Publication Abstract

Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, 2012, Houston, TX, USA, (DFI)

Hydraulic Drive Head Performance Curves for Prediction of Helical Pile Capacity
Donald Deardorff

Helical piles often rely on the final installation torque for ultimate capacity verification. When helical piles are designed using traditional bearing capacity equations for deep foundations and field monitored for a specified final installation torque, a factor of safety equal to 2 is often allowed for the design. One of the more common methods of determining torque during helical pile installation is by correlating the differential pressure across a hydraulic gear motor to a torque. Most drive head manufacturers provide multipliers to convert differential pressure to torque for different drive head models. These multipliers are based on theoretical torque equations and vary with the planetary gear ratio, hydraulic gear motor displacement and drive head efficiency. Drive head manufacturers show a linear fit between the differential pressure and output torque with no scaling effect. Previous drive head testing performed by the author has confirmed that the drive head differential pressure to torque relationship is generally linear however there is a scaling adjustment needed. This results in a variation of multipliers across the differential pressure range for a given drive head. Eight hydraulic drive heads from three manufacturers were field tested by Foundation Supportworks, Inc. to compare the torque versus differential pressure curves with varying installation equipment, hydraulic line sizes and hydraulic flow rates. Differential pressure was monitored using three methods including pressure gages, PT-Tracker and an Ashcroft AT-100. Flow and temperature was measured using a Webtech system analyzer. Torque was measured using a Pro-Dig in-line torque transducer, a TruTorque indicator and a Chance Mechanical Dial in-line torque indicator. The current testing indicates that a change in installation equipment and/or a change in hydraulic flow rate may affect the torque versus differential pressure curve of a given drive head. The results of this testing also show that some of the methods for determining torque during helical pile installations may be unconservative, thereby resulting in safety factors less than required.

 article #1869; publication #99 (AM-2012)