In Lordsburg, New Mexico, the utility division of Morrow Enterprises, Inc. performed a difficult sewer line relocation project to help accommodate Union Pacific’s plans for future railroad expansion. The job entailed installing four new sewer pipes under existing railroad tracks and a highway. While this project wasn’t a typical major sewer rehabilitation, its location and the need for accuracy made it a challenging assignment. To get the job done, the Morrow Enterprises crew relied on one of the oldest and most reliable trenchless methods — auger boring.

Project overview

Over the course of several weeks, the Morrow Enterprises team performed four challenging underground crossings, including a 24-inch (60 cm) diameter, 440 foot (134 m) bore, a 24-inch (60 cm) diameter, 130 foot (39.6 m) bore, a 42-inch (106.7 cm) diameter, 220 foot (67 m) bore and a 24-inch (60 cm) diameter 350 foot (106.7 m) bore.

“Making sure everything was set up correctly was the most important part of this auger boring job,” explained Justin Sparks, utilities superintendent for Morrow Enterprises. “Everything needed to be on-grade, and there was a very low tolerance for any deviation, which meant our pit floor had to be dug to the right depth, and we needed to stay on target with the bore path.”

Setting up an auger bore started with potholing existing utilities, digging entrance and exit pits, pouring a concrete slab for the auger boring machine, setting up the tracks and then dropping in the machine. The utility crew used two different size units on this job, a new McLaughlin MCL 54/60 auger boring machine for the 42-inch (106.7 cm) diameter bores and its older, but reliable McLaughlin MCL 24 auger boring machine.

Utilizing the McLaughlin On-Target steering system

For this job, Morrow Enterprises tried something they have never used before, the McLaughlin On-Target steering system. The crew first tested On-Target steering system on the 440-foot (134 m) bore under railroad tracks using a 24-inch (60 cm) head and an MCL 54/60 auger boring machine.

The crew executed the job perfectly. At 300 feet (91.4 m), the length of the tunnel, there was absolutely no grade deviation, and the line was perfect. The team continued to push to a distance of another 140 feet (42.7 m) to eliminate the open cut and was off grade by only 0.25-inch (6.4 mm) and within an inch (25.5 mm) of the line.

“We are thrilled with the On-Target steering system,” said Sparks. “It was easy to check where we were at and make adjustments. Every time we pulled the auger back, we could check the position of the twin line projection lights. It’s pretty exact.”

After that bore was completed, the crew flipped the auger boring equipment around in the same pit to complete another 140 foot (42.7 m) bore under the highway and then connected the casings in the pit.

Representatives from McLaughlin Underground were on site for the first job, which Sparks says he greatly appreciated. “With this being the first time, we used the On-Target system, having them there was helpful,” he explained. “They made sure we had everything connected correctly and provided direction when we needed it.”

The Morrow Enterprises’ crew used a larger 42-inch (106.7 cm) On-Target steering head on their next bore to go 220 feet (67 m). Once the casings were installed, the crew ran a 24-inch (61-cm) diameter sewer pipe through it.

The team also used the On-Target steering system on the final 350-foot (106.7 m) bore on-grade.

Equipment used on the job

Have questions about the auger boring or the McLaughlin On Target steering system? Give McLaughlin a call at 864-277-5870 or drop them an email at [email protected].



McLaughlin, a Vermeer Company, has been actively involved in the drilling tool industry for more than 95 years. McLaughlin has a reputation for designing and building dependable, low maintenance trenchless construction equipment. McLaughlin takes pride in providing solutions for OEMs and the underground industry.

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