What Is a Wale in Construction: Innovative Composite Solutions

June 12, 2024

In the realm of construction, especially for retaining walls, the traditional materials like wood, steel, aluminum, and vinyl have long been scrutinized for their limitations. Wood tends to rot, steel is susceptible to corrosion, aluminum can also corrode under certain conditions, and vinyl often lacks the requisite strength for demanding applications. However, advancements in composite materials, particularly those made through the pultrusion process, are paving the way for more robust and reliable solutions.

Field of the Invention: Pultruded-Composite Components

The invention focuses on incorporating pultruded-composite components into sheet pile systems, offering an innovative take on structures such as retaining walls. Pultrusion, a process involving the pulling of glass fibers through a resin bath, shaping them via forming guides or dies, and curing in a heated die, results in reinforced composite materials with superior strength and longevity.


Traditional Materials

Retaining walls made from traditional materials come with inherent flaws. Wood is prone to rotting, steel to corrosion, and vinyl often doesn’t offer enough strength. This myriad of issues necessitates frequent maintenance and replacement, adding to long-term costs and labor.

Composite Materials

Composite components present a compelling alternative. By using the pultrusion process, these materials not only provide improved structural integrity but also ease of installation and longer lifespan. The process transforms glass fibers into a durable composite through resin impregnation and thermal curing, creating a material that significantly outperforms its traditional counterparts.

Retaining Wall Installation

The method of installing these walls involves driving pilings into the ground, typically interlinked via male and female connectors to form a continuous, secure barrier. Horizontal supports known as wales are added across the wall’s face for extra stability, and the whole structure can be capped and secured using tieback systems to ensure lasting durability.

Drawbacks of Traditional Tieback Rods and Wales

Traditional tieback systems, particularly those using metallic rods, are prone to corrosion. Over time, this corrosion can severely affect the structural integrity of the retaining wall. Similarly, wooden wales can suffer from rot and damage, not to mention the hazards posed by protruding fasteners and tieback rods.

Needs Addressed by the Invention

The new invention seeks to address these issues through the use of composite tieback rods and wales. Composite materials offer excellent resistance to corrosion, are unaffected by environmental factors, and generally prove to be more robust and reliable than traditional options.

Summary of Present Invention

Wale Construction

The new wale design includes a back wall, a front wall with a channel, and connecting walls that form structural chambers. These can be manufactured using fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) through the pultrusion process, resulting in a highly durable, corrosion-resistant component that’s also lightweight and easy to install.

Retaining Wall System

The retaining wall system integrates composite anchors, tieback rods, interlocking sheet pilings, and caps, all fashioned from similar composite materials. This system effectively distributes forces across the pilings, enhancing the overall structural integrity of the wall. The use of lightweight, corrosion-resistant components further adds to its longevity and ease of maintenance.

Detailed Description

Structural Details

The C-shaped wale design features multiple walls forming chambers, which provide additional support and distribute loads more effectively. Composite tieback rods are used to prevent corrosion and extend durability. Wale splices are utilized to join multiple wales, thereby enhancing the structural cohesion of the wall system.

Component Interconnection

Sheet pilings are interlocked using male and female connectors, while cap designs are placed atop pilings to evenly distribute tieback forces across the structure. Variations in cap designs cater to different structural needs and applications.

Installation and Support

Anchor systems are interconnected by boards, aided by templates for precise alignment. This ensures that the installation process is streamlined, efficient, and less labor-intensive compared to traditional methods.

Figures Explanation

Figures 1-14 in the original documentation provide detailed illustrations showing the various components, their assembly, and their positions within the retaining wall system. These figures offer visual insight into the structural design, interconnection mechanisms, and fastening methods, aiding in a comprehensive understanding of the new system.

By integrating pultruded-composite components, this innovative approach to retaining walls not only overcomes the limitations of traditional materials but also sets a new benchmark for durability and efficiency in construction practices.

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