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Start-Up Specializes in Refurbishing Railroad Components

Dec. 24, 2009
Illini Castings plans heat-treating, welding operation in Illinois
A new operation that specializes in reconditioning railroad castings will be starting up in Danville, IL. Illini Castings LLC is an affiliate of Mervis Industries, a regional recycler of ferrous and nonferrous scrap. Illini Castings will refurbish for reuse couplers, yokes, side frames and bolsters from retired rail cars. It expects to employ 17 people in its first year and may eventually hire up to 30 individuals, most of whom would be skilled welders. The complete operation may take up to 11 months to start. Illini Castings intends to heat treat couplers and yokes using a specialized process it has not yet started. It will recondition components and certify refurbished parts to quality assurance requirements, for sale to Class One railroads, short lines, and other railroad suppliers. Demand for railroad castings is expected to increase as the economic recovery continues, and as freight shipments rise. Rail shipping is expected to benefit from more stringent carbon-emissions regulations that are anticipated either through federal law or EPA regulation. However, much of the casting capacity for railroad castings is idle, due to the financial constraints of the foundries and cheaper offshore sources. According to a release, most of the railroad parts that Illini Castings will refurbish will come from scrap yards or derailment sites. As a scrap recycler, Mervis Industries is also a dismantler of railroad stock, reportedly “cutting” thousands of railroad cars annually, creating an internal supply of “raw material” for the new operation.