Lodge Manufacturing, in South Pittsburg, TN, casts iron for cookware products. It has operated Wheelabrator wire-mesh belt machines for many years, but maintaining the wheels on the machines was a persistent problem. Wheel hubs repeatedly “failing” led to motor failure on the machines, and the repair and replacement of the old wheels was messy and time consuming.
Wheelabrator advised the foundry to replace the four bottom wheels on one of the wire-mesh belt machines with its new Ezefit wheels.
The Ezefit family are Wheelabrator’s latest technology for cleaning wheels, for lower maintenance costs and better productivity. They offer an inherent advantage via bi-directional rotation, so inventory costs can be reduced because the same design is applicable for clockwise or counterclockwise applications. Wheelabrator has added to this advantage with a direct-drive design that offers standard or custom base mounting for increased versatility. Ezefit wheels are available in 3.5- or 2.5-in. blade widths, and various wheel diameters from 13 to 27 in. are offered, with 3,600- and 1,800-RPM versions.
TargetLok control cage positioning is a standard feature on all Ezefit wheels, to ensure consistent control cage location regardless of how many times the tune-up kits are changed. Target-Trak blast-pattern adjustment is available, too, so blast-pattern targeting can be controlled remotely.
Four direct-drive wheels with 18-in. blades were installed on the wire-mesh belt machines at Lodge in April 2005. This wire-mesh belt machine runs 16 hours/day, five to six days per week. By replacing the bottom wheels, Lodge resolved the maintenance issues with those four wheels and was able to increase the line speed from 8 fpm to 10-12 fpm. Without a large capital investment or extended loss of service, most of the maintenance problem was resolved. Now, Wheelabrator reports that Lodge intends to replace all of the machines’ wheels with the Ezefit designs.
For Lodge Manufacturing, the hardest areas of the castings to clean are the recessed bottoms of the cast-iron pots and pans. Because the new wheels offer a wider blast pattern than old wheels, the media distribution is better, which explains for the longer service life of the wheels. Adding four Ezefit wheels on the bottom of the machine is equivalent to adding five wheels, Wheelabrator contends, because of the increased size of the blast pattern.
David Mantooth, Lodge Manufacturing’s cleaning room supervisor, reports the operators have been impressed with the life of the new 18-in. blades, the ease of maintenance, and the cleaning capabilities of new wheels. “Since our installation the end of April we have not had to replace one single part,” he reported several months later. “We have exceeded 1,500 hours of blade life so far in our foundry with sand loading. This is an impressive track record for any wheel.”