Two firsts for Steve Vick pipe Handler on Oxford street

Sep 28, 2010

The Steve Vick International Pipe Handler has recently been used on Oxford Street, central London, to slipline a large diameter cast iron water main.

This is the first time the new Pipe Handler has been used for inserting a water main, having previously been used on gas mains; and the 500mm diameter PE used to slipline the main is the largest diameter pipe so far handled by the equipment.

Due to major redevelopment works being carried out at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, a number of water, gas and other utility pipes underneath Oxford Road required strengthening or replacement before the excavation and tunnelling works can be carried out.

The Pipe Handler is a device which attaches to the quick hitch or bucket pins of an excavator in order to pick up and manoeuvre PE pipe on site. The swivel head allows the excavator operator to grasp the pipe in its jaws and move it into position. The operator is then able to push the replacement PE into the host pipe using the hydraulic power of the excavator. There is just one-set up operation for the entire insertion procedure and all actions are safely handled from the cab without the need for operators to work in the trench.

As part of the utilities refurbishment project at Tottenham Court Road, Barhale Construction plc was contracted to replace a 600mm cast iron water main, possibly dating back to the 1820s, by inserting it with over 300 meters of 500mm diameter PE pipe.

When sliplining a main in the water industry it is customary to use a winch. This involves threading the existing main with a wire cable, which is then attached to the new PE pipe via a securely fitted toeing head. The winch, placed at the finishing section of the main, then pulls the PE pipe through the length of host pipe.

Winching not an option
When they began the sliplining operation, Barhale Construction found a number of tight bends in the water main which meant that winching alone did not provide sufficient force to pull the PE through the host pipe. One solution would have been to use a much larger winch but given the extremely busy location on Oxford Street and the limited space available, this was not an option. The risk of a breaking winch cable under tension can present a serious potential safety hazard for operators and members of the public.

The Pipe Handler, recently introduced by Steve Vick International and developed in association with National Grid Gas, provided the solution for Barhale Construction. The company hired the equipment at the end of March and attached it to the 8 ton excavator on site. "Attaching the Pipe Handler took only a few minutes", says Mike Faherty, Site Agent of Barhale Construction "so we were able to begin inserting the pipe immediately. The equipment was ideal for the job and we were able to push 220 metres into the main from the launch excavation over three days. Due to the diameter of the pipe (500mm) we needed to butt fuse sections before inserting which slowed down the process, otherwise we would have completed the job very quickly."

Prior to its introduction, the Pipe Handler underwent extensive trials across the gas distribution network and it is now in widespread use in the UK in gas mains replacement projects. Two models are currently available to handle pipes up to 355mm and up to 500mm. Each model can be used to handle smaller diameter pipe by using shell inserts.

Steve Vick International, best known for its products and techniques for the repair and renovation of gas mains and services, produces a range of pipe handling equipment including pipe pushing machines and pipe coil trailers.

Steve Vick International Ltd
Unit 4 Pinesway
Ivo Peters Road
PH.: +44 1225 480488
FAX: +44 1225 480484

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