7 Benefits of Using a Diesel Hammer for Pile Driving

Pile drivers are devices used to drive piles into soil (or in some cases, underwater) to create support for buildings or other structures like retention ponds and dams. The most common driving piles are sheet pile, pipe pile and H-pile, but some types of pile driving hammers are capable of also driving timber and precast concrete piles.

In a previous post, we discussed the different types of pile driving hammers. The most popular type on the market today is the diesel hammer, so in this post we’ll discuss 7 benefits of a diesel impact hammer over other types of pile driving hammers.


As mentioned in our earlier post, a diesel impact hammer operates in four phases:

  1. The ram is raised, fuel is injected
  2. Compression: The ram is released and free-falls. The exhaust port closes, which compresses air and fuel together
  3. Impact and Combustion: The hammer reaches impact with the pile. The air/fuel mixture heats up due to the compression and combusts, or ignites
  4. Expansion: The ram is driven upwards as a result of the impact with the pile. The ram’s rising draws in fresh air, beginning the cycle again until the hammer is manually stopped by the working crew, or until its fuel is depleted.

The free-fall hammer can be used to drive all types of steel piling. This type of pile driving hammer is renowned for its reliability. Additionally, diesel hammers are self-contained (no need for an external power supply) and are capable of reaching between 30-50 blows per minute for closed-end hammers, and 70-80 for open-end hammers.


  1. Diesel hammers are more powerful than other options. They are about twice as powerful as hydraulic hammers, which means more work is completed in a shorter amount of time. Closed-end hammers can complete 30-50 blows per minute (BPM), and open-end hammers can complete between 70-80 BPM, compared to about 50-60BPM for air and steam impact hammers.
  2. They work on a variety of soil types and pile types. Diesel hammers can be used for steel, timber, or concrete piles.
  3. There are lightweight and compact options for diesel hammers. Some brands offer hammers weighing as little as 3,500LBS, while other hammers can weigh upward of 100,000LBS. Smaller diesel hammers are easy to transport between job sites, providing your crews with extra flexibility and are a good choice for pile driving in remote areas.
  4. They’re fuel-efficient and self-contained. They require and burn less fuel than other options, which means added savings to your bottom line. Diesel impact hammers are also self-contained, meaning that they do not require an external power supply. This reduces associated costs with extra equipment.
  5. Recent models have fewer environmental impacts. Diesel hammers have had a bad reputation in the past for the amount of exhaust they produce and the noise they make. In recent years, manufacturers have worked to reduce their emissions and make them quieter, positioning them as a more attractive choice.
  6. They cost about half as much as hydraulic hammers. The base price tag of a diesel hammer is significantly lower. Additionally, they are generally easier and cheaper to repair than other options. This means more reliability and less down time.
  7. They typically are more reliable. Diesel hammers don’t use crankshafts, piston rods, cams, or bearings, which reduces the overall wear-and-tear on the hammer. Diesel impact hammers have considerably fewer parts to maintain and repair than other types of pile driving hammers.

Best Practices

No matter the type of pile driving hammer you choose to use, or the type of piling, it’s important to watch both the hammer and pile for signs of a problem. Here are a few of our favorite best practice tips:

  • If the head of the steel or timber pile starts to split, crack, or otherwise become deformed, check the steel strength and grade, the evenness of the pile head and the hammer’s helmet size/shape. If none of those are the issue, it’s possible that you may need a different hammer or pile type.
  • When driving in soft soil, use a smaller hammer and stroke for initial driving
  • When driving in hard soil conditions, consider using pilot holes or water jetting to pre-drill and break ground for easier installation
  • In case of emergency, ensure that the hammer shut-off is attended any time the hammer is in operation

Buy and Sell Pile Drivers and Hammers with Eiffel Trading

Eiffel Trading currently has many pieces of used foundation equipment for sale, including pile driving machines, pile breakers, casing oscillators, and much more.

All of our listings are constantly being updated, but if you don’t see what you’re looking for, create a wanted listing for free.

Ready to sell your used heavy equipment or construction material? List your products today for free on Eiffel Trading’s online marketplace.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please call us at 1-800-541-7998 or email sales@eiffeltrading.com.