HDD Rig Shopping Catalog: What’s Out there for Today’s Drillers?

When it comes time to buy that new drill rig for your fleet, how do you go about it? Do you stay with the same manufacturer or do you comparison shop? Like with any big purchase, the information involved can be overwhelming. Each manufacturer’s offerings are different from the next or are they?

Let’s face it, most contractors have their brand favs but do you really know what’s available to you? We want to help you get started. Each year, we ask the drill rig manufacturers to give readers a glimpse into what they can offer contractors. The following slides share the compact, midsize and maxi rig product lines of the HDD rig manufacturers. For more specific data, you need to directly contact the manufacturer — they would love to hear from you and discuss your needs.

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As always, all the information in this section comes directly from the rig manufacturers. No direct comparisons between equipment or manufacturers are implied.

Happy Shopping!

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Sharon M. Bueno is managing editor of Trenchless Technology.

American Augers

135 State Route 42 | West Salem, OH 44287
Ph: (800) 324-4930 | Web: americanaugers.com

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History: The American Augers line of underground construction equipment consists of: auger boring machines, maxi rig and mid-size directional drills, mud pump and cleaning systems and tooling and accessories. The products are manufactured at the company’s 241,000-sq ft facility in West Salem, Ohio. Since the founding of American Augers in 1970, there has never been a change in the company’s core value: having products developed by a can-do workforce that focuses on mechanical, technological and customer-based design improvements. American Augers was the first HDD manufacturer to use a rack-and-pinion carriage design, which is now the industry standard.

Products Summary: American Augers produces high quality mid-size and maxi horizontal directional drills in the industry. The smallest has a push/pull of 110,000 lbs and is a great size for those contractors that are bidding both utility installation and gas pipeline work. The 20-ft version of the DD-110 is now offered at your local Ditch Witch dealer. Off-board cabins on the midsize DD-220T increases the visibility for the driller, reduces fatigue due to vibration and allows room for the steering operator. Off-board mud pumps ensure the rig’s engine power goes straight downhole instead of to the pump. The best-selling maxi-rig in the industry is the DD-440T. Durable, mobile and most of all, powerful enough for the tough jobs, the DD-440T is the go-to drill rig for contractors around the world because of its versatility and strength. Rapid Set-Up horizontal directional drills are unique to American Augers. The DD-660RS and DD-1100RS allow the driller to pull the rig into position, then rapidly rises to the desired drilling angle. Both are micro-processor controlled and have incredible torque. The DD-1100RS tops out at 1.1 million lbs of push/pull.

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Advice to Buyers: Don’t just look for a rig that fits your needs but, instead look for a manufacturer who is dedicated to helping you reach your goals and keeping you up and running.

Recent Trends: What we are seeing are customers wanting a rig that is easy to move and quick to set up.

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American Auger's Specs

BarbcoBarbco Inc.

315 Pekin Ave., SE | East Canton, OH 44720
Ph: (800) 448-08934 | Web: barbco.com

History:  Founded by Jim Barbera in 1989 and currently operated by his three sons Tony, David and Jimmy. Barbco Inc. is an Ohio manufacturer of quality underground construction equipment. Barbco employs approximately 90 people. Barbco builds and support trenchless equipment including horizontal directional drills, auger boring machines, guided boring steering systems, cradle boring machines, as well as many custom types of machinery. All of which is used to install casing for use in utility and/or oil and gas pipelines. We start with a simple design for easy maintenance and operation. We add quality components that have stronger duty cycles and couple them to a higher flywheel horsepower thus creating unmatched performance that the operator can actually feel when on a tough pull. Barbco’s machines are used throughout the world on a daily basis with a proven track record of long durability in the field for performance, reliability, better quality construction and a simple design for easy maintenance and operation.

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Products Summary: Tribor is a hybrid design that accommodates just about any down hole steering system whether a mud motor, air hammer, sonde housing, or camera assist target housing. It’s a multi-purpose drill offering the functions and setup of a horizontal directional drill (HDD), auger boring machine (ABM), and guided boring machine (GBM) pilot tube system. Tribor models that are available from Barbco are: T30, T36 and T48. Tribor is a hydrostatic system that is powered by a skid or trailer mounted power unit. The system can be coupled to any mud delivery system in the market. Tribor’s range from 186,532 to 592,191 lbs of pullback via the use of hydraulic cylinders. To increase the speed of the pilot, as well as pullback operations Barbco has added value by including a modestly powered rack-and-pinion system that ranges from 31,104 lbs of pullback force on its T30 to 122,262 lbs of pullback force on its T48. The rotary package starts at 33,741 ft-lbs of torque and finish at 80,620 ft-lbs.

Advice to Buyers: Review your buyers guides and look into the value each manufacturer puts into their equipment. Contact that manufacturer and ask that they explain why their machinery is superior to their competition. If possible, visit their manufacturing plant and get an idea of who you may be dealing with. It’s important to know who you’re buying from. Be sure to review their specifications before the price. Also, ask the manufacturer to explain how they determined what horse power to put on-board their rig.

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Fun Fact: In Fall 2016, we held a demonstration here at our facility. We operated our HDDs, ABMs, GBMs and cradle boring machines for many of our customers. Everyone was able to climb aboard the machinery and get a close look at what sets us apart. We had fun and so did our guests. We plan to do this again in 2017 – look for your invitation!

Barbco Specs

Ditch WitchDitch Witch

1959 West Fir Ave. | P.O. Box 66 | Perry, OK 73077
Ph: (800) 654-6481 | Web: ditchwitch.com

History: Since its founding in 1949, the Ditch Witch organization has grown from inventing the first mechanized, compact service-line trencher to being a one-stop source for underground construction equipment. Introduced in 1990, the original Ditch Witch horizontal directional drill (HDD) has advanced based on industry changes and direct customer feedback, now including a lineup of 12 different units. The latest generation of Ditch Witch drills provides operators advanced, next-generation machines with innovative technology for improved performance, power and productivity. The Ditch Witch organization also provides the industry’s widest range of downhole tooling options to help handle hard rock, mud, tree roots and dense ground. In addition to its lineup of quality HDD equipment, the organization also offers a range of other underground equipment, including trenchers, vibratory plows, backhoes, chains, teeth and sprockets, vacuum excavation systems and mini skid steers.

Products Summary: The Ditch Witch lineup of HDD drills equip operators with the latest technology for optimal productivity on a wide range of compact and large-scale jobsites and a variety of terrains, including sandy and soft soil, and medium and hard rock conditions. Each drill includes a comfortable, ergonomic operator’s station to help operators remain comfortable and productive on the job. With no grease zerks and easy access to all service points in one spot, maintenance is simplified and total cost of ownership reduced. The latest addition to the lineup, the JT40 drill, helps operators gain 14 percent more horsepower in a smaller package than competitive models in its class with 160 gross hp. The JT40 also offers greater drilling efficiency with a two-speed, rotational drive system. Operators on compact jobsites can depend on the JT10 drill’s exceptional power and reliable platform. The drill has 10,000 lbs of pullback and a standard, 16-gpm mud pump. As the largest drills in the lineup, the JT100 and JT100 All Terrain provide 100,000 lbs of pullback and 12,000 ft-lbs of torque. These units are ideal for challenging and long bores and installation of larger-diameter pipe. Beyond power, an exclusive dual-pivot drill frame allows for steeper angles of entry without having to raise tracks off the ground, which provides improved machine stability and overall operator comfort.

Advice to Buyers: Evaluate drills by how they balance machine and operator productivity. Operational awareness paired with a comfortable workstation can boost ROI on a jobsite. The addition of LED screens can improve visibility into machine functions and diagnostics. Multifunction, radial operator controls can highlight a better efficiency in mud flow and rotation via the drill display. Tracker information integrated into displays can also increase productivity by enhancing visibility into all jobsite functions beyond drill operation.

Recent Trends: An increasing demand for fiber is causing carriers to scramble as they bring fiber-optic cable connections directly to homes, business, government facilities and educational institutions. This high demand puts more contractors on jobsites and tightens turnaround times. HDD drills are particularly helpful on the long-haul routes between cities and towns, backbone fiber lines, and the shared miles of fiber that multiple individual properties use when connecting to the backbone. All Terrain (AT) technology is specifically designed for drilling precision, control and efficiency in solid rock, fractured rock or other hard, underground conditions.

Fun Fact: Ed Malzahn, pioneer and founder of the Ditch Witch organization, invented the first commercial, service-line trencher in 1949. This was a major advancement for the installation of small pipe and cable in urban environments. But there was still one major jobsite challenge: Whenever the pipe or cable encountered an obstacle, such as a river or roadway, the process typically required a major construction project to cross the obstacle. The Ditch Witch organization eventually purchased the intellectual property for what is now known in the HDD industry as the slant-faced method of boring. The slant-face technology was first used to effectively install pipe and cable by a small-scale, fluid-assisted boring unit and recognized as a U.S. patent in 1988.

Ditch Witch Specs


Schlehenweg 2 D-77963 | Schwanau, Germany
Ph: +49 7824 302-9570 | Web: herrenknecht.com

History: In 1977, Martin Herrenknecht founded the Herrenknecht GmbH (limited liability company), which became a joint stock company (AG) in 1998. Today, Herrenknecht delivers cutting-edge tunnel boring machines for all ground conditions and in all diameters – ranging from 0.10 to 19 m – and technical solutions to sink vertical shafts as well as to excavate sloping shafts. In 2016, the Herrenknecht Group achieved a total operating performance of 1,208 million Euro. It employs approximately 5,000 members of staff worldwide including up to 180 trainees. In the era of modern trenchless technology, Herrenknecht can look back on around 30 years of experience on projects worldwide. In addition to HDD, Herrenknecht is continuously developing new technologies for the pipeline industry, e.g. E-Power Pipe, Direct Pipe and Pipe Express.

Products Summary: The maxi and mega rigs developed and manufactured by Herrenknecht exert pulling forces of between 120,000 and 1,349,000 lbs (600 and 6,000 kN) and achieve a maximum torque of between 35,000 and 110,000 ft-lbs, depending on the model. All Herrenknecht HDD rigs have their own diesel-powered energy supply housed in sound-proofed 20-ft containers. The capacity of these power packs, as we call them, can vary from 300 to more than 1,300 hp, depending on the application. These rigs are remarkable not only for their performance capacity but also for their construction design. We offer frame, trailer, crawler and modular rigs. Herrenknecht has collaborated with recognized HDD specialists to develop innovative downhole tools. With these, crossings can be carried out more quickly and economically. We are also specialized in manufacturing tailor-made HDD rigs according to customers specification.

Advice to Buyers: Within the Herrenknecht rental fleet, HDD-Rigs and other HDD equipment, like pipe thruster, high-pressure mud pumps, mobile breakout units etc., can be rented. This enables the client to test the equipment before buying. Part of the paid rental rates will be considered in the purchase price if the equipment is taken over after a rental contract. Herrenknecht also offers a verity of HDD downhole tools which can improve the overall production and efficiency of drilling.

Herrenknecht Specs


2006 Perimeter Rd. | Greenville, SC 29605
Web: mclaughlinunderground.com

History: For more than 95 years, McLaughlin has been an active leader in the underground construction industry. McLaughlin has developed a reputation for designing and building dependable, low maintenance trenchless construction equipment solutions for the power, gas, telecom, water, sewer and oil markets. McLaughlin is focused on developing innovative products that provide contractors safe and productive methods for the identification and installation of underground utilities. McLaughlin offers a full line of utility locators and vacuum excavators for safely finding and exposing existing infrastructure, as well as a number of other trenchless installation products. McLaughlin manufactures Hole Hammer pneumatic piercing tools, Mighty Moles and pit launch directional drills for trenchless installation of conduit, cable and HDPE pipes. In addition, McLaughlin has a full line up of auger boring machines and 360-degree On-Target steering systems for installation of steel casing.

Products Summary: McLaughlin offers two pit launch drills: 5-ft and 7-ft models. The 5-ft model is ideal for limited access jobsites and smaller entry pits. This model is popular in Europe and for use in downtown areas that cannot be accessed with traditional surface-launch directional drills. The 7-ft model is best suited for projects with more access. This model offers enhanced productivity because there is less making and breaking of rods. Both models have 1,030 ft-lbs of torque and 13,250 lbs of pullback. They use a standard locator-transmitter beacon, HDD drill head and HDD tooling. Mud mixing system and hydraulic power pack accessories are also available. Pit-launched directional drills are frequently used by non-traditional HDD contractors. They are straight-hydraulic machines that are simple to operate and quite reliable. Like with any piece of equipment, it’s important that operators receive proper training and follow standard HDD practices and OSHA regulations for pit set up.

Advice to Buyers: Before you purchase any piece of equipment, make sure it is appropriate for the application. A pit-launched drill provides a good solution to set-back and easement issues but can be more time-consuming to set up than a traditional surface-launched drill. Make sure you understand proper pit excavation, leveling and shoring procedures. Because many users are non-traditional HDD operators, it’s also important that they receive proper HDD training to ensure safe and productive operation.

Recent Trend: With the growing concern surrounding aging infrastructure across the country, the demand for pit-launched HDD rigs has been steadily increasing. Often road crossings and curb-to-home trenchless pipe installations require the distance and accuracy of a directional drill but are restricted by the narrow easements in urban environments. Small footprint pit-launched drills like the McLaughlin MCL10 allow contractors to work in the narrow easement and bore up to 150 ft. Contractors are able to reduce some of the issues with private access and eliminate surface landscape concerns.

McLaughlin Specs

Prime-DirectPrime Direct LLC/Prime Drilling GmbH

1642 40th St | Somerset WI 54025
Ph: (612) 867-6940 | Web: prime-drilling.com

History: Prime Drilling is a global leader in the design, development and production of advanced horizontal directional drilling rigs and allied equipment located in Germany since 1999. We understand that a successful crossing is particularly dependent on the reliability of the equipment involved. For this reason, it is not enough for us to focus on superior technical characteristics. We are driven to delivery robust, low-maintenance drill rigs that bring top performance in the most demanding environments.

Products Summary: We are selling more than “standard” HDD rigs with its components like pumping, mixing or recycling units and reaming tools, drill rods or anything you need for a successful bore. For example, Prime drilling offers compact rigs. The special feature of our compact rig is the “on board” pump. The PD-X.1.000-C impresses with its robust and low-wear design. This saves space during transport and on site and offers greater flexibility. In addition, the new Rock Drilling Rig is a highlight of Prime Drilling. This compact rig for rock drilling is equipped with double rod magazine. It is the first rock drilling rig in this high-performance category (> 50 t). Two slidable rotary heads independently drive the inner and outer rods. You can use any common walkover locating system possible with a high torque up to 90,000 kN. You can also use the “wire-line positioning system” with our rigs – no other manufacturer can offer this. Another highlight is the Prime Pipe Pusher. The Prime Pipe Pusher mainly serves for additional push or pull force with pipe pullback, but also offers the perfect solution for application combined with tunnel boring machines.

Fun Fact: Today, there are more than 200 Prime Drilling HDD rigs in successful operation around the world. All but one rig (burnt in a fire) are still running and some have more than 40,000 hours on them.

Prime Direct Specs

ToroThe Toro Co.

8111 Lyndale Ave S. | Bloomington, MN 55420
Ph: (952) 948-4197 | Web: toro.com/underground

History: At the 2013 ICUEE show, Toro broke into the underground segment by unveiling its new line-up of horizontal directional drills and other underground products. Since that time, Toro has continued to enhance its underground product offering, recently introducing the DD4050, which provides 40,000 lbs of thrust and pullback and 5,000 ft-lb of torque. Over the past year, Toro has also taken an aggressive approach to enhancing directional drill operating software. Their most recent innovation is TDOS-1 with SmartTouch, an operating system that allows pipe-handling functions to be performed using a single input on the joystick.

Products Summary: The largest and most powerful drill in the Toro lineup, the Toro DD4050, features 40,000 lbs of thrust and pullback, 5,000 ft-lbs of rotary torque and restyled guards around the boring site. The Toro DD4045 offers 40,000 lbs of thrust and pullback and 4,500 ft-lbs of rotary torque with a small footprint (only 85 in. wide). That, along with maximum drilling fluid flow of 70 gpm and tool rotation speed of 225 rpm, give the DD4045 the versatility to perform a wide range of installation projects. Rounding out the line is the most nimble unit Toro offers the DD2024. This drill packs a powerful 20,000 lbs of pullback force and 2,400 ft-lbs of rotary torque into a compact package. All models utilize a dual sided rack and four-pinion carriage design that spreads carriage load evenly and ensures smooth and efficient carriage travel. Additionally, the gear track is welded to both sides of the thrust frame for added reliability. Unique to Toro HDD models, the track is propelled by forward-mounted track drive motors with planetary gears, which deliver superior traction in all types of ground conditions. Also unique to Toro is TDOS-1 with SmartTouch, Toro’s newest drill operating system. This system streamlines pipe handling by allowing the operator to use the cam rocker switch to advance through the pipe handling process. Each push of the switch corresponds to a sequence of pipe handling functions. This makes the pipe handling process easy to learn, improving the operating experience for new operators. Furthermore, all models are equipped with a multi-function color LCD display that provides a clear view of machine functions and performance indicators. The operator also has the ability to select single- or dual- joystick operation on either the DD2024 or the DD4045, and can change between the two versions depending on the conditions. All units have incorporated heavy-duty, open-top vice wrench designs, which provide excellent visibility of the tool joint from the operator’s position.

Advice to Buyers: Potential buyers and operators of HDD rigs should consider how improved technology can simplify their daily workloads. Now more than ever, technology is making it much easier to manage the sophisticated process of horizontal directional drilling. Improved and intuitive drill operating software can not only benefit seasoned veteran operators, but can also make it much simpler for beginning drill operators to learn their craft quickly and efficiently.

Recent Trends: The integration of advanced drill operating technology is now less of a novelty, and more of a necessity in today’s marketplace. Contractors are getting smarter about how they’re doing business, and expect their equipment to evolve alongside them. This is one of the driving forces behind Toro’s dedication to innovation and in part, led to the newest Toro innovation, TDOS-1 with SmartTouch. When it comes to reducing overall cycle times, every second counts for drill operators, and the new SmartTouch functionality streamlines the entire process.

Fun Fact: The Toro Co. is more than a century old, and celebrated 100 years in business in 2014.

Toro Specs

TT TechnologiesTT Technologies

2020 E. New York St. | Aurora, Il 60502
Ph: (630) 851-8200 | Web: tttechnologies.com

Company History: TT Technologies Inc., Aurora, Ill., is a manufacturer of trenchless technology equipment for the installation and replacement of water, sewer, gas and electric utilities. The equipment is field proven, logging more than 45 years of experience. With more than 200 patents worldwide, TT Technologies is a leader in trenchless applications ranging from pipe pulling, pipe ramming, pipe bursting, sliplining, and directional boring. A nationwide network of regional customer service offices and distribution locations assures products and expertise are always nearby. Comprehensive hands-on training seminars are held at the corporate offices in Aurora, Ill., as well as regional shows, seminars, and demonstrations throughout North America each year.

Product Lineup: TT Technologies full line of trenchless equipment includes: Grundomat piercing tools, Grundodrill directional drills, Grundosteer guided piercing tools, Grundocrack pipe bursting tools, Grundoram pipe ramming tools, Grundomudd bentonite mixing and delivery systems, Grundowinch constant tension winches and Grundopit mini-directional drill rigs.

Product Highlight: TT Technologies offers several full-size and pit-launched HDD units. A hydraulically-operated Grundopit 40/60 is an ideal entry level system for utilities, cable industries or as a supplement to larger units. The compact Grundodrill 4X, is well suited for “last mile” and residential service installations, including conduit for power applications. The Grundodrill 4X also comes equipped with the exclusive Smart Vice system. The Grundodrill 18ACS is well suited for boring in alternating and difficult soils, as well as in hard rock. This rig is designed for standard bores and rock drilling up to 1,300 ft and can install up to 20-in. pipe in certain soil conditions.

Recent Trends: There seems to be demand in the HDD industry at both ends of the spectrum. Contractors looking for more compact drill rigs for services and small mains, while on the other extreme, big powerful drills are in demand in certain segments of the industry. One thing that never changes though is the expectation of quality. The HDD market is showing strong growth potential.

TT Technologies Specs

Universal HDDUniversal HDD

1221 Flex Ct. | Lake Zurich, IL 60047
Ph: (847) 955-0050 | Web: unihdd.com

History: With leading position in engineering and production of custom horizontal directional drills and equipment, we are continuing our growth strategy with the new models and product lines at the new state of the art facility. The great demand from the global market of our equipment, our old Ohio facility has reached the limit of its capacity with regards to the production capacities and technological innovation. It was therefore clear that it would not be possible to continue expanding our product line in Ohio. A new production site which would meet the requirements of the brand name Universal HDD had to be found. For Universal HDD the philosophy of creating highest quality equipment and services is not enough. We must continue to push the limits of the industry.

Product Lineup: Universal HDD remains to be the leader in design and manufacture of custom horizontal directional drills and equipment. In 2017, we introduced new and upgraded line of rigs: UNI 23×36, UNI 80×100, and UNI 250×400. These drills feature the most advanced technology in the industry, while maintaining the simple design, high productivity and reliability. Today, more than ever, we are committed to utilizing every resource to provide the highest quality products and to push industry’s standards. Our machines have drilled all over the world and in all manner of soil and hard rock conditions. We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. We’ve worked along side our customers, making crossings on nearly every continent, under the biggest, widest rivers, and under hill and dale. It is this diversity of environments that has taught us what works best in virtually every type of geology. We’ve taken what we’ve learned to design and build the best equipment we know how.

Advice to Buyers: We begin with common platforms, but we engineer and construct horizontal directional drilling machines that meet the specific needs of our customers. Pound-for-pound, at Universal HDD we provide more value to our customers, both in the equipment and customer support.

Universal HDD Specs
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