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Vulcan Hammer On Shore Tips

One of the most successful information programs Vulcan ever conducted was the Vulcan Tips program. The first tip was issued in 1973. Although most of them were issued in the 1970’s, Vulcan issued Onshore Tips until the late 1990’s. They went beyond the Vulcan Data Manual in providing practical suggestions for proper operation of Vulcan hammers.

There were two sets of Tips, onshore and offshore, corresponding with the two markets Vulcan sold and serviced its products into. The Vulcan Offshore Tips have been on this site and its predecessors since 1998; it is appropriate that these appeared on the tenth anniversary of that posting. In the case where the specific onshore tip has an offshore counterpart, we’ve linked to the offshore tip. In cases where we’ve covered the same information in other ways, we’ve linked to that too.

Many tips refer to factory parts and service. Obviously these are no longer available, but there are sources for most of what is contained in these tips.

As is the case with the offshore tips, we’ve added commentary where appropriate. We also strongly recommend that you acquire the Vulcan Hammer Guide to Pile Driving Equipment for more information and several field service manuals for Vulcan hammers. Some of the tips are covered in that volume and are linked appropriately.


Tip # 001 : Head Gasket/Single Acting Hammer

We have noticed over the years that some hammer users do not replace a leaking Cylinder Head Gasket on Single Acting Hammers. They do this on the assumption that it really isn't necessary because a Single Acting Hammer does not have pressure between ... Read More    

Tip # 002 : Checking Slide Bar

A quick way to check the correct position of the slide bar is shown in the drawing and picture above. Place a straightedge across the machined boss area of the Ram as shown in the picture. The lower edge of the straightedge should be even with the ... Read More    

Tip # 003 : Valve Flutter

Under certain atmospheric conditions, a film of ice will form on the inside wall of the steam chest. This film prevents the valve from seating properly and also reduces friction between the valve and steam chest wall. In some driving conditions, this ... Read More    

Tip # 005 : Lubrication

Below are the lubrication specifications for the Vulcan offshore pile hammers. Below is a hammer diagram showing the locations of lubricant applications. APPLICATION POINT Lube Type Oil Viscosity Flash Point (Min.) Other Requirements ... Read More    

Tip # 006 : Keeping Ram Keys Tight

When some hammers get enough mileage on them to warrant retirement and under certain driving conditions, the contractor may have trouble keeping the ram keys tight. Usually under these circumstances, the contractor will weld the keys to the ram and w ... Read More    

Tip # 007 : 11 Rules for Pile Driving

The Name of the Game -- Heavier Ram - Shorter Stroke Concrete piles cracking while driving in either soft silt or very hard ground? The solution is the same for both problems: Use a thicker cushion block and a hammer with a heavier ram and shorter s ... Read More    

Tip # 008 : Ram Keys Too Tight

Sometimes it is difficult not to tighten the Ram Keys too much. Driven with a heavy weight a Ram Key can easily be driven so far as to bend. Figure No.1 shows a Ram Key properly seated. Figure No.2 shows a Ram Key driven too far and bent. The key is ... Read More    

Tip # 009 : Blow Count/Energy

One of the most frequent phone calls we receive is from contractors and engineers asking "Is a Hammer delivering full energy if the blow count per minute is less than listed in the Specifications?" Blow count does not indicate full or less than full ... Read More    

Tip # 010 : Tightening the Packing Gland

Many Pile Hammer mechanics have a tendency to tighten the Packing Gland too tight. A little steam or air leaking through the Packing is not objectionable. The oil mixed with the escaping air or steam will lubricate the Packing and Piston Rod. ... Read More    

Tip # 011 : Storage

Sometimes contractors forget that a Pile Driving Hammer is a machine and should be treated as such. Especially when the Hammer is to be stored for any length of time. Rust can create havoc in a Hammer. Sometimes the contractor takes a Hammer off of a ... Read More    

Tip # 012 : Trouble Shooting

A. Hammer Runs Too Slow: Possible Causes: Steam Or air pressure too low. Steam supply line too long or not proper size. Steam supply line restricted in some manner. Lack of lubrication. Worn or broken piston rings or scored cyl ... Read More    

Tip # 013 : Adaption of McDermid Base

We do not recommend the use of McDermid base for any type of pile other than wood. But on occasion, contractors have found themselves in a position whom they have had to adapt a McDermid base to standard Driving Heads or Pipe Caps. The above shows th ... Read More    

Tip # 014 : Vulcan Extractors

The Vulcan Pile Extractor was the last major design by James N. Warrington (U.S. Patent 1,736,104) to enter production, which it did in 1928. The extractor uses a simple, valveless design where the ram is thrown upward by the incoming steam or air ... Read More    

Tip # 015 : Base Column Keys

Loose Column Keys can shorten the life of a Hammer considerably. When the Base Keys are loose the Hammer is subject to misalignment and breakage. Loose Keys will slip into the center of the Base and be struck by the Ram Point, breaking the Base. The ... Read More    

Tip # 016 : Piping Do’s and Don’ts

The length of the Nipple from the Inlet must be kept to a minimum. A long Nipple, as shown in the drawing, even though supported by chain or wire rope, will cause damaging leverage and vibration. Extensions to the side, like the arrangement in the pi ... Read More    

Tip # 017 : Exhaust Mufflers

One thing most people notice first about pile driving jobs is that they generate an elevated level of noise. Until the 1960's, most people simply put up with this and many other aspects of industrialization and development. In the early 1970's, Vulca ... Read More    

Tip # 018 : Ram Key Adjustment

After a Hammer has a lot of "mileage" the parts that hold the Piston Rod to the Ram wear a little. This will necessitate some adjustment to insure proper tension of the Ram Keys. If this condition exists in your Hammer and the Ram Keys have a tendenc ... Read More    

Tip # 019 : Valve Liner

All Hammers shipped from the factory now are equipped with a Valve Liner. When the Valve Seat area is worn the Valve Liner can easily and quickly be replaced. This eliminates the old time consuming and expensive re-machining of the Valve Seat. The Li ... Read More    

Tip # 020 : Extractor Bumper Conversion

Until recent years Vulcan Pile Extractors utilized a Steel Spring and Spring Guide in the Cylinder head as shown below: To convert older Extractors to the new configuration which replaces the Spring and Spring Guide with a Rubber Bumper the pr ... Read More    

Tip # 021 : Slide Bar Shim

When checking the position of the Slide Bar if you find it below the correct position, add the Shim BELOW THE SLIDE BAR END BLOCK, as shown above. Shims installed under the Slide Bar, for obvious reasons, will create problems. ... Read More    

Tip # 022 : Replacing Slide Bar Babbitt

Remove Ram Pipe Plug. Remove old Babbitt by melting with torch. Position Slide Bar "A" and Slide Bar End Block "B" with respect to Ram boss area. Pour molten Babbitt into cavity at "C" until the Babbitt is 3/4" from the outer surface of the ... Read More    

Tip # 024 : Removing Broken Ram Point

When Ram Point failures occur. it is generally true that they break through he neck of the point at or near the bottom surface of the Ram. It is most usually almost impossible to press out the broken neck portion of the point from the Ram. The proper ... Read More    

Tip # 025 : Side Channel Modification

Many of our contractor customers have in the past modified the installation of Pile Hammer Side Channels to provide the following: Spring mounting of Channels to prevent attrition during extremely hard driving. Spring mounting of a Hammer Ada ... Read More    

Tip # 026 : Column Removal

It is frequently encountered when overhauling Pile Hammers that Columns will be stuck in the Cylinder and occasionally in the Base of the Hammer. This occurs for many reasons ranging from excessive corrosion or badly burred parts. The easiest way to ... Read More    

Tip # 027 : Bushing Replacement

The use of bronze bushings in Vulcan products is limited to head sheaves and steam chest heads. From time to time it is necessary to replace these bushing. All of these bushings are press fitted. Sometimes the parts into which these bushings are pres ... Read More    

Tip # 028 : Installation of Blind Piston Rings

Lower piston rings in the case of the Super Vulcan and the DGH series hammers, and upper piston rings in the case of Vulcan Pile Extractors, require a special installation technique. This special technique is necessitated by the fact that in these th ... Read More    

Tip # 029 : Equipment Handling

While Pile Hammers are not unduly difficult to handle there are some basic precautions to be observed as well as some basic Do's and Don'ts. Note: Hammer handing as "not unduly difficult" only applies to specialists in material handing. ... Read More    

Tip # 030 : Stripped Thread Repairs

It is frequently found in older hammers that stud hole threads will sometimes become stripped of sufficient holding thread as to necessitate some form of repair. Generally speaking there am two alternate methods of effecting this repair the first is ... Read More    

Tip # 031 : Broken Stud Removal

Probably one of the most annoying problems in hammer repair is the removal of broken studs or screws. Shown below is an easy and proven method of removing the broken portion of the stud or screw without damage to the tapped hole. Apply generous q ... Read More    

Tip # 034 : Steam Chest Valve Liners

Replaceable Steam Chest Valve Liners are standard equipment in all Vulcan Single and Differential Acting Pile Hammers These Valve Liners were adopted to provide easy means of replacing worn surfaces in the Steam Chest in lieu of reboring. Given belo ... Read More    

Tip # 035 : Serial Numbers

It is frequently desirable to ascertain the age of equipment for appraisal, evaluation and a variety of other reasons. As is customary in most construction equipment, we show below the year of manufacture and the serial number range for that particul ... Read More    

Tip # 036 : Dovetail Repair

As your Vulcan Offshore Hammers grow older, it is unavoidable that wear occurs in the Dovetail Guide in the Cylinder that guides and retains the slide bar. Excessive wear in this Dovetail Guide can cause damage to not only the Slide Bar but the Trip ... Read More    

Tip # 037 : Vari-Cycle Hammers

Vulcan Vari-Cycle (Stroke Control) is available for all Vulcan Single Acting Hammers having a cylinder which has as an integrally cast pad part thereof the necessary mounting pads for installation of the Vari-Cycle equipment. Shown in the table below ... Read More    

Tip # 038 : Compressed Air Velocity Fuse

In the new Department of Labor Safety Regulations for Construction, it states in the Federal Register, Volume 36, Number 75, that "all hoses exceeding 1/2 inch inside diameter shall have a safety device at the source of supply or branch line to reduc ... Read More    

Tip # 039 : Winter Operation

Cold weather operation of Pile Hammers and Pile Extractors on compressed air frequently presents problems of ice accumulation in valve assemblies and air passage ports. Icing is a function of temperature and humidity and causes erratic equipment oper ... Read More    

Tip # 040 : Outboard Bracket Shims

On all Vulcan and Super Vulcan Offshore Pile Hammers, and all Vulcan Hammers equipped for Vari-Cycle, there is an extension of the Open Steam Chest Head (see illustration) called the "Outboard Bracket." This serves not only as a guard to protect the ... Read More    

Tip # 041 : Valve Flutter

In "Vulcan Tip No. 3" issued some time ago, the subject of "Valve Flutter" was covered in part by various methods of control. This problem occurs in older hammers frequently and in some cases in newer hammers when operated on compressed air. In addit ... Read More    

Tip # 042 : Assembly Procedures

In all Vulcan equipment mechanically bolted connections are kept to the minimum to avoid unnecessary maintenance. Where they are used... Cylinder Heads...Steam Chest Heads... Pipe Flanges...Stuffing Boxes... proper assembly and re-assembly practices ... Read More    

Tip # 043 : Stud Installation

When you replace and install new studs In your Vulcan equipment, there are certain precautions to be observed. All Vulcan studs have an unthreaded portion between the two threaded ends. Do NOT install studs using a pipe wrench on the unthreade ... Read More    

Tip # 044 : Product Bulletin

Annually we publish a listing of all products currently in production. Listed below are all units in current production accompanied by current model and specification numbers. Note: This system was devised in order to bring some order to the desig ... Read More    

Tip # 050 : Piston & Rod Installation

When installing a Piston and Rod in certain Vulcan Offshore Pile Hammers, it is necessary to take certain precautions to assure that all parts are properly assembled one with another and that subsequent to assembly proper working clearances exist. Th ... Read More    
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