Installer bought his own directional drill and mini-excavator because rental equipment in his area is often too big for his tricky installations


When he meets an obstacle during a job, Nick Herrera doesn’t always go through it or over it. He goes under it with his favorite tool: his Ditch Witch JT922 directional drilling machine.

Herrera owns NH Construction of Paradise, California, and he bought his drill about six years ago.

“It’s not something we use every day and put lot of hours on it. But we have had a lot of projects where we can’t get a pipe from the back of a property to the front because the lot is so narrow or there’s a patio. With the Ditch Witch we can bore from the back of the house to the front of the house, underneath the house, and not have to do any excavating other than where we enter and where we exit,” he says.

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Having the directional drill also means a property owner’s pretty and expensive landscaping will not be disturbed. Herrera doesn’t have to spend time restoring the property after a job, and the customer is happier.

Directional drilling equipment is not something that most installers are likely to purchase. It’s a service they’re likely to hire, but around Paradise hiring is not a solution.

“Most of the machines in this area are bigger machines, and they’re not able to fit into the 5-foot side-yard setback that is common on properties here. My Ditch Witch needs only 48 inches. And those other machines are also long so they can’t turn in tight spaces,” he says.

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The Ditch Witch is seldom used for onsite systems, but Herrera has used it to go under landscaping in order to run an effluent line to a drainfield. Most often the drill is used for sewer work, the other part of NH’s business. Typically the initial bore is 3 inches in diameter. Then the hole is reamed to 6 inches to accommodate a 4-inch pipe.

“Sometimes we hire out our boring services to other companies in the area. It’s a fairly complicated machine to run, and it requires skill to achieve accuracy in boring. We use a beacon on the drill bit that allows us to maintain a variance of only 0.1 or 0.2 percent.

“In combination with Ditch Witch, we use a Bobcat 418 mini-excavator that will collapse to a 28-inch width, and together these machines allow us to work easily in tight spaces,” Herrera says.

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Read more about NH Construction in a full profile in the February issue of Onsite Installer


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