Barbco's New Controlled Boring System

by Diana Barnum, Hard Hat News Correspondent & John Capocci, General Manager of Barbco

Ever have an underground project that requires critical line and grade specifications? Need a microtunneler to do the job? Now there is the new Controlled Boring System (CBS) Line and Grade Steering system for auger boring machines from Barbco, Inc., a leading manufacturer of horizontal earth boring machines and directional drills in Canton, Ohio. Barbco tested the CBS at a job site recently in Iowa and already updated the system with improvements.
“We were very pleased with the performance of the CBS in Des Moines,” said Jim Barbera, President of Barbco Inc. “These improvements will make the CBS a cost-effective solution for auger bores of under 48” and require control of both line and grade.”
The patent pending CBS steering system uses a sonde locating system that monitors line and grade throughout the length of a bore. It provides a digital readout to the boring machine operator with a view of any deflections off line and grade throughout the bore path. And it features an electric over hydraulic push button controlled steering system for making proper steering adjustments.
Underground utilities construction company KRI Co. of Ames, Iowa recently completed a project using a Barbco 72” Boring Machine Tunnel Attachment (BMTA). When KRI owner Warren Rognes visited Barbco’s plant in Canton, Ohio, he discussed an upcoming project with Barbera that entailed relocating 24” sewer lines associated with an I-235 project in Des Moines, Iowa. Rognes felt that he needed a microtunneler for the bores because of critical line and grade specifications. But Barbera offered an alternative.
Barbco had recently developed the CBS and needed a project to test its capabilities. The Barbco CBS provides an auger boring machine operator with the ability to steer a bore of under 48” and make corrections for line and grade. In order to do this effectively, the position and path of the head needs to be monitored continuously. For a method to do this monitoring, Barbera elicited the help of Mark Gallucci, of Digital Control Incorporated (DCI), who suggested an Eclipse guidance system. So representatives from both companies took the system to the Des Moines job site to see how it would handle.
The KRI crew made the bore under the supervision of lead foreman Alan Bell.
Several factors made these bores extremely difficult:
1) The soil conditions were not good, changing from clay to sand and with numerous rocks located in the soil.
2) Some of the areas were very wet.
3) There were 16 sets of railroad tracks above the bore path.
The first order of business was to give the KRI crew an opportunity to gain experience using this steering system. They started with one of the shorter bores first, 50ft. in length. Along with the Barbco CBS steering system and the DCI Eclipse guidance system, a water grade indicator was used to confirm the critical .02% grade requirement for this bore.
The 50ft. bore went well. With the DCI Eclipse guidance system monitoring the head position, the crew used the Barbco CBS steering system to adjust for line and grade every 3.5ft.
The next bore was 180ft. in length. It was a bit more complicated because it passed between four houses and traveled 19 ft. under a street. The bore went well for the first 140ft. At this point though, they hit rocky conditions that caused the bore to move to the right by 6”. The Barbco CBS head was re-adjusted to correct for this drift and brought the bore back to less than 4” to the right of line and exactly on grade at 180ft.. This line variance was well within the 4.5ft. alignment tolerance required for the bore.
Barbera and Rognes were pleased with the performance of the CBS and the DCI Eclipse and their ability to monitor and correct line and grade variances throughout the path of a bore.
“This bore’s success was due, in large part, to the control this system gave us as well as the experienced bore personnel at KRI, most notably, Alan Bell,” said Warren Rognes of KRI.
“The system worked just as we expected it to in the field,” said Barbera. “However, the system used at Des Moines was manually controlled, requiring a great deal of calculation to determine and correct line and grade variances. Thanks to the experience of the crew of KRI and the technical assistance of Mark Gallucci of DCI, we have made significant improvements to the system to make it easier to use.”
Improvements include:
• Digital readouts of corrections
• Push button steering, electric over hydraulics, replace the manual turning of torque multipliers
• Real-time views of projected bore paths
• Computer generated correction coordinates to facilitate steering adjustments.
Demonstrations of the Barbco Controlled Boring System (CBS) will be done at the NUCA convention in San Antonio, Texas March 20 and 21. Barbco is also a member of the Ohio Horizontal Directional Drilling Association (HDD), headquartered in Caledonia. The company’s general manager, John Capocci, has been nominated as Manufacturing Representative for the group for 2003-2004.
For more information on the CBS system contact Barbco, Inc. at P.O. Box 80837, Canton, OH 44708. Call: (800) 448-8934 or (330) 456-8383; or fax inquiries to: (330) 456-8383. E-mail: or visit them online at . To learn more about the Ohio HDD, contact them at the Ohio HDD Association Office, Dan Schlosser, P.O.Box 310, Caledonia, OH 43314. Call: (800) 537-6585 or (419) 845-2023 or fax inquiries to: (419) 845-2026. E-mail: or visit them online at