Foley Equipment • Summer 2015
ENGINES & POWER
Custom Dredge Works Dredging up big business. C.J. Jones likes to tell people he retired two years ago but he’s a man on the move. Jones, president of Custom Dredge Works in Topeka, Kansas, is rapidly building the “go to” company for custom, portable dredges.
CDW builds two type of dredges: chain ladder and cutter head. A chain ladder is very similar to a chain saw in which a rotating chain with cutters stirs up the material which is then pumped to the surface as a slurry. The cutter head dredge stirs up the material similarly but uses a conical-shaped bit as the agitator.
Together, C.J. Jones (right) and son John run Custom Dredge Works and its staff of around 50 employees. Old School Finds Market Demand Dredging is an age-old technology that can be used to move just about any material that can be suspended in water and pumped. Dredges are commonly used in mining sand and gravel. There are environmental uses too, including the removal of mining tailings from waste ponds and dredging navigable waterways to keep shipping channels and ports accessible. Custom Dredge Works, (CDW), has its roots as Midwestern Metals, a custom industrial metal fabricating company founded in 1982. In 2000, Midwest began fabricating repair parts for dredges which quickly took off. In 2002, Custom Dredge Works was formed and the
Workers tack weld structural components of a pontoon. 99% of the dredges are built on site. Pontoons are pressure tested after assembly. A completed cutter head dredge awaits shipment to the customer. company began building complete dredges. Business has flip-flopped since the early days. Today, fully 80% of their business is custom dredge building. To say CDW builds complete dredges
doesn’t adequately describe just how much of the fabrication is done under one roof. “We start with a stack of plate steel, angle iron and channel and turn it into a dredge. Fully 99% of the design and fabrication work is done in house,” Jones explained. “We even truck the product to the customer.” The Caterpillar Connection Most dredges include two engines: one to power the pump and an auxiliary power unit to provide electricity and power hydraulics. The engine of choice? Caterpillar. “Depending on the size of the dredge, we’re using C9s, (350 hp), all the way up to C32s (1,350 hp), for the larger dredges,” Jones said. “We chose Cat because of the worldwide service,” Jones continued. “You can always count on their dealer network for parts and service.” Worldwide availability of parts and service is increasingly important to CDW as they have not only shipped dredges across the U.S., but also to Mexico, South America and recently to Nigeria.
“On a day-to-day basis, I’m nothing but a problem solver,” said C.J. Jones. Jones is frequently on the shop floor consulting with employees along with Jessica Smith, Inside Sales.
The Foley Partnership Ed Beatty, Industrial OEM Accounts Manager for Foley, began working with CDW in 2014,
A Cat C-18 in the receiving area of CDW. offering engine specifications and related technical information for the application. “What we’ve found with Ed and Foley is someone to become part of our team to keep us informed of what’s changing, what’s available, the better solution,” Jones said. “We’re working on an option to power our dredges with 100% natural gas powered engine. Caterpillar, Foley and Ed have been very helpful in exploring the ins-and-outs of this solution. We’re very excited about the prospects for it.”