It is not unusual in the Pacific Northwest to get substantial rainfall, up to eighteen inches in thirty-six hours, which results in severe damage to forest roads. To make matters worse, many of these washed-out roads span fragile native streams and rivers — home to several threatened or endangered trout and salmon species. For instance, sediment is released into the stream beds causing serious damage to both individual fish and their stream habitats. Fortunately, the experienced team at JJ Welch Contracting have the right tools to rebuild these damaged roads and restore fragile stream habitats.
Jim Welch, Owner of JJ Welch Contracting, has experienced the benefits firsthand of having the right tools to rebuild roads and restore stream habitats. JJ Welch Contracting uses a unique Kobelco 200 excavator with an extendable dipper stick to regularly rebuild washed out road banks and stream habitats. The extendable dipper stick allows him to do more work from the road avoiding the need to cut shelves into the land around the road. However, the extendable dipper stick was only one piece of the puzzle. He still needed the right attachment for rebuilding the road bank and stream habitat. After trying a conventional digging bucket and a hydraulic thumb, Welch found the optimal attachment -- the Parker PowerGrip Multi-Purpose Bucket.
"In addition to saving up to an hour and a half each day, I am utilizing my materials much better with the PowerGrip. I’m not dropping rock or mishandling material like with a conventional bucket or hydraulic thumb"
- Jim Welch, Owner of JJ Welch Contracting
When Welch tried a conventional digging bucket, he found that he lacked optimal control of material placement — when the bucket rolled forward, all the material would tend dump out too quickly. With PowerGrip, Welch can virtually eliminate material waste when he uses the smooth lip of the bucket to pile up the rock or material, and then use the clam functionality to pick up materials. The PowerGrip eliminates excess dirt being picked up with rock which helps us gain efficiency through improved material utilization.”
When Welch used a hydraulic thumb on his smaller excavators, he discovered the thumb was less than ideal for placing rocks and other material, and the operator is required to keep constant pressure on the thumb to avoid dropping rock prematurely. With PowerGrip, the gripping action is accomplished by one circuit as opposed to two opposing circuits found with a thumb. Having one circuit and an integral lock valve that hydraulically locks and holds objects in the jaw, PowerGrip allows Welch to pick up the material and place it anywhere he wants.
"PowerGrip not only improves our efficiency - since any of our operators can use this solution - it’s also safer since there's less risk of dropping material around the job site.”
Soon after Welch began using PowerGrip in the rainy Northwest region, he discovered that PowerGrip exceeded his expectations in terms of durability and lower maintenance.
“PowerGrip is easy to maintain with just two zerks to worry about. With PowerGrip’s fully enclosed rotary actuator hinge, worrying about nicks, dings or debris contamination to exposed cylinders and rods is a thing of the past.”
PowerGrip is equipped with a durable, enclosed rotary actuator hinge that’s ideally suited for regions with heavy rainfall. With the rotary actuator hinge technology offering 120 degrees of jaw movement, there are no exposed cylinders and rods in the bucket shell or clam that can become polluted with debris, leading to attachment malfunctions. The rotating movement is generated by the massive rotating pivot point between the jaw and back of the bucket that’s designed with the Helac sliding spline operating technology by Parker, which converts linear piston motion into powerful shaft rotation. The end caps, seals and bearings work in unison to keep debris and contaminants out of the inner workings of the actuator, prolonging life and reducing required maintenance. High strength, abrasion-resistant steel is used throughout for added durability.
With the variety of tasks JJ Welch contracting required from their Kobelco 200 excavator, PowerGrip provided them with a flexible, adaptable tool to get multiple tasks done with a single machine. Built to function as a trenching, grading or clamshell bucket and for gripping and loading, JJ Welch used PowerGrip for a diverse range of tasks – placing riprap and rock, rebuilding road embankments, and cleaning up salmon streams.
This inherent flexibility allows JJ Welch Contracting to keep PowerGrip on their machine 85 percent of the time, year-round. “PowerGrip’s versatility allows our operators to save time and better utilize our materials on the job site,” states Welch.
This article was contributed by Jessica Howisey, marketing communications manager and Daniel Morgado, applications engineer, Helac Business Unit, Cylinder Division.