and smaller, because it was being used to construct a building pad, and soil engineers wanted rock small enough to fill voids during the site prep.

Brown said he typically uses scrapers, along with hydraulic breakers or blasting methods –– particularly when the specified end-size is this small. This time, he’d have to do things differently.

Knowing it was going to take a special and enormous piece of equipment to crush more than 60,000 cu. yds. (45,873 cu m) of limestone into rocks 6 in. (15.2 cm) and smaller, Brown turned to the Vermeer dealership in Olathe, KS, in search of a solution.

He ended up renting a Vermeer T1255 terrain leveler –– a massive demolition and excavating machine that can cut an area up to 12 ft. (3.7 m) wide and 27 in. (68.6 cm) deep in a single pass.

L.B. Enterprises has spent the last three months moving about 370,000 cu. yds. (282,885 cu m) of material on the 1,120,000-sq.-ft. site, of which 60,000 cu. yds. (45,873 cu m) is being excavated with the Vermeer T1255 terrain leveler.

L.B. Enterprises is working as a subcontracted primary site development contractor for the Overland Park, KS-based Design-Build Group. Brown’s crew is performing all the site grading operations on the job, but they are also subcontracting several other portions of the site development including storm sewer, water line, sanitary sewer and retaining wall.

Brown said this is the first time he has dealt with Vermeer, and he is very happy with the T1255 terrain leveler.

“It gets the job done –– fast,” he said. “I like my customers to say, ’I can’t believe you moved that much material in such a short time’ … and this machine helps me to keep them saying that.”

Vermeer took a rock trencher and added the terrain leveler attachment to provide a 600 hp, 240,000 lbs. (447 kW, 108,862 kg) surface-mining machine with top-down cutting action for improved efficiency and deeper tooth penetration. This cutting technique, powered by a large direct-drive hydrostatically controlled cutting drum that increases speed control, results in larger material with less fines.

The units are designed to eliminate the need for primary crushers, large loaders, large mining haul trucks –– and associated permits –– in addition to rippers and vertical drills. One T1255 terrain leveler can single-handedly perform site preparation and excavation, mine material, stabilize contaminated soil and remove roads.

Because the terrain-leveler drum is an attachment, the base T1255 can be switched to a trencher with a cutting boom relatively easy. Some contractors have taken advantage of it to maximize versatility, particularly in sewer and water applications.

Brown only needed the terrain-leveler application (since he was contracting the other work), but that alone matched up perfectly with the project specifications.

“The T1255 made the six inches and smaller rock by the very nature of its design,” he said. “The number of teeth on the cutting wheel determines the ground-rock size. If you remove or add teeth, then the rock size changes.”

Brown said the T1255 terrain leveler also helped his crew save the project owner more than $200,000 by offering an alternative to a traditional retaining wall.

“One challenge we overcame with the machine involved the west boundary, which called for a large, expensive retaining wall system to be installed,” he said. “We offered an alternate construction method that combined a much smaller retaining wall with a reinforced stabilized slope system and a large fill slope constructed of rock. All in all, this method saved the project owners a couple of hundred thousand dollars.”

The T1255 did not actually create the stabilized slope system, Brown said. But it created the material used in creating the stabilized slope. The slope system is a combination of retaining walls and rock. The idea for this combination came from the St. Louis Retaining Wall Company and knowledge that L.B. Enterprises gained while doing work for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

A 2-ft. (61 cm) section of 6-in. (15.2 cm) and smaller rock –– crushed to size by the T1255 –– created the slope. A special plastic fabric grid system was installed between layers of the smaller 6-in. rock. Then, larger 2-ft. and smaller rocks were placed upon this 2-ft. stabilized layer of material.

Brown started running equipment at age 14. L.B. Enterprises has been in business for 19 years and employs 40 workers. As many as eight crews work at a time on the company’s primary businesses: site grading and state highway work. Brown said L.B. Enterprises typically bids on jobs within a 150-mi. radius of Kansas City, MO.

(This article appears courtesy of Vermeer Manufacturing)