So, here I am writing this blog, reflecting on a particular project.
- Day 1, within the first 20 minutes of drilling we mangle our only bit on steel rebar we discovered… This of course shuts us down as we over-night a new, $500 bit for the next day.
- Day 2, we rent a core drill and attempt to core through the footers to prevent destroying more bits on more steel rebar. Unfortunately, the footer is 3’ thick and our drill isn’t sized to be able to drill all the way through the footer. After spending an entire day and not having a way to source additional core drill tools, we’re shut down again.
- Day 3, I manage to scramble a core drilling contractor to drill the holes for us, which allows us to finally get to drilling. However, as soon as we get started, we discover that the clay soils we have to drill through are wreaking havoc on my drill rig! The sticky, sloppy clay is clogging our down-hole hammer bit every time it makes contact. In fact, it clogs it so fast, we spend more time taking the hammer apart to clean the soils out than we do drilling! We manage to drill a whopping 11’ in that day. Unacceptable!
- Day 4, we bring a drilling consultant in to help figure out a combination of equipment and processes to make production economical and provide quality assurance. We finally get a system, involving a larger air compressor and a different drilling technique. We got the first shaft drilled and complete! But on the second hole, we break the ‘down-the-hole’ hammer! Shut down again! More over-night mail!
- Day 5, we put the new hammer on and finally start having some success. We finish the second pile. But Just as soon as we get into the overnight shift, our air compressor melts down, with no one in town having another available air compressor. Shut down again!
- Day 6, Finally, some measurable progress. All the drilling complete!
I wish I could say it usually goes smoother, but I’d be lying. Unfortunately, this seems to be common in drilling and deep foundation projects in general. I’m sure everyone is quick to throw in the judgements. You should have…. That’s why you always…. Yeah, I’m hiring! Come jump in here with us.
I’m learning two things as I age.
- Plan on things not working as they should, or as you hope. Expect it and be ready to improvise
- Keep a good attitude because there no point getting too upset, it won’t make it work
- Never quit! Fight. Fight some more. And then keep fighting until you accomplish your goal
These are becoming 3 tidbits for me and my team in order to be successful on deep foundations. Or at least keep our sanity.
“You just can’t beat the person that will never give up”