Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

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PLS7393
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Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby PLS7393 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:26 am

Has anyone else purchased these recently? I just received a large order and their stamping is not very deep. In fact they are very inconsistent where some have very little impression. My concern is the longevity of the caps and the ability to read my license to comply with code. I talked to Bersten, sent a picture, and they said they are produced overseas and would get back to me. After a couple weeks I contacted them again and they wanted to do right so they were going to redo the order for me. After several weeks and not seeing anything I contacted them again today. The manufacturer says they are in compliance to what they produce and now have declined to redo my order, which Bernsten had authorized at no charge to me.

My last order was from another company starting with "Surv", and they will be getting my business from now on.

Hope this information doesn't conflict with the rules here to be posted, as I want to give all surveyors a heads up on the quality of monuments we are paying for.

Happy New Year to all!

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mpallamary
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby mpallamary » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:09 pm

Plastic caps are not durable monuments.

Period.

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Jim Frame
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Jim Frame » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:51 pm

Plastic caps are not durable monuments.


I think this depends on ambient conditions. Around here I routinely recover 40-year-old plastic caps that are easily legible. The ones exposed to continuous sunlight decompose over the decades, but even some of those are legible 40 years on, albeit losing their integrity. A plastic cap on a rebar sticking up a foot in fire-prone brush? Probably not a good idea. But in a shaded urban area, no problem.

I use both plastic and aluminum caps, depending on the situation. I lose a lot more of both to construction than I do to deterioration.

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PLS7393
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby PLS7393 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:14 pm

mpallamary wrote:Plastic caps are not durable monuments.

Period.


It is my understanding that portions of southern California has banned the use of plastic caps due to wild fires. Until areas in northern California do something similar, plastic caps are suitable in the urban area as Jim mentioned in his post. I too use both plastic and aluminum caps (with plastic inserts) for rebar, along with iron pipes, depending on the terrain.

BTW, no monument is permanent when using a tractor.

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mpallamary
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby mpallamary » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:08 am

I have worked up and down the coast and find them unsuitable. Many times when placed they are beat to death and hard to read. They are often lost to fires and of course heat exposure. They are fine for control but not for permanent markers.

Like everything else, I suppose, plastic is intended to replace things of substance.

There have been as many fires north as there have been south. The last ones I found up north disintegrated when I tried to read the numbers. I tried washing them and the cap essentially vanished. It is like writing with disappearing ink as far as I am concerned.
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btaylor
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby btaylor » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:08 am

I get plastic caps being sort of "temporary" in certain places like the open desert, if you set them above the surface, but in places where the sun doesn't touch the monument much, it can be pretty astounding how well the cap is preserved.

The secondary issue of the cap being "beat to death" is surveyor error when setting the pipe, or poorly reamed out pipes being utilized. I ask the pipe cutter to ream pipes out on one side when they are being cut. Otherwise, the cap does not fit and it will not enter inside the pipe properly and you see people who hit a refusal way too early (which means the plug eventually falls off after a few years), or they keep pounding and warp the readability.

Another issue in urban areas is simply referencing marks in concrete if possible, and I think that is a more important issue, since inevitably I see pipes get moved around or destroyed by construction after the fact unless you want to concrete them inside a 2' deep hole.

At any rate, if I had a nice metal cap that can be set over a pipe, I would like to use it (though I read about the California wildfires being hot enough to melt aluminum. I think we need to exclude that from consideration when assessing merit). From the one type I have used that Bernsten makes, you have to somehow set the pipe without any mushroom effect at all in order to set the cap over the pipe and it is not feasible for me

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Mr. Smith
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Mr. Smith » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:20 am

I have set many plastic ones on 5/8" rbr - after 10 years or so seems some are perfect if hammered flush
or below grade, but the ones above grade get chewed up by the rats, squirrels, raccoons, and rock chucks.
I have been lucky, the thermoplastic caps I have used seem to stand up to the killing sun, I have seen other plastic caps
fade or get brittle.

I just got a bunch of alum caps I am going to start using them. Compared
to the cost of marshaling a two man crew with truck etc the extra cost is nothing.

Brian

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RAM
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby RAM » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:30 am

Plastic caps are the norm in our area and do quite well. My two cents is the plastic cap is not the monument, it is the tag. The monument is the pipe or rebar beneath the cap.

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PLS7393
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby PLS7393 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:30 pm

I just love how the original post on this site so often gets off on a tangent, or is it others don't read the entire thread?
I hope you all read your legal descriptions better than these here posts, lol.

Just saying, lol.

I guess everyone is satisfied with the quality Bernsten is charging us for impressions on the caps. Hit me up in Las Vegas at the Western Region Conference to see and compare the quality, as I will have a show and tell. My discussion with Bernsten in the Exhibit area could become entertaining.

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Jim Frame
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Jim Frame » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:41 pm

My last order of plastic caps was from Berntsen, but it was probably about 10 years ago -- I don't go through that many in a year. The quality was excellent then, but if they're having them done overseas now that might well have changed.

My first order of brass tags was through a local supply house, and they were nice -- smooth edges, small but crisp stamping and a matte finish. 10 or 15 years later I needed more and got them from somewhere else -- it might have been Berntsen, but I really don't remember. They had sharp edges, the stamping seemed kind of big, and they had a shiny finish that I'm not fond of. I'll probably retire before I ever set all of them, so I don't need to figure out where they came from, but in any case they were a disappointment.

I got my first order of Berntsen aluminum caps maybe 7 years ago, and they were of excellent quality. But when I compared the price to that of Surv-Kap, I wondered if I was paying too much, so I ordered some from the latter. There was a distinct difference in quality. Not that the Surv-Kap product isn't usable -- it is, and at about half the cost of Berntsen. But between the appearance of the cap, the heft of the rebar insulator and the relatively small number of caps that I set in a year, I decided that the Berntsen premium was justified, so when I reordered I went back to Berntsen.

These days I use the Berntsen 1" copper disks with plastic insert when monumenting boundaries in existing concrete. The quality is excellent. I looked at Surv-Kap, but they didn't have a comparable product. If they did and it was less expensive I'd probably give it a try.

I've ordered thousands of dollars of rod monuments, Feno monuments, control mark disks, access covers and various tools from Berntsen over the years, and they've been a reliable supplier. I think I'd keep following up on the plastic cap problem to see if you can get satisfaction.

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LS_8750
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby LS_8750 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:27 pm

All the plastic caps are lost from the fires, melted.
The others are busted up from rookie chainman shovels.
Not durable.

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Jim Frame
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Jim Frame » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:40 pm

Not durable.


We're just going to have to disagree on this point. As to the matter of whether a plastic cap meets the definition of "durable" contemplated by the B&P Code, I'm in a much better position than you are.

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land butcher
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby land butcher » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:55 pm

Plastic is an environmental issue, that's why CA banned plastic grocery bags. My problem is now I do not have anything handy to empty the cat's litter box leavings into.

Now more serious. Any poorly set tag is subject to destruction, I have seen cases where the surveyor or engr save a few pennies and used a 3/4" od pipe as such the tag doesn't fit inside the pipe and lost the first time a shovel nears it. In N.CA I have seen tags wired to a rebar but most of the rebar the wire had rusted away and the tag long gone. Reaming a pipe is ok until you beat it to near death getting into hard ground. Then there are the centerline mons bent in half by asphalt grinders. Setting pipe in oceanfront property is temp as the salt eats the pipe.

As usual nature and man create issues that surveyors try to overcome, sometimes successfully sometimes not so successfully, but better to try then just do a poor job.

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LS_8750
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby LS_8750 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:16 pm

How many hundreds of melted plastic cap monuments have I tied out in the wake of the North Bay fires?
Experience tells me, not durable.

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Jim Frame
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Jim Frame » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:25 pm

Experience tells me, not durable.


I heartily recommend that you follow your experience and not use plastic caps. I'll do the same, noting that my experience leads to a different conclusion.

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David Kendall
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby David Kendall » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:28 am

Jim Frame wrote:
I got my first order of Berntsen aluminum caps maybe 7 years ago, and they were of excellent quality. But when I compared the price to that of Surv-Kap, I wondered if I was paying too much, so I ordered some from the latter. There was a distinct difference in quality. Not that the Surv-Kap product isn't usable -- it is, and at about half the cost of Berntsen. But between the appearance of the cap, the heft of the rebar insulator and the relatively small number of caps that I set in a year, I decided that the Berntsen premium was justified, so when I reordered I went back to Berntsen.

These days I use the Berntsen 1" copper disks with plastic insert when monumenting boundaries in existing concrete. The quality is excellent. I looked at Surv-Kap, but they didn't have a comparable product. If they did and it was less expensive I'd probably give it a try.


Best to have a little something for any situation I suppose.

I’ve set a few of the aluminum caps on rebar (with and without plastic inserts) and found them to be a headache to secure properly if the top of the rebar has any disfigurement due to manufacturing or cutting or just hammerng too hard. They tend to turn sideways and wobble or spin and feel like they may pop off though they are not easy to get off most of the time. Still it feels like a flimsy monument.

I’ve never seen the 1” copper caps do they go on rebar or do they have the stem for pipe or wet concrete or epoxy?

How do you bond the caps well to a rebar that has been hammered or does not have the smooth round top to fit into the aluminum cap? I hate taking ten minutes on each rebar monument to file the rough edges down so the cap fits on.

Maybe I’ll put my battery powered angle grinder on the survey truck it’s handy anyway for cut crosses

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Jim Frame
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Jim Frame » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:23 am

I’ve never seen the 1” copper caps do they go on rebar or do they have the stem for pipe or wet concrete or epoxy?


They're designed to install in pavement (typically concrete, though they work in AC as well). Drill a hole (the Berntsen countersink bit is advisable, but not required), drop in the included polyethylene sleeve, then set the copper marker in the sleeve with a soft-face hammer (a block of wood and a hand sledge works, too). Once set, they're very difficult to remove. The only way I've been able to do so is to drill through the top of the marker in order to pop off the disk portion, then grout over the stem. I could have drilled out the stem as well, but that seemed like more work with no added benefit.

How do you bond the caps well to a rebar that has been hammered or does not have the smooth round top to fit into the aluminum cap?


I use a rebar driving head, which slips over the top of the rebar during driving. It leaves a nice rounded top on the rebar, which the aluminum caps like.

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Rob_LS
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Rob_LS » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:19 pm

First, 7393, What are the diameter of these plastic caps? (Oh, don't start that rant again!) - NEVER MIND!

7393, I have not purchased any recently, and they are the least likely item that I would purchase.

I do, however, agree with Kendall... There are times when the metal tags or disks corrode rapidly - Aluminum in a salt march environment comes to mind, however corrosion due to dissimilar metals can also occur in less harsh conditions. PERHAPS a plastic plug should be considered (just like proration - a last resort). My preference is for some beautiful shiny metal tag or disk. We spend a lot of time and effort to do a high quality survey, and (hopefully) we charge the owner a fee that is fair compensation to us and to them. What do they have when we leave besides an invoice, a lighter wallet, a discussion, a map, and some monuments? Do the 1" copper disks in concrete look worthy of our effort and that invoice? (YES) What about a brass tag? (YES) Have the monuments been set with care, particularly when visible in concrete? (YES) Set monuments of which you can be proud! After all, it has YOUR license number on it. Will some PLS retracing your work in the future say, "Hey - that 7393 was clever setting these plastic caps below grade so they didn't get sun-baked!" or will his crew say, "Hey look, more pieces of broken plastic in this hole near the rebar... It looks like the plastic was cut to pieces by a shovel..." Are plastic milk jug caps with a number scratched into them with a pen-knife representative of your work and professional judgement?

If "the manufacturer says they are in compliance to what they produce and now" then decline to order plastic caps in the future. Join your colleagues enhancing the image and standards of practice of our profession. Spend the extra $1, and set a good looking metal monument...

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Peter Ehlert
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Re: Bernsten Plastic Cap Monuments

Postby Peter Ehlert » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:52 am

"Plastic caps are not durable monuments." Very true. Plastic Caps are actually not even Monuments.

"Durable Monument" is required, and that gives us the flexibility to choose what monument fits the conditions best...
then we tag/mark the Monument with our number... Frosting On The Cake.
sure we expect those markings to be somewhat durable also, but that is much much less important.

Focus my friends. Get your Monuments in the correct location, and then document what you set and Why You Put It That Spot.

If the Markings on a monument you find become your primary focus you need to reconsider what your actual task is
Peter Ehlert


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