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Horizontal Directional Drilling in Miami Beach

Published on May 2016 | Categories: Documents | Downloads: 26 | Comments: 0

The Amazing trenchless installation of a 54" sewer line in chic South Beach




By David Arthur Walters

March 8, 2016 UPDATED
Spartan Directional, a limited liability company headquartered in Louisiana, has been hard at
work reaming out to 72 inches the 3,300-foot pilot hole it bored this January 40-feet below
Euclid Avenue from 11th to 3rd Street in South Beach.
The interruption of traffic on the avenue from the operation has been minimal. Horizontal
directional drilling is a “trenchless” operation, well known for its oil field applications and gas
line river crossings. At present the utility installation application in densely populated areas is
enjoying a boom. The main advantage is obvious: streets and land upon which structures sit do
not have to be torn up.

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The tunnel will finally be swabbed, and then the 54-inch sewer pipe already laid out on the
avenue will be pulled through the tunnel that has always been filled with recycled mud thickened
with bentonite clay to protect its integrity, cleanse the drilling head, and lubricate the passage of
the drilling pipe and new sewer pipe through the hole. Bentonite, besides it rheological or flowfacilitating use in drilling mud, is used as kitty litter and to cleanse the skin of toxins.

It is rather amazing that Spartan Directional managed to navigate the drilling head
accurately underground for two-thirds of a mile. According to horizontal directional drilling lore,
a fellow named Martin Cherrington is known as “the father of HDD” because he came up with
the idea in the early 1960s after he saw someone using a guided hand-held air drill for gas line
installation. He elaborated on that process, used his novel technique to cross 500 ft under the
Pajaro River in 1971 for PG&E, and wound up with 13 patents. And a company named Tensor
invented a steering technology in the 1980s using an artificial magnetic field to detect a drill
head, so drill navigators have a sort of compass to work with. Now user-friendly technology
provides a video-game-like interface for navigators to work with. Spartan Directional uses what
is known as a wire-line magnetic guidance system.

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The guy in the white pickup truck with Texas plates seen constantly on the Miami Beach job is
Spartan Directional’s Barry Nailling. Spartan Directional, LLC, has been operating as such
for only a year, but the partners and crew are old hands in the drilling business.
Nailling, in fact, is a leader in the world of big rig operations, and is said to be the man in Texas
to call for horizontal drilling. He has over 30 years of experience in the industry, specializing in
large diameter installations. He and Spartan Directional’s Simon Boyd, an engineer, both worked
with Quanta’s Ranger Field Services overseeing the intersection of two 22-inch tunnels drilled
under the Sabine River for Crosstex Energy Services’ 12-inch natural gas line in 2013, for a total
tunneling of 11,065 feet, considered to be at least an intersect record. By the way, El Chapo may
want to know that Laney Directional Drilling brags about a “record setting” 10,971-foot rivercrossing for the Kinder Morgan pipeline, saying it can now do 15,000, and Michels Directional
Crossing brags that it has already crossed spans of 15,000 feet and has completed 60-inch
diameter pipe installations. Fortunately for Nailling, then superintendent of the Ranger Field
Services crossing, there was an island in the river on which to lay down 1,500 of wire for the
magnetic guidance system, but the going was rough with soft muddy conditions in the hole and
wooded, swampy land. If all goes well, he will now have South Florida’s unique mangrove
conditions to his credit.

Equipment manufacturers have created marvelous machines for this process so as not to disturb
the environment. A quieter drilling engine still needs to be developed. The noise of the
compressor at the entry hole on 11th Street on South Beach is deafening. It has been encased in
wood, and a baffle has been placed on its eastern side, but the noise is still deafening, causing
neighbors to ask for the job to be shut down, and to question whether a “redundant” sewer is
really necessary after all.
On Nov. 5, 2013, wealthy developer and media mogul Philip Levine, after securing the
endorsement of his friends the Clintons and spending over a million dollars out of pocket on his
campaign and the campaigns of a slate of candidates that would render him a de facto strong
mayor in a city with a strong manager, weak mayor charter, was elected mayor of the City
Miami Beach. His campaign capitalized on the longstanding clamor over flooding due to high
water, attributed to global warming in conjunction with normal high tides and coincidental
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subtropical storms. The previous regime had already approved the installation of new pumps to
alleviate flood waters into Biscayne Bay. Mayor Levine took personal credit for expediting the
installation, and fostered a major road-raising project as well.

Businesses and residents alike were disconcerted by traffic resulting from Mayor Levine’s “Get
It Done” rush-to-construction public works, which his most caustic critics likened to Mussolini’s
swamp recovery program. He was nevertheless re-elected to another two-year term in 2015.
The previous regime had indeed been concerned with the city’s sewers before Levine took over
as a virtual city boss. First of all, an examination of the sewers in Government Cut related to a
project to deepen the channel to Miami for bigger ships led to the discovery of defects that
should have been remedied before the system was installed. If those pipes burst, South Beach
would become a cesspool. The problem was remedied and the channel was dredged. The City of
Miami Beach was naturally concerned with its connecting sewer main, the only one it has.
In February of 2012, Pure Technologies, a consultant hired by the city, reported that it
electromagnetically detected broken wire wrappings in three percent (3%) of the existing main
sewer pipes it had analyzed. Although the defects did not pose an imminent threat, it was decided
that a redundant or alternative 54” sewer main system was needed to convey sewage to the pipes
across Government Cut to the treatment plant in Virginia Key in case of an emergency or during
maintenance of the existing system. It was offered that the project was necessary because a break
in the only sewer main would be disastrous for South Beach, leaving it awash in sewage in the
event the existing system failed
That argument serves to counter the perception that the project was “make work” for the benefit
of contractors contributing to the new regime headed by Mayor Levine
On June 11, 2014, the city commission authorized the issuance of a request for proposals for the
54” redundant sewer. The request was issued on Nov. 12 with bidding to start on Jan. 21. 2015.
The city solicited proposals to design and build the redundant sewer. Two companies were
“short-listed,” namely, David Mancini & Sons, and Ric-Man Construction.

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Both companies are owned and/or operated by members of the Mancini family, three generations
in the industry. The Mancini’s enjoy a stellar reputation for major projects in Florida and
Michigan. The contract was awarded to the David Mancini & Sons, the general contractor, on
July 8, 2015.
"Mayor Levine is saving the city," David Mancini said in response to concerns frequently
expressed by the political opposition to the mayor and his city manager, Jimmy Morales.
"Without this progress, the city would regress to the 80s. And I have never seen such a wellmanaged city as the City of Miami Beach."

Mancini web link to Mayor Levine's Mussolinian Get It Done Speech
Mancini has no doubts about global warming and rising sea levels. He showed me a
photograph that he has not yet released to anyone else, of evidence that he believes proves the
level has risen a foot in a particular area. He said he believes that the struggle against rising sea
levels will ultimately be lost in some areas, so people would have to move, but many battles can
be won, as made obvious by the progress thus far in Miami Beach
The documentation provided by the city clerk reveals that in February 2015, City Manager
Jimmy Morales appointed three subordinates to evaluate the proposals of David Mancini and
Ric-Man. Although the amounts bid were about the same, the qualifications of the two bidders
caused the evaluation committee to prefer David Mancini & Sons over Ric-Man Construction,
and Morales agreed with its preference.
The project has three phases: Phase I, the installation of a 54" force main at Washington Avenue
and Commerce Street, which is completed; Phase II, the installation of a 54" force main on 11th
Street from Euclid Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, and the Phase III, the horizontal direction
drilling and installation of a 54" force main on Euclid Avenue from 1st Street to 11thStreet.
$10.5 million was budgeted for the project.

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In January 2016, however, the city commission approved another $6.8 million for additional
work, related to Phase II, requested by the public works department, the additional work of
course to be performed by David Mancini & Sons since it was already on the job.
Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Eric Carpenter advanced the additional work
proposal to the commission. “This is the 54-inch redundant force main contract that we had
awarded last summer. The City is well underway with the contract; however, while we are
looking at the scope of work for the open cut on 11th Street, between Euclid and Jefferson, there
are three blocks that the City will be open cutting a 54-inch sewer force main. The City is tearing
up the entire street for that installation. The Administration thought it might be prudent, while we
are there, to go ahead and do final streetscape improvements, including doing some elevating of
that particularly low-lying area of 11th Street and redoing the water mains. The Administration is
interested in moving forward with the entirety of those three blocks, which is approximately $4
million and then there is $2 million of issues that the City has identified with pump station # 1,
which is the most critical sanitary sewer pump station. The City has new management at our
operations group, and they are doing complete assessments of all pump stations. This is our most
critical one.”
City Manager Jimmy Morales, backing up his assistant, said “that of all the pump stations, this is
the most critical piece. This is the pump station that clears out South Beach. The other work is,
while we have the ground open, if we want to do the pipes, this is the time to do it.”
Some of the funds for the overall project were allocated from the capital improvement budget.
The rest of the money needed was borrowed by means of stormwater bonds and water and sewer
Many references are made to “the contractor” in official discussions of the work. Commissioner
Michael Grieco, for example, was “impressed” with the “the great job” done by “the contractor,”
David Mancini. He has previously stated to the press that the commission almost always follows
“blindly” whatever City Manager Jimmy Morales recommends.
Nowhere have I yet found the subcontractor Spartan Directional mentioned in the
documentation. That company certainly should be honored for installing over a half mile of a big
sewer line without tearing up the whole of Euclid Avenue. Maybe it will buy a quieter machine
with its profits.

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Recycled drilling mud storage tanks

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Mud reclamation machine at entry

Worker puts bentonite in reclaimer at exit on 3rd Street

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A small reamer

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Driller in Vermeer cockpit


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2016-03-07 Mancini crew testing pressure in pipe

2016-03-08 There she blows!

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2016-03-08 Large 72" ream completing its journey from 3rd street as its creator
John English watched

2016-03-08 ream somewhat bored with it all

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2016-03-08 Spartans begin to clean the ream

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In the HDD method, pipelines are laid in three stages. First, a pilot drill is carried out from the
entry point. In this process step, a computer-controlled surveying system located behind the
drilling bit steers the drill string along the planned route to the exit point on the other side of the
obstacle to be crossed. The surveying system, the steering and the drilling tools can be adapted to
any soil conditions, thus ensures the success of a project. In the second stage, reaming the pilot
drill, the drilling diameter is successively enlarged. To achieve this, the drill bit is replaced by a
reamer. The reamer is equipped with jets and cutting tools, enabling it to remove the soil both
hydraulically and mechanically. Depending on the soil conditions, a mixture of water and
bentonite or other additives can be used for hydraulic excavation. This both supports the bore
hole and reduces frictional forces, while allowing the excavated material to be transported to a
separation plant on the surface. Finally, the prefabricated pipeline or pipe bundle is pulled-back
from the exit point into the enlarged and cleaned bore hole. To do this, the pipeline is connected
to the pipe string and pulled back to the entry point. When the pipeline appears at the entry point,
it has reached its final and safe position and the pipeline installation is complete.

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Miami Contractor David Mancini and Master Horizontal Driller Barry Nailling


The man governments call to Get It Done
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March 10, 2016
I encountered David Mancini on Euclid Avenue and 7th Street on the morning of March 7, 2016.
He and his crew were attending to the bentonite mud tanks. I stopped to ask where the 72” ream
was located in hole.
“Ninth Street,” he said, and walked over meet me. “I’m David Mancini.
“I’m David too,” I responded with a handshake.
“You must be the David I’m looking for, the guy who wrote that article.”
“It is all wrong! There is no corruption. I resent suggestions that my family is corrupt. That could
cost me jobs. I have a big family to feed.”
“You mean that stuff about the bribery of Gus Lopez, the city’s former procurement director? I
wrote that your companies were not implicated or charged in that case, that it was unlikely you
knew your consultant was bribing him. You didn’t read my article. Send me an email and tell me
your objections, and I will put them into the article.”
“I’m telling you now. I read it, and I’m telling you it was all wrong. There was no corruption and
there is no corruption on our part.”
“I’m actually on my way to edit it.”
“It is the best writing I have seen about this thing. It’s going national. I should pay you to write
the big story.”
“Bring me a publisher and I shall write it. You saw that I put a picture of Richard Mancini, the
founder of your business, in my piece.”
“No, it was actually the brother-in-law of his father who started it. He was a cabinet maker.”
“That isn’t on your website. Your family is interesting. Someone should write a biography.”
“It goes back to Italy. I went over there.”
“You were doing a job there?”
“No, I went to visit.”
“You know Mussolini was like Mayor Levine with his public works programs. One was a big
swamp reclamation project. The mayor’s state of the city address with its Get It Done motto was
very much like Mussolini’s so-called pragmatic fascism approach.”
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“I saw you mentioned Mussolini and the link to the mayor’s speech on our website. I didn’t
understand that. You know, I thought about removing it from the site, but I am proud of him.
Mayor Levine is saving the city. Without this progress, the city would regress to the 80s. How
long have you been here?”
“Off and on since the late Sixties.”
“Then you know about the 80s.”
“I remember the crime, and the sewage washing up on the beach, but I was not here all the time.”
“There must be progress or the city will go back to those days. People who don’t like it should
move. You should move.”
I wondered where he was coming from, for I had not said that I did not like living on Miami
“Look, if I moved into that building across the street, and discovered it was inhabited by
criminals disturbing the peace, and if I moved a few blocks away into another building, and
found it inhabited by criminals disturbing the peace, then I believe it would be better to stay put
and fight the crime. There is no better place to go.”
“You’re wrong. If you don’t like what the mayor and the city manager are doing, you should
move to Vero Beach.”
“Vero Beach is nice.”
“There you go. So go there.”
“I like it here well enough here for now.”
Mancini has no doubts about global warming and rising sea levels. He showed me a
photograph that he has not yet released to anyone else, of evidence that he believes proves the
level has risen a foot in a particular area. He said he believes that the struggle against rising sea
levels will ultimately be lost in some areas, so people would have to move, but many battles can
be won, as made obvious by the progress thus far in Miami Beach.
“No doubt your family will have a lot of contracts to fight global warming,” I said.
“What do you think of the convention center hotel proposal?” he asked.
“I think thirty stories in the low rise center of South Beach is way out of context. I’ll walk over
and gawk at it if it is built.”
“What about the transportation plan?”
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“No problem. I walk everywhere anyway. I just don’t like the way they are doing things, running
over people to get things done. Jimmy Morales puts himself above the law. They need to run
some bentonite through his office to detoxify it.”
“You’re wrong. I have never seen such a well-managed city as the City of Miami Beach. Mayor
Levine is not corrupt."
“I did not say he was. He may not be criminally corrupt, but I wonder about moral corruption.”
“You’re wrong.”
“What do you think about the old city manager, Jorge Gonzalez?”
“He was good, but things went crazy in the end.”

I noticed that only your family’s firms, Ric-Man and Mancini, bid on this job. Why was that?”
"Everyone else was busy at the time. The job was too big for small companies and too small for
big companies to take on.”
“I understand that you have the advantage of a long working relationship with driller Barry
Nailing, and he had the right equipment.”

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“I’ve worked with Barry for over ten years.”
“But what I don’t understand is why his company, Spartan Directional, was registered in Florida
months before the job was even put out to bid. I guess everyone knew you or your brother would
get the job.”
“Call Barry, get him over here, tell him the reporter is here!” he shouted to a workman,
shrugging off my question, and then took a phone call. I summarized what he had said when he
was finished.

“I should watch what I say. Are you recording me?” he asked, looking for a recording device on
“I did not mean to say that I was absolutely sure why only our companies, mine and my brother’s
Ric-Man Construction, were the only ones that bid on the job. That was my guess.”
Barry Nailling arrived. He is a quiet type. I asked him if the record he set when he was with
Ranger Field Services was for the connection of two tunnels under the river or for the total
length of them both, since another company was claiming the record for total length.
“We set the record at that time for a crossing.”
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I repeated my notes to him, and referred to local politics. He said he was unfamiliar with the
politics. He posed for a picture with David Mancini.
“We’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks,” Mancini said, eying me.
“David, you suspect I am against you. I am not. I have been on your side of the fence. I was the
business manager for a contractor-developer who did lots of utility excavations, roads,
subdivisions, no horizontal drilling, though, a lot of blasting. I know about making the payroll to
feed families, capital shortages, even fending off repossession of equipment with shotguns
because the lawyer said the leasing company had no right to it. I was not that familiar with the
technical aspects. I looked out the windows once in awhile to see what was going on. This
horizontal drilling thing fascinates me.”
“That’s interesting,” said Nailling.
“This tunneling is the conflict business, David” I went on after Nailling walked way. I pointed at
the heavy equipment on the street.
“There is no progress without resistance. Civilization is based on complaints. Someone must
resist. I start with one side of the story. There is resistance from the other side. Then I have both
sides. Then there is progress. You say everything is perfect with the city. Not so. My objections
are not so much to the mayor but with how his manager does things.”
“You’re wrong.”
“If you had the facts I have in hand, if you knew how he puts himself above the law for the
mayor, you would not think so.”
“You’re wrong!” he concluded, turned his back on me and walked away.

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March 12, 2016
Little did I know that the man standing next to me when the 72-inch reamer was pulled from the
hole at Euclid Avenue and 11th Street on South Beach was none other than the father of that
reamer, the distinguished horizontal drilling expert, John English, founder and president of
Horizontal Technology, Inc.
After Cory Baker of Hard Rock Directional Drilling told me John had been there, I contacted
him and said I regretted I had not gotten a picture of him for my series covering the amazing
drilling of the tunnel for the redundant sewer. I asked him to send me a picture.
He was too modest about his role in the industry. Although more than willing to educate me on
the basics of horizontal drilling, he had little to say about himself.
“You should use pictures of the crew on the ground because the story should be about them.”

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I managed to pull a couple of photographs of him from the Internet, anyway, one of him in a
tunnel, another from an announcement of a seminar.
His company has successfully participated in some of the most challenging horizontal directional
drilling (HDD) jobs in the world, from the north slope of Alaska to the jungles of South
America. The firm provides drill steering services, sending out consultants to projects throughout
the world to ensure precision guidance, and it sells and rents down-hole tooling products, such as
pressure tools, rock reamers, drilling motors, drill bits, jetting assemblies, fly cutters, barrel
reamers, pipe rollers, and swivels. John is committed to education and training, so he writes
articles and speaks at seminars on horizontal drilling.

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I was fascinated by the big reamer emerging from the hole, the largest reamer used to enlarge the
nearly 2/3 mile South Beach tunnel before the tunnel was swabbed to finally pull the 54-inch
sewer line through the hole. He explained that after the initial hole is bored, four reamer barrels
or “bodies” are used, 30, 42, 54, 66, and 72 inches in diameter, to enlarge the tunnel.

The same cutters, adjusted for the size to be drilled in the holes, are used on those bodies except
for the 30-inch body. By the time a tunnel is complete, cutters may have 140-hours of use on
them. They will invariably have been damaged in the tunnels, they must be refurbished, or they
are thrown away and replaced, just as razor blades are discarded and new ones put into razors.
The cutters are owned by the drillers.
“A 72-inch reamer body costs about $65,000 without cutters,” he said. “The smaller bodies run
from $20,000 to $40,000. They may be rented or purchased.”
He owns the big reamer I had admired coming out of the hole. Drillers might keep them on hand
because ordering them and waiting for them to arrive would cost far more in lost time on the
jobs. When no longer needed, they may be sold again or rented out, and travel all over the world.
“The reamers have several patents on them, but they are constantly being modified to suit the
requirements of drilling in different environments. Drilling is a very risky business because you
must be certain of what you will run into underground before you start drilling. “
Drilling is relatively easy 40-feet under the surface of Miami Beach because the formation is
limestone. A tunnel may be drilled and it will hold up pretty good for the insertion of the pipe,
especially when filled with bentonite clay, which has a lot of lift. Depending on where the

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crossing is, drillers may encounter hard or soft, dry or wet conditions, and perhaps big empty
“Drillers have to know what they are doing. We call the drillers who guide the tunneling
navigators. Inexperienced navigators can quickly ruin the cutters and even cause the reamer to
get stuck or lost underground, which can cost a fortune to retrieve. The navigator must know
exactly where the reamer head is going, what is in front and back of it at all times. He is
attending to the mud pressure, to the rotation and speed and torque of the reamer, and so on.
“I have been in this business for 28 years now. Horizontal drilling started up about 40 years ago.
The collective knowledge of drillers and engineers with experience in vertical drilling was
applied to horizontal drilling. Back then there were a sufficient number of great horizontal
drilling teams, but the business has grown 1,000-percent since then, and with that growth
inexperienced drillers raised money from investors to buy or lease equipment and moved in to
compete, often with disastrous effects, costing the owners of the projects including government
millions in damages.
“So above all you must have qualified drillers. Miami Beach is actually lucky to have these guys
come together for this project. Some of them, like the mud engineer on the job, and the driller,
Barry Nailling, who was a young fellow at the time, were the pioneers in this business. It takes
ten years of experience to make a good driller. You don’t want unsupervised amateurs on the job.
I mentioned that Cory Baker, the field manager at Hard Rock Directional on the job, told me his
company saved a contractor $2 million after a reamer and pipe was lost in the hole on a Magellan
job in Texas. The contractor would have been stuck with $3 million in liquidated damages, and
paid Hard Rock $1 million to fix the problem. He would not tell me exactly how Hard Rock did
that, like it is some kind of trade secret.
“There are many horror stories and a great deal of litigation in this business. You really have to
know what you are doing. Owners like the oil and gas companies used to assume the risk in the
old days, but not anymore, given all the competition. Contractors bear the burden, and there can
be hell to pay when things go wrong.”
I asked who had the subcontract on the Miami Beach job, Hard Rock Directional or Spartan
Directional. Spartan seemed to be doing the micro-tunneling with some heavy lifting help by the
general contractor, David Mancini and Sons. Cory told me that Hard Rock was going to buy
Spartan, but they could not agree on a number.
“Hard Rock is the consultant overseeing Spartan. The seasoned men with the companies have
worked together for a long time and come together wherever needed with expertise and
“Environmentalists complain that horizontal drilling pollutes the environment. Could that happen
with this drilling in Miami Beach?”

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“No. As a matter of fact, horizontal drilling was originally a response to the environmentalists
concerns with laying pipes over rivers, through swamps, and other areas, so horizontal drilling
was used to cross under them. But then the environmentalists turned on us. Opposition to
fracking got national coverage. Drilling fluid was one issue, raising the fear that drilling fluid
chemicals would rise back up and pollute the environment. But the kind of drilling fluid we use
in this kind of tunneling is just bentonite mud. It cleans the cutters, lubricates the hole for the
pipe, and helps keep the tunnel from collapsing. We reclaim it from the hole, clean it, and reuse
it. Bentonite is clay. It is used in baby food, dog food, and cosmetics, and is used to clarify

“There are certain additives added to bentonite to reduce torque,” I said, “and I am told
chemicals in them may or may not be toxic. I saw some cans labeled Torq Breaker and Clay
Breaker sitting beside the mud reclaiming machine. What chemicals are in them?”
“You would have to ask an expert on drilling mud about that.”
“How do horizontal drillers get the initial drill to go where they want? Is that the Data TraX
system you have written about?”
Data TraX, he explained, is his company’s crossing-guidance software, the most accurate system
available today. First of all, there is a wire running from a magnetic guidance tool behind the
drill head all the way through the pipe to the navigator’s shack. The system works somewhat like
a compass. The signals from the drill head allow the navigator to steer the drill from side to side
and up and down. But that is not accurate enough for working in congested cities due to human
and natural magnetic interference from the surround. A half-degree mistake in azimuth could
result in a 15-foot error exiting a 1,500 crossing. So coils of wire are laid down parallel to one
another on the surface above, where a surveyor locates them geographically. The coils emit a
magnetic field. A direct current is sent along the wire. Since there will be magnetic interference
with the data in cities, that current is then reversed. Readings taken on the differences locate the
drill head so precisely that it will hit a dime or knock down an exit stake when it exits.
“Why do the drillers not want to answer my questions when I ask them to simplify what they are
doing so I can write a sort of Popular Mechanics explanation?”
The problem with that, he said, is that amateurs would think they could get themselves a drill to
run around and do business with, which would hurt the industry.
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“Are the city manager’s evaluators really qualified to evaluate bids without having experienced
drillers on the committee? Is there a horizontal drilling certification school?”
“Horizontal drilling is booming and will continue to grow as cities need to install utilities
without tearing up streets, so cities all over world are sending their engineers to seminars on the
subject, such as those held by the Underground Construction Technology and the North
American Society for Trenchless Technology organizations.”
I mentioned that only two companies signed in to bid on this job, both of them Mancini
companies. The bids were about the same. David Mancini instead of his brother’s Ric-Man
Construction was awarded the general contract.
“Given Mancini’s enormous experience in the field, especially around Miami, and his 14-year
relationship with this crew of drillers, would it be best to just rely on him to judge who is the best
qualified to do the work?” I asked.
“The problem is that business follows the money, so price instead of quality often determines
who gets the business.”
“I see HDD is booming in India, with over 400 rigs going now.”
“We sell equipment to drilling companies there. That country needs more qualified drillers.”
I told a colorful story of my days in Alaska when the North Slope was being drilled.
“These kids today don’t understand why we refer to the good old days,” he said.
Boy, he can say that again. And maybe I should keep those stories under my hat. For now I shall
tell the story of the amazing horizontal drilling of the South Beach redundant sewer. The swab is
out of the hole, the pipe is stretched out along Euclid Avenue as far as the eye can see. It will be
pulled through the tunnel Tuesday morning. The crew says it will not get stuck.
Wow! This is big! As David Mancini told me, “this story is going national.” And I got the scoop
in my own front yard. Someone up there must be watching after me after all. Let’s have party!

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Cory Baker, David Mancini, and Barry Nailling inspect emerged reamer

David Mancini, general contractor for the phenomenal tunneling to install 3,300 feet of 54-inch
sewer line 40 feet under Euclid Avenue, was on hand along with Cory Baker of Hard Rock
Directional Drilling and Barry Nailling of Spartan Directional Drilling for the spectacular
emergence of the swab from the hole at 11th Street on March 10. The hole had been reamed out
to 72 inches on March 8.
The big swab, a sort of barrel pulled through the tunnel to clear the way for the installation of the
pipe, was a few inches smaller than the last reamer that had enlarged the hole, ensuring that the
swab would not get stuck in the tunnel. The drilling machinery would then be moved from 11th
Street to the other end of the tunnel at 3rd street to pull the swab back in the opposite direction
for a clean hole. Finally, the pipe will be pulled through.
David ran his finger over the barrel after it emerged, examined the gleaming barrel, and chatted
with the others, his finger still laden with the drilling mud that lubricates and cleans the hole as
the drilling machine pulls tunneling tools through it. I strained to overhear what they were
talking about, but could only catch a word or two.
“What happened?” I yelled. “Did the swab get scratched?”
Page 28 of 88 


Cory just smiled. He is always busy overseeing the drilling operation conducted by Spartan
Directional Drilling, so I was lucky to get a few other questions answered.

I had learned when the 72” reamer emerged from the hole that Cory and Barry, along with
Spartan partner and engineer Simon Boyd, had worked together on the record-setting intersecting
of two 22-inch tunnels drilled for the 11,065-foot undercrossing of the Sabine River conducted
two years ago by Quanta’s Ranger Field Services for Crosstex Energy Services.
I was curious about the relationship of the companies on the job. Cory explained that getting the
right people and equipment together for the work, whatever companies they might be with, is the
key to getting a horizontal drilling job done within budget and without a disaster. The seasoned
Texas and Louisiana drillers on this job had worked with David Mancini of Miami since 2002.

Page 29 of 88 


The business of horizontal, trenchless drilling in congested cities so as to not tear up streets is
growing rapidly as governments find money to improve infrastructure.
Hard Rock, Cory said, went from 1 drilling rig to 19 rigs in a short period of time (the
company’s website indicates it presently owns 23 rigs). David Mancini wanted Hard Rock and
Spartan’s guys on this job, so Hard Rock tried to buy Spartan, but a final number could not be
agreed on.
My examination of the work in progress reveals that Spartan is doing the drilling and the
processing and reclamation of the drilling mud with its equipment, with Hard Rock’s Cory Baker
overseeing. David Mancini is seen on top of everything, including getting his hands dirty with
micro-managing tasks, with his company providing equipment for the heavy lifting and hauling.
Several big tanks for the mud that is pumped in and out of the hole appear to be leased from

“How long are those joints and how much do they cost?” I asked Cory, referring to the lengths of
the pipe that form the “string” for pulling tools through the hole.
“Thirty-one and a half feet,” he said.
“They are about that but are really of random length,” said a man next to him. “That’s because
whoever uses them cuts the ends differently to fit their couplings.”
“The trucks were originally thirty-one and a half feet,” offered another man.
“The joints cost from $50 to $75 per foot,” Cory said.
At $50, I silently calculated, that would be around $165,000 to do this job, plus maybe another
10 joints or $500, so maybe $200,000 to be sure.
“Can I buy myself a used driller rig like that for $250,000?” I asked.
“We just paid $2.5 million for a new one,” he said.
David had overheard my questions, and gave me a wary look. He had seen me taking pictures of
all the equipment. He knew I had been a bean counter with an excavator, so probably thought I
was taking inventory.
“I hear it can cost $40,000 to $100,000 to retrieve a lost tool,” I said to David.
Page 30 of 88 


“A lot more than that,” he said. “It can cost millions. This is a very serious business. You gotta
have the right people. Cory’s company got a million dollars to fix a mistake. Tell him about it,

Cory explained that Hard Rock saved a contractor $2 million after a reamer and pipe was lost in
the hole on a Magellan job in Texas. The contractor would have been stuck with $3 million in
liquidated damages, and paid Hard Rock $1 million to fix the problem.
I wanted to know exactly how Hard Rock did that, but he was mum.
Some trick of the trade, I presumed. The risk must be factored in, I was thinking, and the
insurance cost including overhead, premium pay for the right men. With the price of oil way
down, I wonder how many good horizontal drillers are looking for work.
The noise of the compressor engine driving the drill was deafening! And canary that I am, the
invisible fumes were causing me to cough and were giving me a slight headache. So I fled, still
rather amazed that the big pipe stretched out along the avenue as far as the eye could see was
going to be dragged through the tunnel these guys has made.
Little did I know at the time that John English, a horizontal drilling tool manufacturer and
steering expert, happened to be inconspicuously standing by. I interviewed him later. He was
incensed that I reported that he was an “expert,” meaning someone whose experience and
education renders him skilled for a particular kind of task. Lucky for him I had struck the word
“legendary” from my article, which duly noted his modesty before providing his edifying
summary of certain aspects of horizontal drilling. The safety of crews depends on teamwork.
Page 31 of 88 


Individuals have no bragging rights. In fact, he said, big egos cause big disasters. I noticed that
John had quoted Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead on his website.
"The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see."
My father, a unionist who happened to be working on missile bases to protect our free country
from communism, had caught me reading The Fountainhead. He took the book away from me as
if it were porn, giving me lecture to boot.

I suggested to John that his team produce a silent, fume-free machine to provide the energy for
these city drills. Perhaps something along the lines of John Galt's Dynamo.
I parted with Cory with the suggested that the general contractor throw a big party for the
neighborhood in thanks for their patience. Of course the political dignitaries would be there. That
would attract the mainstream press. The contractors could throw up their banners, maybe
handout a pamphlet on horizontal drilling. There would have to be plenty of beer, union made
beer, I hope, although unions are no longer that relevant.

Page 32 of 88 


Rheologist Robert Thomason, Jr.

Series: The Amazing Horizontal Drilling for the 54” South Beach Redundant Sewer
March 15, 2016

The amazing South Beach redundant sewer tunnel 40 feet under Euclid Avenue from 11th to 3rd
Street has been reamed out to 72 inches, swabbed twice, and is ready for the 54-inch pipe
assembled in two pieces on the street to be pulled through the hole. The drilling equipment has
been hauled to 3rd street to do just that.
It is amazing to city folk that such a thing can be done. There will be many people around to
gawk at it, and no doubt Mayor Levine, a foe of global warming who has a finger in the dike to
prevent flooding and pollution, will take personal credit for expediting the job pursuant to his
Get It Done agenda.

Page 33 of 88 


But another important thing must first be done. The recycling drillers’ mud pumped into and out
of tanks along the tunnel must be just right to lubricate the way for the pipe.

I sighted David Mancini, the general contractor, fiddling with the apparatus going from the mud
tanks into the holes in the street. At times he seemed lost in thought, as if he were figuring
Page 34 of 88 


something out. Exactly what he was thinking about he would not say, so I wished him a lot of
luck pulling the pipe through. I noticed some rubberized hoses had been replaced with plastic
pipes. He said that was because they had the required valves for the operation.

Drilling mud is made with bentonite, a kind of clay. It serves to lubricate the tunnel and clean the
reamers as they ream the hole, carrying rocks and filings back to the reclaimer for recycling.
Since it tends to harden somewhat on the inside surfaces of the hole, it protects the integrity of
the hole, keeping fluids and gases from leaving or entering.

Page 35 of 88 


David cautioned me not to take pictures lest he start charging me for them. Well, I thought, he’s
lucky the project landed right in front of me where I can cover it. He should find a big publisher
to run my stories and pay me for the firsthand scoop.
As I continued along the way to the 3rd Street “exit” of the hole, I wondered why David was
personally dealing with the mud since he had the best horizontal drilling experts in the country
on hand from Louisiana and Texas, including the so-called mud man or mud engineer whom I
had encountered briefly when I covered the big ream emerging.
That man was Robert Thomason Jr., the drilling fluids engineer consulting on the job, and there
he was at 3rd Street, in the shade of a tree, with his little lab set up near the bentonite mixer.
As this project’s rheologist, Robert monitors and helps regulate drilling fluid properties such as
density, viscosity, and filtrate, and he tests water for its chloride content, potential hydrogen or
acidity, and calcium levels. Without his expertise a project could bog down or come to a grinding
halt with a great deal of damage sustained by everyone concerned. This project at 3,300 feet is a
relative short crossing for him in comparison to the 4,900 foot Mississippi crossing under the
Army Corp of Engineers levee at Baton Rouge that he worked on, and the 8,200 crossing under
two ACOE levies south of New Orleans.
I asked him why David Mancini had his sleeves rolled up working with mud tank apparatus. Was
he a micro-manager or what?
“The general strategy we’re using was suggested by him,” Robert said.
I said I had been told by the Spartan crew that there would be no problem pulling the pipe. Could
anything go wrong, like, could the pipe get stuck?
“We got a saying back home, that God made Earth, not man, so nothing is absolutely certain.
And if something goes wrong in this business, they blame it on the mud man.”

Creature from the Black Lagoon (c) 1954 Universal Studios
Page 36 of 88 


“So that would be David since it’s his strategy?”
“Blame the Mud Man is a joke of the trade.”
“Have you ever had a big issue with the pipe?”
“Well, once in my 28 years of horizontal drilling, a drill pipe got stuck and I used a power
hammer to bang on it and it came free.”
Robert (63), who has handled recruiting for a temp agency serving the drilling industry, said he
starting working in the oil fields at 16 while tending school. Your odds of success are a lot better
if you have the right people on the job, he said. Wall Street started throwing money at the
industry awhile back, buying up drilling companies, he explained, laying off experienced men,
replacing them with low-cost personnel, so horizontal drilling has had some nightmarish
“What about Mexicans?” I asked. “They sort of took over construction in this country. Donald
Trump likes them on the job.”
“Oh, we have really good Mexicans working with us.”
I said I had thought of writing a little book about the world’s worst horizontal drilling disasters.
What was the worst one he knew about? I said I had heard from tool manufacturer John English
about a big lawsuit in the Carolinas.
“Oh, there was one in Salt Lake City. They ran into a big sinkhole under the highway and it
caved in.”
I suggested that going out on drilling jobs all over the country must really be hard on the family,
and that long hours on the job can be exhausting.
“My family travels with me. We’ve been doing this for years. My wife is used to it. I had to
commute a hundred miles from a motel into the swamp on another job, so this job in the city is
good. It is comfortable enough on the job here as I know exactly where the reamer is along the
hole and can schedule my work.”
He had a movie director’s chair under the shady tree, but I did not envy him. Already I was
coughing from the invisible fumes from the engines, and the noise was deafening. I am sort of a
canary after chain smoking for over forty years, without any apparent damage to my lungs much
to the amazement of the doctor who checked my X-rays. It must have been the beer.
I said I understood that the bentonite used to make the drillers mud was harmless, that it was also
used in animal food, cosmetics, and to clarify wine, but what about those cans of additives
labeled Torq Breaker and Clay Breaker?

Page 37 of 88 


Clay breaker, I had assumed, was the same thing gardeners use to break up hard clay for
planting, and Torq Breaker, I learned from a website, is a lubricant used to break the chemical
bonds and reduce viscosity, thus minimizing the drag of the drilling fluid on drilling tools. I was
unable, however to find a list of ingredients. Were any of the chemicals dangerous?

Page 38 of 88 


“Nah, that stuff is used in bubble gum, you can look up the ingredients for gum and find out all
about it.”
I did just that, and found some information on Xanthan gum, a carbohydrate secreted by a
bacterium that forms a slimy substance which behaves as a natural stabilizer or thickener used as
a rheology (“science of flow”) modifier. It is stable under a wide range of temperatures and
acidity. A tiny quantity produces a large increase in a liquid’s viscosity. It makes fluid thicker
when a liquid is resting, but thinner when shaken up, making xanthan an ideal chewing gum, or,
for example, as a food thickening agent in salad dressings, and in cosmetic products to prevent
ingredients from separating, and so on.
As for drilling, Cargill advertises its “VerZan” version of Xantham gum as the non-hazardous
choice to facilitate drilling in sensitive environments.
I may have eaten some dirt in the yard when I was a baby, but I will not be making mud pies to
eat of any of this stuff, whatever it is, even though the Miami-Dade County Department of
Environmental Resources has issued a permit for the project and must be familiar with the

Add to that list the ingredients in DCS Fluid Solutions “Ball Buster” product that showed up by
the mud reclamation machine today. Not quite PC that brand name!
I was told that the big event, the pipe pull, would happen this morning. Not until tomorrow, I was
told by the Mancini crew.

Page 39 of 88 


I said I had seen the boss messing with the mud, and asked if there had been a problem with it.
They were wary and bid me good day. This is Miami Beach, you know.
After meeting the friendly drillers from Texas and Louisiana, I believe I may move back to New
Orleans some day, or perhaps to Austin, and go on drilling adventures with girlfriends. Right
now I am having fun in my own front yard.

Page 40 of 88 


An information booth was set up on March 16, 2016, at Euclid Avenue and 11th Street for the
long-awaited pulling of the redundant sewer pipe down and through the amazing 72-inch tunnel
horizontally drilled 40 feet under the avenue by Spartan Directional Drilling.

Page 41 of 88 


I hoped Mayor Philip Levine would show up as suggested to his office for the Pipe Pulling
Event, to congratulate himself for yet another Get It Done project, and to thank the residents for
enduring what seemed to be endless days of deafening noise and diesel-fuel fumes from the drill
engine before the drill was moved 8 blocks south for the pull, but I did not see him. Nor would
he appear at the grand finale of the pullback.

I also suggested to general contractor David Mancini and the city manager’s office that a block
party be held to thank residents for their sacrifice for the cause; to wit, building this $14 million
redundant sewer system in case the existing one fails.
It may, however, be politically incorrect to appease disturbed residents because that might raise
expectations of appreciation and parties citywide. Give an inch, and they will demand a mile.

Roger Williams, P.E., from the Coral Gables office of AECOM, the outside construction
management firm for the city, was, however, on hand for the final fusion of the two, 4-block
long lengths of 54-inch pipe after one length, more than half of 61 sections, had been pulled
Page 42 of 88 


through the reamed out hole at a rate of about 10 minutes per 32 feet of drilling pipe. Given the
total length of 3,300 feet of piping, it would take around 17 hours to pull the pipe through the
hole, notwithstanding a pause for fusing the two lengths already assembled, and an unexpected
shut down for a day while waiting for a replacement part to arrive from Houston for the drill that
was hauled and set up on 3rd Street to pull the pipe through.
Williams said that the cost of the damages done if the existing and only sewer main failed would
exceed by far the redundant sewer main. In 2011 Pure Technologies detected defects, namely,
“electromagnetic anomalies representing broken steel pre- stressing wire wraps,” in 8 of 260 or 3
percent of the pipes analyzed. “Although these anomalies,” states a June 10, 2015, memo to
Mayor Levine from City Manager Jimmy Morales, “do not pose an imminent threat to the
performance of the City's sanitary sewer service, a redundant 54" force main would ensure
sanitary sewer service in the event of an emergency or during maintenance.”
After the redundant sewer is built, the city plans on purging and rehabilitating the existing sewer
Williams explained that ISCO supplies the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, expected to
last at least a century because it will not be corroded by sulfuric acid generated by hydrogen
sulfide gas from sewage, as would pre-cast concrete pipe, nor would it be damaged by the
infiltration of sea water that creeps into the aquifer from the ocean.

Different kinds of sewer pipe are used depending on the particular situation, he said. Concrete
pipe can be lined by HDPE to protect it.I noticed that the original request for bids specified a
fiberglass-reinforced mortar product, which is widely used and has an advertised life of a
century. That product, however, does not appear to have the flexibility to be pulled through a
horizontally drilled tunnel. In response to my inquiry, Bruce A. Mowry, Ph.D., P.E., of the City
of Miami Beach said, "The original projects as proposed as a micro tunnel that would have used
a concrete casing with the fiberglass liner that would be mortared into the tunnel. The alternative
was to use a directional drill using HDPE. The pull forces necessary to install a pipe in a single
Page 43 of 88 


section from 3rd Street to 11th Street required a thick walled HDPE flexible enough to make the
radius turns for this type of construction.
Polyethylene is the most common kind of plastic made. Its best known use is in plastic bags and
bottles, which are non-biodegradable hence a threat to the environment, whereas here its use in
sewer pipe serves to protect the environment for a long period of time. Nearly 80 million tonnes
are produced each year for a global market of around $150 billion. It consists of hydrocarbons,
and is made from petroleum or natural gas. Top producers are Dow Chemical and Exxon Mobile.

An excavator shovel was lifting the end of the length still above ground into place to be joined or
“butt fused” with the protruding end of its mate underground, by means of the fusion machine
that had previously fused all the sections into the two lengths of pipe lain out as far as the eye
could see.

Williams said that only an ISCO-certified welder can heat-fuse the pipe. We watched as a
“facer” with a cutting blade trimmed the ends of the pipe to be mated. A heater plate was then
positioned between the ends to be connected. The heater would be removed and the ends brought
together and allowed to cool. Roger said that the bonds, heat-fused at 450 degrees, had no chance
of breaking because they were as strong if not stronger than the rest of the pipe.
Page 44 of 88 


Indeed, ISCO describes its HDPE pipe as “strong, durable, flexible and light weight. When fused
together, HDPE has a zero leak rate because the fusion process creates a monolithic HDPE
system. HDPE pipe is also a more environmentally sustainable option as it is non-toxic,
corrosion and chemical resistant, has a long design life, and is ideal for trenchless installation
methods because of its flexibility.”

Furthermore, “A fused-joint system offers reliability. With ductile iron, you have joints that
could leak. It degrades faster than polyethylene does. With HDPE, when you butt fuse, you

Page 45 of 88 


really don’t have that issue. ISCO offered corrosion-free, leak-free HDPE, McElroy fusion
machines, and that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.”
Chelsea Rabideau, ISCO’s public relations journalist, was present photographing the process.
She said that ISCO started out as a hardware store in the 60s. The owners started selling
irrigation supplies for golf courses in the 70s, she said, and the Louisville, Kentucky, company
eventually became the largest HDPE pipe distributor in North America.

I also encountered Igor A. Vassiliev, the city’s project engineer for the job, at the information
booth. He said he was impressed with the integrated approach of David Mancini, the general
contractor, to project management. He said it reminded him of his work at nuclear plants, where
a process, such as shutting down reactors for removal of fuel, must be carefully planned so that
every part of the system is coordinated. With David, everything is in order before a move is
made, he said.
Vassiliev, a civil engineer educated in Russia and Florida, said he preferred working for
governments rather than on private projects all over the world because he enjoyed being
committed to a place and its people. He said there was a lot for him to learn working for
the Public Works Department of the City of Miami Beach.

Walters store in old Cocoa, Florida
Page 46 of 88 


It was his practical nuclear experience that caused an American firm to hire him away from his
job managing Cocoa, Florida’s engineering department, he said, to assist in the construction of
radiation containment structures at Chernobyl, Russia. The engineers were theoreticians, and
needed a practitioner.

One of his main concerns at Cocoa was catastrophic storm-surge management along the space
coast. He favored the InfoWorks modeling system in one of his reports: “Early studies before the
construction of the Space Center predicted that no major hurricane would ever come through
there, but things change.” So the model, he said, has to identify the transmission mains that need
to be shut off in advance, the valves that need to be partially closed to minimize water losses and
still provide service for parts of the system at a reduced pressure. “This can easily be done in the
InfoWorks model, showing which parts will need to be closed or partially shut down - you don’t
need maps to figure it out,”

Page 47 of 88 


I asked him why David Mancini got the job instead of Ric-Man Construction, a company run by
David’s brother, since the bids were almost the same as to price and other conditions required by
the contract.
He said that I should contact the procurement people to answer my questions. He said he did
consult with the evaluation committee that preferred David Mancini. From what he recalled, he
said he thought David had done his homework better than Ric-Man, that the basic issue was
scheduling, the timing of the work, which David was better suited to perform on time than RicMan at the time.

All that being said, and after watching the welder carry on for awhile, I walked by the mud tanks
again. Everything looked in good order to pull the rest of the pipe. But when I returned the next
day, the job had been shut down. Not a worker was in sight. I worried that the mud would get too
mucked up, was setting there congealing like bubble gum.

I would discover that all was well except for the lost time. The part that rotates the drilling pipe
had cracked.

Page 48 of 88 


A replacement was coming from Houston, so do not get worried that aliens have shut down the
job, I told myself, because the amazing horizontal drilling for the Miami Beach redundant sewer
main will continue on Friday.

Page 49 of 88 



Page 50 of 88 


March 18, 2016
Spartan Directional LLC was finally pulling back the last of two long lengths of 54-inch sewer
pipe through the 3,300-foot tunnel its men had drilled 40 feet under Euclid Avenue in South
Beach. The men were busy doing the drilling pipe ballet, removing one length of 32-foot drilling
pipe at a time, after each length had done its duty as part of the “string” pulling the pipe through,
and loading it on a flatbed truck with the help of an excavator.

The process had been delayed for a day because the part on the drilling machine that rotates the
drilling pipe had cracked and a replacement had to be flown in from Houston. I asked a member
Page 51 of 88 


of the crew to point the part out to me. He turned out to be Boyd Simon, co-owner with Barry
Nailling of Spartan Directional.

Boyd’s résumé covers 25 years of construction including 20 years of experience in horizontal
directional drilling. He obtained his civil engineering degree from Southwestern University of
Louisiana, and holds contractor licenses in several states. In Louisiana those licenses include
building construction, highway, street and bridge construction, heavy construction, municipal
and public works construction, electrical work, and hazardous waste treatment and removal. In
Florida he is a certified underground utility and excavation contractor licensed in 2011.
Spartan Directional is a relatively new company organized in Louisiana in late 2014. It registered
in Florida in January 2015. Boyd said the company would not have been created without his sole
partner, Barry Nailling, a master horizontal directional driller with many successful horizontal
drillings under his belt. They were brought together 17 years ago by the former owner of Ranger
Field Services. They have been assisting David Mancini, the general contractor on this Florida
job, with horizontal drilling for 15 years.

I said I had heard from several people in the business that Barry was “the man to call for
horizontal drilling.” I met had him a few days ago, and got the impression that he is a quiet type.
Page 52 of 88 


“He is a hands-on man,” said Boyd, nodding towards Barry, who happened to be outside the
drilling cabin, working with the drill, leaving Levi Johnson, driller, and Danny Dodgen, surveyor
and steerer, inside the cabin at the controls.
“This is a very risky business,” he added. “You are not going to make it without teamwork,
without your crew. All of these men are essential. We’ve got Rocky Milam laboring and driving
the trucks. Eric Salinas over there is our floor hand. Felipe Ramirez is operating the machine.
Wesley Hayes is mixing the mud. Rubin Garcia and Vasquez Silverio are operators and laborers.
Joshua Lemaire is a laborer. Amos Johnson is our labor foreman. Buck Nailling is the foreman
overseeing the pipe.”

I remarked that Joshua said the pay is good, lots of overtime when on projects, and then there is
a per diem allowance. How much would that be?

“It is very expensive here,” he said. “The allowance is one-hundred dollars a day.”
I wished I had taken up drilling, I said.
Page 53 of 88 


He noted that I had mentioned in a previous article that Hard Rock Directional Drilling was
closely related to Spartan Directional. Hard Rock Directional is a larger company than Spartan.
Cory Baker, its general field manager, is consulting on the South Beach project. Cory was also
with Ranger Field Services. Aaron Henry at Hard Rock had contacted him a decade ago, he said,
to complete drillings for Hard Rock.
“Human capital is most important,” interjected a young man whose hardhat bore decals of
multiple drilling companies and projects. He was identified as Chris, Cory’s assistant.
I conversed with Boyd about such minutiae as how much each of the 32-foot “joints” of the
drilling pipe weighed, how big around the drilling pipe was, how many joints could be loaded on
one flatbed truck, and so on.
While with Ranger Field Services, Boyd, Barry and Cory ran a record horizontal drilling under
the Sabine River. Was it fair, I asked, to count the entire length of the 22-inch, 11,065 feet
tunnels, when two tunnels were drilled to intersect?
“Yes, because there is no way you could drill a hole that long in one drilling.”
What about the 15,000-foot tunnel Michels Directional Crossing brags about? I asked. Whose
fish is longer?

He said he recalled that a trench had to be dug to join two lengths of that tunnel.
Boyd’s comment about the “buoyancy” of the drilling mud was most interesting. I knew that the
bentonite mud, to which substances such as clay breaker xanthan gum are added to get the right
“flow,” is forced in and out of the hole to clean the head of the reamers as they move along, seal
up the rock on the perimeter of the tunnel, and lubricate it for the passage of the tools and the
sewer pipe. I did not know that mud can also be injected into the sewer pipe to achieve just the
right buoyancy. Water can also be used when the positive buoyancy of a pipe gets it stuck

Page 54 of 88 


against the “soffit” or ceiling of a tunnel, as Spartan had done in the City of Lafayette, Louisiana,
to successfully pull-back a pipe after the drilling rig was maxed out at 140,000 pounds in 2015.
How many pounds can the Spartan rig on the South Beach job pull? I wondered.
“A million pounds,” he said.
Was he kidding? According to a Google search, a million pounds is the weight of a 747, or an
Airbus, or a tugboat, or a cloud, or 100 right whale testicles.
The lesson I learned from the amazing horizontal drilling of the 54-inch redundant sewer tunnel
in South Beach is an old one well worth repeating since it is easy to forget when the going gets
hard. Success requires perseverance.

Success! The pulling nose attached to the sewer pipe and pulled behind the reamer used to clear
the drilling mud finally emerged on 3rd Street.

Success was greeted with fireworks, a bottle of champagne, and David Mancini & Sons decals
were laid down on the muddy pipe puller by David with the help of Bruce Mowry/

Page 55 of 88 


Of course the general gets the general credit, as does the top management of the various
participating companies.

This battle would not have been won without the Spartan soldiers.

Page 56 of 88 


Are City of Miami Beach engineers mismanaging the contractors?
22 April 2016
By David Arthur Walters
A freak accident last evening has delayed the dragging of an assembled 54-inch ISCO sewer pipe
stretched out 1,300 feet along Euclid Avenue, from 8th Street to 5th Street, across 5th Street and
onward to 3rd Street, where the end will eventually be inserted into the entrance hole of the
tunnel already horizontally drilled from 3rd Street to Washington Avenue and Commerce Street,
and then pulled through that tunnel to Commerce, where it will be attached to the system that
runs across Government Cut to the water treatment plant in Virginia key.
There had been previous delays as is inevitable with jobs of this magnitude, all due to
what project engineers may call "technical issues" and certainly not due to errors in planning and
execution or freak accidents.
The entry hole at 3rd Street prepared for the insertion of the pipe was previously the exit hole for
a 3,300 feet long tunnel drilled 40 feet underground, from 11th Street to 3rd Street, into which
the pulling of that length of pipe was completed March 18.
Page 57 of 88 


This new “sewer force main” is called “redundant” because, as stated by City Manager Jimmy
Morales to Mayor Philip Levine and the Commission, there is no imminent threat of failure of
the old sewer main that runs along Alton Road several blocks west of Washington and Euclid
Of the 260 pipes electromagnetically tested there, a mere 8 pipes, or three percent (3%) of the
total, were deemed stressed, indicating an incipient risk of potential failure, meaning that the
stress on the wire bindings was the earliest or beginning sign that the system could fail.
It was with the incipient risk in mind that reportedly hundreds of requests were sent out to for
proposals. According to city officials, only two firms were interested in the project, both owned
and operated by highly qualified members of the Mancini Family. A $10,482,000 contract was
awarded, and then $6,781,513 was added on a no-bid basis to the winner. A rush was put on the
job although the city manager had stated there was no risk of “imminent failure” to the old
Traffic had been halted on 5th Street for the dragging of the pipe at 11 P.M. on Thursday when
one side of a 19,244 lb. small (John Deere 85G) excavating machine travelling along the edge of
the entry hole at 3rd Street collapsed the paving along the curb, allegedly in an attempt to
retrieve some concrete blocking the hole left from a previous insertion of the pipe that had to be
withdrawn because the permitted time had run out. The driver was one of Mancini's employees,
an old hand on drilling jobs.

Roger Williams, the city’s consulting engineer from AECOM, pointed out that it is very wet
under the streets of Miami Beach, which was originally a mangrove swamp, and that the old
wire-meshing system that protects the roads from collapse from undue weight is not optimal
although it was good technology at the time. The curb area above the edge of the slanting entry
hole was particularly weak.

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In fact, one reason that the micro-tunneling is being done 40 feet underground instead of 15 feet
from the top of the tunnel as originally planned is that the “Swiss-cheese” limestone that deep
would protect the integrity of the tunnel as it was being bored, reamed and swabbed.

It took some time and considerably ingenuity on the part of the foreman for the small machine to
be pulled out by a larger machine. Unfortunately, big chunks of concrete had fallen into the hole,
which would interfere with the insertion of the pipe into the hole, so the pulling of the pipe had
to be called off until it is cleaned out.
The fact that 5th Street is a federal thoroughfare requires a special permit to block it for
construction. Apparently that is not possible on the weekend, wherefore the delay, no doubt
costly to the general contractor, David Mancini & Sons, as well as to the drillers from Louisiana
and Texas, employed by Hard Rock Directional and Spartan Directional, who are more than
eager to Get It Done and go home. Indeed, disappointment was etched on their weary faces.
According to Bruce Mowry, cast in a recent news account as the mayor’s key expert in the
salvation of the city from rising sea levels, the contractor wanted to drill a single hole of 4,600
feet from 11th Street to Commerce. In that event there would be no hole required at 3rd street,
and the drillers would be long gone.
“Is there a good technical reason,” I wrote, “that the exit now entrance hole for the redundant
sewer drilling could not have been placed near or at the closed CVS at Euclid and 5th Street so
as to avoid disturbing residents and visitors at 3rd Street for months, and to avoid closure of the
5th Street thoroughfare for the round the clock-pull-back operation? After all, one virtue of the
in-city trenchless "crossover" i.e. cross-under technology is to avoid traffic interruption. As you
know, the CVS and Bank corner has already been under construction for a long time, and the
parking lot is vacant. Again please know that I have no complaints about the contractors, but
many residents and businesses have raised reasonable doubts about the city's management of the
project. Placement of the holes is one of several concerns.”
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“There are always reasons for every decision,” he replied. “The alignment changes at 3rd street.
The difficulty increases, and the chance of failure is more likely. It was my decision to place the
drill equipment at 3rd. The contractor actually wanted to do a single drill and pull from 11th to
1st. It is better to not push the technology greater than we already have than to increase the odds
of potential failure.”
Why the city would restrain qualified contractors from doing the best job that could be done
when the risk would be to them as usual and not to the city remains to be seen.
The drilling team led by Barry Nailling, Cory Baker, and Boyd Simon are among the very best in
the horizontal directional drilling industry. The general contractor is also eminently qualified by
experience in public works far more sizable than this one. The three horizontal drilling leaders
happen to be rather famous for setting what is believed to be a world record for the length drilled
of a single tunnel, actually the intersecting of two 22-inch tunnels drilled for the 11,065-foot
undercrossing of the Sabine River conducted two years ago by Quanta’s Ranger Field Services
for Crosstex Energy Services. So the total was counted as a record although there were two
tunnels drilled that met in the middle.
There is considerable bragging about the lengths of certain things in this world. Laney
Directional Drilling brags about a “record setting” 10,971-foot river-crossing for the Kinder
Morgan pipeline, saying it can now do 15,000, and Michels Directional Crossing brags that it has
already crossed spans of 15,000 feet and has completed 60-inch diameter pipe installations.
Note that the maximum size of the tunnel reamed in South Beach to accommodate the pullback
of the 54-inch pipe is 72 inches.
“Was it fair,” I asked Cory Baker, “to count the entire length of the 22-inch, 11,065 feet tunnels,
when two tunnels were drilled to intersect?”
“Yes, because there is no way you could drill a hole that long in one drilling.”
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What about the 15,000-foot tunnel Michels Directional Crossing brags about? I asked. Whose
fish is longer? He said he recalled that a trench had to be dug to join two lengths of that tunnel.

Based upon the experience Hard Rock and Spartan and the bragging of other drillers, it would
appear without further research into the issue that the Hard Rock and Spartan crews could have
constructed the 4,600-foot tunnel in a single drilling without “pushing the technology.”
So as not to second-guess Bruce Mowry, a man with 35 years of experience working on water
resource projects and who has offered to buy tickets for people to leave town if they are not
positive about plans to save the city and think people should evacuate to avoid the inevitable
great flood, I queried David Mancini, Cory Baker, Barry Nailling and John English as to
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whether the tunnel could have been bored and constructed in a single crossing. They have not

Looking South on Euclid at Washington veering off to right

Perhaps Mowry is right. The plastic pipe is somewhat flexible, but it may have gotten stuck in
the hole negotiating a slight diversion to the West where Euclid Avenue runs into Washington
Avenue. We shall never know. If the hole had been placed before 5th Street to mitigate noise and
the unanticipated, expensive delays due to scheduling traffic as a result of "technical issues,"
that diversion still would have to have been negotiated.

Poised at 5th and Euclid

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So-Called Technical Issues Finally Overcome
By David Arthur Walters
27 April 2014
The Spartan Directional crew from Louisiana under the direction of Boyd Simon, Barry Nailling,
and Cory Baker has finally completed the horizontal drilling and pipe pullback of the second and
last trenchless section of a completely redundant sewer extending 4,600 feet along the EuclidWashington Avenue corridor in South Beach.
The drillers will now head out of town to the next job while another 600 feet of sewer is
constructed according to the traditional, open-trench method, and the pieces put together and
hooked up to the pipe that runs across the bottom of the Government Cut channel to the water
treatment plant on Virginia Key. There is already so much waste going out there that engineers
are planning on sinking deep wells so it can be stored in natural chambers deep underground.
Eventually people may have to drink and eat their own waste after it is reprocessed, that is, if a
great flood does not decimate the population.

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There were a number of unanticipated “technical issues” during the course of this historic
struggle against the resistance of Mother Earth and of certain human beings disturbed by the
noise around the entrance and exit holes. Of course such issues are always encountered in the fog
of war, and must not be reported as “problems” or “mistakes” or “freak accidents.” Post
traumatic stress in affected neighbors may be called “collateral damage.”

Notwithstanding the racket from the big Caterpillar 18 and 27 and smaller diesel engines, the
boring and reaming out to 72 inches of the 40-foot deep tunnel to accommodate the pulling of
the 54-inch pipe went rather smoothly on the 3,300-foot shot from 11th to 3rd Street and Euclid
Avenue. A crucial part on the rig that turns the drilling pipe did crack and had to be replaced, so
some time was lost waiting for a replacement to be brought in from Texas. Time is money, so
any delay is costly.

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The big hitch was at the hole at 3rd Street after it became the entrance hole for the 1,300-foot
shot from 3rd to Washington and Commerce. Euclid runs into Washington there at an angle, so
the tunnel had to veer off slightly to the South to run straight under Washington.

According to Bruce Mowry, the mayor’s civil engineer on the project, the drillers wanted to do a
single shot from 11th Euclid to Washington and Commerce, but he insisted on dividing it, and
putting the hole where Washington veers off from Euclid, because he was afraid the high-density
polyethylene pipe, although somewhat plastic or flexible, would get stuck when pulled on the
slant, creating an extraordinary delay on the mayor’s fast-track job not to mention a financial
burden on David Mancini, the general contractor.

There were, nevertheless, delays costing David Mancini and the others a pretty penny, because
the hole got fouled with big chunks of paving concrete. The head of the long pipe pulled across
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the Fifth Street main thoroughfare had to be pulled back out of the hole and back across Fifth
because the thoroughfare had to be cleared by 5 AM for rush hour traffic. The withdrawal of the
head from the hole apparently caused some damage to the hole.

On the second try, one side a 20,000-pound excavator driven by a Mancini employee broke the
concrete edge of the hole at the curb and fell into the hole, so it had to be pulled out, which was
done due to the considerable ingenuity of the Mancini foreman, but there were big chunks of
concrete down there, so the pullback did not even begin because there was not enough time. The
hole would have to be cleaned out, and the project put on hold over the busy weekend.

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Tuesday night was a go for the third time. The pipe laying along Euclid to the North was pulled
across 5th to 3rd, but the difficulty inserting the head, dirty from the last try, into the hole
became problematic, and it looked like another case of coitus interruptus.

“When you see a bunch of engineers and foremen standing around a hole with their hands in
pockets or arms crossed looking down into a hole, you know you have a serious problem,” said a
bystander with experience in the industry. “That man over there should have a hardhat on,” he
noted, gesturing at David Mancini. “That’s an OSHA violation.”

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David Mancini usually sports a hard hat and is ubiquitous around the job. He is pretty much the
unsung hero of the project. He gets the jobs and makes sure everyone jumps to so all the pieces
fit together.

The “technical issue” was the angle of the big metal box jammed into the hole to guide the pipe
into the deep tunnel. An old tree limb was pulled out. Another “box,” a storm drain box, had
already been pulled out. A big excavator picked up a large metal plate and placed it on top of the
box in the hole so it could use its shovel to tamp down the box into the right position. The head
of the tube was finally slipped deep into the hole.

I figured it would take around six hours to pull the pipe so I went home to bed, got up and
ventured to Washington and Commerce near Joe’s famous restaurant. The crew was doing the
pipe ballet as usual, unfastening each 32.5 foot joint of drilling pipe so the excavator could lift it
to the side. It reminded of my days working in the factory. One must be very careful lest one get
bored with repetitive work, and get maimed or killed by an accident. For example, a man who
was cutting aluminum extrusions for Holiday Inn fronts cut his hand right off with the saw. I
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forgot to take my hand out of one end of an extrusion as I was drilling holes for the fasteners,
and ran the drill right through my hand.

The driller mud used to slick up the hole for the pipe was being kept at the right consistency, as
men waded around in the muck with hoses attached to the mud pumps. This sure is a lot of work,
I thought, so that 200,000 residents plus tourists can take a healthy dump.

The last joints of drilling pipe came out pulling the swab the cleared the way for the head behind
it. Mission accomplished! Well, not the whole mission, the mayor’s messianic mission to save
this would-be paradise from global warming and inundation by human waste.

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At least the drillers can go home now. I hope they all get a nice bonus out of the gross margin. I
recommended they all be dined at Joe’s, which would be the hospitable thing to do, to
demonstrate that we do not blame them for making so much noise by the windows of neighbors
around the holes so traffic would not be held up tearing up the whole street to lay a completely
redundant sewer because three-percent of the wire straps on the old pre-stressed concrete main
magnetically showed incipient or beginning signs they might fail some day.
That kind of hospitality is evidently not the custom here because we are too far below the Deep
South. I worked my fingers to the bone counting money for a company that threw its Christmas
party at Joe’s. I was not invited because I was leaving the company for the New Year, and, down
here “Joe’s is not a reward for past work, but is an incentive to work hard in the future.”
Three cheers anyway for the Spartan crew. And three cheers as well for the Mancini crew that
did all the heavy lifting of pipes, water, tanks, and mud all over the place. Without the soldiers
the mayor’s war against Mother Nature could not be temporarily won. Maybe General Mancini
will treat his troops to Joe’s next Christmas.

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