The Proper Tools Help Ohio Contractor Prevent Ditch Bank Erosion
Werk-Brau buckets and attachments are used all over the world, but when the project is in your own hometown … well that hits a little differently. So when The Weber Company of Archbold, Ohio, recently embarked on a project to control erosion along a drainage ditch that ran through nearby Findlay, Ohio, Werk-Brau employees were proud to see their handiwork used to improve their local community.
The drainage ditch in question, the Dalzell Ditch, is roughly three miles long and winds its way through several areas of town, including residential neighborhoods, industrial zones, through commercial areas including restaurants and hotels, adjacent to Findlay High School (skirting the track), and along Interstate 75. Weber was tasked by Hancock County with placing rip rap in roughly 2 miles of the ditch–areas that were most susceptible to erosion as marked by county engineers. Weber crews would restructure the steeply sloped ditch banks, those with slopes approaching 2:1, to better accommodate the incoming rip rap, grooming both sides if necessary to hold the sides in place and prevent further erosion and damage.
Because of the winding nature of the drainage ditch and the extremely wet weather, which both precluded bringing heavy equipment onto the jobsites and caused further erosion that they were trying to eliminate, the project presented some peculiar challenges. Armed with unique tools including a Case CX 250 long stick excavator with a Werk-Brau 2-yard ditching bucket, and a side dump trailer, Isaac Weber and his team made respectable progress and completed the project within their established timeframe.
Weber and his team began the project in early November 2021. Starting in the residential areas posed some challenges as well as some opportunities. Since there was no place to stockpile material, they were running it in as needed, day by day, which was a challenge as the Carey Quarry was about an hour-and-a-half round trip from the jobsite.
“We have a side dump trailer so we can pull right up to the guardrail and dump a full load over the side,” said Project Coordinator Nate Meyer. “One load will do one side and a little of the bottom, and the next load will do the other side and a little bit of the bottom.”
While awaiting the next trailer load of rip rap, excavator operators would distribute the rock as needed, shoring up or restructuring the ditch sides as required. The side dump trailer allowed Weber crews to accomplish 40 feet of the project at a time, helping them to average roughly 400-500 feet per day, depending on how fast they could get rock from the quarry.
After the ditch wound its way out of the residential areas where the side dump trailers were no longer feasible, Weber crews stockpiled material and moved it with a John Deere 624P wheel loader equipped with a 3.5-yard bucket. The loader would dump a load of rip rap into the ditch, favoring whichever side was being shored up at present. They would then go back for another load while the excavator distributed the rip rap along the ditch banks. A trio of excavators were used on the project: a Case CX130, a Case CX210 and the Case CX250–all fitted with Werk-Brau quick couplers and buckets. “We trust Werk-Brau products. When I see that logo, I know I’m getting a high quality, durable product that will do what it was designed to do,” said Weber.
Stockpiling materials kept the excavator and loader operators busy, but tight confines and space constraints required creativity in certain areas.
“We had a spot where the ditch ran in between the back yards of houses, so there was nowhere for an excavator to go,” recalled Meyer. “So we built a ramp out of rip rap and drove the loader down there and dumped a bunch of stone. Then we brought in the Case CX130C excavator and placed it on the sides.”
While not ideal, the scenario worked … for the most part.
“He did have a rock get caught in the track, and then it walked the track off in the ditch,’ chuckled Meyer. “That was a pain. We put a load of rock in his bucket, extended his arm way out so that he was just travelling on one track, and he one-tracked it out of there.”
Meyer had another Case CX 210 excavator pulling the CX130C to keep the limping excavator moving straight. He laughs about it now but said that it was “a nightmare” at the time.
The smaller CX130C and CX210 excavators were viable choices in many sections, but Meyer remembers one area where the long reach of the Case CX 250 Long Reach was essential.
“There was a pipe that went underneath the fence on the far side of a wide section of the ditch. We were able to reach the pipe, dig it out, and put the new pipe in with the long reach excavator,” said Meyer, recalling how they used pretty much all of the 60+ feet reach of the Case CX 250.
In addition to tight quarters, the wet terrain required some creativity from the machine operators as well. In the final section of ditch, alongside I-75, the access point was off a side street, with a dirt path entryway roughly 1,000 feet long. Near the roadway the footing was fine, but as it neared low lying area closer to the highway the ground became downright swampy. They stockpiled material–both rip rap and 57s–but the loader had to travel another 1,000-1,500 feet to the ditch area being worked on. But first the operators had to reconstruct the pathway, removing mud to get to drier material, and placing rock where needed to shore up the footing to allow the loader and the excavator to safely and efficiently traverse the area.
Despite unpredictably bad weather patterns, the region received near record precipitation over the project period, having the right tools at hand allowed The Weber company to keep this project on track and moving forward. After completion, the next heavy rain would have water passing through the ditch but not carry any of the ditch bank with it. Knowing that they played a small part in this Hancock County erosion control effort, Werk-Brau employees stand proud of their company, their products, and the impact that they have not only on the local Findlay community but in other communities across the country.
Author- Dale DeWeese [email protected] – he’s the national sales manager for Werk-Brau