Web Site: www.bentonfoundry.com
A PUBLICATION BY BENTON FOUNDRY, INC.
BF History Part 2:
n our last article we discussed some interesting facts about the Harrington Family leading up to the start up of the original foundry now called Benton Foundry.
Newton Harrington, who established the foundry, was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth Baker Harrington. He was born August 5, 1834. Newton married Melissa Dildine in 1856. When he returned from fighting in the Civil War, he worked a year in a foundry at Harveyville. He then returned to Sugarloaf and built a small foundry across the creek from our present location.
The foundry was 20×50 ft. and they originally made sled shoes and plows (known as the Harrington plow). In 1882 a sawmill was built in connection with the foundry with a capacity of producing 5,000 shingles per day. This place was commonly known as Pioneer Station, Cole Creek. The power was harnessed from a large dam on the J.B. Davis property and brought down to the foundry by a race which operated a large water wheel. The area around here, at that time, was a dense forest and they transported materials with ox teams and sleds. The 500 acres of property bought by Jacob Harrington extended down to the stone house located by Mill Race golf course.
Newton’s son, Herbert T. Harrington, succeeded him in business and built a foundry across the creek in our present location in the late 1800’s. At first there was one building which was a molding room in which the cupola for melting iron was located. The iron was carried and poured into the molds by a ladle with long handles on each side carried by two men. When the casting was cold, it was cleaned and polished ready for sale. The water needed for the foundry was secured from a large spring at the foot of the hill and was brought to the foundry by wooden logs with a hole in the center that were buried in the ground as pipe is today. These log pipes lasted about 50 years before they had to be replaced. The water in these logs was very cold, almost like ice water. Soon after the erection of the foundry, a wood shop was built where patterns were made and the wood work for the Harrington plow was done. Also, finished castings were kept in this building. Later there was a circular sawmill and a shingle mill added to the operation.
The power for this operation was a boiler room in the center of the foundry, sawmill and shingle room. The boiler was enclosed in brick with a large brick oven in the back which was used for steaming plow handles. They would shape the handles by putting them in a vice and shape them with a hand driving bar, then steam them and when they were properly heated, bend them over a mold and fasten them until dry which would take several days. The plow beam was shaved out by the same method but not steamed. The boiler was fired by slabs from the sawmill and the Harrington kids, especially the boys, would fire it up.
Jamison City was a booming logging town at this time. The Harrington Foundry made the sled shoes for the log sleds used on the mountain. They also made the brake shoes for the log trains to come down the several switch backs on the mountain. The foundry maintained patterns for all parts of the log train engines and made them as needed, which kept Herbert Harrington quite busy. Mr. Harrington was so busy he had to hire another molder beside his son, Roy and of course, they had to deliver most things they made.
When the copper rush was on at Fritz Hill, a group of men from Philadelphia brought a lot of ore in to test. Mr. Harrington made a small cupola and melted the ore and got a nice percentage of copper, but not enough to make it profitable. Herbert’s daughter remembered these Philadelphia men as “nasty men from the city” as they were invited to dinner with the Harringtons and made fun of the country girls.
The iron used in the foundry was brought in by people from all around the area in exchange for castings. It was separated; the hard iron from scrap iron, weighed and put in a car which was on a track and drawn upstairs by a wheel and rope which was operated by hand and put in the cupola for melting.
During this time, stone sleds were also used by the farmers, both the sleds and the shoes were made at the foundry. These flat sleds were used to take stones out of the fields. The farmers would pick up the stones, place them in the sled and haul them to the stone rows between the fields. Today you do not see this practice done. We must not leave out the buckwheat cake days in our foundry history. Everybody ate buckwheat cakes in the old days and the griddles were made by the Harrington Foundry. Another lost art is the repairing of shoes. In those days the man of the house fixed all of the shoes for the entire family and the lath and stand were made at the foundry. It was an iron stand with several sizes of laths to fit different shoes. They would slip the shoes over it and nail on the sole. Most every family owned a Harrington griddle and a lath and stand.
Our next article will bring us through the war effort in the 40’s to our foundry as it presently exists.
enton Foundry was recently named “Metalcaster of the Year” by Modern Casting magazine. We received this prestigious award for our recent expansion project which increased capacity, improved process control, enhanced efficiency and the addition of approximately 50 jobs. We have been working on this expansion for several years and it has been rewarding to see the results. Following are the highlights from the article.
Benton Foundry operates in a clean, modern-yet-unobtrusive facility in the mountains of central-eastern Pennsylvania. Within its walls is a world-class foundry that showcases a commitment to smart, incremental, and consistent reinvestment.
The core room capital investment project is just the latest example of the modernization and growth mindset established by Fritz Hall in the 1970s and adhered to ever since. Jeff Hall, Benton Foundry president since 2013, has carried on the legacy.
“My father was very motivated to turn this into a successful business, as was his father AJ Hall,” Jeff Hall said. “And the mindset was always to keep the profits in the business and to reinvest them. As a result of that mindset, they started working off five-year CapEx, cash-flow budget plans in the mid-1970s. We continue to do that to this day. We are now in our ninth five-year plan. So, our modernization mindset has been in place for basically 45 years.”
What does nearly five decades of reinvestment look like? At Benton Foundry, it’s a compact, efficient melt deck, automation where warranted throughout, good visibility within the plant, excellent air quality, an active apprenticeship program, and production growth from 18 tons a day to 225.
“In that time, we’ve never lost money,” said Tim Brown, Benton Foundry vice president. “And we’ve been a survivor when the foundry industry has gone from 8,000 foundries to less than 2,000.”
Construction of the 70,000-sq-ft. renovation was completed summer 2022, and the new departments are up and running, but work is still underway fine-tuning equipment and process flow. Benton Foundry is also currently strategizing for the next five-year plan due to launch in 2025.
With demand for domestically sourced, complex iron castings remaining high, you could say that Benton Foundry has been preparing to take advantage of market opportunities since Fritz Hall’s first five-year capital expenditure plan in 1975.
“When we do capital expenditure projects, we’re not focusing on where we’re at, but the future,” Hall said. “We have a lot of flexibility in design, but it’s also easily scalable. The infrastructure is in place, so we can just add a machine when and where needed so we keep the flow of the plant that we want. That is how we have historically done it. The future goals are to increase ductile iron production and also complex cored castings. That is why Benton so heavily invests in people, equipment, and process improvement projects. Thank you for being part of the 45+ years of success.
n April, students from the Susquehanna Community High School visited the Benton Foundry. Their trip was funded by the Claire Williams O’Neil Foundation, an organization with the specific objective of improving the Susquehanna community by focusing on improving the prospects of its youth.
Over the past two decades, this Foundation has provided over $1.2 million in scholarships for Susquehanna graduates to attend the best universities in the nation, asking only that recipients in turn give back to their community.
Past CWOF scholars have attended such universities as Syracuse, Lehigh, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Cornell and Notre Dame. As graduates, they regularly return to Susquehanna to work with current high school students to mentor and help them discover careers and make wise college choices. All this creates a positive ripple effect that benefits not only the students themselves, but also parents, the High School faculty and the wider community.
A critical aspect of the CWOF’s work is to finance field trips to businesses and industrial facilities. Such exposure triggers student’s imaginations and helps them choose careers based on first-hand experience.
The visit to Benton Foundry was a sterling example of such a trip. Students were able to see high-tech manufacturing and robotics in action. Several students came away inspired to pursue college degrees in technology.
John Kukowski took the time to provide the following feedback from the students. “Wow, what an impressive tour.” Both of the school staff members that attended stated “This was amazing”. The conversation on the entire bus ride back to Susquehanna was focused on what they saw and learned. Questions like — How does the robot know the location it needs to move to? Why is the gate and riser so important? Of course seeing the molten iron was the hottest topic. The students now have a better understanding of the importance of learning how to read electronic diagrams, that robots from scara to cartesian need someone to program them, and what a high-tech manufacturing operation really is. “The impact that this made on the students will last a lifetime,” said John.
Congratulations to Ryan Keeler (above), Benton Foundry’s 1st shift Employee of the Quarter. Ryan is training in our Melt Department to fill the role of Assistant Manager. Ryan has been employed since 2020. Ryan lives in Benton, with his wife Miranda and their two children Brayden and Madelyn. He enjoys spending time with them, when he isn’t working.
Congratulations to David Straub (below), Benton Foundry’s 2nd shift Employee of the Quarter. David works in our Molding Department as a machine operator. He has been employed since 2010 and he has won this award in the past. David lives in Watsontown. He enjoys spending time with his granddaughters and relaxing with a couple of cold ones.
hy don’t woodpeckers get concussions? Reporting in Current Biology, a team of scientists has refuted the long assumed correct answer—that woodpecker skulls act like shock-absorbing helmets to protect the birds’ brains when they pound their beaks against tree trunks. In analyses of high-speed videos of black, pileated and great spotted woodpeckers, the researchers found that the birds do not absorb the shock of the impact with a tree. “Their heads basically function as stiff, solid hammers during pecking,” says lead author Sam Van Wassenbergh, a research professor at Belgium’s University of Antwerp. Building three-dimensional, biomechanical models of the birds, the scientists also concluded that shock absorbance by the skulls would severely hinder the birds’ pecking abilities. Though the acceleration of each peck exceeds the known threshold for causing concussions in humans, the birds’ smaller brains can withstand the jolts. “The absence of shock absorption does not mean their brains are in danger during the seemingly violent impacts,” Van Wassenbergh says. Even the strongest shocks from dozens of pecks the team analyzed appeared to be safe for woodpecker brains.
Congratulations to Xenia Ponce for being among the top five AFS (e-learning) students in the month of June. The following employees participated in (e-learning) courses during the last quarter: Tim Antoniello, Julia Guiso, Brittany Masakowski, Gabe Slodysko and Xenia Ponce.
Congratulations to Cody Snyder for completing the course of Principles of Failure Analysis.
Congratulations to Ben Hatch for successfully completing two Maintimizer courses and to Dominique Hatch for completing one Maintimizer course.
Congratulations to David Buma for receiving his CDL license.
Congratulations to Ray Campbell on his new role in the Melt Department.
Good Job to Shawn Nevel supervising the Melt Department various times, due to vacations and shift changes.
Thank you to Ryan Keeler, Kyle Hall, Ray Campbell, Jaiden Sponburgh, Isabella Kubasek, Mike Parsons and Daniel Villanueva for taking on additional responsibilities in the Melt Department.
Good Job to Sheila Vansock for her willingness to step-up to cover a new position.
Good Job to Deb Clocker and Lori McAndrew for helping Sheila transition to her new position.
Congratulations to the following personnel for the 2nd Quarter 2023.
Jose Martinez – Highest Grinding Efficiency
Gilberth Aleman – Greatest Foxall Run-Time Percentage
Otilia Miranda – Highest Core Operator Efficiency
Myriam Mayorga – Highest Assembly Efficiency
Tom Foust – Lowest Molding Scrap Rate
David Straub – Highest Molding Efficiency
Thomas P. Toporcer
Our sincere condolences go out to the family of Tom Toporcer. Tom worked in our Core Room as a Core Machine Operator for many years, as well as in our Maintenance Department before retiring.
enton Foundry participated in the Iron Casting Research Institute’s (ICRI) round 52 of Spectrometer Proficiency Testing this spring. This testing measures repeatability and consistency between various technicians within a lab and reproducibility and consistency between different labs. Certified reference standards with unknown concentrations of numerous elements are analyzed and results forwarded to the ICRI. For this last round of testing, Benton Foundry’s Lab has had no statistically significant differences for repeatability and reproducibility. The Benton Foundry Laboratory has continually been recognized for consistently high performance in these exercises. Thanks to Ron Steward, Ana Ponce, Jackie Showers, Tim Antoniello, Cody Snyder, Don Copeland, Xenia Ponce, Brittany Masakowski and Bill Simback.
In addition, Benton Foundry participated in the first Inter-Lab Survey of Combustion Analyzers for Carbon and Sulfur organized by the Iron Casting Research Institute. Three iron samples were provided with unknown concentrations of carbon
and sulfur. Sixteen labs participated. The unknown samples were analyzed using the Leco-200. The results of the analysis were sent to ICRI along with the results from all other labs. Benton’s results were found to be statistically in line with the other participating labs.
What year did Jeff Hall become President of Benton Foundry?
Answer will be in 3rd Quarter 2023
Benton Foundry owned another gray iron and aluminum foundry in the 1980’s what was the name of that foundry?
Huntsville Casting Facility (Huntsville, Alabama)
Don’t rely on Automatic Emergency Braking
utomatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is now standard in almost all new vehicles, so it is critical that drivers understand its benefits and its limitations.
While AEB has proven over the years to successfully stem rearend crashes, which often result in injuries and property damage, recent AAA research reveals that the new technology, touted as lifesaving, is not effective in stopping or even minimizing the most serious crashes. In fact, when testing the technology to see if it can handle higher speeds and detect moving vehicles in its path at intersections – scenarios that contribute to a significant number of deadly crashes – the short answer was no.
The findings are disconcerting to longtime AAA member Glenn Brown. “When I hear ‘automatic emergency braking,’ I am expecting technology that prevents serious crashes,” Brown says. “Given the increase in speeding and bad driving behaviors in general, I would have hoped for a better outcome.”
The issue is that AEB systems use forward-facing cameras and other sensors to tell the car to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. The AAA research found that AEB is, for the most part, ineffective in mitigating the two most common deadly crashes at intersections: T-bones and left turns in front of oncoming vehicles.
From 2016 to 2020, these two crash types accounted for almost 40 percent of all fatalities in crashes involving two passenger vehicles during which the striking vehicle
Among the findings are the following:
- At 30 miles per hour (mph), AEB prevented a rear-end collision for 17 of 20 test runs or 85 percent. For the test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 86 percent.
- But at 40 mph, AEB only prevented a rear-end crash in 6 of 20 test runs, or 30 percent. For test runs that resulted in a crash, the impact speed was reduced by 62 percent.
- In tests involving both the T-bone and left turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, crashes occurred 100 percent of the time. AEB failed to alert the driver, slow the vehicle’s speed and avoid the crash.
AAA strongly urges automakers and regulatory agencies to focus on system design and testing protocols to better address the types of crashes in which serious injuries and fatalities commonly occur.
“We need technology that offers effective protection, and we need it as soon as possible,” Brown adds.
In the meantime, drivers must recognize an AEB system’s limitations and remain focused and engaged when behind the wheel.
eed that cup of Joe to get going in the morning? Say “thank you” to the birds and the bees that team up on farms where coffee is grown. Conducting field work on 30 Costa Rican coffee farms, researchers discovered that coffee beans grow larger and more plentiful when birds and bees join forces—with the bees pollinating the plants and the birds protecting them from pests. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report that without the combined efforts of these winged helpers –many of which have migrated from thousands of miles anyway—the $24 billion coffee industry would suffer nearly a 25 percent decrease in crop yields. They say their findings suggest that ecosystem services can be appreciably more valuable together than separately. “Nature is an interacting system, full of important synergies,” says lead author Alejandra Martinez-Salinas, an ecologist at Costa Rica’s Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center.
Tim Schechterly, Jr.
The estimated amount of money hunting, fishing and boating equipment taxes contributed to recreation, education and conservation this year.
“By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”
~John Maynard Keynes