SafeBore Confidently Bores Through Ontario Fractured Rock

Thriving with natural resources—including evergreen forests, and bountiful lakes and rivers—the varied landscape of Ontario delights visitors and residents year-round. While the scenery may be striking, the diverse terrain of soil, sediments and rock can pose challenges for people who work below ground.

Utility provider Link-Line encountered a daunting task when it was hired to relocate a new, 4-inch steel gas line through 170 meters of hard limestone. The original gas line had been installed above a box culvert and along Pearsall Creek near Belleville, Ontario. But impending highway construction in the area required the company to relocate it underground, out of the way of future construction and disruptions.

Link-Line enlisted the help of its longtime partner, SafeBore Inc., to provide the horizontal directional drill (HDD) technology and services required for the project. The directional drill company provides underground utility services throughout Eastern Ontario, and specializes in the gas-distribution, hydro and telecommunications industry sectors.

Tough Conditions Require a Tough Machine

“Drilling is never easy, but it was complicated in this case by the fractured rock we found under the creek,” said Todd Desjardins, president and co-owner, SafeBore Inc. “Our operators had some experience working in these ground conditions, but the intimidating 170-meter bore was our longest in hard rock to date.”  

To launch the pilot hole, SafeBore used a Ditch Witch JT30 All Terrain HDD, picked from their varied fleet of six Ditch Witch drills. The machine is powered by a 160-hp, Tier 3 engine, providing 24,800 pounds of thrust and 30,000 pounds of pullback force.

The All Terrain technology uses a patented, dual-pipe drilling system with an inner rod specifically designed for solid rock, fractured rock and other hard formations.

“This was not a straight bore. Our primary challenge was the tough, fractured-rock condition of the crossing, combined with the round corner of the highway,” Desjardins explained. “The project required a lot of attention to detail and prep work to ensure a safe and efficient bore.”

SafeBore worked closely with local Ditch Witch dealer Brandt Tractor Ltd. on upfront planning for the project. The dealership helped SafeBore analyze the rock formation on the job site and determine the best tooling to bore through the multiple rock layers.

All Terrain Technology Provides Confidence on the Job

After thorough prep work, including a full geotechnical soil report, SafeBore decided to combine Ditch Witch Rockmaster® products, including the backreamer, All Terrain housing, andTri-Cone bit to open the 8-inch pilot hole to accommodate the gas-line steel. These tools, along with the JT30 All Terrain, helped complete the pilot hole in one shot.

“With the proximity to a water source, we could have easily fracked out if we didn’t have the correct machine or tooling. We were confident the JT30 All Terrain would efficiently get the job done, and the technology didn’t let us down,” Desjardins said. “The only other viable option for this type of project would have been a drill with an air hammer. But the All Terrain technology gave us precision, control and efficiency to get through the rounded bore path, superior to air hammer technology.”

A Rock-Solid Partnership Creates Recipe for Success

From planning to completion, the project took less than two weeks, and the actual boring was completed in six days.

“Our efficient work at Pearsall Creek strengthened our relationship with Link-Line, and we continue to work together on a variety of utility projects,” said Desjardins. “We’re confident the JT30 All Terrain can handle any rock conditions Ontario landscape throws at us.”

According to Desjardins, service and support offered by the Ditch Witch factory and dealership Brandt Tractor also help give them a competitive advantage on underground construction projects. “Brandt Tractor’s assistance with prep, project planning and tool selection helped us get the job done confidently, on time and on budget.”

“Ditch Witch is our business partner. If we ever have questions or need support, Brandt Tractor is committed to helping us find a solution and make sure we not only succeed, but surpass expectations,” concluded Desjardins.

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