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Big trenchers for big projects.

H.L. Chapman Pipeline Construction Inc. specializes in digging wide, deep trenches in hard rock and other difficult conditions, and over the past 25 years the company has earned the reputation of one of the world's best custom trenching specialists.

"We are the largest rock trenching and removal specialist company in the world," says Michael Wilson, the company's Austin, TX, division manager. "We don't lay pipe or build roads--we do what we do best--cut through hard rock or remove more rock faster than anyone else can do without using explosives."

Based in Leander, TX, H.L. Chapman is called on to do exactly that for projects all over the country.

The company is equipped to cut trench as wide as 8 feet and to depths of 32 feet through solid rock. To do that requires big, powerful trenchers and Chapman has a fleet of nearly 100 large trenchers.

Of course, there are big trenchers and really-big trenchers, and H.L. Chapman operates three Trencor 1860HD models described as the world's largest trenching machine. These monsters weigh between 400,000 and 500,000 pounds, depending on how they are equipped, and are so big they must be transported to and from jobs disassembled and usually comprise seven or eight truckloads.

The 1860HD machines are powered by two engines--one 1,200 horsepower for driving the trencher's head shaft and one rated at 300-horsepower to operate hydraulic components. The digging chain is driven mechanically.

Wilson says the big machines are used on a variety of projects throughout the country.

Recent project

A typical recent job was digging trench for the Brushy Creek Regional Interceptor Number 20 expansion of the wastewater system in Cedar Park, TX, just north of Austin, TX. The job was necessary to expand capacity for the booming community which cites U.S. Bureau of Census figures as the fourth fastest-growing American city with a population between 10,000 and 50,000. The project owner is the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). It is one of several projects H.L. Chapman has completed for the authority.

The project involved digging 6,299 linear feet of 7 1/2-foot-wide trench to depths of 24 feet through layered and solid limestone. Wilson describes the rock as being of "medium" hardness.

"I don't recall the psi," he says, "but it really doesn't matter--the big trencher is so powerful, it goes through about anything."

Production varied, depending on stiffness of rock and the amount of ground water encountered. "There was a lot of ground water filling the trenches," Wilson adds. "On some portions of the job, we ran 6-inch pumps 24 hours a day."

Another Texas client provides a variety of work that has used about every size and type of trencher in H.L. Chapman's extensive fleet of equipment.

Sun City Texas Community in Georgetown, TX, is one of many Del Webb community developments for adult living that includes swimming pools, fitness and arts and crafts centers, golf course, library and other amenities. H.L. Chapman has provided all of the trenching services for the development in the past decade.

Founded in 1974, H.L. Chapman has satellite offices in San Antonio, TX, and Las Vegas, NV, in addition to its Leander headquarters. Besides its rock trenching and removal business, the company has milling equipment to process mass rock and old paving into workable construction material.


Track trenchers:

Trencor, (800) 527-6020, or circle #350

Trenching contractor:

H.L. Chapman, (512) 259-7662, or circle #351

Big Trencor Machine Featured On TV Series

A video taping crew was on hand during construction of Brushy Creek Regional Interceptor Number 20 in Cedar Park, TX, last year to record action footage of H.L. Chapman Pipeline Construction's big Trencor 1860HD trencher.

Scenes were included in three different installments of The Learning Channel's Mega Machines series broadcast last fall.

On the Texas project, the machine dug trench a 7 1/2 feet wide at depths to 24 feet through layered and solid limestone formations.

"You can tell someone about this big machine or a person can read about its size and capabilities, but it's something else to actually see it in action," said Michael Wilson, manager of Chapman's Austin division. "The television programs gave viewers a chance to see it digging and moving tremendous volumes of rocky material."

In addition to the trencher, the television series included segments on Trencor's RoadMiner and Surface Miner equipment.
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Author:Griffin, Jeff
Publication:Underground Construction
Date:May 1, 2005
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