What Are the Different Types of Trench Equipment?

Bucket wheel trenchers may be used to dig the trenches for pipelines.
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  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 January 2015
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Trench equipment generally refers to any sort of tool or device that may be used for constructing a trench. This can include something as simple as a backhoe or shovel, or more heavy-duty, earth-moving machines, like rockwheel and chain trenchers. Trench equipment may be used in a wide variety of settings, such as residential areas, golf courses, construction sites, and combat zones. There are many companies that specialize in the construction of trenches. These may use many different types of equipment to accomplish their task.

Trenchers are a common form of trench equipment that are specifically designed for excavation and trench construction. They can be used for any number of purposes, such as laying cable and pipe systems or for irrigation. The type of trencher used usually depends on the size of the trench that needs to be dug and the type of material that needs to be excavated.

A rockwheel trencher is often used to cut through rock or pavement. It is defined by its toothed metal wheel that functions as a digging implement. This wheel spins like one found on a circular saw. Rockwheels are mostly used to dig or cut soil in very hard ground. The teeth on the rockwheel are removable, because replacement teeth are often needed due to the type of work this tool performs. These teeth are generally made of tungsten or high-strength steel.


Chain trenchers typically use a chain as a digging implement. This is wrapped around a rounded, metal frame and boom, much like the design of a chainsaw. In some types of chain trenchers, the boom may be adjusted at angles in order to make specific types of cuts. Many of these tools will also have a variable chain speed, which makes the possible applications of the machine more diverse.

The bucket wheel trencher uses a digging wheel that is surrounded, on its perimeter, by buckets. The circular motion of the digging wheel allows the buckets to excavate dirt from the prospective trench. Some of the possible applications of bucket wheel trenchers are for irrigation, footings, utilities, pipeline, cable, and drainage trenches.

Portable trenchers can be ideal for lawn work. This type of trench equipment generally uses a boring system for digging and can be operated while walking. These machines can typically dig trenches that are 30 inches (76.2 cm) deep and 2 to 6 inches (5.08 to 15.24 cm) wide. They are commonly used for excavating sprinkler, lighting, or water lines.



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Post 3

The most portable trencher ever developed is made by Terrasaw Industries in New Zealand and is an interchangeable attachment to a chainsaw such as Stihl, Matika or has a Husqvarna power head. Two depth sizes make it ideal for power cables or irrigation systems, very easy and quick to use. It is so small that it will fit into a car boot.

Post 2

I have worked on a few road crews and the rockwheel trencher is probably the coolest piece of machinery I have ever seen.

That huge blade at the front makes it look like some gruesome invention out of a futuristic movie. You can imagine one having to fight other robots in some kind of arena.

They are cool to watch in action as well. You would not think it would be so easy to cut through rock and pavement but those rockwheels cut through just like a circular saw on a piece of particle board.

I always hoped to get to use one but I was mostly using a shovel and a broom. That's why I don't work on road crews anymore.

Post 1

I was in WWII and we did a fair amount of trench digging using nothing but shovels. They would get together a team of 30 or 40 guys and tell them to dig a trench however long by however wide. Everybody would have at it and it usually got dug faster than you would expect. This is something I was definitely better at toward the end of my time over there. But let me tell you, I don't miss it for a second. That is the definition of back breaking labor.

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