The contract called for 350 tons of asphalt, including a 1½-inch compacted binder course, 1,500 linear feet of asphalt berm, and a compacted 1-inch surface course that required about 240 tons of a dense mix.
"Proper compaction is at the core of every successful asphalt paving project," Colby says. "But rollers are not the total answer to a good job. Nor is the fact of the paver's maximum width paving capability."
Colby says that even though the company's pavers utilize an 8-foot screed that extends to 16 feet when necessary, the Colby crew often prefers not utilizing the full width.
"We have found we can put down a more uniform mat if you don't try to utilize its maximum capability," Colby says. "But don't misunderstand me. When you need that 16 feet it's very nice to know that you have that capability. But our crews do just as well by pulling 10- to 12-foot-wide passes and maintaining a full head of material at the proper angle of attack at the screed. This is no big problem. You layout the project ahead of time, use a paint stick to mark it on the ground and, perhaps most important of all, go over the plan with the operator in advance. In the long run we come out with the same time and productivity figures."
Rules of engagement
Warren Colby has learned several things from working with the "big boys" over the years and follows "Rules of Engagement" he developed:
- It is most important that you do not deceive yourself. Understand thoroughly the total cost of doing a project. Include all the incidentals. Don't mislead yourself into thinking that you can get by with fewer people and/or machines than you know it will require.
- Understand fully what each person and machine can do. Then realistically schedule your crews for most of the situations that are usually encountered … from weather to job priorities.
- Accept that most customers want quality workmanship, done at a fair price, that will meet realistic expectations of longevity. In other words, no short cuts. Don't cut your bid just to get a job to "keep your people busy." You will always lose money.
- Purchase the best machine you can afford. Good equipment costs good money. Reputation is the best selling point you have going for you. Protect it!
- Customers rightfully expect their project to be done in a professional manner, done when the contractor says he will do it, and done the way he says he will do it; no excuses for lack of people, machines, or materials. The only exception to this rule is weather and then the clients want it done as soon thereafter as good weather returns.
Dan and Gini McKain are freelance writers/photographers specializing in the construction industry.