This issue's Tool Tip is submitted by LSAW Member Justin Turnbull, PLS. If you have a tip you would like to share with the LSAW membership, please email info@LSAW.org
The following has made a substantial impact on time savings and survey crew effort. Firstly, modern cordless tools with lithium batteries and brushless motors are 4-5 times more efficient than the tools from 5 years ago. We can usually run all day on a 5Ah battery without changing batteries.
While we have a handful of tools, the ones that have made the most impact to the survey crew are the cordless hammerdrill and the cordless wet/dry vacuum. I have Dewalt tools for my personal use and Milwaukee for work. Either are solid platforms, but Milwaukee has a slightly more powerful vacuum. Ryobi would be a good cheaper option as well, but in my experience, the batteries can be damaged if you let them freeze (I have an unheated garage).
The goal here is to have the LOWEST impact force and the highest beats per minute. This ensures that if you do impact an aluminum or brass cap, the damage is minimized. While we originally purchased this just to chisel out asphalt covering mon cases, it has been great for asphalt removal, freeing up stuck mon lids, pre-drilling hard ground for wood hubs, drilling magnail noles in concrete, and drilling ¾” holes in bedrock for corners. This has reduced 10-15 minutes of hammering time into less than a minute. Regardless of the manufacturer you choose, a Bosch “HCST006” bit set is perfect for surveying. You have a chisel and a few sizes of masonry bits that will work for magnails….. and it fits in your pocket.
Milwaukee 2712 / Dewalt DCH273: These are the two I have used, and I would say they are pretty much the same. The Milwaukee has a rubber coating on the batteries, which might protect them if they were dropped, but overall they feel very similar. Dewalt also makes some cheaper less compact units, but I haven’t used them.
90 percent of the time, these are for sucking out mon cases. In the past, I have used rags, cut up drink bottles, kayak pumps, and whatever we could come up with. In about 20 seconds I can vacuum up 2 gallons of water and mud and whatever else is down there, hit the cap with a brass brush and vacuum it off, and I have a clean, easily readable cap, in what used to take 5 or more minutes……. time well saved, particularly when in a road intersection.
Milwaukee 0880: Most powerful available when I was researching. The battery is a bit of a pain to remove, and hose had to be repaired with electrical tape after a year of use.
Dewalt 580/581: 580 is battery only, 581 is corded OR battery. I bought the 581, and have never actually plugged it in. If you go with the Dewalt, I would save the cash and get the 580.