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PALMER-BOWLUS FLUME INSTALLATION GUIDELINES
On this page:

What size flume is right?
Critical areas of installation
What is submerged flow?
How do you take measurements?
Small flume installation
Large flume installation

What size Palmer-Bowlus Flume should I purchase?
Sizing of flumes is based on anticipated normal and maximum flows.  In general, the smallest flume of adequate capacity is selected.  Flumes are restrictions in the channel and consideration should be given to the effect of the resulting backwater on upstream drains and channel walls.
What are the three areas you should be concerned with for successful installation of a Palmer-Bowlus flume?

  1. Upstream conditions: Upstream conditions should promote laminar flow conditions at the flume inlet.  Channel turns, tees, elevation drops or other obstructions creating situations immediately upstream (25 pipe diameters) of the flume should be avoided.  The upstream channel slope should not allow excessive velocity at the flume.  Excessive velocity will cause turbulence at the measuring point and reduce accuracy.  A slope of almost flat, to 2% maximum, for very small flumes, and less slope for larger flumes is the ideal gradient.
  2. Crest of the flume: The crest of the flume (floor of the throat section) must be level both longitudinally & transversely.
  3. Downstream channel: The downstream channel should not permit submerged flow conditions to occur.  Long, narrow, flat or undersized channels can result in a backwater effect at the flume and should be avoided.  A large fall or steep slope immediately downstream of the metering station can eliminate the possibility of submerged flow conditions.
What is submerged flow?
Submerged flow conditions occur when the resistance to flow in the downstream channel becomes sufficient to reduce the velocity, increase the flow depth, and cause a backwater effect at the Palmer-Bowlus flume.  The standard flow tables must be corrected if a submerged flow condition exists.

Observe elevations during design & installation so that modular flow, also known as "Free Flow" conditions are always present.  Submerged flow conditions are usually avoided to allow use of the standard discharge tables and depth measurements.
How do I take flow measurements in a Palmer-Bowlus Flume
Palmer-Bowlus flumes must be installed at an elevation such that at zero flow conditions the throat of the flume is dry.  A high standing water level in a line at zero flow conditions will result in inaccurate flow metering.

In a Palmer-Bowlus flume, depth measurements to determine the flow rate are made at a distance one half pipe diameter (D/2) upstream of the beginning of the ramp to the crest.  Palmer-Bowlus flumes are designed with a "wet zero".  In a zero flow condition water pools upstream of the throat of the flume.  The top of the pool will be even with the floor of the throat.  The water surface is the "wet zero" level of the Palmer-Bowlus flume.  Measurements to determine the flow rate through the flume should be taken using this level as zero.  The distance of the "wet zero" above the bottom of the flume is equal to one sixth pipe diameter (D/6).  Depth gauges and flow transmitters should be calibrated to indicate zero when the water level is equal to the "wet zero".
Small Palmer-Bowlus Flume Installation
The Palmer-Bowlus flume was designed for flow measurement in a non-pressurized pipeline.  When setting the flume in concrete, pay attention to the following points:
  1. The flume must be installed with the floor of the throat level.
  2. The flume must not float out of position due to grout pressure.
  3. The flume's internal dimensions must not be distorted due to grout pressure.
Very small Palmer-Bowlus flumes can be set in place as follows:
All-thread rods can be embedded in the concrete below the flume, with the rods aligning with the anchor clips on the flume's exterior.  Either grout the rods in place below the flume or drill holes and epoxy them in place.  After the all-thread rods are firmly anchored in place, the flume can then be locked in place and leveled by using a nut and washer on both sides of the anchor clips.  The flume can then be grouted in place.  The first pour of grout should just cover the bottom of the flume and allowed to set before additional pours are made.  The finished surface should be sloped toward the flume so that any water will drain back into the flume.
Large Palmer-Bowlus Flume Installation
The positioning procedure described above can also be used to secure larger flumes in the correct position.  Large flumes have large bottoms that require particular attention during installation.  The buoyant forces of grout can cause a flume to float or distort during installation.  This usually results in less than optimum dimensional accuracy at the monitoring site.

The anchor clips on the flume exterior are designed to secure the flume against the grout once it is cured.  They will not prevent a flume from floating during installation.  Consideration should be given to the following suggestions concerning flume installation.

The channel should be designed with adequate clearance at the sides to allow grout placement and worker access for chaining during installation.  This usually requires at least 18" on each side.

Large flumes may also require blocks or other support on the underside of the flume to support the interior weights during installation.  Block the underside of the flume so that the throat is level and at the correct elevation.  If no blocks are available, pour piers (perpendicular to the flow) under the area where the flume is to be located.  The top surface of the piers under the throat of the flume should be level, so that when the flume is resting on them, it will be at the correct elevation.  Piers should be located so the floor of the flume rests on piers, not the ribs.

Set flume in place & check that flume throat is level in both directions.  Shim where required.

Wire anchor clips on flume's underside to vault floor or place rebar bent into a "U" shape through the anchor clip.  Check that flume's throat is still level.  Run two chains from side to side on underside of flume for "chaining" during grouting.  Chains should extend above to of flume, with enough additional length to allow a 2 man, side to side, "tug of war" for agitation.  Vibrator sticks can be used in lieu of chaining.

Large flumes must also be weighted and lined on the interior to prevent floating or distortion due to the grout's hydrostatic pressure.  The sidewalls of flumes that are 2 ft. or taller must be lined and braced to prevent distortion.  Install temporary wooden cross braces and plywood lining inside the flume to prevent distortion due to the grout pressure.  Sandbags are a typical weight source.  Additional weight can be positioned by placing a board across the top of the flume and using a 5 gallon bucket filled with sand or other heavy items.  Weight must be adequate to resist buoyant forces of the grout.  If there is any doubt as to the weight required, calculate the interior volume of the flume, from the bottom of the flume to the top of the first pour of grout.  The weight required must be equal to the weight of the grout that is displaced by this volume.  Grout is 2.5 times heavier than water.  Water is 62 lbs./cu.ft., grout can be estimated at 155 lbs./cu.ft.

Only grout one section between piers at a time.  The use of a grout hose may be required.  Flow grout in from one side of flume only.  To keep upward force to a minimum, do not let grout get a depth of more than 2 inch up the sidewall of the flume before agitating and moving to the next section.

Use vibrator sticks or agitate with chains against underside of flume to be sure all air pockets are removed & grout is in place along entire underside of section being grouted.  Remove chains & let grout cure before proceeding to next section.

Good concrete and grout techniques should be observed.  Non-shrink grout is not required.  The use of plasticizers and too much water in grout can result in the excess water coming out of the grout & pooling between the exterior of the flume floor and the grout.  It may result in an unwanted void after curing.

Repeat procedure for each area between piers, allowing the grout to cure before proceeding to next section.  A large flume should be grouted in several lifts, with the first one only reaching slightly above the invert of the flume.  Grout sidewalls in 6 inch lifts, letting each lift cure before proceeding.  Before proceeding with the next pour, be sure the grout is hardened to the point where the pressure of the next lift cannot be transmitted through the previous pour and possibly float the flume.  Continue with additional pours, letting each set, until the surface is even with the top of the flume.  The finished surface should be sloped toward the flume so that any water will drain back into the flume.
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