Installing Ground Screws with the Eibenstock EHD 2000
Knowledge Base

Ground Screw Installation Machines: The Do's and the Don'ts

With the growing activity in the ground screw installation market, we have received requests from several customers to repair and replace machines or help with servicing.

At RADIX, we supply a range of turning machines for installing ground screws, and they all have slightly different operational and maintenance requirements. Although these machines are robust, they are subject to some strenuous work, and it is essential to look after and maintain them.

Below is a quick summary of the most common problems we are finding, including some do’s and don’ts to care for your equipment.

The Do’s

  1. Store your machine correctly, preferably in a protective case
  2. If machines are subject to wet weather, dry them off and leave them to air in a dry environment
  3. Complete regular maintenance, including visual checks of cables and brushes - replace if worn or damaged
  4. Regularly give machines a general clean down
  5. Always ensure a machine comes to a full stop before switching between forward and reverse
  6. Always ensure a machine comes to a full stop before switching between speeds, if applicable to the machine

The Don'ts

  1. Leave machines exposed to adverse weather conditions for prolonged periods
  2. Over stress machine by installing incorrect diameter or length of ground screws
  3. Switch between forward and reverse while the machine is running
  4. Switch between speeds while the machine is still running, if applicable to the machine
  5. Continue to use the machine if the power cable is damaged
  6. Continue to use the machine if carbon brushes need to be replaced

Common ground screw machine problems

My installation machine is intermittently working or comes to a complete stop

We find most of the time this is electrical and is either caused by a broken cable or the machine needs its brushes replaced.

The power cable is often strained whilst machines are in operation and being moved about between ground screws. Often the cable breaks where it connects directly to the machine, and we would suggest having the power cable replaced by a qualified engineer, checking that your fault is resolved.

Another common issue is the electrical carbon brushes are worn and need to be replaced. The brushes create the electrical contact between the fixed wiring and the motor that rotates your drive. Brushes are in pairs and can be easily replaced by removing the faulty brushes and replacing them with fresh ones. We recommend these are always replaced in pairs and by a qualified and/or competent person. The wear on carbon brushes will vary depending on the machine, the number of hours it is worked, and how hard it is being worked. Intermittent running, sparking, smoking, or a burning odour from the machine can be a key indicator that brushes are worn and need replacing.

On rare occasions, we have experienced that gearboxes have been stripped. Ground screw turning machines are subject to a huge amount of strain, especially when installing ground screws in tough ground conditions. The gearboxes are simple in design, made up of a central input gear and several outer gears. This reduces the input RPM and produces a lower RPM and greater torque, which is required when installing ground screws.

Turning machines have different torque capacities and vary in their build quality. If a machine of insufficient capacity is being utilised to install ground screws, this can cause the gears to be stripped.

You should also consider that even the best machines on the market will be subject to general wear and tear and can have failed gearboxes if subject to heavy use. Most turning machines on the market in the UK are what we would refer to as fully integrated machines. These are specialist machines that are purposely made for the installation of ground screws and come as a complete power unit and gearbox. Unfortunately, when these fail, it usually means an entirely new machine.

At RADIX, we offer a 1:150 Gearbox Kit, a specially designed gearbox that we pair with an Eibenstock drilling machine. The benefit of this machine is if the electrical drilling machine fails or is broken, it can easily be repaired or replaced, as it is a separate unit. This is much less expensive than a complete machine. Another benefit of the gearbox kit is it uses a ‘Shear Pin’ between the central input drive shaft and the gearbox. This shear pin is designed to ‘break’ when the machine is subject to excessive forces. This protects the gearbox from failure and stripping the internal gears. The shear pins are easily replaced by any competent person, and you are back up and running without dipping into your savings.

RDX 5.5 ground screw installation machine

My installation machine is not working in either forward or reverse

The most common cause for your machine not working in either forward or reverse is a faulty forward/reverse switch. If the electrical contacts become burnt out, the switch will need to be replaced. The main root cause is operator error, by switching the machine between forward and reverse whilst the machine is still running, and this kills the switch.

Out of everything noted above, the most destructive is switching your machine between forward and reverse before switching the machine off and the drive coming to a complete standstill. This is not only very bad for the electrical unit, but it puts enormous stress on the gearbox with the sudden change of direction. 

Just think of jamming your car in reverse when it’s still travelling forward. You wouldn’t, would you?