Winning the War on Wear in the Trenches

J. C. Lee Construction & Supply (founded in Petrolia, Pennsylvania, in 1977, by John Lee Junior and his son, John III) specializes in drainage projects, primarily the installation of cross-pipes and under-drains, for the highway-heavy construction industry. At one time, the crew actually spent 10 hours welding on its Vermeer T-655 trenching machine's (4' long x 12.5" wide) chain for every 40 hours of application. Weekends included.

Then, Joe Pistorius, now the firm's Equipment Manager and trencher operator for more than 11 years, discovered Kennametal KenCast pads and bars.

"The same set of KenCast pads we installed in 2003 is still on the job - even after almost 1,000 hours of some of the most abrasive cutting we've encountered in our history," says Pistorius. "And, best of all, we strongly feel this set can go another
1,000 hours...with just some routine maintenance involved."

Kennametal KenCast is a product/technology that metallurgically bonds cemented tungsten carbide particles, in various sizes, to air-hardened steel. Thus combining the steel's practicality with the carbide's wear resistance and toughness to create superior weld-on (by wire or rod) protection against even the most abusive environments. In fact, KenCast pads far outlast and are more easily attached (to trencher base plates and an endless array of mining and construction equipment) versus solidcarbide tiles, AR-type steels, hardfacing materials, and embedded weld overlays.

"They simply keep me in the trencher seat, not in the garage doing maintenance," says Pistorius.

But Joe didn't stop at KenCast chain protection. After initial application to shield his base plates from the excessive damage incurred by scraping concrete and cutting rock during road work, he realized that chain life was exceeding that of his bolt heads.

"So, I began applying KenCast in a way to deflect material away from our bolts. Now they wear evenly with the plates."

In addition, KenCast pieces keep J.C. Lee's base plates square and the sides of their tooth-holders safeguarded. Time savings, though, are just one part of Joe's story.

"By our estimates, we now save up to $400 per week on downtime. All due to these 272 (8 KenCast pads on each of the chain's 34 plates) wear fighters," says Joe.

J.C. Lee also uses Kennametal T7 (1" shank; 3" gage) conical teeth and C30H heavy-duty pockets on its 12-year-old T-655 chain trencher that normally is active four 10-hour days per week, performing base-drain work on state highways and some unpaved township roads.

"Our T-655 machine recently returned from 60,000' of rough trenching - going right up against the edge of existing concrete - during the installation of pavement-base drainage in central Pennsylvania. The 66 Kennametal teeth held up remarkably well," continues Pistorius.

J.C. Lee owns a smaller Vermeer T-455 machine, with an offsetting head, as well. It employs 186 KenCast pads (and Kennametal C20 slim-profile blocks) for its underdrain tasks.

"We get the same top-quality wear performance on it as on our T-655. These KenCast bars are always up to the severest challenge. On any machine - on any job," remarks Joe.

In the near future, J.C. Lee has a noteworthy trenching project on Route 666 near its home base: 12,500 ft. of pavement-base drain and 2,500 ft. of under-drain work and will welcome the KenCast benefits on this project.