Drill rigs play an essential role in many types of trenchless rehabilitation. Maintaining the drilling apparatus is vital to the health and safety of the machine and workers using it.

Essential Parts of a Drill Rig

Each of the components of a drill rig must be considered individually in order to maintain it. Rigs, rods, bits and back reamers, fluid pumps and collectors all need to be inspected to ensure that the machine is in top working order.

The Rig

The rigging part of the drill rig needs both daily and weekly maintenance schedules. Before powering the machine for the day, operators need to check the fluids. Oil, fuel and radiator levels need verification before startup. Inspect hoses connecting fluid tanks to their operating components for leaks.

Check Fluid Levels

In addition to checking the fluid levels, operators should inspect the onboard filters. Drilling stirs up dust, which is then trapped by the filters. Clogged filters can stop the engine from receiving the necessary air circulation to cool and operate efficiently.

Remove Dust

The dust can also make it difficult to see out of the windshield of the rig. Operators should clean the glass daily to prevent accidents due to poor vision. Accumulation of excessive dust may require more than one cleaning per day of the windshield.

Warm and Grease the Rig

Before running the rig for the day, operators need to warm it to the appropriate operating temperature. Inspect the work area for potential safety hazards.

In addition to daily maintenance, the rig should undergo weekly maintenance checks. At least once a week, workers should grease all points to ensure adequate movement.

As part of a weekly cleaning schedule, workers need to clean the radiator and refill with fresh fluids. Oil coolers also need cleaning, and the cab of the rig should be cleaned of any debris left over from the operator. Additionally, clean or replace all dirty filters.

Check Hydraulics

Check the hydraulics for leaks and repair any issue found. Check the drifter accumulator, tie rods, and mounting bolts, tighten if needed. Check and adjust the feed chain.

Drill Rods

The drill rods are the most significant component of the drilling apparatus and are the central part that rotates the bit. As an essential part of the drilling string, they should be inspected daily to ensure they are in excellent condition.

One of the most critical maintenance steps is daily measurements of the outside diameter of the rod. These measurements should be checked against the manufacturer's specification. Any rod with more than a 30th to 40th thousands of an inch wear needs replacing.

Rods are flexible to an extent. However, if the rod appears bent more than the manufacturer's allowable bend radius specification, do not use it. The continued strain on the rod could cause it to break. Using the correct drill rods for a trenchless project extends the lifespan of the unit and decreases the risk of injury to workers and damage to the rig. (Read on in, "Choosing Drill Rods for Trenchless Tunneling.")

While doing a visual inspection, look for fatigue cracks, corrosion, cuts, and gouges in the rod. If the worker finds damage, replace the rod. The continued use of a damaged rod can cause injury to workers and costly project delays. (Learn more in "Trenchless Operations Safety Do’s and Don’ts.")

Bits and Back Reamers

The drill bits and back reamers are the moving parts that break into the ground and excavate dirt and debris out. These elements should be monitored daily to ensure good working order. As with rods, check manufacture specification concerning diameter and wear patterns.

In addition to measurements, workers inspect for cuts, cracks, corrosion, and gouges just like on rods. Replace damaged parts.

Using the correct drill bit for medium, hard and soft ground will ensure the unit runs smoothly. (Read on in "The Right Drill Bit for Soft, Medium & Hard Ground Conditions

Fluid Pumps or Collectors

Fluid pumps throughout help to cool the drill rig and lubricate the bit. These pumps need to be serviced regularly and checked daily for wear and tear. Workers should check hoses and seals for leaks in the system. Check O-Rings for wear and replace any that may appear worn before leaks occur. Visually inspect that the pump operates correctly. Clear any blockages.

Decreased volume in the dispersal of fluid is an indication that the pump either has a leak or a blockage.

Dangers of Ill-Maintained Equipment

Failing to maintain a drill rig can cause damage to the equipment or injury or death to the operator. Leaks in the hydraulic or fluid pump systems can cause shortages or cause the machinery to seize up while working.

If operators do not replace worn or bent drill rods or bits, these parts can break during use. A break causes delays and adds unexpected costs to the project.

By failing to replace dirty oil filters, contaminants can enter the oil or block the flow entirely. Failure to empty and replace dirty, contaminated lubricant can cause the engine to clog. Dirty air filters can cause a decrease in air circulation within the engine, which it needs to run correctly and can cause the machine to overheat.

It only takes a few minutes each day to ensure that the drill rigs are correctly maintained. By adhering to a strict maintenance schedule, the machine will last for years.