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[TowerTalk] How I set 20 Ground Rods in HARD CLAY SOIL

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Subject: [TowerTalk] How I set 20 Ground Rods in HARD CLAY SOIL
From: "Dr M J DiGirolamo" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 21:12:54 -0400
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Hi Jack, et all,

  After reading your story I thought sharing my experience could be of value to
both you and others.

  Two or 3 weeks ago I set, 20 ea, 5/8"x8' ground rods in hard clay Virginia
soil.  This was soil that had received no rain in a LONG time - 
'twas approaching drought conditions here.  The soil was very HARD and TOUGH and
the task of sinking that many long ground rods was daunting.

   I believe the success of this story comes from the use of a HEAVY DUTY,
Milwaukee Demolition Hammer.  Here is a unit like I used.  I had a slightly
older model but this was the one that did the work. I would think you could rent
them somewhere:


   I also had on hand a lighter duty HILTI Model TE 72 which I used as follows.
With the help of 2 other folks, we commenced operations.  Having marked the rod
positions we first dug out approx 12" x 12" x 8-10" squares of soil, centered
over the rod locations using the demolition hammer with the spade accessory.
Then, with one of us on the step ladder, the other one holding the ground rod
vertical, the 3rd person started the vertical hammering using the lighter HILTI
unit.  It would often sink a rod 2 to 3 feet into the ground before it began to
slow down.  We then shifted to the big Milwaukee.  I'm guessing some of those
rods took 5-10 minutes to sink.  Some went all the way down, some had 18-24"
sticking up as they just wouldn't go any further.  The heads of the rods were
all mushroomed.  I used a "Hitachi G12SE2 4 1/2" Disc Grinder" with "Dewalt
DW8424 Metal Oxide Cutting Disks," (both purchased at Lowes a couple of weeks
ago) to cut off the remaining mushroomed rods in preparation for the Cadweld

   Another suggestion, do your trench work BEFORE setting the rods if you're
planning to use something like a Ditch-Witch.  You can read my post from about a
week ago on how badly that sucker beat me up :)  Truly, I still have bruises on
my body from its use.

   I'm currently in the process of doing the Cadweld joints -- I'll soon be
writing in this TT newsgroup about my experience with the One-Shots.  There have
been a fair amount of problems due to bad powder charges (QC probs) and the new
"fibrous material" vs the older "ceramic material" used in the One-Shot molds.
Erico has been EXCELLENT and gone far out of their way to help me out, but the
project has been an uphill battle thus far.  Today I got a couple of more welds
done before the MUCH NEEDED RAINS came.  After the rains, I took advantage of
the softened soil and cleaned up a lot of the trenching.  More later.

   Hope this is of some help es,


Mike DiGirolamo, W4XN
Charlottesville, VA

  -> . -----Original Message-----
  -> . Message: 6
  -> . Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 16:33:49 -0400
  -> . From: "J A Ritter" <>
  -> . Subject: [TowerTalk] Dismal Ground Rod / Hammer Drill 
  -> . Results Today
  -> . To: <>
  -> . Message-ID: <001801c6cc73$9b1137a0$0201a8c0@OFFICE>
  -> . Content-Type: text/plain;        charset="us-ascii"
  -> . 
  -> . With twelve rods to put in I rented a large Hammer Drill 
  -> . from Home Depot
  -> . today.  They did not have any attachment to use with 
  -> . ground rods but the
  -> . clerk said I could simply insert the end of the rod into 
  -> . the chuck and
  -> . hammer away. 
  -> . 
  -> . Being an old timer... I enlisted the help of a strappin 
  -> . tall, in shape local
  -> . ham and we set out to "hammer" in 12 ground rods.  What 
  -> . a frustrating
  -> . experience it turned out to be...
  -> . 
  -> . The Hammer Drill did not hammer -  all it did was turn 
  -> . like a normal heavy
  -> . duty drill.  No matter which setting the drill was set 
  -> . on the results were
  -> . (1) the chuck turned clockwise (2) the chuck turned 
  -> . counterclockwise or (3)
  -> . the drill ran but the chuck did not turn.  There was no 
  -> . hammer or vibration
  -> . anything other than right or left torque.
  -> . 
  -> . The best we could achieve was getting three rods 
  -> . "twisted/pushed" in then
  -> . the drill slowed to a crawl with 3' of rod remaining out 
  -> . of the ground on
  -> . all 3 attempts.  Every attempt the chuck grabbed the rod 
  -> . and it was all we
  -> . could do to get the darn drill off the rod, we finally gave up.
  -> . 
  -> . Either we didn't have a clue what we were doing or the 
  -> . drill did not work or
  -> . both.  $36.00 rental fee later, plus two trips to get 
  -> . and return the drill
  -> . and the results were dismal.   Hammer drills may work in 
  -> . other locations but
  -> . certainly did not in NC clay covered by topsoil at my QTH...
  -> . 
  -> . Can anyone tell us from experience what the three 
  -> . position selector lever is
  -> . supposed to do and do hammer drills really work if a 
  -> . ground rod attachment
  -> . is used and the operators know what they are doing? 
  -> . 
  -> . Thanks, 
  -> . Jack W0UCE
  -> . Raleigh, NC
  -> . ------------------------------


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