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Keeping Portland, Oregon Awake

The Internet is a wonderful place to read about all the things you have either done or been connected to that which others dislike, as we noted in our last posting.  Now, in addition to what’s here, our companion site‘s subject–pile driving equipment, and specifically Vulcan pile driving equipment–has found its way onto the blog of a Portland, Oregon based photographer named James Duncan Davidson.

He has taken some very nice shots of a Vulcan 512 driving pipe piles in central Portland, Oregon.  But the noise is neither to his taste nor that of his friends.  Perhaps some of the following information may shed some light on these comments:

  1. The noise study cited was part of an effort to develop some noise abatement accessories for the hammer.  The most notable of these was the Decelflo exhaust muffler, which was successfully tested down the coast in Oakland, CA, amongst other places.  Unfortunately there wasn’t enough interest at the time to continue producing these mufflers.
  2. The 512 driving pipe piles is, in some way, the noisiest combination you could want.  The 5′ stroke hammers have a shorter, more intense impact pulse which translates into sound, and the pipe piles are obviously steel.  Concrete piles are driven with a wood pile cushion that protects the pile but also reduces the noise.  Wood piles are their own cushion.
  3. Other hammers have shrouds available, as I discuss in Pile Driving by Pile Buck.  Most of the push for these has come from Europe, where piles are more often driven in urban areas than in the U.S.  Thus the European manufacturers have been more proactive in this regard.  The major objection to shrouds with air/steam hammers is that you can’t see the hammer in operation, which is important in monitoring the hammer’s performance.
  4. The Vulcan hammers started out as steam hammers, but (except offshore) are usually driven by compressed air today.

A short time after this was posted, Duncan’s website experienced a crash.  The photos referred to are reproduced below.



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