Singleton Equipment

Can you hunt squirrels with an elephant gun?

ValVe BossBy John Singleton, Singleton Equipment, LLC

Whoever coined the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind” must have been thinking about water distribution systems. Most of us take our water provider for granted – we turn on the tap, water comes out. No big deal, right? For water professionals, it’s a very big deal. Underneath the very ground we walk on is a vast network of water pipelines. Even in small cities it’s not usual to find water pipelines large enough for a man to crawl through. In large cities, those pipelines are literally big enough for a car to drive through. Water distribution systems must have provisions to isolate a particular section of pipeline for maintenance purposes. That’s where valves come in. After a valve has been in service for a few years, mineral deposits and rust (technically called tuberculation) can bond to the internal parts of the valve, causing operational problems. The easiest way to make sure these critical valves will operate is to exercise them.

Exercise?… Yes! Valves need exercise just like people. Sadly, we have a limited desire to exercise our bodies, and even less desire to exercise water distribution valves. Why? It’s hard work and takes precious time.

Generally speaking, valve exercising equipment has been an expensive and cumbersome endeavor. Several companies offer truck or trailer mounted valve exercising equipment capable of generating huge amounts of torque. Those with valves big enough for a car to drive through may need machines like that, but what about the vast majority of small water departments around the globe? Our research suggests the average small city water system generally has valves from 4” to 16”. In addition, they usually don’t have a huge equipment budget that can handle a valve exerciser which could easily cost more than $30,000. If, and when, they exercise their valves, it’s usually done by an unlucky guy with a T-handle valve wrench. There’s another very important factor to mention as well. Even if your water crew never exercises a valve, they will absolutely have to close valves, sometimes large valves, to do maintenance downstream. I remember going out to do a demonstration in a medium sized city that had a 36” valve and two 30” valves that had to be shut down one morning for maintenance. Their crew had manually closed the 36” valve the day before, but it took 10 guys an hour, taking turns, to close the valve. I closed the same valve, working alone with a Valve Boss Model 70, in 11 minutes. Needless to say, the prospective customer is now a Valve Boss owner. The agility of a handheld, totally portable valve operator/exerciser can make an overburdened water tech’s job much easier.

Can you hunt squirrels with an elephant gun? Sure, but why not use a .22? It’s all about using the right tool for the job. Even water departments that have large truck or trailer mounted valve operators might quickly find out they can save precious time by using a portable, handheld machine to exercise and operate their valves before dragging out the elephant gun.

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