I Haven’t Published Any Newsletters for More Than a Year

I notice that I haven’t published any newsletters for more than a year. It is not like nothing has happened, but it has been slow. Like everyone in core drilling we slowed right down in 2013 and it seems like this slow pace is going to continue for a while longer. I no longer have a secretary and I don’t know how to post these newsletters myself. Luckily we continue to get a few orders and have been shipping a drill every couple of months. It is mostly the Manportable machines that we are selling. Last year we sold Gophers, Hydracore 2000s, and 4000s, all of them Manportable. During the last 10 years we have built more than 150 machines, most of them are still in use. Quite a few of the machines from before that are also still in use, so we get steady parts orders from all around the world. That keeps us going. I am proud of our ability to supply all these parts quickly to our customers, and it remains one of Hydracore’s goals to be able to provide this service. It makes the value of Hydracore machines more than others where this service is not available. In this business, when you need a part you need it now. Our machines are designed to make the task of supplying these parts simple. A lot of the parts are common to our whole range of drills. During my first decade at Hydracore I picked out some suppliers that were the most reliable and stuck with them. Also our machines are configured as much as possible so alternative parts can be fitted. These things make a huge difference over the long period of time that one of these machines can potentially be used. Often we have updates available for our older machines. I try to make stuff so it fits all the machines. The main feed cylinder from the first Hydracore made would fit onto the most recent drill we made. There was no good reason to change the overall dimensions and quite a few reasons to keep them the same.

Because we are not busy we have also taken on some jobs that are outside our normal product line. These jobs require special one-off designs that if we are really busy building our standard products we don’t have time for. These projects are pretty interesting and actually show our abilities very well. Below are some pictures of some of the odd things we built late last year.

In November 2013, we built a special powerpack that was used for assembling a big tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Evergreen light rapid transit line in Burnaby BC. I think our customer appreciated my advice about the design of this pack because they were not really sure what they were going to need, or what could be built. The problem was that the TBM has quite a few very large cylinders that have to be filled with oil and then moved to the right position for assembly. What they needed was a pack with a big tank that could supply a lot of oil quickly, but also provide pressures as high as 4500 psi. In the end I proposed a high low circuit so that they could have both high flow and high pressure with only a 50 HP motor. Then all we had to do is build it quickly. We built it really fast and delivered it ahead of schedule. I think it ended up looking pretty good. It was designed on our CAD system. Here is a picture of the design before it was built.

Tunnel boring maching powerpack autocad design

Below is a picture of what we actually built. Below that is a picture that shows the powerpack for the TBM next to the smallest pack we make. The big blue powerpack is the 50 HP one with the 250 gallon tank that was for the tunnel boring machine. It weighs about 4000 lbs. Right beside it is a little 10 HP powerpack that we made for a customer in Guatemala that needed it to run their mud mixers. It only weighs 400 lbs. The trouble was they were drilling NQ and HQ with a Boart LM55 and they didn’t have any extra power to run the mixers. (The LM55 is really a bit small a drill for the work they have.)

Tunnel boring machine powerpack finished    Tunnel boring machine powerpack finished

Below is a picture of the TBM being assembled in the pit. You can see the ring with the cylinders (lower right) that will need to be filled and positioned by the pack we made.

Tunnel boring machine assembly     Tunnel boring machine assembly

Above is a picture of the main gearbox for the TBM being lifted from the horizontal to the vertical position. The main gearbox for the TBM was going to be lowered into the hole next. I can’t remember how many hundreds of tons it weighed but there were spots for 12 electric motors to fit on, each one 600 HP.

In December 2013, we built a very small drill for BC Hydro. BC Hydro needed a machine to drill some drainage holes inside the Revelstoke dam. The machine would have to fit into some very compact places. It was decided that the holes could be drilled with a small down hole hammer so all the machine would have to do is turn at about 20 RPM and pull the rods in and out. All that we needed for this was a 10 HP electric power pack, and some parts of our Prospector drill, combined with a Rineer 55 cubic inch drill motor, and our double mine bar mounting system. The drill ended up looking very cute. The drill is very rugged as well though. The head although slow has over 800 ft-lbs. of torque. For the first time on a Prospector type machine, I went to the trouble of building the panel in the same style we use on the Gopher, the 2000 and the 4000. It is the swing open style. I guess from now on I will make all Hydracore’s this way. It is my design and I am going to make it into our signature look. A lot of people have already copied it, but it was my idea! Some other manufactures copy the look of this panel but leave out the most important feature, the way it swings open for easy access to all the connections.

Below is a picture of the BC Hydro drill. This could be a very useful machine for small scale mining. This could be mounted on and powered by a small skid steer loader. It could be powered by an air motor. It is capable of drilling holes 3″ diameter and up to 4″ deep. I am sure we could modify it to drill holes bigger, but shorter. The drilling power comes from the air compressor. There are a lot of reasons to drill holes like this. There are not many drills this small that would be able to do this.

BC Hydro custom-built Hydracore     BC Hydro custom built Hydracore

Much of this machine was also designed on our CAD system. Some drawing files were then sent direct to our waterjet cutting supplier. A very simple mounting system for the Rineer hollow shaft drill motor was built from those waterjet cut parts. The head had to swing open and closed quickly so we used our eccentric head hold down bolt assembly from the Gopher Drill. Without the water jet and the CAD system it would be much more difficult to build a one-off machine like this. Once the machine is built, the CAD models can also be used to make nice illustrations for our parts books.

BC Hydro custom-built Hydracore Autocad drawing

We have finally sold one of the hoisting plugs I mentioned in the last newsletter. I hope that when things pick up we can sell a lot of these and save everyone a lot of time and effort when they are pulling rods. If you need one, we have some HQ and HTW size ones in stock. I have designed the N size as well but I won’t make those until later. We still have some machines in stock as well, and it won’t take us long to make whatever you want. So please call me and order some drills.

Nigel Spaxman