Right Time, Right Place For Piercing Tools

April 2013, Vol. 68 No. 4


CATV expansion

Recently, underground installation experts with United Cable traveled to Mooresville, NC, located just a short distance north of Charlotte, the state’s most populous city. More commonly known as Race City USA, Mooresville is home to more than 60 NASCAR teams and several racing-related businesses, including two automotive museums. The reason for their visit, however, had little to do with racing, aside from the fact that most likely due to the popularity of the sport, Mooresville is experiencing a population boom.

Fiber Technologies tapped United Cable to complete an intricate two-mile fiber installation project to bring an additional cable and Internet service option to Mooresville residents. The installation plan for the project specified CIC feeder cable, approximately half an inch in diameter, encased by a 1¼-inch outer conduit -- both coaxial and fiber optic -- be installed.

Dixon, who served as project manager on the Mooresville job, selected pneumatic piercing tools to complete the bulk of the installation, occasionally relying on a small tractor equipped with a cable plow in areas where existing infrastructure wasn’t a factor. Installation easement was specified on the street side (front) of each lot, so concern for disruption, footprint and maintaining the integrity of existing landscaping was a primary concern.

“The Mooresville job was ideal for using a stitch boring installation approach since there were multiple shots using piercing tools,” Dixon says. “The site was an established residential area where several utilities had already been installed so the infrastructure was already crowded. That’s what’s nice about using pneumatic piercing tools; it gives you an opportunity to locate existing utilities. We spot existing utilities when self-excavating our launch pit. That way, we can accomplish two things at the same time.”

Stitch saves time
The stitch boring approach is fairly common when using piercing tools, especially on sites where an already crowded utility infrastructure exists. Basically, stitch boring is characterized by a series of multiple shorter shots -- usually less than 50 feet in length -- at fairly shallow depths. On the Mooresville job, Dixon’s crews used a 2½-inch chisel head to install the encased feeder cable at depths of 24-inches for the coaxial cable specified for residential neighborhoods, and 36-inches for fiber optic lines as outlined in the installation plan.

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