From Sports To HDD: Cleat Anchoring System

Sharewell HDD Drilling Products has introduced a new method of securing horizontal directional drilling machines to the ground to provide stability during drilling and especially during product pullback.

Named the Cleat, the patent-pending system is a steel structure with hardened steel spikes or “cleats” protruding from the bottom.

Securing a drill unit for operation using the Cleat is simple and quick, said Dan Sharpe, company president.

“A drill rig drives onto the structure, pressing the cleats into the earth,” Sharpe continued. “Lengths of the cleats vary with the size of machine being anchored with eight inches being the average. The machine can be chained to the Cleat if conditions warrant. For larger machines the cleat system includes a ‘bull bar’ on which the front of the thrust frame is positioned so that the machine pulls against the bar during product pullback.”

The Cleat is scheduled to go into production the second quarter of 2014, said Sharpe.

“Our current thinking,” Sharpe continued, “is that the Cleat will work with rigs from 5,000 pounds of pullback up to 500,000 pounds of pullback. On larger pulls, they may still need to use some pilings which the larger Cleat will have areas for. The larger Cleats will also be able to capture fluids from the rig so that contractors will not have to lay down tarps under the rig.

The Sharewell system takes its name from the cleats on athletic shoes used for football, soccer and other sports.

“Watching my sons play soccer, I would watch them run and change directions at a full sprint,” said Sharpe. “Their feet did not slip from under them. Cleats on their shoes weighed only a few ounces and supported their 100-pound bodies and held firm in the turf.”

Sharpe watched a football drill on television as two 300-pound linemen drove against one another with neither gaining an advantage.

“Six hundred combined pounds were held in place by cleats in shoes that weighed only a few pounds,” Sharpe said.

Same principle, same results

He wondered if an anchoring device with relatively short stakes or “cleats” could anchor a heavy directional drill in place while it exerted forces to pull in a long string of pipe.

“Anchoring directional drills firmly to the ground has been a challenge since the first machines were developed,” said Sharpe. “Stakes that were hammered into the ground gave way to augured rods driven into the ground hydraulically. In some cases, pads were constructed.”

Engineers advised that applying the same principle of cleats on football shoes to an anchoring device with relative short stakes theoretically would work.

“We developed and tested prototypes of the cleat system using only the cleat structure and the structure with the bull bar,” he continued. “Tests proved the system works in real-world drilling situations.”

For set up, the Cleat and bull bar, if used, is set up with the bar facing the direction of the bore path. The drill rig is driven onto the Cleat, pushing the cleats into the ground and positioning the machine against the bull bar. The short, eight-inch cleats do not go deep enough to penetrate existing utilities, Sharpe added. If circumstances dictate, the rig can be chained to the cleat.

When the job is complete, the machine is driven off the Cleat and the unit is removed for use on the next site.

At the beginning of the patenting process, attorneys told Sharpe the idea was so simple it was likely there already would be a patent. However, Sharpe said, a search confirmed there was no other patent and Sharewell proceeded to refine the product and bring it to the marketplace.

Sharewell HDD, (281) 288-2560,

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