Pullers, tensioners, puller-tensioners, and stringing blocks have become indispensable for overhead and underground transmission systems. Using this group of equipment allows for the installation of multiple phases simultaneously, which means utility companies and contractors can do their jobs more efficiently.
We spoke to Jeff Henes from Custom Truck One Source, the nation’s first, true single-source provider of specialized equipment, to get a more detailed picture of the market for units within this category.
Who are the leading manufacturers of pullers, tensioners, and stringing units?
What types of companies use this equipment?
Powerline contractors, investor-owned utility companies, and co-ops, telecom operators and contractors.
What type of overhead stringing equipment does Custom Truck One Source offer?
CTOS has a large fleet of late model powerline pulling, tensioning and reel handling equipment for both Transmission or Distribution applications. Our fleet has many different makes and models from different leading manufacturers.
This fleet is continually being upgraded and added to as dictated by our customers and new processes in the industry. CTOS is continually monitoring the industry world wide to bring our customers the safest and most efficient equipment available.
Why do you need underground pullers?
If you go down south, to states like Florida and Texas, you will notice there aren’t many overhead powerlines or utility poles. This is because of the seasonal threat of storms and hurricanes. To protect these installations from the weather, the lines are underground.
This is also true in congested towns and cities with no room to put up new powerlines overhead.
In the street manholes in such cities, there are large banks of ducts – and tubes that go from one manhole to the other. You have to be able to pull new powerline conductors from one manhole to another in order to install them under the city streets. So, our underground pullers and a lot of our Posi+ and Hogg Davis power reel trailers are used in conjunction to install underground power.
The Zeck AI/Steel Separator (ZAS) is a small machine that works behind a puller (Zeck or Condux) used to separate the aluminum from the steel cable core. The Zas “Harvester” chops up the separated aluminum into prime size pieces and also uses a winder with split reel to wind up the steel core for disposal. This offers the power company a quick and easy way to get prime aluminum price for their scrap conductor wire with minimal time and labor invested.
A bullwheel is a round wheel that is 36”, 52”, or 60” in diameter. It has rubber segments on it with grooves.
Multi Groove Bullwheel Tensioners are designed to provide smooth positive control of conductor or wire when released under tension. The frame is a heavy duty weldment of thick walled structural steel, which maintains the critical alignment and tilt (canted) of the bullwheels and disc brakes. Hydraulic controls and calipers with large disc brakes provide a safe efficient tension operation. Bullwheels are round lightweight steel or aluminum that are equipped with grooved, segmented or molded lined (rubber composite or polyurethane/nylon compound) for long life and high coefficient of friction without damage to the conductor. Grooves guide the material around the wheels during the tensioning operation. Bullwheel tensioners can have form one single set of bullwheels up to four sets. Smaller distribution tensioners are equipped with integral reel carriers. Larger Transmission tensioners require the use of reel stands to hold the conductor reels. Bullwheel sizes are from 30” to 96” in diameter.
Bullwheel Tensioners For Sale and Rent at Custom Truck:
Bullwheel puller tensioners use a similar bullwheel design but an powered with a diesel motor and are hydraulic driven. These hydraulic control systems are used for pulling or tensioning. This hydraulic system offers a precision application of force to the conductor or pulling rope. These machines have bullwheels designed for Synthetic rope, Wire rope or conductor.
Some of these newer designs from Condux-Tesmec & ZECK actually incorporate High and Low power settings, dynometers, pre-settable pulling force systems, negative bullwheel brakes, and data logging ability that records the pull or tension process.
These features dramatically improve the operators ability to know how much the machine is actually pulling or tensioning. Many customers prefer these machines because of the smoothness of the conductor or OPGW being installed. (no wire galloping)
These advanced hydraulic features also allow the operator to infinitely control the line speed, pull or tension for safe positive control. The maximum force that will be exerted on to the conductor or wire rope can be set prior to the operation so that the machine will slow or stop the pulling operation automatically when the pre-set force is achieved. If a restriction to the line travel occurs the machine will simply stall the operation on it’s own to avoid damage to the conductor, tower and hardware, yet keeping the conductor suspended. This allows the operator time to make the necessary adjustments.
These features offer users the ability to improve efficiency, safety and limiting down time. CTOS Puller-Tensioners are available for small distribution size jobs up to multi bundle transmission applications.
These new style puller tensioners offer customers one machine that can preform several different job applications (puller, tensioner, re-conductor machine for ACSR, ACSS, ACCR Carbon, and OPGW conductors).
Bullwheel Puller Tensioners For Sale and Rent at Custom Truck:
Single Drum Pullers have been a stable in the powerline industry since the beginning may years ago. The concept is still much the same but now, the addition of advanced efficient power units, hydraulics, planetary drives, and braking systems both hydraulic and manual caliper/disc. Some of these machines have removable drums for multiple applications. (synthetic rope reel, wire rope reel, split re-conductor reels and even wooden reels)
These machines have a single steel reinforced single pulling drum. These drums can be driven by direct mounted hydraulic planetary motors or chain. Most all are equipped with a free wheel option and overspin brake to allow the drum to be disconnected from the hydraulic system for faster rope pay out. Machines are equipped with negative self-acting and manual hydraulic brakes. Advanced hydraulics and controls allow these machines to have pre-settable hydraulic pulling or tensioning forces as well. If pulling, and the machine reaches the pre set pulling force the machine will stall the pull process and hold the wire suspended until the operator makes the necessary adjustments needed to continue pulling or stop because of an obstruction on the pulling line. When tensioning, the pre-set pressure in the hydraulics will allow the line to be pulled from the reel at a steady controllable tension with automatic pull back to keep the conductor suspended. All machines have a protected operators station, Hydraulic evenwind to lay the pulling rope nicely back onto the drum. Some of these newer machines also offer an advanced operator operations screen displaying the line pull, speed and distance and data log system. Single drum pullers are available from 3,000 lbs. to 60,000 lbs. Rope length is determined by the size of the pulling drum and diameter of the rope and rating for the pulling force of the machine. 4:1 safety factor of the pulling rope is standard. 4,000 lb. puller requires a rope breaking strength of 16,000 lbs.
Single Drum Puller Tensioners For Sale and Rent at Custom Truck:
Four Drum Pullers have the same features as single drum pullers but they have four separate pulling drums and mounting configurations depending on the rope capacity and pulling power.
These machines have the same advanced pulling, tensioning, electronic diesel engines, efficient hydraulics, braking and planetary drive systems as well. The fundamental design and use has not changed much over the years.
CTOS has worked with Hogg & Davis to build an exclusive ODP40-4HO machine that pulls 53% faster than any other H&D units on the market. This offers our customers a considerable savings when pulling in four ropes in one set up. Especially when doing 22,000’ long pulls.
Sherman & Reilly Has made the most advancements to this product line. The smaller S&R PLW200X distribution machine has a turret base that rotates hydraulically on a bearing so the user can turn the drums in the direction of the pull in tight places without moving the trailer.
The larger PLW400X machine has a climate controlled cab, fully electronic operators station with real time pulling data and recording, mater cylinder reel braking system with electric over hydrualic activation allows for finite control – manual hand brake control in cab for quick brake operation, especially for helicopter pulling.
Pulling ropes for these very from machine and application. CTOS offers all these machines with rope lengths up to 25,000’ x 7/16” CT12 rope per drum.
Four Drum Puller Tensioners For Sale and Rent at Custom Truck:
A winder skid is typically used with Condux Tesmec or Zeck equipment. It’s used with one of the puller tensioners. Puller tensioners make the power, so they are either pulling or tensioning, and winder skids are used behind them, with wire rope or split reel, to wind up the material that’s being pulled.
Winder Skids For Sale and Rent at Custom Truck:
CTOS installs high quality synthetic and wire rope on our machines. We are constantly working with rope manufactures to provide the best pulling rope available on our machines.
PE-12 has been re-engineered, boosting its strengths significantly. Using the same high-tenacity fiber we use in our value-packed Portland Braid, this polyester single braid offers a single-end-per-carrier construction, which keeps the rope from flattening out in service and self-centers in sheaves beautifully.
PE-12 comes with the same tough grades of Maxi jacket urethane we use on our more expensive products. PE-12 is easy to splice, and field repairs are easily accomplished. It is available in unlimited lengths and brilliant colors for easy identification. PE-12 is torque free and is undamaged when rigging with swivels.
CT-12 is designed exclusively for Custom Truck One Source and is Yale’s newest alternative to wire rope for overhead stringing applications. It is a 12 strand single braid rope made from UHMWPE and featuring Yale Cordage’s Maxi jacket HP urethane coating,CT12 features added strand twist and tighter braid angle. This design increases abrasion properties and holding its round shape in use. Additional fiber content adds weight to help with “Floating” issues in the blocks. CT-12’s design also reduces new ropes tendency to snag and makes it easier to splice or add new eyes in the field. 7/16” diameter that is used on the standard 4,000 lb. single drum and four drum machines allows 22,000’ to be put on the drum. The 7/16” offers a greater than 5:1 (22,000 lb. break) design safety factor for a 4,000 lb. puller.
Anti-Twist Braided Wire Rope
This braided wire rope has been made and used in Europe for many years. It offers many advantages over the old Three Strand Swadged Steel Pulling Line “hard Line” used for years in the powerline industry.
Anti-Twist Braided Steel Wire Ropes are torsion free because they are made of equal numbers of left and right winding strands. This results in complete stability to rotation and high flexibility. These factors make Anti-Twist the perfect choice for conductor pulling applications. The steel wire ropes are made of high quality galvanized steel strands. The properties of this rope and strands combine long endurance with high tensile strength. The strands are individually lubricated during the manufacturing process. CTOS customers that use this Anti-Twist for the first time have all commented on the ease of use “like synthetic rope” compared to the old wire rope. Eyes can be woven into this wire rope unlike the old type of rope that requires weaving and press sleeves.
Traditionally this Anti-Twist has only been used with new style bullwheel pullers. CTOS is the first to have this Anti-Twist on our single drum pullers and Bullwheel pullers.
Custom Truck has partnered with ZECK from Germany to offer (3) new lines of Bullwheel Puller Tensioners for both distribution or transmission applications. For years our customers have been asking for this type of puller-tensioner that has more speed and power. These new ZECK machines pull & tension faster and stronger at speed than any other units available today. This speed provides our customers the ability to perform pulling or tensioning task faster. The power provides customers the ability to use one piece of equipment for many other applications large or small.
Custom Truck is also excited about the new ZECK – ZAS Aluminum Harvester. This compact 5,200 lb. machine works behind a puller when removing old conductor. This ZAS machine separates the aluminum conductor from the steel core while chopping the aluminum conductor into small pieces at the same time. These chopped small aluminum pieces are conveyed into bags for a prime aluminum final scrap product. While chopping, the steel cable core is then wound up for disposal in bundle form. This ZAS machine can work at speeds up to 4 mph. Pulling power is determined by the puller working in front of the ZAS machine.
The competitors 38,000 lb. machine chops the steel and the aluminum together at a max speed of 1.86 mph. Pulling power at max speed is only 3,822 lbs. This slow process produces mixed bag of chopped aluminum and steel as a final product. This steel contaminated final product still needs separated by scrap buyers. The extra separation of the steel from the aluminum results in a significate reduction to the value of the final aluminum product.
Available in September 2020 is the new Hogg & Davis ODP40-HO (High-Output) machines built by Hogg & Davis for Custom Truck. Both the ODP40-HO 4,000 lb. Single Drum & ODP40-4HO 4,000 lb. Four Drum machines pull 50% faster than any other
Similar Hogg & Davis products on the market today with no loss of pulling power. This larger diesel motor and upgraded hydraulic system produces a faster stronger pulling machine at top speed. This 50% increase in speed offers our customers a considerable cost savings when pulling in conductors or hardline. Both of these machines are available with 15,500’ x 5/8” Yale PE12 or 22,000’ x 7/16” of Yale CT12 rope per drum.
The first reason is the ready availability of our equipment. Rental businesses cannot wait for a long lead time as they have customers already waiting to be serviced.
Secondly, we offer an exceptionally good maintenance program for our rental equipment. When a customer takes a unit from us, they know it has been checked out, thoroughly inspected, and that the paperwork to go with it is all in order.
Thirdly, we take the time to talk to our customers and match equipment to the scale and nature of their application. We make sure they have the best equipment in the market for their needs.