RockEye Air Hammer Prevails in Maui, Hawaii

Island of Maui, Hawaii

StraightLine HDD® RockEye 5.0 Hammer System on Vermeer® 100×140, coupled with 1100×350  compressor.


The Challenge:
Hawaii Pacific Trenchless, LLC received a contract to install a pressurized sewer system on the island of Maui. As with any HDD bore on the islands, drilling the six-inch fused pipe presented a multi-dimensional challenge of tough soil conditions, elevated environmental concerns and exceptionally tight bore profile.

Soil. The hard basalt rocks of Maui were formed by two volcano’s—the Haleakala volcano to the east and a smaller volcano to the west. The flat area connecting the two volcanoes were formed from the intersection of lava flows from the two volcanos.

The seasoned Hawaii Pacific Trenchless crew knew the areas complex tapestry of soil conditions went beyond the volcanic basalts. According to the US Geological Survey, overlaying the basalts lay a mix of sedimentary rocks consisting of landslide debris, delta deposits, and assorted boulders and cinders (a cinder is an igneous rock with bubble-like cavities created when magma is ejected in the air and then solidifies). The crew knew the boulders—ranging from tennis ball to basketball-sized—represented a significant challenge to control.

Environmental. As with most island HDD bores, the crew was required to maintain strict environmental protocols, designed preserve the island’s lush environment. Frack-out mitigation received considerable pre-bore attention by the on-site inspectors—particularly on the stream crossings. A set of fluid control requirements, which included meticulous documentation of fluid volumes used and removed from site, was rigorously enforced.

Bore Profile. Finally, the profile required the crew to maintain a tight bore profile of six-inches (+/-), while simultaneously negotiating a stream crossing on each of the two bores. The bore profile also paralleled a very important AT&T fiber installation.


The Outcome:

PART I: All-Terrain vs. Volcanic Basalt. Hawaii Pacific Trenchless initially chose the company’s All-Terrain rock drill for the job. Over the next several weeks, the AT generated acceptable production—when in solid rock. It was in the unconsolidated boulders and cinder deposits that control emerged as a significant issue.

Requiring forward pressure AND rotation to operate the AT created conditions where the bit wandered when encountering voids in the unconsolidated rock. As weeks turned into months, the crew began to weigh alternative methods.

PART II: Hammer to the Rescue? Having heard of the tremendous potential of hammers, the decision was made to “bench” the AT in favor of an air hammer. The first demo—a RockEye competitor—yielded mixed results. Improved production was mitigated by a déjà vu situation regarding control. Falling under the hammer head, cuttings exerted upward pressure on the head. Without the ability to push fluids in sufficient volume, the crew found themselves fighting the tendency of the hammer to pitch up. The lack of fluid flow also led to unacceptable wear on the bit.

PART III: RockEye Takes a Turn.  Still facing nearly one thousand feet of tough boring ahead, the crew scheduled a RockEye 5.0 demo. Arriving on-site, the RockEye successfully pounded out the shorter of the two bores (300 feet) in less than two days, maintaining tight 6-inches +/-profile window.

Despite the impressive victory, the cinders presented similar challenges, with cuttings falling under the hammer, forcing the head up. The difference maker, in this case, was the RockEye’s ability to push fluids. The crew placed six to eight gallons of 50 viscosity Bentonite fluid mix per minute.

The air/bentonite mixture, combined with a slight modification of the carving technique, carried returns and eliminated the control issues that plagued previous attempts.

Using what was learned on the 300-foot shot, taking on the 600-foot bore the following day generated similar results. At approximately the 200 foot mark, spoils volumes—and production rates—fell precipitously. The crew restored cuttings flow by pushing the same Bentonite fluid mix/rate as the previous day.  With cuttings again flowing freely, the RockEye resumed its torrid pace—finishing the 600-foot shot in just over three days.

With average production rates clocking nearly 200 feet per day, everyone—including state and local site inspectors—were impressed with the speed of the RockEye.  But it was the control—which maintained a tight window of 12-inches +/- throughout the entire bore.


Full Line of Powerful and Affordable Underground Magnetics Locating Systems Now Available

Underground Magnetics is a start-up company aiming to bring disruptive locating technologies to the trenchless industry. The company's locators offer users extended range, improved accuracy and a simple user interface that is easy to learn and use – at a budget-friendly price point.

Source: HDD and StraightLine HDD now offer the complete line of advanced locating systems from Underground Magnetics.

Field-proven for power and ease-of-use, Mag 3 and Mag 6 packages start at a budget-friendly $11,700.

The baseline (Package 2) Mag 3 and Mag 6 locators come with an industry-leading feature set

  • Independent antennae reach depths of up to 190 feet
  • LCD remote display, with telemetry range of up to 3,000 feet
  • Rechargeable lithium batteries with charger
  • Echo 1 single frequency, two power level transmitter


Upgraded Mag 3 and Mag 6 locators (Package 3) come with all Package 2 features, plus

  • An Echo 1 4kHz, 19kHz or 30kHz multi-frequency transmitter 

Unlike traditional locating systems, both Mag 3 and Mag 6 receivers boast two independent antennae. The result: superior locating accuracy. Incorporating state-of-the-art digital signal processing and comms design, the Mag 3 and 6 receivers deliver exceptional depth - up to 190 feet.

Interference - a huge problem in today's congested HDD environment - is tamed by the availability of multiple frequency choices in both the Mag 3 and Mag 6 models. Read how a Houston contractor addressed tough urban interference with a Mag 3 here.

The Mag 3 and 6 come with an easy-to-read five-inch industrial LCD display. Standard telemetry ranges up to 1,800 feet and can be extended to 3,000 feet with an extended range antenna (included).

The Mag 3 and 6 use the powerful Echo Series transmitters. Available in either single or multiple frequency versions, Echo Series transmitters feature two power levels that can be changed via the receiver or down-hole. 

Mag 3 locator

Underground Magnetics locators combine a powerful feature set with affordability.

Advantage Performix: Part III – The Mixing Tank

In the previous two installments of the Advantage Performix Series, we explored the science driving the world’s best mud mixing platform (read Part I here, Part II here). In our third and final installment, we cover the last step in the journey from raw materials to fully sheared fluids: the mixing tank.

A critical part of the overall system, Performix tanks are far from ordinary.  In fact, considerable time and engineering effort went into the development of the Performix tank. Of course, like almost everything else in the mixing process, all the "action" cannot be easily observed by the casual observer.

n the journey from the pump to the tank, the Performix Mixer functions as a system with one singular goal: To get you mixing fast and drilling better than any mixer on the planet.

So why spend the time and resources to engineer a hunk of plastic? It’s really quite simple:  If you want to build the best mud mixing system on the planet, the entire system – from the power plant and pump, to Venturi jet and tank—must be considered as an interconnected system, with each part playing a vital role.

There are two elements that make Performix tanks a vital piece of a total mixing solution.                                                    

  • Fluid Dynamics. You don’t have to ponder the fluid dynamics of your mud tank—because we’ve already done it for you. A year in development, our engineers designed interior tank contours that direct fluid on a path that generates maximum speed.
  • Agitation. Fast water is only half of the story. Considerable engineering was devoted to interior tank guns. Decisions on gun design, placement and angle—relative to the aforementioned interior tank curves—were all oriented to achieve a single goal: maintain maximum agitation.

With the engineered interior tank curvature working together with highly engineered tank guns, the Performix Mix System tanks are capable of turning an entire tank over in as little as two minutes.

Twenty-Seven Year History of Building HDD Reamers

As the decade of the 1990’s began, a handful of companies led the advancement of a new trenchless construction method known as horizontal directional drilling. One of the early pioneers, StraightLine Manufacturing (later to become StraightLine HDD), launched the first of a series of innovative steerable boring machines in 1989. 

The market was quick to recognize the nascent technology's potential. While early demand growth verified the legitimacy of the new technology, it simultaneously exposed a major limitation: Advancements in rig technology far outpaced the development of down-hole tooling.

Two early (circa 1991) examples of StraightLine reamers.

Building Reamers By Necessity

StraightLine responded to the lack of available tooling options by building their own. Development culminated in 1990 with the launch of two first-generation reamers.

The success of the initial designs set the stage for a gradual shift away from drill rigs, to focus exclusively on tooling. Today, StraightLine HDD is a leading provider of down-hole tooling. The back reamer segment includes 17 field-proven designs. With hundreds of Vermeer and Ditch Witch reamers in-stock, StraightLine is among an elite few capable of responding with next-day delivery. 

Custom Reamer

Designed and fabricated in late 2017, this impressive reamer incorporates a steep taper, bi-directional design.

Commitment to Custom Reamer Solutions

The unpredictability of soil conditions often tests "standard" horizontal directional drilling reamer designs. Responding to the challenge, StraightLine HDD maintains a team of designers and fabricators dedicated to building customer-specified reamer solutions.

In 2017 alone, the StraightLine HDD custom reamer team accounted for nearly 70 percent of the company’s reamer revenue output. 

From a slightly altered standard design to a completely unique creation, the StraightLine custom HDD reamer team follows the motto: If you can dream it, we can build it.

Many custom reamer projects are under tight deadline. This custom fly cutter, for example, was part of a three tool custom job that carried a two-day turn.

To attack extremely abrasive cobble rock conditions, the custom crew used a stacked-plate base design, with slight elongation and a extra application of hard-facing.

On large-scale tool builds, a team approach is used. Here, three members of the custom team collaborate on a massive 46-inch custom all-terrain reamer.

Sometimes, the custom crew creates something that's completely unique. This massive bi-directional tool is a one-of-a kind reamer.

Is it a hole opener or is it a Rhino? In this case, the customer needed an aggressive hole opener, as well as an aggressive pull-back solution.

This large diameter (42-inches) All-Terrain reamer was finished off with an equally substantial pull-back cap.

Here, the custom team plots out hard-facing on a substantial centralizing ring. The custom tool features a "flat-face" design with aggressive cutters.

The popular All-Terrain forms the base design for a large number of custom solutions. Here's a massive custom All-Terrain being drilled for fluid ports.

With a deep talent pool of fabricators, backed by over 20 years' experience designing and building reamers, our ability to meet custom demand is unrivalled.

BREAKING NEWS – StraightLine Bolsters Pipe Offering

Additional Forged, One-Piece Pipe for Ditch Witch and Vermeer Now Available

(Hutchinson, Kansas) – StraightLine HDD today announced the addition of multiple pipe sizes to its growing offering of in-stock drill pipe. The product expansion more than doubles the number of available Vermeer-compatible pipe and adds three common Ditch Witch-compatible pipe sizes.

Strengthening its in-stock pipe product range is designed to stay ahead of the growing trend of contractors favoring pipe suppliers offering delivery speed. In addition, all StraightLine pipe sizes and types feature forged, one-piece construction and are backed by a pro-rated warranty.