05/06/2020 Lee & Sims Drilling Services puts Liebherr LB 36-410 Drill Rig on the job for South Carolina bridge project

  • New Harbor River Bridge will provide critical transportation link for residents and visitors.
  • Liebherr’s LB 36-410 drill rig’s power, capability and compact footprint is the ideal choice for work aboard barge.

South Carolina-based Lee & Sims Drilling Services, Inc. chooses a Liebherr LB 36-410 Drill Rig for a major regional project – building 18 drilled shafts over 9 interior bents for the new Harbor River Bridge. The rig was used to drill 8 ft. diameter shafts to depths up to 115 ft. through sandy clay, marlstone and limestone.

An aerial view of the Liebherr LB 36-410 drilling rig at work on the Harbor River Bridge project in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

An aerial view of the Liebherr LB 36-410 drilling rig at work on the Harbor River Bridge project in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

An aerial view of the Liebherr LB 36-410 drilling rig at work on the Harbor River Bridge project in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

“This project was on the larger side for us,” said John Sims, the company’s vice president. “But thanks to the Liebherr rig’s reliability, we completed the project with zero down time,” said Sims, who was on site every day to oversee the job’s progress.

Located in Beaufort County, South Carolina, the bridge is slated for completion in the summer of 2021. The South Carolina Department of Transportation is constructing the 3,353 ft. long high-level, fixed-span bridge and removing the existing swing-span bridge along Sea Island Parkway over the river.

The new bridge will be 65 ft. high with 12 ft. wide lanes and 10 ft. shoulders in each direction. The existing US 21 bridge is nearly 80 years old and is slated for demolition when the new bridge is finished. The bridge is the only means for vehicular access from the mainland to Harbor Island, Hunting Island and Fripp Island.

Lee & Sims originally intended to rent the LB 36-410 rig but ultimately decided to purchase instead. “It was a good fit for this project and a good fit for our business model,” Sims said.

Lee & Sims chose the LB 36 because its capability to drill the depth and diameter necessary for the bridge project. However, the machine’s footprint and weight made it suitable for working on a barge.

Wendell Lee and Bruce Sims founded the company that bears their name in 1985 to provide water well drilling services in Upstate South Carolina. Sims became the sole owner in 1997 and began to turn over the operation of the business to two of his sons, John and Don Sims. In the early 2000s, the company turned its focus primarily to deep foundation work, and that remains the company’s specialty today. Bruce Sims passed away in 2003 and the company is now operated by John and Don Sims. Lee & Sims employs about 20, and is based in Belton, South Carolina, near Greenville. The company works throughout the Carolinas and Georgia.

The LB-36-410 can perform multiple types of work, such as kelly drilling, continuous flight auger drilling, full displacement drilling, double rotary drilling, and single paddle soil mixing. The machine’s upper carriage is compact and designed for small working radii. This allows for working at jobsites with limited space. When producing piles with very large diameters, up to 12 ft., the rig can be equipped with an additional equipment package which includes an extended drilling axle, more counterweight and a shorter leader foot.

Two of the company’s deep foundation rigs are manufactured by Liebherr. “We also have an LB 24-270, which has been a good rig,” Sims said. “The LB 36-410 will probably be headed to south Georgia in the fall for an upcoming project that requires drilling several deep, large diameter shafts.” Both machines are equipped with Liebherr’s Kelly Visualization: Thanks to the real time display of the locking recesses of the Kelly bar on the cabin monitor, the operator is constantly informed of the actual distance to the next locking recess. Color indications inform when the bar can be locked. Furthermore, false positioning of the Kelly bar during the shake-off process is indicated through a warning signal upon misapplication.