Michael Thomas

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Drilling In Paradise

Drilling In Paradise

The living may be easy in Hawaii, but the drilling is not. In certain areas on the island of Kauai, rock denies entry to all but the toughest of drilling equipment.

Mike Thomas of Henkels & McCoy, Inc., was faced with the prospect of laying polyethylene pipe through some of this incredibly diffrent earth. Fortunately for Thomas, he had a Ditch Witch JT2720 All Terrain (AT) machine at his disposal.

“I’ve been drilling for about ten years, and I’d never had to work in such hard rock, “says Thomas.” We were on a state highway, drilling into some bridge abutment windows underneath a bridge. Our job was to pull back a three-pack (two 2-inch and one 1.5inch polyethylene pipe,through which fiber-optic cable can be run). We had to hit some pretty extreme windows-10inch windows-from a couple hundred feet, with no room for error. With the JT2720, we hit it both times.”

The JT2720 AT system was designed and built to steer, drill and backream through virtually any type of soil-including rock, cobblestone, broken rook, gravel and soil/rock mix-at distances up to 650 feet (200 m). The unit’s remarkable drilling capacity is largely due to its advanced, dual-drive pipe system-a unique, “shaft-within-a-pipe” system that features a strong, hex-shaped rod that turns inside an outer pipe. The inner hex shaft works as a mechanical motor that drives the bit during the bore, the outer pipe thrusts the bit forward, steers the drill string, and works to transmit full machine torque during backreaming.

“Once we got our mud mixtures down and figured out the night type of rock bits, we were able to scoot right along,” says Thomas. “We actually tried a competitor’s HDD equipment first, but the JT2720 AT turned out to be much faster and more accurate.”

“What made our job a lot easier was the Ditch Witch 750 tracker system and having a guy on my crew (Dave Wolfe) who knows how to use it,” says Thomas. “Dave is one of the best locators I’ve ever seen.”

Thomas says that after he finished the Kauai project, he was scheduled to go to Maui to drill underneath handmade inigation ditches that were built in the 1800s. He’s expecting more of the same kind of prohibitive soil conditions, which is why he’ll stick to using Ditch Witch Jet Trac HDD equipment.

People say to me, “You’re working in Hawaii? Must be tough,” says Thomas. “They don’t know how right they are.”

Mike Thomas