Contractors Adapt GPS To Track Trencher Operations

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | December 2011, Vol. 66 No. 12

Coddington Wampler made the decision to go with a GPS system because of the benefits it offers and to set itself apart from competitors, said Coddington. It consists of an Intellislope system incorporating a patented slope sensor manufactured by Gradient and a Raven Slingshot computer modem with a wireless telephone chip mounted in the cab of the trencher.

“The system connects to the Iowa Department of Transportation CORS network that provides 600 real time position updates per minute,” explained Coddington. “These updates, combined with the ability to view 18 to 22 satellites at any given moment, provide unparalleled accuracy without having to set up a base station in the field. If satellite coverage is lost due to tree canopies next to a draw or fence row, the system’s slope sensor takes over and allows trenching to continue without losing accuracy.”

The system was designed to be used on tiling plows, but Coddington Wampler adapted it for a trencher by modifying the machine’s hydraulics and adding a proportional flow valve that would work on a closed loop system. Placement of the slope sensor is critical to the proper operation of the unit, Coddington added.

For its tiling operations, Coddington Wampler purchased a Vermeer T655 Commander 2 series track trencher with a 20-inch tail wheel or idler on a single chain. The bridge of the trencher is set up for digging in dirt and has a hydraulic cylinder that controls the slope of the crumber shoe.

“This configuration,” said Wampler “does a better job cleaning dirt from the trench. We set it up to dig 22 inches wide at depths to eight feet. Unable to find a commercially-made tile boot that would accommodate 12-inch tile, we designed and built our own. The trencher gives us greater flexibility and we are not limited to field tile only. We have used it to install storm water drains and with very little modification we can use it to install road drainage, electric, gas, water and other work.”

The machine is powered by a 250-horsepower diesel engine. Its rotary power head shaft motor and splined head shaft produce lower speeds and higher torque to maximize trenching performance and minimize wear on chain. Spoil is removed by a conveyor system.

There are no established drainage districts in areas where the company tiles and tile lines typically drain into a creek or a road grade ditch. Coddington Wampler also builds terrace structures to control erosion.