Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quick Coupler Install--Part Two

Last week we began talking about the installation of new quick coupler valves on the fairways.  If you missed that introduction to the topic, it can be found here:  2016 Project Work Underway

Again, one of the reasons this project has been undertaken is to improve efficiency.  In looking back at 2015, close to 1,300 labor hours were spent hand watering fairways.  Doing this in the most productive way is obviously important.

As promised, this week we're going to move on to the "how" of this project.  The first step in this part of the process is to lay out the location of the quick couplers.  Most of the time when hand watering, the grounds staff use a 1" X 100' hose.  Therefore, it makes sense that quick couplers only need to be spaced every 200' to reach all parts of the fairway.  And, with a circle 200' diameter, each valve should potentially cover close to 3/4 of an acre.  However, Laurel Creek's fairways are definitely not shaped like a crop circle or hockey rink, and when locating new quick couplers on existing irrigation pipe, more than a few miles were walked in trying to space them in an efficient manner.

Like most things on a golf course, with today's technology, you can do a layout on paper or a computer, but getting out in the field is still the only true way to know what you're looking  at and what the end result will be.  Marking flags are placed to see the limits of coverage from each proposed quick coupler location, and make sure there are no gaps.

Once we decided where a new quick coupler would be installed, the next step was to use our tracer to determine the exact location of the existing irrigation pipe, and which direction it ran.  There is at least one wire running next to all of the pipe on the golf course, so we attached the tracer's transmitter at a nearby irrigation controller.

The transmitter sends out a signal which the receiver then picks up.  The existing pipe is marked and the final location of the new valve is flagged.

The next step is where the digging begins.  Plywood is placed near the location, the sod is cut away, and a hole dug exposing the pipe.  Unfortunately, we have no pictures of this part of the project--the crew dug these holes like a group of human backhoes, completing the job before we could get the camera out!

When installing a new irrigation system, a "Tee fitting" will often be used in line with the pipe, where sprinklers or quick couplers are being located.  However, when installing onto an existing system we opted to use a "tapping saddle."  These can best be described as having a clam shell design.  A hole is drilled into the pipe, then the saddle is placed around the pipe and the two halves are bolted together.  Tabs on the inside of the saddle go into the irrigation pipe and keep it from shifting.  There is also a seal which prevents water from leaking.  A threaded hole on top of the saddle is where the water will exit the pipe and make its way up to the new valve.
Tapping saddle prior to being installed.
The course's 2" lateral piping is buried  at an average depth of two feet.  The part which connects the tapping saddle at pipe level to the quick coupler valve at the surface is called a "swing joint."  Swing joints have several elbow fittings with o-rings.  This allows us to keep the quick coupler valve vertical and level with the surface over varying pipe depth.

Components identified, prior to install in ground.
When you think of a swing joint, picture your elbow, forearm, and wrist.  With your elbow bent at 90 degrees, your fingers (the quick coupler valve) can point towards the ceiling.  As you straighten your elbow, and your forearm moves from vertical to horizontal, you can still keep your fingers pointing up by bending your wrist.
Saddle, swing joint and new valve being leveled prior to back fill.

A few weeks ago we talked about how fast quick coupler valves can become grown over and lost as their lids are only a couple of inches in diameter.  To prevent this, once the hole is backfilled, a valve box is placed over the quick coupler.  A thin layer of cement is then poured inside the box, and used to stabilize the quick coupler, and keep it clean.
A bit of snow covers the old sprinkler and newly installed valve box.

Now that we've explained the how of this project, we'd be remiss not to mention the "who" behind this.   As discussed above, the grounds staff did an outstanding job in working together on this irrigation improvement.  Under the supervision of Assistant Superintendent Don Holgersen, they installed as many as 15 quick couplers in a single day.

Whatever the weather, whatever the job, the crew gets it done!
We're eager to put these new quick coupler valves to use when hot weather hits in 2016.  For now though, we'll have to wait patiently to test them, as there is now a whole lot of snow on the ground, and it will be a couple of months before we can charge the irrigation system.

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