Keep The Bore Path On The Straight And Narrow

A New Auger Boring Steering System Helps Georgia Contractor Stay On Course
October 2011, Vol. 66 No. 10

Kirk Lewis knows a thing or two about horizontal auger boring. Lewis, vice president and co-founder of L&L Utilities, based in East Dublin, GA, was first exposed to this century-old trenchless installation method at a young age while working with his father at their family-owned contracting business.

In 1995, he and his wife were able to fulfill a longtime dream of owning their own business. The company specializes in water, sewer, gas and wastewater installations, and has used auger boring successfully to complete hundreds of utility installations.

Although Lewis admits to being an avid proponent of auger boring, his years of experience have also made him aware that, as with any trenchless approach, auger boring is not without its limitations.

“Auger boring is an efficient, cost-effective method that fills an important niche in the trenchless industry,” Lewis says. “It was initially developed to complete shorter bores to accommodate larger material. Auger boring is ideal for situations like installing pipe casing under railroads, highways and creeks; bores that are typically shorter in length, most generally less than 300 feet. But attempting a bore that extends beyond the recommended capabilities of the equipment will likely present challenges.”

Physics of “drifting”
One of the most common challenges facing contractors when attempting a bore in excess of 300 feet is a situation that is actually a principle of physics -- often referred to in trenchless circles as drifting -- which, in lay terms, is the resistance to force. Specific to auger boring, drifting is the tendency to veer off the desired course of the cutting path, a reaction that is linked to the basic operational design of auger boring machines. According to Mike Moore, vice president of sales for McLaughlin, based in Greenville, SC, the incidence of drifting is exacerbated by the inability of auger boring equipment operators to control the lateral (left to right) movement of the machine’s steering head.

“In the past, adjustments to the steering head of auger boring equipment could only be corrected for grade (up and down) directional changes during the bore,” Moore says. “The inability to control the lateral (left and right) movement during the boring process has prevented operators from making adjustments that are often necessary to accommodate for drifting. This is especially important on longer bores where there is a natural tendency for the head to deviate left or right in response to increasing the resistance.”