Vacuum excavator combines cleaning with valve exerciser

Vacuum excavator combines cleaning with valve exerciser

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The trailer-mounted 49 hp FX50 vacuum excavator from the Ditch Witch organization is designed for a range of cleanup and soft excavation tasks, including potholing to expose utilities, cleaning valve boxes, horizontal directional drilling support, removing road construction debris, and post hole digging. The unit can be configured with a choice of four water tanks (80 to 500 gallons), four spoils tanks (300 to 1,200 gallons), hydraulic boom, cyclone filter and hydraulic valve exerciser.

The versatile excavator offers the cleaning power of the company's higher-horsepower FX60 model with added efficiency. "What we've been able to do is take similar performance, as far as blower specs and suction pressure, and drive it with a lower-horsepower engine," says Jason Proctor, product manager for Ditch Witch vacuum excavator products.

Powered by a DEUTZ D2011L031 diesel engine, the belt-drive vacuum system has a 1,020 cfm blower and delivers up to 16 inches Hg. The enclosed power pack also keeps noise levels at 82 dBA.

The 49 hp unit was driven by the CARB (California Air Resources Board) requirements, Proctor says. "Attempting to stay below that 50 hp cutoff provides a lot of benefit for the customers in California."

Designed to support directional drilling, applications for the vacuum excavator have expanded from general job site cleanup to damage prevention, performing such maintenance tasks as sewer cleaning and valve box clean-out. A boiler delivering 340,000 Btus is available for breaking up frozen or compact soil, such as clay.

Also available is a hydraulic valve exerciser that has the ability to pinpoint locations using GPS and measure the torque and rotations to fully open and close the valve.

"That was really driven by the Sept. 11 attack and Homeland Security," Proctor says. Regulations were put into place requiring municipalities to exercise their valves on a regular basis. "In case of a terrorist attack, municipalities need the ability to shut down sections of their water system. The reason it's coupled with the vacuum is most of these valve boxes are dirty. So you can take your water pressure hose, clean it out, and suck out the debris."

Another option is the hydraulic vacuum boom that allows for one-person operation. "The biggest advantage there is ergonomic operation," Proctor says. "If an operator is holding onto the end of that vacuum hose, it can work him over in a full eight-hour day." The vacuum's extend-and-lift functionality enables the operator to position the hose directly over the job site.

The water pump delivers 5.1 gpm at up to 3,000 psi. The optional reserve-flow feature enables the operator to offload fluid spoils. Tanks tilt up to 45 degrees and have a fully opening rear door for efficient spoils removal. The tank door also locks hydraulically for added safety.

"One-button operation lifts and unlocks the door," Proctor says. "The operator no longer is required to go to the rear of the machine and unlock the door, and then jump out of the way of any spoils that flow out. It's all one-button operation. It's more user-friendly and safer by keeping the operator out of harm's way."

The trailer unit, depending on tank size, measures from 222 to 245 inches long, 92 to 99 inches tall and 96 to 100.5 inches wide. It has a dry weight of 7,150 to 11,230 pounds and full water weight of 10,350 to 24,480 pounds. The excavator has a 6-inch outlet valve and 4-inch inlet valve and comes with 30 feet of suction hose.

Trailers are certified and compliant with National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. "We ensure our trailers are compliant and structurally built for added safety, reliability and durability," he says. 800/654-6481;


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