Pezzimenti has a full suite of retractable microtunnelling heads and cutters, with diameters that suit most standard jacking pipes. Pezzimenti in-house workshop also has the capability to fabricate custom-sized microtunnelling heads and cutters to suit projects as required.

Using Retractable Heads for Microtunnelling

Retractable heads and cutters can be bought back to the shaft in case of:

  • Obstruction eg filled ground, rock anchors, services, cobbles
  • Major change in ground conditions – clay to sandstone
  • Vacuum blockage which can be encountered in high plasticity clay or sand

Thus, eliminating the need to salvage a bore via an intercept or head excavation

Retractable microtunnelling heads and cutter are suitable for boring when:

  • ‘Freeboring’ (a microtunnelling method that requires no outer casing to support the ground) is not possible due to ground conditions or authority regulations
  • Pipejacking a sleeve up to a manhole with no disturbance around the manhole

Retractable Head Methodologies

Retractable Microtunnelling heads can be utilised for both the Pipe in a Pipe, and Close-Fit Pipe Bore Sections. Where required, a temporary outer casing can be used for both bore sections, which is then Pipejacked out later.

The Pipe in a Pipe Bore Section methodology is shown as an example below. Clicking the blue buttons below each bore section will allow you to view the other methods for each section.

+ Close-Fit Pipe Bore Section 

Close Fit Pipe Retractable Head Methodology

+ Methodology shown below is for the Pipe in a Pipe Bore Section

Retractable Microtunnelling Head and Cutters

01. Microtunnel

The retractable microtunnelling head is launched from the entry shaft inside the first sleeve.

Retractable Microtunnelling Head and Cutters

02. An Obstruction Encountered

In the event that an an obstruction is encountered, ground conditions change or the head requires repair – the microtunnelling head can be retracted – while the outer casings remain in place to support the ground.

Retractable Microtunnelling Head and Cutters

03. Situation Remedied

Once the Obstruction has been removed, the Cutters replaced to match ground condition or the microtunnelling head has been repaired – the microtunnelling head is pushed back to the face and microtunnelling recommenced.

Retractable Microtunnelling Head and Cutters

04. Bore Completed

The microtunnelling head can be removed via the exit Shaft OR retracted back to the launch shaft. Outer casing is now in place.

Retractable Microtunnelling Head and Cutters

05. Slipline the Carrier Pipe

The carrier can is now sliplined into the outer casing and the annulus grouted as required. Microtunnel complete.

+ Retractable Microtunnelling Head Projects

Marsden Park

Ground Condition Change

Marsden Park Retractable Microtunnelling Head

A change of ground condition from Clay to Shale at this RMS Road crossing in Marsden Park required the microtunnelling head to be retracted. The cutters were replaced and microtunnelling recommenced with minimal project downtime.


Under Railway

Wyee Retractable Microtunnelling Head

Retractable Heads were used on both bores at the simultaneous Rail Crossings at Wyee on the NSW Central Coast during one 48 hour weekend shutdown. Both 440mm diameter bores involved pipejacking a DN427 GRP Jacking Pipe.


No Exit Shaft

Austinmeer Retractable Microtunnelling Head

A 26m, 830mm diameter tunnel with no retrieval access available at the exit end was required at this project in Austinmer. Retractable Cutters were fabricated, with the design enabling the microtunnelling head to be retracted to the launch shaft after breakthrough at the exit end leaving behind the carrier pipe.


Into Manhole Base

Pymble Retractable Microtunnelling Head

Retractable Cutters and laser guided accuracy were utilised to core into a manhole base on this project at Pymble. After microtunnelling 19m in clay and fill the head was retracted back to the launch shaft. A corer then replaced the cutters and was used to break into the manhole.

Book a Presentation

For futher information on Retractable Microtunelling Head Capabilities and Methodologies book a presentation for your design team with Pezzimenti today. Call Scott Wells on: +61 (2) 4735 6676 or email