Propane-powered post pounder quite the ‘groundbreaking’ invention

January 11, 2011 By    

Business is running into the ground at Tippmann Industrial Products Inc. in Fort Wayne, Ind. – and company executives couldn’t be more pleased.

Municipalities, farmers, electrical contractors and construction businesses are among the more prevalent purchasers of the Propane Hammer, a self-contained post driver that runs on a hardware-store LPG canister.

Needing no compressors, hoses or hydraulic systems and weighing just over 40 pounds, the device can be carried by one person into the most remotest of job sites to pound all manner of differently shaped posts, tubing, stakes, grounding rods and rebar into varied soils, clays, sand, stones and asphalt.

Initially aimed at farmers with mile upon mile of fencing to erect on the open range, “our largest market now is the municipal sector,” says marketing director Matt Steigmeyer. Civil service entities account for 50 percent of the sales, with other outdoor workers accounting for the other half.

“We’ve sold them in about every continent in the world. Everyone knows about propane; the technology’s been around forever,” he observes.

“One 14.1-ounce tank will give you 7,000 hits, which equates to about 300 posts depending on what type of posts you’re driving,” Steigmeyer explains. “With stop sign posts, you can get 75 of those in on one tank.”

A pin-equipped adapter that fits into the holes running the length of the widely used u-channel sign posts permits pounding from the side without having to climb a ladder. The device readily dispatches, at 65 foot-pounds per blow, the newer Telespar breakaway square-shaped posts increasingly being planted along roadsides for safer traffic signage.

“We offer all kinds of adaptors for different types of posts,” Steigmeyer says. “You get two to three blows per second as long as you hold the trigger. It saves time and money.”

The device is particularly adept at functioning in rugged terrain where the task at hand involves accessing thickets of trees and other obstacles that would otherwise have to be cut down or moved when standard post-driving equipment is hauled in.

“It can be a one-person operation,” Steigmeyer says. Hydraulic-based systems are heavy and typically affixed to a crane apparatus requiring the services of two people to facilitate, not to mention the accompanying site-clearing work to clear a path. “The hydraulic unit usually has to be carried by a truck, and you can’t get in everywhere,” he points out.

Delivering a driving force of 700 pounds, the Propane Hammer packs its punch via a compact internal combustion engine sparked by a 9-volt battery.

“There’s hardly any maintenance at all,” Steigmeyer says. “There’s no daily lubrication of the machine, and it goes where you do. It is very lightweight and very portable.”

The idea behind inventing the product hit home several years ago for company executive Dennis Tippmann.

“He was out driving fence posts at his ranch in Wyoming when he said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” Steigmeyer recounts.

Tippmann had developed a line of propane-powered paintball guns for the sporting goods sector. That technology was applied to engineering a post driver.

Tippmann and other company officials talked to an assortment of end users to hone the design. A debut test run of 100 samples was quickly snapped up by farmers and other prodigious post pounders. As the refinement process moved forward, it became apparent that “the farmer was price-sensitive” to the retail cost, which now stands at $1,995. Outreach to local governments and other contractor-type occupations soon solidified the marketing push.

“The Propane Hammer is a very convenient, user-friendly way to drive posts,” Steigmeyer says. “It will drive them into hard, dry, frozen and even rocky ground.”

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