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Pile Buck’s interview with APE (American Piledriving Equipment), the world’s leading manufacturer of deep foundation construction equipment

PB: APE has quite an impressive line-up of deep foundation equipment–the diesel hammers, in particular. Diesel hammers obviously operate under extreme pressure and are driven, literally, to their max. What makes a good diesel hammer that will last?


  1. Good maintenance practices!
  2. Keeping a close eye on the hammer while in operation for loose bolts.
  3. Low pressure fuel injection w/ Impact Atomization.
  4. Single acting, self-contained operation.
  5. Using the hammer within the operating parameters.
  6. Did I mention “Good Maintenance Practices”?

PB: When did APE start manufacturing diesel hammers? How have diesel hammers evolved over the years?

APE: APE started manufacturing diesel hammers in 1997 and have advanced them from the older 32 series hammer into what they are today in the 52 series hammers with all the “Piledriver Desires” added like the oversize fuel and oil tank that enable you to run an entire shift without having to stop and fill up, or the advanced Octagon shaped Lower cylinder with “Vortex Cooling” characteristics that keeps the hammer running cooler longer. APE has integrated the “Pusher Style” Hydraulic tripping system that doesn’t require any addition welding and one of the awesome features that came from “Pilebuck Minds” is the “APE Bolt on Flare Kit” that enables the quick adaptation from smaller leads to larger leads simply by bolting the flare kit to the existing lead guides on the hammer.

Bottom Line: APE doesn’t stop making advanced changes to our diesel hammers just because we think we have the best Single Acting Diesel Hammers on the market. APE continues to listen to Piledriving Contractors when they have an idea, we infuse those ideas into our equipment for the piledriving industry. From the contractor to the foundation equipment manufacturer, APE is dedicated to bringing the very best to the end user, the Piledriving Contractor!

The D220 diesel hammer with 22 metric ton ram

PB: What are the benefits of using a diesel hammer on a project? Correct me if I’m wrong, but diesel hammers do not require additional equipment making them more cost-effective?

APE: You are correct. The Diesel hammer is a self-contained unit that requires no addition outside power for it to operate.

In addition to being fully self-contained, the APE single acting diesel hammer fires from “Impact Atomization”, which means less chance of pre-ignition prior to impact and a higher “Peak Force” of energy delivered when the piston strikes the impact block.

One of the greatest advantages to using a diesel hammer over a hydraulic impact hammer is the power to weight ratio. When using a diesel hammer a contractor can get the energy needed to drive the pile with a diesel hammer that is a fraction of the weight of a hydraulic impact hammer.

PB: What would you say is APE’s most popular diesel hammer model and application?

APE: APE has a wide range of single acting diesel hammers ranging from a piston weight of 1,760 lbs in the little D8-42 up to the massive D320 with a piston weight of 70,550 lbs.

With that said APE has a couple of unique hammers that would qualify for the most popular.

The APE D50-52 would be a close runner due to its slightly larger piston weight than the D46-42, yet the D50 piston fits in the same housing as the D46 but gives just a tad bit more energy per stroke, and that is desirable on those tough driving jobs.

But the bread winner would be the APE D70-52 that fits the same body as the D62-42. The D70 has a piston weight of 7 metric tons (15,435 lbs) compared to the D62 with a 6.2 metric ton piston (13,671 lbs) which gives the D70 the clear advantage with a whopping 9,500 ft-lbs of energy per stroke over the D62.

APE Model 200 Vibratory Driver Extractor

PB: I’m assuming APE’s vibratory hammers are just as popular? Tell us about the different models that APE offers.

APE: Thanks for asking! APE offers a full line-up of vibratory hammers ranging from the little guy called the APE model 6 vibro, otherwise known as “The Chimp”, all the ay up to the massive 600 vibro known as “The Super Kong”.

APE has mated two vibros together calling them a “Tandem” set-up which we do quite often when one vibro just is not enough. We have also mated four vibros together calling it the “Quad Kong” set up. We did this because sometimes just two Kong’s isn’t enough. APE then jumped up to the “OctaKong”, meaning eight Super Kong Vibros, assembled together to drive some 72’ diameter casings to build a couple Islands in China for the Hong Kong Macao Bridge, which by the way is 34.5 miles long going from Macau to Hong Kong. We’ll talk a little more about the Doecakong project in a bit.

PB: What are the advantages of using a vibro hammer on a project? When is it best suited?

APE: Vibros are used for many different projects driving many different types of piles from Sheet piles to H-Beam to Pipe and even Concrete sheet piles. APE Has attachments for just about any pile you may have.

When extracting piles, you will always need to use a vibro. It is the vibro’s job to “Wake Up” the piles to get them in motion and then the crane takes over with line pull. As long as the vibro has the pile in motion you can pull the pile.

Using a vibro to drive a pile is the fastest most efficient way to drive piles. If you drive the pile out of plumb, you can just pull it out, correct to get the piles plumb and start driving again. You cannot do that with an impact hammer. However, there are limitations to driving piles with a vibro with some of the factors being certain soil conditions, weight of the piles or if the pile needs to be tested for capacity. There is not formula that will tell you the capacity of the pile when driven with a vibro. You must use other means of testing the pile capacity such as hitting it with an impact hammer after it has been driven with a vibro.

2017. The world’s largest pile driven by the APE DodecaKong. A record 30 meter (98 foot) diameter steel pipe pile was driven by First Harbor Engineering Company of China and APE near Hainan Island for the new international airport for Sanya, China. The massive pile is 30 meters in diameter, 34 meters long and weighs over 600 metric tons. The previous record pile, 22 meters in diameter, was driven by APE’s Octakong on the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Seaway Project in 2011.

PB: In our Mar/Apr 2017 issue, we covered APE’s Dodecakong project in China. Is this still APE’s most impressive feat yet? For those who are unaware of the project, can you give us some highlights?

APE: Indeed! APE accomplished the incredible when asked to build not one, but three Dodecakongs in as little as three months. Each Dodecakong consisted of 12ea of the Mighty APE 600 “Super Kong” vibros, all interlinked together with gearboxes, drive shafts and electrical components. With each vibro there was a 1200 HP power unit making this vibro set up operational with a whopping 14,400 HP. During the build of the Dodecakongs APE maxed out our suppliers! It was an incredible feat how all our venders ramped up their production to help make this happen for APE. Our assembly crews worked around the clock in three different shifts to meet the deadline, and we did!

Each of the twelve APE “Super Kong” vibros has an eccentric moment of 17,200 in-lbs with a centrifugal force of 445 Tons. With the dozen Super Kong’s combined, we have a super powerful 5,340 tons of drive force coupled with 206,400 in-lbs of eccentric moment. These Dodecakong assemblies are driving 98’ diameter caissons. Piles of this size aren’t driven every day, but when they are, they are driven with APE Dodecaking!

The next APE Dirty Dozen being assembled along with a half dozen of the massive piles ready to be driven!

PB: What other APE products should our readers know about? Any driving accessories?

APE: APE is excited for the future of piledriving with our NEW 300 series line up of vibros starting with the 300-2 and moving up into the 300-4 and on to the 300-6 vibro. These Vibros are state of the art and were introduced to the foundation piledriving industry in late 2019. They are hitting the ground running hard with more drive force per pound than any other vibro available to the foundation industry. The APE 300 series Vibros are sporting advanced cooling aluminum bearing covers giving the contractor longer run times with 20% more cooler running operations.

All the NEW features and benefits of the 300 series vibro line up are geared towards the benefit of the foundation contractor who can always use the extra “Go Get It” when needed.

The state-of-the-art Tier 4 APE Power Units push the 300 series vibros to an unparalleled performance with the use of High-Pressure Piston Pumps. With the 300 series vibros and the award winning T4 APE Power Units you can rest assured that at the end of the day you have the latest foundation equipment technology working for you to get your piles into the ground.

Also look for APE’s NEW line up of the Dash 5 Hydraulic Impact Hammers coming to you in June 2021 sporting all the great benefits that you have been enjoying in the Dash 4 and Dash 3 series HIH hammers! And like our low headroom models, these New 5’ stroking hammers will still be the shortest hammer on the market. With ram weights from 30,000 lbs in the New 15-5 HIH up the 30-5 HIH with a ram wight of 60,000 lbs The APE HIH gives you more bang for the buck. These new APE Hydraulic Impact Hammers use the time proven hydraulics system that has made APE Hydraulic Impact Hammers desirable for their ease of use and lasting durability.

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