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Thread: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

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    Default Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    hello,

    I worked as a Locator for nearly a year in Alberta (mainly in 2008-09), but have been employed as a Land Surveyor for the last couple of years.

    While I was working for the line locating company, we usually used the Fuji 960, which I personally liked. While working as a surveyor, we have used three locators. The Fuji 960, the Metrotech 810, the DitchWitch (unsure what type), and the 3M locator. Of all the locators I have used, I find the 3M to be not that great at locating inductively. I'm not sure if it is me, or the settings I use, but I find it really frustrating locating u/g utilities on sweeps.

    I just found out that our company is going to rent or buy some "Fisher" locators (not sure which brand). My question is: has anyone used Fisher Locators, and what locator would you recommend if I was in the market to personally buy my own, and rent it out to companies? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Hey Cowboy,

    If you are looking at a locator for induction purposes, i'd recomend either the 810 (which you have, and I personally use) or the Piphorn. They are comparable to each other on the ability to Induce a utility.

    As for the other "bells and whistles" locators.... I think there will be other people then me with more personal experience with them.

    As for the Fisher locators, there are a few to choose from, not sure which one your guys are looking at. I've personally used the Split box from Fisher and it worked rather nice.


    If you are with a survey company and are doing locates, I would assume that you are doing general sweeps of areas? If that is the case you should use a mixture of equipment. You should have one that induces great, One that can find utilities quickly without hookups and can cover large areas (Split Box) and one to catch a mixture of other things that my rear its ugly head (any one of the multiple freequency locators with passive frequencies). I would add in a Magnetometer, but as a surveyor you should already have one of those to find property pins.

    When using that mixture of equipment in the right order coupled with good eyes you should do fine

    mke

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Mornin' Cowboy,

    I agree with Mke on the 810 and Pipehorn as the best for inducing. I have used a lot of different types of equipment for a lot of different types of utilities and have found that the 810 is great for basic induction but the Pipehorn is the best for inducing things like cast iron and bare steel.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Everyone should have at least 3 peices of equipment in their truck at all times. I am the person that says the more equipment you have the more opprotunies you have in locating it correctly.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Thanks.

    We had a #M locator with us, but that thing is horrible to trace lines on an inductive setting. It was a sweep, so we borrowed a Fuji 960 from a coworker, who is on the site 20km away from us. I'll have to see if they are planning on sending us a Fisher split box. I was so frustrated with the 3M, I ended doing a bit of witching with two pin flags.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    never used fisher ...subsite is the way to go !!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Boy what a tough question! What ever you pick if its your first one ,and you learn on it ,it will always be your favorite machine!!!!! Mine is an 810Metrotech!!!! I Love this machine! But I've also learned to use other machines as well! Good luck in your hunt!!

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    As I recall our company tested out a DitchWitch locator. Touted as being industrial strength we hit the receiver with the stream from a pressure washer, did not phase it.


    The MetroTech 810 is an old standard and now many decades later still a highly effective machine. Easy for a beginner to learn and superb in the hands of an experienced tech.

    But the 810 is labor intensive to make and MetroTech has gone to more efficient, read cheaper, manufacturing so it is phased out. The receiver is very sensitive to moisture but again someone with limited skills can dry it out. Just remove the main body cover or head cover and dry it out on the dash with the truck defroster. The dial indicator allows water into the head and you really need the little clip on clear plastic head cover for when it rains. Setting it down on wet grass or snow allows water into the body. Still dry it out and it is ready to go in about 20 minutes.


    It uses push in circuit boards and often just pushing a loose one back into the socket gets it going. There are some leads that can break but the can be soldered in the field. Done it right on the back of the truck. Just plug soldering iron into the inverter and the only down side is occasionally setting the truck on fire. But that 810 will work.

    Many things like a broken connection can also be readily repaired on the transmitter which is also largely indifferent to water. The most common problem is the batter holder, 6 D cells, is not that tight and you have to snug up the batteries once in a while.

    The clip leads and ring clamp again most connections easily repaired in the field.

    If you have an oscilloscope you can calibrate them yourself.

    One short coming compared to newer designs is that they read deep utilities better. I have seen the 810 not read at 20 feet where a ViVax has no trouble.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Sounds like the 810 is a real big piece of------------------------------uh--------------POOP!! Glad I don't use it.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Is Ditch Witch the same as Subsite?

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by superman View Post
    Sounds like the 810 is a real big piece of------------------------------uh--------------POOP!! Glad I don't use it.
    Operator error.

    I live in the perpetually damp climate of the pacific northwest. I have had my 810 only go down on me 4 times in 11+ years. 2 of them were due to water and it was back up and running the next day. The other two was stupidity.... I stepped on the shaft and broke it and the second one was dropping the reciver while I was wrestling the batteries out and one of the wires inside broke.... fixed it the next day.

    I know the 810 has design flaws. It shouldn't bee so sensitive to water, but there is things you can do to help with that. You can not beat the ease of use and the ability to induce. The Box design is perfect for "side box" induction and the other transmitters won't let you do that.

    I've demo'ed the 830R/T and it was water resistance, which is great, but the sensitivity and response time of the display were poorly lacking on the unit I was using.

    What it comes down to is the Operator, what ever unit you are comfortable with is the best one for you. Some just have to pack more batteries then others.

    mke

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Regards the water issue with the 810 receiver, I found a rather high tech and expensive solution. In the grocery store buy a large, clear plastic storage bag, like for clothes. Just drape it over the receiver and the rain problem is gone. Glad Bags will have to do until Trojan comes out with one that will cover the 810 receiver.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    Operator error.

    I live in the perpetually damp climate of the pacific northwest. I have had my 810 only go down on me 4 times in 11+ years. 2 of them were due to water and it was back up and running the next day. The other two was stupidity.... I stepped on the shaft and broke it and the second one was dropping the reciver while I was wrestling the batteries out and one of the wires inside broke.... fixed it the next day.

    I know the 810 has design flaws. It shouldn't bee so sensitive to water, but there is things you can do to help with that. You can not beat the ease of use and the ability to induce. The Box design is perfect for "side box" induction and the other transmitters won't let you do that.

    I've demo'ed the 830R/T and it was water resistance, which is great, but the sensitivity and response time of the display were poorly lacking on the unit I was using.

    What it comes down to is the Operator, what ever unit you are comfortable with is the best one for you. Some just have to pack more batteries then others.

    mke

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Regards the water issue with the 810 receiver, I found a rather high tech and expensive solution. In the grocery store buy a large, clear plastic storage bag, like for clothes. Just drape it over the receiver and the rain problem is gone. Glad Bags will have to do until Trojan comes out with one that will cover the 810 receiver.
    That's pretty sad that the Metrotech 810 has been around for so long and still has issues like that. We are out in all elements of weather with our equipment and if you can't lay it down in the snow, then that's pretty bad. I would not recommend anyone to go out and buy one. You guy's have for sure turned me away from them.

    I'm happy with my 8000, although the plastic prong that holds the batteries in broke and now I use tape to hold the batteries inside the receiver. I still use the 400 trans because it's lighter, uses less batteries and they last longer, and it's great for induction.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaCowboy View Post
    hello,

    I worked as a Locator for nearly a year in Alberta (mainly in 2008-09), but have been employed as a Land Surveyor for the last couple of years.

    While I was working for the line locating company, we usually used the Fuji 960, which I personally liked. While working as a surveyor, we have used three locators. The Fuji 960, the Metrotech 810, the DitchWitch (unsure what type), and the 3M locator. Of all the locators I have used, I find the 3M to be not that great at locating inductively. I'm not sure if it is me, or the settings I use, but I find it really frustrating locating u/g utilities on sweeps.

    I just found out that our company is going to rent or buy some "Fisher" locators (not sure which brand). My question is: has anyone used Fisher Locators, and what locator would you recommend if I was in the market to personally buy my own, and rent it out to companies? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
    Why are you locating utilities as a land surveyor? Are there not any contract locating companies in that area? Or, are you concerned about private utilities? Mke is right, the Fishers Split box is pretty good for induction and is probably the cheapest route. If your company goes with the split box, you will need to go to radio shack and get an alligator clip for the black lead because it has a 4x4 inch piece of metal soldered onto the black lead (ground). Cut that off and solder an alligator clip to it so you can get a real ground.

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    Default Re: Reliable Locating Machines: What is the best one to buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by superman View Post
    That's pretty sad that the Metrotech 810 has been around for so long and still has issues like that. We are out in all elements of weather with our equipment and if you can't lay it down in the snow, then that's pretty bad. I would not recommend anyone to go out and buy one. You guy's have for sure turned me away from them.

    I'm happy with my 8000, although the plastic prong that holds the batteries in broke and now I use tape to hold the batteries inside the receiver. I still use the 400 trans because it's lighter, uses less batteries and they last longer, and it's great for induction.
    As pointed out the water problems with the 810 receiver are easily and cheaply overcome. MetroTech stopped improvement so it would not compete with the newer machines they were developing. Still it is such a good design it is still in demand today.

    The 810 is more of a locators machine than the newer ones that suit the ideas of engineers of what a locator needs.

    Lets look what it has that the new machines miss out on.

    In the new machines the speaker is a tiny thing that may shoot out decibels but not volume or body of sound, the sound on the new ones is 'thin'. The larger speaker on the 810puts out subtle differences that once you get used to the machine you readily recognize. You hear the intensity of the sound better and the slight frequency shifts. Along with this the larger speaker cause the receiver to vibrate more in your hand and you get a tactile feel from the machine. There is a digital readout and again it's response tells a lot. Also is the actual moving vain meter showing if you are left or right of the utility rather than just lcd arrows. This meter also responds at different speeds if the signal is shallow or deep. Then there is the digital strength readout that has a depth indication as well.

    So you have audible, tactile and visual feedback that the brain processes into one result. It is in the hands of an experienced locator a great machine.
    Mke likes this.

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