Modified Ransome Shark Tooth Splitter Helps
Contractor Save Hawaiian Bridge By Brian M. Fraley
Nothing good can come of a severe thunderstorm unless you happen to be on the receiving end of an emergency contract to clean up the after- math. Cushnie Construction Company, Inc. encountered this situation on the island of Kauai in Hawaii starting on March 16, 2020. “We had a hell of a flood on the island with 20 inches of rain,” says the company’s Vice President Ralph Cushnie, noting that he believes this storm was a record breaker.“ A bunch of debris came down the river and we basically had a log jam of debris at the Wailua Bridge.” Cushnie, founded 12 years ago, is a family-owned Women’s Business Enterprise run by Ralph’s wife Laura. The sitework contractor works strictly on the island of Kauai, serving private and public sector clients including local, state, and federal government. Clearing the Log Jam at a Compromised Bridge The main problem was heavy erosion damage to the concrete rein- forced wall near the north abutment of the bridge, and scouring that was causing instability around several piers, according to Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT). Cushnie was already clearing nearby flood-damaged areas, and owns a unique clamshell attachment so HDOT decided to award the contractor the emergency contract. The first challenge was a 120-foot uprooted tree that was swept down- stream and came to rest against the side of the bridge. Cushnie’s crews worked around the clock for a week to get it removed. More debris soon followed, but fortunately the raging river never rose high enough for the debris to breach or pass over the bridge. “Another big rain like this could have knocked that whole bridge over,” Cushnie says. Clearing debris from the bridge was job one. Overhead wires prevented the use of a long-reach excavator. Cushnie set up two excavators on the one-lane bridge deck. The machine with the clamshell scooped out the debris and piled it on the deck where a five-man crew downsized it to manageable sections with power tools. Another nearby excavator with a grapple loaded the material into waiting trucks. The next step was to get the debris to the processing sites. Desirable laydown areas were at a premium because of the flood so Cushnie dumped half in a stadium parking lot, and the remainder at two other locations. The problem that remained was how to process the material efficiently.
Searching for the Right Attachment “We had started grinding the logs and they were too big for our shredder to deal with,” Cushnie recalls. “We were just looking on the internet for something and we came across Ransome Attachments and the Black Splitter Cone Splitter,” he says. The problem was that he didn’t want to lose time on the extra processes associated with hydraulic attachments, including switching hoses and unpinning buckets. The alternative was to mount a hammer on the excavator to split the wood, but damaging the pavement in the stadium would have been unacceptable. Cushnie learned of the Ransome Shark Tooth RST 150 Stump Splitter/Harvester. It had the functionality, but its single serrated edge is designed for sawing and digging out rooted stumps. Adding Teeth to the Shark Tooth The Shark Tooth has a serrated edge on the outside blade with a flat edge and thumb on the opposite side, which works well for its primary purpose – splitting, removing, and loading stumps. Cushnie’s opera- tion called for more teeth because the crew would have to quarter wood on flat surfaces where the timber is not anchored. “We had nothing to anchor to,” he says, noting that they were cutting on pavement at the stadium and dirt in the other locations. “We were going to put the tooth in and then work it back and forth.” The clock was ticking. Ransome quickly agreed to modify the attach- ment by adding a second serrated edge, creating an attachment that looked like a spade with jagged edges. “The reason we wanted the front edge serrated is because we were ba- sically just pinning the wood to the ground and then wedging the point into it,” Cushnie explains. “When you uncurl the arm of the excavator, you’re getting that cutting action on the front edge, while going back and forth and wedging and splitting at the same time.” Feeding the Crambo Shredder The role of the Ransome Shark Tooth Stump Splitter/Harvester was to size down material for feeding into the Crambo 6000 Dual-Shaft Shredder. The shape of the logs was a factor as well. Cushnie used two excavators and a fleet of trucks to remove tons of debris that had washed down the river and compromised the integrity of Kauai’s Wailua Bridge.
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