Astec Unveils DD-3238 Directional Drill

By Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

Sleek hoods allow easy access to the DD-3238's engine compartment and rear-mounted mud pump.
Multifunction Joystick
A backlit LCD screen offers function-key operation for quick view of all critical drill functions. A single, multifunction joystick controls the drilling operation.

Astec Underground incorporated drilling technology from its American Augers and Case cousins to build the DD-3238 horizontal directional drill, introduced at the Underground Technology Conference in January. The HDD is the first in Astec's new EarthPro Series of drills and incorporates "proven components" of the other two brands, said Klane Kirby, director of sales. It replaces the American Augers DD-3 and the Case 6030.

"American Augers has had rack-and-pinion carriage drive since 1988," Kirby said, noting that the DD-3238 dual drive has been cut to be quiet and long lasting. The floating carriage is capable of two speeds, including a 120 fpm fast mode for adding and removing rods.

The DD-3238 has 32,000 pounds of thrust/pullback force and can deliver up to 3,800 ft.-lb. of rotary torque with a maximum rotary speed of 225 rpm. It's designed for the burgeoning FTTH (fiber to the home) market, as well as the water and sewer rehabilitation market, says Kirby. A 125-hp John Deere 4045T turbocharged diesel powers the drill, which weighs 20,000 pounds, and has a footprint of 247×89 inches. An onboard FMC mud pump will push up to 47 gallons per minute at up to 1,500 psi.

The DD-3238 uses 10-foot drill stem and carries 500 feet in its rod baskets. Floating open-top vice wrenches provide good operator visibility, making for efficient drilling, Kirby says. The rod loader is run by hydraulic cylinders.

Designed with sleek, curved hoods over the engine compartment and mud pump in the rear, the drill sports an ergonomic operator's station complete with microprocessor-controlled electronic readout for all function gauges. The console allows for onboard diagnostics, too. A single joystick controls all drill functions, including a greaser button. Operators can also set their drilling speed, much like an automobile cruise control, Kirby said, with a reset button to return to that speed after slowing or speeding up.

Astec also included safety features on the DD-3238, including its patented Es!Lok system. This system allows field personnel to remotely stop the drilling function. If, for example, a locator has a problem, he shuts the operation down himself instead of radioing to the operator or relying on hand signals. A light on the operator panel signals the operator that the drill has been disabled; the locator then restarts the operation when the problem is cleared. A strike-alert system with a voltage sensor provides additional safety.

Other features on the DD-3238 include independent rear stabilizers, and a single drive stake down system that can put down up to four stakes if necessary.

Commenting on the Case relationship, vice president sales/marketing Alan Odgers said Astec had purchased the intellectual property of the Case underground products last fall. Astec drills will still be marketed through select Case dealerships, he said.

Comparative Specifications
Manufacturer/Model Max. Pullback (lbs.) Max. Thrust (lbs.) Max. Rotational Torque (lb.-ft.) Gross Engine Power (hp)
Astec DD-3238 32,000 32,000 3,800 125
Barbco BD-30-15SC 30,000 30,000 3,000 160
Ditch Witch JT2720 All Terrain 27,000 16,500 2,700 125
Robbins 3010TMSC 31,200 31,200 3,300 125
SE Industries Scorpio 503 29,321 19,180 3,983 83
Straightline 3550 35,000 35,000 5,500 155
TT Technologies Grundodrill 15X 30,000 30,000 3,100 68
Vermeer D36×50 36,000 36,000 4,928 125