I was in Kansas City on business, but it would have to wait.
It had been 10 years since I had been to a professional baseball game and even longer since I had been to a game in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. The Oakland A’s, an old rival of the Kansas City Royals, were in town for a match-up.
The warm day was perfect for baseball. The sun was shining and people were smiling. We went with some family members and sat a few rows behind the home team dugout. It just happened to be “Cap Day,” so we were all rewarded with a baseball cap upon entering the stadium. The Royals Franchise had recently acquired Jeff Francouer and brought in a rookie outfielder, Eric Hosmer. Both Francouer and Hosmer had hits in the game. For Hosmer, it was his first major league hit. The game was exciting. The score was 3 to 3 in the eighth inning. The Royals loaded the bases in the ninth inning and won on a sacrifice fly.
Then the game was over. We hadn’t noticed that it was evening already. People lingered in the stadium, chatting in a friendly, mid-western kind of way. We watched the light dance in the scoreboard fountains, a delightful end to a wonderful day. And, though I was unfamiliar with the current team players, it didn’t matter. This was baseball as it is meant to be.
The only thing that could make the evening better was exploring interesting trench drain.
Custom Radius Trench Grates
The first example was seen near the general admission section of the park, near the Hall of Fame Building. This particular area is not protected from rain by any sort of roof or canopy, so it gets a fair bit of direct rain water. There I found a heel-proof cast iron grate that had been arranged to form part of a radius drain. The grate was 8 inches wide and 24 inches long. It was in a painted steel frame (now rusting) and showed no visible locking devices. It did not display a manufacturer’s marking and, to make things more interesting, was galvanized. I stood looking at the grate for a while trying to determine the source. My conclusion…..it had to be a custom product from a local foundry.
Heel-proof cast iron grates are becoming more popular in applications with a high concentration of “professional” pedestrian traffic and light vehicle traffic. In the trench drain world, “professional pedestrian traffic” refers to situations where women wearing high heeled shoes with small diameters may be walking. Usually, professional office workers, (lawyers, product managers, engineers, physicians) fit this description. This type of grate became vogue in an effort to minimize lawsuits associated with tripping hazards. (Side note: I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a large amount of professional women strolling the general admission section of a Royals game on a Saturday night.)
Why use Heel-proof Grates?
- Minimizes tripping hazards
- Prevents large debris
- Stops high heels from catching
The fact that the grate was used in a radius trench drain is not surprising. The “illusion” can be used on large sweeping radiuses while using a standard grate. You only need to be able to bend the angle iron railing to the curvature required and install the straight grates. If your desired radius is 75 feet or greater, you should have no problem making this work since the spacing between the grates will mask the lack of radii. On radiuses of 60 feet or less, I generally recommend using a grate that has been manufactured to display the proper curvature and non-parallel ends. From my experience, few radius grates exist that aren’t decorative and are designed for a specific radius. For more information on this topic visit www.ironagegrate.com.
I learned a little bit more about these grates a month after I visited the stadium. There was a situation in the stadium next door, Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, where they wanted to replace some grating that was breaking. An engineer from a local construction company called me to discuss a situation in which the fork trucks delivering supplies to stadium concession stands where driving over 8 inch wide galvanized cast iron grates, causing them to pop up from the trench frame and eventually break. The company was hoping to replace all the grates with a custom reinforced stone grating manufactured by Jonite. In our discussions, it was mentioned that the problem grates were 1 inch thick, were made specifically without a manufacturer’s identification and were later galvanized. The grate was purchased by the plumbing contractor on the job, and I assume it was from a mid-west foundry. My guess: we are talking about the same grate.
Steel Slot Drains
The second example of trench drain was found in the street that ran in front of the two stadiums. This drain, shown in the photo to the right, actually appears to be a slot drain. A slot drain can be thought of as an underground drainage pipe that has a slot shaped extension rising from the pipe to be flush with the ground surface above. The slot forming material can be made from a number of materials and the slot can be a multitude of widths. The overriding characteristic in all slot drains is the narrow geometry of the slot width in comparison to the underlying conduit. Now I’m not 100 % sure of my guess on this identification. If anyone reading this article can help identify this product, I’d be grateful.
How to get the Slot Drain Effect:
- Slotted drain systems (i.e., Zurn Z88)
- Slot extensions (see: MEA TS1000)
- High-Cap Systems (see: 3000 Series by Trench Drain Systems)
No matter. I’m familiar with a couple of slot drain products. The first that comes to mind is the Zurn Z888 family of products. They have slot drains ranging from 4″ diameter pipe with a 3/4″ slot extension to 36″ diameter conduits with 3″ wide slot extensions. These products are made of HDPE and come in standard 4 foot lengths. The slot riser in each Z888 product is formed into the conduit body. Material options for the riser neck are available in the event you need a ductile iron or stainless steel slot in the finished floor.
A number of the polymer concrete trench drain manufacturers make 3/4″ galvanized steel slot extensions that can be placed on their trench drain channels to simulate the slot drain opening. These products have the added advantage of being part of a pre-sloped drainage system. A slot drain, on the other hand, is a non-sloped product by its very nature. However, if the drainage surface has a natural grade, the underlying pipe will also be sloped.
A number of slot drain making components that allow you to convert standard drainage pipe to a slot drain are on the market. I’ve seen a polymer concrete “slot riser” made by ABT that is inserted into a longitudinal cut along the length of a 6″ diameter schedule 40 pipe. Another manufacturer uses the same “slot riser” technique with larger diameter pipe. If I recall correctly, this product is made from galvanized steel, as well.
Regarding the slot drain shown here, I felt the use of expanded metal mesh for the grating was significant. This irremovable mesh was part of the neck. A trench drain would need a removable grate for occasional cleaning. An immovable grate suggests that there is a large conduit below that would not require constant maintenance. The 2 inch wide slot also leads me to believe that a large pipe lies underneath the 6 inch long neck. And, if you saw the streets at this stadium, it is apparent that this is the sole method of storm drainage in this location. There has to be a BIG pipe connected to this slot. I just wish I knew for sure.
Writing this article, as was previous blogs, was thought provoking and educational. It required that I put my thoughts about these topics in order, that I gathered meaningful and factual information to share, and that I communicated in a way that is easy for all to understand. In the process, I realized that I was silly in high school for thinking the best job in the world was working for the Royals. As it turns out, NOW I have the best job in the world. Where else would I be able to travel the world, meet interesting people, see interesting cultures, study drainage systems and products, and then write about a topic I like?
If you have a topic you want me to discuss in a future blog article, email me your request or leave a comment below! If you have specific questions regarding trench drain products, installation, or recommendations, don’t hesitate to contact us at by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 610-638-1221. Thanks for visiting this site!