Pipe stakes on Pole trailers 018Montgomery Safer Stringing System

The motto of the companies has always been, Safety First – Service Always, which points out the importance of Safety in the pipeline stringing business.  Normal truck transportation is a hazardous business but when you add in large diameter pipe that wants to roll, in 80’ joint lengths on a steerable pole trailer going down the highway with cars all around that want to cut the truck off at every corner, the need for 100% attention to safety is an attitude that every person in our company must have at all times.  Whatever amount of time is needed to perform our service safely is the amount of time that is utilized. Montgomery Trucking Co. is committed to excellence in safety as demonstrated by 66 years of safe operations.


A New Safety Standard

The Montgomery Safer Stringing System has been designed to bring a higher level of safety to the Pipeline Stringing operation.  Pipeline Stringing is a hazardous operation but it can be done safely if the equipment is properly rigged, the load is properly chocked and tied down and the stringing crew is well trained to watch out for hazards.  In the last year there are several companies that require pipe stakes of various heights but there are no standards for the strength of the pipe stakes.  There are also no standards for the size and manner that the chocks are applied to the loading boards on flatbed trailers.  Our Safety Stringing System has set standards for these and other things that must be done to attain the safest method of loading, securing and transporting the load of pipe from the loading yard and during the stringing operation. 
The components for a load that can be strung safely are described below. 

At a minimum there should be a chock applied to each side of the load, front and back, to hold the bottom layer of pipe tight against each other.  The safest chock is a metal chock like the chocks on our pole trailers.  These chocks are fitted to the bolster and held in place with steel chain.  When using a flatbed trailer to haul pipe the chock should be made of a minimum of a cross cut 4"X4" board with large chocks being used on larger pipe. The chock should then be nailed properly to the board below with at least two nails.  The purpose of a chock is to hold the bottom layer in place so that the outside joint can not jump over the chock when putting joints on the layers above the bottom.

If the bottom layer of pipe is not loaded tight against each other the space that is between the joints allows the joints, on a pyramided load, above the bottom layer to wedge down (wedge effect) and apply excess pressure against the chocks.  When this happens either the outside bottom joint on one side or the other will pop over the chock or the outside joint on one of the layers of pipe above the bottom will lose its grove between the two joints below it and pop out of the pyramid.  When a load is chocked and secured properly and the joints are tight against each other on the bottom layer the load is safe to transport and string on the right of way. 

If there are joints to be loaded on a load that are less than approximately 75% of the average joint length they should be loaded on top of the load, not in the middle or bottom of the load.  The reason for this is when a joint that is substantially shorter than the other joints in the middle or on the bottom of the load it can contribute to the wedge effect that can cause a joint to pop out of the load. 

Montgomery's fleet of trailers have been modified by adding heavy wall 3 1/2" diameter pipe stacks that extend up over 2' above the loading surface.  Additional height can be added by inserting heavy wall 2 1/2" diameter pipe stacks in the 3 1/2" stacks to extend up to 4' above the loading surface.  The purpose of the pipe stacks is to hold a joint within the pipe stacks in the event of a joint of pipe popping out or a chock breaking.  In the past small metal pipe stakes have been used by other companies and the strength is not sufficient to hold a break out.  The pipe stakes are not a replacement for properly applied chocks.  The load should be loaded in the middle of the trailer to avoid excess swaying of the load, not against the pipe stakes.  On most sizes this means that the pipe will not be in contact with the pipe stack. 

Nylon straps (belly wraps), normally 4" width, should be used to wrap around the load after the loading is completed and tie the load together with portable winches.  This creates one object to tie down with the load straps.  These straps should be tightened before the load straps.  This helps take the pressure off the chocks and helps prevent a wedge effect when the load straps are tightened.  When a load is tied down only with load straps tied to the trailer it puts downward and outward pressure on all joints.  There should be a belly wrap around the front and back of the load approximately 1/4 of the way from each end of the load.   

Load straps should be applied after the belly wraps are tightened in at least the size and number specified by the Department of Transportation regulations.  Although we do not recommend taking stripped loads to a pipeline right of way for stringing, when hauling stripped loads of pipe each layer should be tied down separately to prevent swaying which will cause a load to break down. 

When the load of pipe has safely made it to the pipeline right of way for stringing it is vitally important for the driver and unloading crew to inspect the load before beginning to loosen the load straps or belly wraps.  First check the chocks to make sure they have not been cracked or loosened during the trip.  If they are damaged replace them while the load is still safely tied down.  Then check the bottom layer of pipe.  If there is space between any of the joints on the bottom layer there is a potential for a break out.  If there is space between joints further inspect the load to see if a potential for break out exist.  Additional chocking may be necessary if this condition exist.  Make sure the proper pipe stacks are in place and only then start to loosen the straps.  The load straps should be loosened a little but not taken off.  Then the belly wraps should be taken off and if everything is in good shape then the load straps should be taken off.   

Although we do not recommend hauling stripped loads of pipe to pipeline right of ways for stringing, if it is necessary because of end finish the stringing process should be different.  When unloading stripped loads, when a layer of pipe is untied the entire layer should be unloaded before the tractor trailer is moved.  All other layers should remain tied down until the next unloading spot is reached and then another layer unloaded in that spot and repeat the process until the bottom layer is remaining and it can be strung in the normal stringing method. 

Montgomery's fleet of trucks are equipped with tow hitches that make towing safe and not harmful to the equipment.  Proper tow cables should be used when towing equipment in order to make it safe.  A proper tow cable is of sufficient strength to prevent breaking, which can cause personal injury and property damage.  The tow cable should be of sufficient length to allow the driver to see the tow cable in order to keep the slack out of the cable.  If slack is allowed to build in the cable when harder ground is reached and then soft ground conditions are met again it can cause a jerking effect that can damage equipment and potentially lead to personal injury. 

The Montgomery equipment is rigged to prevent fuel and oil spills.  Our trucks are rigged with fuel tanks of a smaller size than the normal cross country trucks.  This gives more ground clearance so that the possibility of a punctured fuel tank is less.  Another important modification is that all trucks are rigged with the cross over fuel lines between the fuel tanks mounted above the tanks.  Most cross country trucks have the cross over lines mounted on the bottom of the fuel tanks.  This can cause a fuel spill if an object on the right of way comes in contact with the cross over line.  Our experienced, properly trained pipeline stringing drivers and well maintained equipment prevents oil spills that can happen if the driver does not know how to drive down the right of way.