Finding a piercing tool that worked well in hard and soft soils had always been a challenge for underground contractors ? until now. HammerHead® has been working with customers since 2006 to design the new and innovative Catamount™ line of piercing tools, an industry breakthrough in pneumatic piercing tool technology.
Catamount offers a reciprocating head that is easy to start, regardless of air pressure level, and is the first pneumatic piercing tool head effective in both hard conditions and soft soils and sand.
“The new Catamount ‘smart head’ design dramatically reduces tool ‘swim’, a problem often encountered with conventional reciprocating head tools, says Will LeBlanc, senior regional sales manager for piercing tools at HammerHead.
The term swim refers to when a tool is working in soft soils, it can move backward because the ground is too soft to hold the recoil, rather than moving steadily forward during the bore. This can dramatically reduce productivity and in some cases contractors carried two different types of piercing tools, one for hard and another for soft soils.
HammerHead conducted extensive testing on the new Catamount product line. “Customers told us that reciprocating heads were not effective in softer soils, so they never used them,” says LeBlanc.
One of the companies who tested the unit and ultimately purchased numerous tools is American Communications Construction based in Houston, Texas.
American Communications Construction has been using the new Catamount line of piercing tools and according to Jack Parker these tools are helping to make their crews more efficient. Parker oversees operations for the company and likes the piercing tools because they’re fast. That’s important for a company that installs more than 10,000 feet of distribution and trunk cables for Comcast every week in residential areas throughout Houston.
“Production is the key in our business,” says Parker. “We have six crews in the field and each crew carries two piercing tools. They are required to install 300 feet of cable per day, so we need a fast and user-friendly piercing tool.”
According to Parker the Catamount works faster than the standard active heads they have used in the past.
“The best thing we like is that the Catamount starts easier and faster in the soft and sandy ground conditions in our area. With active heads, we had to lower the air pressure in sandy conditions.”
HammerHead also eliminated the need for a mechanical spring, a common source of failure in many tool designs. Many reciprocating head tools on the market use a mechanical steel spring, which is not fatigue resistant and leads to durability issues with use. The Catamount head is driven by air pressure — the air pressure resets the head, rather than a spring. This design allows the tool to start easily in any soil condition, reduces swimming, and enhances production in all types of soil formations.
The tool body has been redesigned to provide better product life than anything on the market.
“The head assembly is made of abrasion-resistant tool steel, and all wear surfaces of the head are field replaceable, making it possible to refresh the tool without replacing the body,” says LeBlanc.
“The body is manufactured in one piece of heat-treated alloy steel, rather than welded or tubular construction. These features add up to improved durability and longer tool life.”
Catamount piercing tools feature the patented Power Port® quarter turn reverse, which pneumatically locks into forward and reverse to prevent accidental direction change during the bore.
Like all HammerHead Mole piercing tools, Catamount easy-start tools have a patented tailbolt system for fast and easy field maintenance. The catamount product line is available through the global HammerHead dealer network in 2.5-, 3- and 4.375-inch sizes.