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Installing water line

5330 Views 28 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  rshackleford
I am a local paving/grading contractor and looking to get some information on installing water line. You ride up the road and see those guys trenching for water line down the side of the road. What is a good way I can learn about this without actually having to get out and do it as a laborer. I don't have the time to actually go work on a crew to learn it and run my company too. People are needed to do jobs alot like Dayexco, I believe it was, posted. We have the equipment to do it and it would help keep the guys busy when paving slows down. Any information greatly appreciated!
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i know all pipe work is very competitive now....but this particular job with the quantity of pipe involved. "5 miles' VERY production driven in order to make any money. you'd quickly regret jumping into a project like this with a green crew. i'm very fortunate that our pipe lead is a REAL hustler. he just does things, no holding his hand, things just get done. a project like this i think would be a tough one to cut your teeth on with the margins we're dealing with.
Thanks for responding, I can appreciate your reply. Im not trying to say that I am just going to run out and grab a few miles to begin with and expect to get rich at it. I would just like to find out where I can learn a bit about it and maybe progress my way into it. I am just looking for something else to "put under my belt" so to speak incase a good opportunity ever arises. I am basically paying the guys now to do nothing just so they can feed their families until I get the go ahead on a few jobs. I figured meanwhile I could try and brush up on something new.
Kind of a tough question, Term.

I have worked around these "Pipe Layers" for years.
I have helped out in the trenches, handed the guys bolts and flanges and helped tighten them to make connections.

Watched in amazement while some old Italian guy cut a section of 24" ductile iron pipe with a cutoff saw....and it was perfect.

I've seen guys "hot tap" water mains. Cut in saddles on sewer pipe.

I've seen them fret cause they could not get all the air out of pipe so it could be tested properly.

When it can finally be tested, they have to find out why, and where, they are loosing pressure, dig it up and fix it.

I have worked in some fashion or other, around, and with the pipe crews for almost 30 years, and it is not a trade I would approach sheepishly.

If you intend to take on this type work you will have to be bold, move quickly and efficiently. Most of the work requires specialized tools to some extent.

These old boys make it look easy, that's part of their job, but it takes time, money and mistakes to learn the in's and out's of the pipe work business, same as it would take time, money and mistakes, for one of us who does not handle hot mix asphalt, to venture into your field of expertise.

How you would learn this craft without working it for about a decade or so is beyond me. I don't think it is something you can just "take on" as a fill in for your slack time.

Where are you located?
In my area the guys that do what Day is doing specialize in that and do nothing else. I have done some trench and back fill for plumbers before doing this work but just watched the process of putting pipe together. I never been involved in more than a few hundred feet.

They made it look easy.

IMHO it would be hard to compete with them but I would give it a try if I could overcome one big hurdle. That would be hiring a guy or guy's that did it every day.

I think in your situation that is the best way also, hire a expert to work on your job to make sure your guys do it correct and learn. If I ever do this type of work that's exactly what I will do.
and don't forget licensing. sewer tappers, water tappers, fire mains. here in columbus this involves being interviewed by a city board and a written test. and someone on site needs to be competent in trenching and excavating per osha standards.
it sure wasn't my intent to discourage you....everybody has to jump into the game somewhere. personally, i think i'd find a housing site developer with some site piping, i.e. storm/sanitary/water mains to install....and get your feet wet that way. there's a little of everything involved in that scenario, and it really speeds up your learning curve.
Thanks for the honest reply guys. I know that nothing can teach you as good as actually doing it in the field. Also, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful dayexco, I may have come across as expecting you guys to tell me how its done and viola. I understand that nothing I read will replace experience per se. I was only looking for a little information on how to get my feet wet and maybe advance my way into it. Also, im located in easern NC. Thanks guys for the replies.
Dayexco is right about having to jump in the game somewhere. I think you will find it difficult to do these jobs without having at least one experienced pipe guy on your crew.

Now a days I think diversity is the key due to the lack of work. If I were you, I would start by look for sewer & water laterals. Then move onto subdivision main pipeline work. There is a big difference between installing pipe in a new subdivision & installing on a main road.

Good luck.
Get some prints, bid on the jobs but don't turn in your bid. Go to the bid letting, see what the jobs are going for, then you will get a feel on the bidding end. You will need to be able to read soil boring reports and understand them and know how they will effect your production. You need the whole crew to be expeirenced to make money. I have did asphalt work and can tell you it is a HUGE difference in underground work. And as noted above the money you will spend on different tools to do the underground will be a big chunck of change. Work is going to cheap for a learning curve to be affordable now, stay with what you know, wait out the slow time untill the prices are a little more forgiving. I don't know everything but 30+ years of doing underground work I have learned a few things, that the pros make it look easy. Dan
God bless you're bigger men than I am. :notworthy:notworthy
I had the opportunity near the start of my career to do about a year of surveying followed by a year of water line installation inspection. I knew nothing about it going in and was told nothing about it other than make sure the pipe had proper coverage and watch the backfill material. I learned bunches about it just by watching.

I met some good people and some idiots. The sons of the owner of one of the contracting companies worked on the field crews. They more or lessed half assed it. But there was a young dude who worked his ass off all the time and he was easily going from the trench to the loader because that operator was impressed and occasionaly to the track hoe because the crew leader was impressed. The sons of the owner hated him. So I'd say your crew will make a big difference and you'd better have atleast one well seasoned dude. Most of the trench guys seemed to come and go but not all.

I didn't lay a stick personally but probably should have atleast tried it to say I'd done it. I should have also learned to weld while they were doing jack and bores but turned down the offer from the crew chief. I learned what they were doing though and could anticipate enough to stay out of their way. If it was one of the good crews I'd often go grab some hot lunch for them. One guy you had to watch like a hawk and another you could go take a 2 hour nap and not worry.

Hot taps, failed tests, track drill rigs, hoe rams, hole hogs, taking a 6" mj valve off of a pressurized line (they must of been hungover that day), fire in the hole, broke gas, water, and fiberoptic lines, and many other knowledge gaining experiences.

That's another thing you'd need someone with exploxives permitting unles your in a city.
Your's was the best post before you edited it, funny as hell, you should have left it be. :sad:
God bless you're bigger men than I am. :notworthy:notworthy
i do this for a living. 100-200 mile jobs. what do you want to know.
me too....44 yrs worth, tell me what you all know, i'm still learning
i do this for a living. 100-200 mile jobs. what do you want to know.
dang. this is the toughest board around. every time a post i get my a** handed to me.
I read Gene's post as truly wanting to hear new ideas...........If not then, then just hand his a** back to him:thumbsup:. He's a big boy and can handle a good ribbing like the rest of us:laughing:
dang. this is the toughest board around. every time a post i get my a** handed to me.

i don't see many posts on this board that actually pertain to the work i do, so it would be great if this thread expanded into a good discussion.
Gene, what is it like to be old ?? :w00t:
me too....44 yrs worth, tell me what you all know, i'm still learning
it wasn't meant as a "dig"....current job we're on, of the 3 1/2 miles installed, we've had about 500' of dry digging. i've dug in PLENTY of wet, snotty ground...just not so much of it. as i said...i'm ALWAYS learning
dang. this is the toughest board around. every time a post i get my a** handed to me.
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