Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Austin Gray Mullins, PhD.

Co-Major Professor

Ashraf Ayoub, PhD

Committee Member

William Carpenter, Ph.D.


lead connection, principle strain-stress, load displacement, capacity of lead, modeling


Driving piles constitute a large portion of the high-capacity foundations used today. They transfer structural loads to deep bearing strata when adequate surficial soils are not available. The mechanisms required to install these piles generally consist of a hammer, hammer lead, a crane, and various support rigging.

This study focused on lead sections, specifically, one which was manufactured by Berminghammer Foundation Equipment, Inc. The dimensions and strength of a lead section must be capable of supporting both the pile driving hammer and the longest anticipated pile for a given site. The strength of the section must be capable of withstanding hundreds of tons in compression and bending. If the lead is operated in a batter, (tilted forward, backward, or sideways) the weight of the hammer and pile causes much more bending than the vertical orientation. The cross-section details for these long steel sections vary from design to design but usually incorporate some form of bolt group, pins, and steel alignment dowels.

This thesis focuses on the design, modeling, and testing of such a connection. The motivation of the study stems from a company-wide incentive to standardize the connections used to splice the Berminghammer C15-series lead section. In an effort to verify a proposed connection design, Berminghammer Foundation Engineering solicited the University of South Florida to test a full-sized lead section to failure, while monitoring the splice-connection performance.