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CALTRANS FOUNDATION MANUAL
Because there is no way to determine the amount of energy delivered to the pile, Section 49-
1.05 of the Standard Specifications prohibits the use of the vibratory hammer for driving
permanent contract piles. However, it is frequently used by contractors for items of a
temporary nature (i.e. placing and extracting sheet piles, etc.). They are also typically used
as a means of extracting piles.
Vibratory pile drivers/extractors could be likened to ministroke, high blow rate hammers.
However, the familiar vibratory pile drivers in standard use today do not contain linearly
reciprocating weights or rams. Instead, they employ two balanced rotating weight sets,
which are eccentric from their centers of rotation. Moving in opposite directions, they
impart a vibration that is entirely vertical. This motion is transmitted to the pile through
the hydraulic clamps of the driving head. The pile in turn transmits the vibratory action to
the soil allowing the soil granules to be more readily displaced by the pile tip. The same
action works even more effectively for extracting piles. Refer to Figure 7-16.
The effectiveness of a vibratory unit is dependent upon the interrelationship of the perfor-
mance factors inherent to the unit. The larger the eccentric moment, the more potential
vibratory force the driver possesses. In order to realize this potential force, the driver must
operate with the proper frequency and amplitude.
Heavier piles mean higher vibratory weight which tends to reduce amplitude. So as piles get
larger, it is necessary to use drivers with larger eccentric moments. The nonvibratory weight
has the effect of extra weight pushing the pile downward.
Vibratory drivers are most effective in granular soil conditions, but recent developments and
new techniques have also made them effective in more cohesive soils. They can handle a
variety of piling, including steel sheets, steel pipe, concrete, timber, wide flange sections,
"H" piles, as well as caissons. They do not create as much ground vibration as normal pile
driving, thereby making the vibratory hammer desirable when possible damage to adjacent
structures could occur.
The vibratory hammer has been permitted to drive a bearing pile to a point which would be
a specified distance from expected final penetration. An accepted impact hammer has then
been placed upon the pile to take it to acceptable bearing and final penetration in the
normal fashion. Situations where this is of some use is where alignment of a pile is critical.
The vibratory hammer allows the operator to minimize the rate of penetration of a pile,
thereby allowing for more precise alignment of a pile as it gets started into the ground.