What Are Crane Supported Leaders Used In Piling?

Although the complete piling rig with its base frame and leaders supported by a stayed mast provides the best means of ensuring stability and control of the alignment of the pile, there are many conditions which favour the use of leaders suspended from a standard crawler crane.

Rigs of this type have largely supplanted the frame-mounted leaders for driving long piles on land in the UK and USA. The usual practice is to link the leaders by the head of the crane jib and to control their verticality or backward or forward rake by means of adjustable stays near the foot of the leaders.

The latter bear on the ground through an enlarged foot which can be levelled by a screw jack. BSP International Foundations Ltd. TL series leaders (Figure 3.6) have heights of 19.0m and 21.9m and carry hammers of up to 3 tonne mass.

The 610mm and 835mm square section lattice leaders have a height to the cathead of 22.5 and 38m respectively, and can carry combined pile and hammer loads of 13 tonne and 21 tonne respectively.

Backward and forward rakes of up to 1:3 are possible depending on the stability of the crawler crane. There is a practical limit to the length of pile which can be driven by a given type of rig and this can sometimes cause problems when operating the rig in the conventional manner without the assistance of a separate crane to lift and pitch the pile.

The conventional method consists of first dragging the pile in a horizontal position close to the piling rig. The hammer is already attached to the leader and drawn up to the cathead. The pile is then lifted into the leaders using a line from the cathead and secured by toggle bolts.

The helmet, dolly and packing are then placed on the pile head and the assembly is drawn up to the underside of the hammer. The carriage of the piling rig is then slewed round to bring the pile over to the intended position and the stay and angle of the crane jib are adjusted to correct for vertically or to bring the pile to the intended rake.  The problem is concerned with the available height beneath the hammer when it is initially drawn up to the cathead.

Taking the example of leaders with a usable height of 20.5m in conjunction with a hammer with an overall length of 6.4m, after allowing a clearance of 1m between the lifting lug on the hammer to the cathead and about 0.4m for the pile helmet, the maximum length of pile which can be lifted into the leaders is about 12.7m.

A somewhat longer pile could be handled if the leaders were of a type which allows vertical adjustment. Occasionally it may be advantageous to use leaders independent of any base machine. Thus if only two or three piles are to be driven, say as test piles before the main contract, the leaders can be guyed to ground anchors and operated in conjunction with a separate petrol or diesel winch.

Guyed leaders are slow to erect and move, and they are thus not used where many piles are to be driven, except perhaps in the confines of a narrow trench bottom where a normal rig could not operate.

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