South Carolina-based Lee & Sims Drilling Services Inc. chose a Liebherr LB 36-410 drill rig for a major regional project — building 18 drilled shafts over nine interior bents for the new Harbor River Bridge.

“This project was on the larger side for us,” says John Sims, the company’s vice president. “But thanks to the Liebherr rig’s reliability, we completed the project with zero down time.”

Sims, who was on site every day, oversaw the rig’s progress as a crew drilled 8-foot diameter shafts to depths up to 115 feet through sandy clay, marlstone and limestone.

The South Caroline Department of Transportation expects work on the bridge, located in Beaufort County, to finish in the summer of 2021. The full project scope includes building the 3,353-foot-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-feet-high with 12-foot-wide lanes and 10-foot shoulders in each direction. The existing US 21 bridge is nearly 80 years old and slated for demolition when the new bridge finishes. 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 says.

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 John and Don Sims now operate the company. The company, based in Belton, South Carolina, near Greenville, employs about 20 for work throughout the Carolinas and Georgia.

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

Liebherr manufactured two of the Lee & Sims company’s deep foundation rigs.

“We also have an LB 24-270, which has been a good rig,” Sims says. “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.”

Liebherr’s product range includes earthmoving and material handling machinery, mining equipment, mobile cranes, construction cranes, machine tools and automation systems as well as high-performance components for mechanical, hydraulic and electrical drive and control technology. For more information, go to