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Thread: Newbie here with some equipment questions

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    Junior Member SLNGDawgFan's Avatar
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    Default Newbie here with some equipment questions

    Hello everyone, this is my first post and I am looking to find some help on selecting a new locator for our facility. I am the main person that marks our underground power, fiber and firewater lines on our island when any new expansion projects need to do any digging or running of underground wiring.

    We currently have a 25 year old metrotech and a radiodetection unit that is around 13 years old.

    I have been told that we can update our equipment and I am looking to get some training too, we have so much stuff buried underground (and there are not good prints that show it) that sometimes I don't know what's what.

    We are looking at a vivax v-lok locator and a RD 8000 locator. They both seem great and are definitely steps up from what we have, but other than that I don't know which is more proven or what.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

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    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    Quote Originally Posted by SLNGDawgFan View Post
    Hello everyone, this is my first post and I am looking to find some help on selecting a new locator for our facility. I am the main person that marks our underground power, fiber and firewater lines on our island when any new expansion projects need to do any digging or running of underground wiring.

    We currently have a 25 year old metrotech and a radiodetection unit that is around 13 years old.

    I have been told that we can update our equipment and I am looking to get some training too, we have so much stuff buried underground (and there are not good prints that show it) that sometimes I don't know what's what.

    We are looking at a vivax v-lok locator and a RD 8000 locator. They both seem great and are definitely steps up from what we have, but other than that I don't know which is more proven or what.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance
    While I'm waiting on a contractor I might as well give some input.

    All I can say is demo the units you are interested in. There is no one fits all machine. Find out what will work for you.

    I locate gas, h2o, electric, fiber, sewer, and on our own facility anything you might be able to imagine. We use metrotech 810's 850's and Vivax VlocPro's currently.

    As for training... well, there's a few outfits out there that train the basics pretty well. Remember though, that there is always more ways to locate than they will show you. Experience is the best trainer, you will learn what works for you or doesn't.

    Good luck.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    I have to agree with headcipher, so far no one machine does everything in every circumstance. Sure these things have the features to do everything, just in come circumstances they do not find the utility where another manufacturer's equipment will.

    The old Metrotech 810 is almost an industry standard and in The hands of an experienced locator very good. It is also a good machine to start a noobie out on as there are no power or frequency settings. It is a simple operation so less to get confused with. It also requires a connection between the locator and 810 where the locator must absorb the vibrations in the handle from the speaker, the level and intensity of the tone from the speaker, the way the needle swings and the digital read out responds and put it all together. Each 810 has it's own "feeling" and a locator reads it all at a gut level. It is good to have some of these old work horses around.

    I had a foreman who called the 810s "idiot sticks" and preferred more "modern" equipment. On a day he was busy I took a trainee out he had been training and did a remark / update ticket on a job they had done. I showed the trainee two live TV feeders they had missed. The 810 cannot do everything in every circumstance3 but I sear by it as a valuable tool. Keep some of these around.

    I have occasionally used an RD 400 and found it to be a very good machine though and 810 is much better when inducing is needed. But I was very impressed with the RD 4000. The locators who had their RD 400 replaced with an RD 4000 were tickled pink, they swear by these newer machines.

    I did use a noobie's RD 4000 on a line I and a power company rep had declared unlocatable. The primary line was around 20 feet or more deep and the RD 4000 in 60 cycle mode found it. I was very impressed with the RD 4000

    I have not tried a RD 8000 so I cannot comment.

    I will say never keep an inventory of just one type of locating equipment. You can get a majority of one type but never be exclusive. For one as
    I mentioned one machine will pick up what another will not.

    Another consideration for varity is your firm will be hiring not just noobies but experienced locators from other firms. With an experienced locator it is expected that they be more productive than a newbie. If saddled with learning a completely new locating machine their production will suffer and maybe their damage rate as well. So give a hire from another firm the equipment he / she is used to using as a primary locating tool. Also give that locator one those machines that is the backbone of your company, the one that is the majority. They start off getting the productivity you need with their familiar equipment. When work slows enough they mark a job with the old equipment and then break out their new one and redo the site. This way the learn to sue the new one and slowly work themselves off the old one. They learn and keep production up at the same time.

    Think about it, you have to have spare equipment sitting on a shelf. It can be in a locaotr's truck just as easily as on a shelf where it is just sitting doing nothing. Not only can the locator be learning the new machine it can still be given to another lcoator when a spare is needed to replace a failed one.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    I always have looked at equipment as different levels of Filters. Each one has specific uses and can help piece together the utility puzzle. For example, My main workhorse is the Metrotech 810. She can locate a large majority of utilities. I also use a 60 cycle power pup, and a AquaTronics Split Box. Each of them looks for and scans differently. Used together they (in theory) should give me a good picture of whats under ground.

    It sounds like you are at a facility like the one I work at, we have most utilities in our ownership. Everything from Sewer to Liquid Petroleom. Your prints, as is ours, are for reference only, and that you shouldn't take them as gospel.

    I would start looking at the equipment you already have, and which one your more comfortable with, and then finish up with what would you need to help your job in locating un-mapped utilities.

    25yr old metrotech? how is she running? do you send her to the manufacurer for calibration? More importantly........ is she "tweaked"?

    have you thought about the A-6 tracer from Aquatronics ( I know there is other split boxs out there, but this one i'm most familiar with)?

    http://www.aquatronics.com/products.html

    with the on- handle set up she can ping on elusive water lines. she also doubles as a metal detector, and can find burried MH's, Valve cans and etc...

    Sorry to bounce around with questions, but the ADD is kicking in.

    I would strongly suggest not to put the 810 out to pasture yet, and let me know if she just doesn't preform the way you want, I'm pretty sure we have a couple of 810 jockeys that might be able to help with tips and tricks.

    mke

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    Junior Member SLNGDawgFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    yep, we are a liquid Natural Gas plant and we own almost 95% of the underground utilities that we have. I have been "locating" and I use that term loosely cause i have very little experience for about 2 years. We don't locate everyday but when there is a new project or expansion we have to show the workers whats in the ground so they know where to run their lines. We mark anywhere from 13.8 kv feeders, 4160 v feeders, 480, 120, fiber, firewater lines, some gas pipeline.

    I have had almost no training, the "training" I got was from a 60 year old tech who never had formal training himself. I sometimes worry about marking live conduits or feeders cause I am worried who the finger will point to if something major happens, since I have no formal training.

    One of our pipleline partners just got the Vlok because they mark pipeline all day long.

    I have been told I can update our equipment and if I find some good training I can send myself and a few other techs. We just don't have alot of experience and need some formal training on the basics.

    Thanks for all the feedback....I am loving this forum

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    well, i'm kinda getting the feeling your an engineer who was given locating responsibilities?

    the bad part, is you are going to get tons of information, but that much info might cloud the picture.

    I have been a locator for going on 10yrs. for the past 8 I have been a private locator which has included an LNG plant as well as most Liquid petroleom facilities in my area, and all the odds and ends inbetween. If your inside of a facility and there is alot of above ground piping, the split box will probably be a waste for you. its great if you have alot of ground to cover, without metalic interference. The pieces of equipment I'd recomend would be a tweaked 810, it bleeds of on everything, but since you guys own most of everything its not a bad piece of equipment, and you should be able to send your existing one in to get tuned. The hardest part of the 810 is knowing its limitations. It can locate through conjested areas, if you know how to hook up.

    With the Electrical I would recomend the 810 first, but then sweep the area with a 60cycle. I know the RD4k has the capabilities to do multiple frequency skans as well as the power modes. The RD also has the ability to pick up on sonde frequencies as well. which if you have unlocateable storm drains, or sewer lines, this could be of an advantage.

    Is there any particular situation that you have delt with in the field, that your looking for a piece of equipment that will make that situation easier?

    mke

    Sorry for the redundancy, but i'm on vacation and it shows....hehe

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    Welcome aboard.

    I won't give any input cause these guys know 10x's what i know and what I do know is probably wrong.

    My current equipment list is a Detectron split box, a Pipehorn, and a subsite 75. That does it for me.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    keep the metrotech 400 series and save your company some dollars!!! it will do well enough to locate what you have there. not much info yet on the 2 machines you asked about because they are fairly new.. but there are some on this site that can give you info on both....good luck and welcome to the vine!!!!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    by the way i gve my answer based off fiber and power but not firewater lines.....i would have to assume that those lines are mainly steel and if that 's the case then your metrotech is fine.....i personally use the subsite!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Junior Member SLNGDawgFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    I am the "rookie" that was given the locating responsibilities because no one else wanted to do it. I am an Instrumentation & Electrical Tech at my plant so when things need to be marked I am the one to mark them. Most of our firewater line is a PVC type of line that has a tracer wire run with it, but some of the split offs sometimes dont have a tracer wire and we don't have good prints or were able to look at the underground run before it was buried (so whos to say the contractors who did the work ran a ground wire or locate wire).
    We do have alot of above ground piping for our lng and gas stuff, so not knowing anything about the device mentioned earlier it might not work.

    So is the consensus that I should keep my metrotech and trade in the rd (not sure which model) and get either the vlock or the rd8000. That way I have the metrotech 810 to double check my marks? Anyone know of any good training seminars or classes that I could attend? I have spoken with my manager and engineers and I am trying to get them on board with performing some underground gps mapping so we can know what we have underground and then make SURE that we keep the prints updated and any new projects get approved for underground runs before being installed.

    Thanks again for all the feedback peeps...I am lovin the site

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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    I have only used the RD's. Some of our guys have gotten to use demo's of other type of equipment. I would go on these companies web sites and find a local rep. Maybe they will let you demo their units for period of time. Check with the companies selling the equipment they may have classes their reps take to become familiar with their equipment. Try the companies locating the utilities in your area, see if they will let you audit their classes. The RD-8000 receiver is lightweight, weighs about the same as a paint stick. For everyday use and locating I worry about if dropped if the handle with survive falls. I have only got to try it out for a few hours and was to busy that day to play around and try all the features out.

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    Junior Member SLNGDawgFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    Anyone know how i can get my metrotech 810 "tweaked" as someone earlier has posted?

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    hey SLNG,

    I don't know the ins and outs of it, but what I do know, is that a 810 straight from the factory locates like crap, and after we get it back from this place, she locates grand.

    The only draw back is that you'll have more bleed off, but that will only help when your trying to locate everything.

    mke

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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    Consider:

    $1245 Pipehorn 800HL (9 kHz + 480 kHz)
    $ 895 Pipehorn 800H (480 kHz)

    * 3 Year warranty
    * Free operator training sessions provided wherever Pipehorns are used.

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    Junior Member SLNGDawgFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie here with some equipment questions

    so i am thinking about sending out the 810 to get "tweaked". In the meantime, I have narrowed my new purchase down to a radiodetection 8000 and a vivax v-lok locator.

    Anyone have any real field experience with these, positive or negative or are there any other opinions about these???? thanks guys...this site has been a tremendous help, I showed my manager this thread and he was very impressed that I was trying to get the best info possible before we made a decision.

    Thanks again guys
    Patrick Spivey
    Southern LNG, an El Paso Company

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