TT Technologies Introduces Small Diameter Splitting Tools For Gas Market

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | April 2012, Vol. 67 No. 4

TT Technologies has introduced two new small-diameter pneumatic pipe splitting tools designed to meet the needs of the gas industry.

“The tools are designed to split host PE pipe into strips.” said Chris Brahler, TT Technologies president and chief executive officer. “The heads are placed ahead of the pneumatic hammer and their design permits fast field connection to the company’s five-ton winch.

“The heads are flexible to allow for bends and sweeps in host pipe. A specially-designed rear tail piece allows the new pipe to be easily pulled into place with fluid lubrication assist.”

The two models of pneumatic pipe splitting tools measure 3 1/3 and 4 1/4-inches in diameter.

“Previously, smaller-diameter tools could not be connected to a winch without an eyelet in the cable, and eyelets could not fit through smaller diameter host pipes,” said Brahler. “To solve that problem, a grip system was developed to connect the tool to the winch cable.”

Using tools with the new heads is relatively simple, said Brahler.

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The half-inch diameter winch cable is fed through the original gas line being replaced. A cutter of the proper size is slid onto the cable. The blank end of the cable is installed into the specially-designed cutter head and locked into place with a set of gripping jaws. The winch provides guidance to the pneumatic splitting tool, and the pneumatic hammering action of the tool provides the power to split and expand the original pipe. At the same time, the new replacement pipe is towed into place with the specially-designed rear tail piece. After the new product pipe is towed into place, the gripping jaws are released and the cutter and pneumatic hammer are removed from the small receiving pit.

Cooperative R&D
Brahler said research and development of the tools was a cooperative effort between TT Technologies and Southwest Gas.

“Southwest Gas had the need for equipment and methods to replace aging laterals and small diameter mains by a trenchless process,” Brahler explained. “Together we developed a method and tools to expand on keyhole technologies already developed by both companies. Thousands of feet of testing have been conducted by Southwest Gas crews. From tests we learned that placement and fit of the splitter body is critical and that HDPE, PVC and steel pipes require a variety of tools and methods.”

The head designs actually are part of a new system, rather than stand-alone tools, Brahler added.