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Boaters are going to love these

Melissa Topey • Jun 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM



I can now put driller on my resume.

Put-in-Bay has a multi-million dollar project to add four floating docks in the waters around the village.

The crews lead by Shaun Bickley, owner of Shepherds Shoreline Construction, and Rob Hamilton, lead driller for Frontz Drilling,  were working Thursday on installing new A and C docks. They were in the process of drilling 19 holes, with each hole taking about a day.

I worked with them operating a large TH 60 air rotary drill rig, a machine that would crash through the water, slice through a layer of sediment and hammer down seven feet into strong bedrock.

It is a large drill. I climbed up on it to the controllers station to learn about throttle and rotation.

If the motor reaches 3,500 rpm, that's bad news, Hamilton said. That indicates the motor is working too hard.

My hand on the throttle, another hand on the rotation lever, which controls the speed at which the drill bit turns,  and my foot on another foot throttle I took my place to operate the drill.

I learned how to move the bit up and down.

I was drilling a surface casing into the ground.

I was feeling very much like a hot shot.

I kept the throttle to about 2,500 rpm.

I worked the controls for all it was worth.

I advanced the surface casing into bedrock.

The casing keeps everything in place, otherwise stone would wash back into the hole.

Hamilton can tell by the feel of the rig when he hits the bedrock, a skill he acquired over the 19 years he's been on the job. He had to tell me when to stop, advance and pull back.

Cement mixed with Lake Erie water will be mixed right there on the docks and poured into the casing.

“What comes from the lake goes back into the lake,” Hamilton said.

The dock is built on the water, section by section.

There will be no movement when the floating docks are done.

The project, estimated to cost $5.6 million, will replace about 900 feet of old and build about 600 feet of new boat docks. Put-in-Bay received a $2.24 million grant in 2007 to help offset the cost of the project.

And I had a hand in building them.

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