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Rocker Barrel Finishing Lifts Capacity

April 11, 2005
Lowers Costs for Ford Meter Box

The finishing operation at Ford Meter Box Co., Wabash, IN, had reached it capacity limits and was faced with rising maintenance costs. The company produces brass valves, fittings, and meter box settings for water works. Its pre-blast operation created a multi-step finishing process. In search of better blasting solution, the operators contacted The Wheelabrator Group

Wheelabrator proposed a complete finish blast operation to match Ford Meter Box’s productivity requirements, including: increased operating capacity to support two shifts; capacity for 12 tons/hr of blasted parts; and extended operating time between maintenance services. The project also included a critical delivery date, height requirements, and a compressed installation schedule.

Wheelabrator designed an in-line rocker-barrel machine. Conceived for pre-blasting and finishing of many parts, rocker-barrel machines can be sized for virtually an foundry operation, including those where small parts that may mean faster finishing times. The cabinet and reclaim hoppers are made of carbon steel plate and the manganese steel liners are in line with the blast stream. Together, Wheelabrator and Ford Meter Box removed the old equipment and installed the new system over a three-day weekend.

The new equipment increases throughput and significantly reduces re-blast requirements. Parts enter the rocker barrel through a vibrating shaker conveyor before being blasted and cleaned in a U-shaped drum that gently rocks parts back and forth, without the impingement that may occur in other blast-wheel machines. The barrel is equipped with three low-maintenance and easy-service 40-hp Ezefit wheels.

For safety, and to ease installation and maintenance, all electrical components were pre-wired before delivery; an access safety ladder with platform was attached, as were safety-warning signs. There are limit switches on access doors and the main control panel has starters, overloads, and programming controller with main line disconnect.

Other features include a dual elevator system to overcome height restrictions in the building. One elevator feeds the separator; the other feeds the storage hopper.

“We are pleased with the results of our Wheelabrator barrel blast machine,” said foundry manager Mike Jones. “It is faster than our previous method, and we are able to run at a higher capacity. Our castings are cleaner and we greatly reduced the maintenance issues by eliminating the old machine.”