by Mark Henricks
the list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page
Jack Foster has been in
the automobile salvage business since the mid-1960s, before
there was any way to easily and quickly reduce the size
and volume of cars destined for recycling as scrap metal.
“They didn’t invent a feasible car crusher until
1970,” says the founder of Foster Services Inc., a
salvage yard in Orlando, Florida.
Today, Foster has a choice
of reliable, fast methods for crushing cars. Yards like
his recycle nearly 5 million automobiles annually in the
United States, according to the Automotive Recyclers Association,
a Fairfax, Virginia, trade association. The industry produces
more than $8 billion in revenues annually from sale of used
parts and crushed cars, the ARA says.
The usual procedure is
for a yard to take in a wrecked or mechanically disabled
car, light truck, bus or piece of farm equipment, remove
any reusable parts and cores, then crush the remaining hulk
to prepare it for transport to a shredder. Car crushers
employ hydraulic pistons powering a crushing deck with around
150 tons of force, capable of crushing up to several cars
at a time or pieces of equipment as large as agricultural
Electric, gasoline or diesel
motors and stationary or mobile trailered configurations
allow salvage yard operators the flexibility to economically
reduce the size of junk cars at single locations, move around
to several of their own yards, or provide car-flattening
services to other yard owners. After a few years of development,
car crushers became highly reliable tools for salvage operators
— MAC crushers made in the early 1970s are still in
operation, according to Glenn Newton, president of Granutech-Saturn
Systems in Grand Prairie, which began as the Mobile Auto
Crusher company that held original patents on car flatteners.
MAC crushers come in two varieties. The Big MAC is a mobile
model, priced at $130,000. The stationary Little MAC costs
$115,000 with an electric drive. Virtually all the MACs
sold now are mobile. “Occasionally, you have a yard
owner who’ll buy a flattener and in those cases the
stationary suits them fine,” Newton says. “But
in most cases people flattening cars are going from one
yard to another and processing them.”
The mobile Big MAC can
be transported by a truck tractor to any location, where
it can crush three to five cars, with or without engines,
into a transportable bundle at about 45 seconds per car.
Oil reclamation systems capture fluids from crushed vehicles.
The units come with remote control systems to be operated
from a loader.
R.M. Johnson Co. of Annandale, Minnesota, sells basically
three models in a variety of configurations and priced from
$85,000 to $129,000. Eighty percent of sales are generated
by the E-Z Crusher A+ Model, according to R. M. Johnson’s
Dave Van Vleet. “Our A+ crusher has a larger pump,
motor and bigger 10 inch cylinders. It is the popular choice
for high use custom crushing companies and high volume scrap
yards. The E-Z Crusher B model that R. M. Johnson started
with back in 1972 is designed for most salvage yard owners.
VanVleet says 100 percent of the crushers manufactured to
date are still in the field crushing cars.
R.M. Johnson also sells
a less expensive model for export only called the E-Z E
E-Z crushers use a design
that allows the hydraulic cylinders to pull, rather than
push the crushing deck. They offer considerable customization.
“Every machine is built to order,” says VanVleet.
“You can get it with or without an air compressor,
hydraulic outriggers, remote automation and can even have
your crusher painted in any color or to match your other
Inc. of Huron, South Dakota, is distinguished by the high-speed
option available for its Model 10 crusher. The Model 10,
priced at $126,000 to $146,000, has a 10-foot high door
opening allowing operators to crush vans, buses and other
tall vehicles, as well as loading up to six cars per cycle.
The 400-gallon on-board fuel tank allows operators to refuel
loaders as well as go long periods between fillups. A similarly
sized 400-gallon tank holds fluids reclaimed from flattened
But the Model 10’s
speed is its primary distinguishing feature. OverBuilt employs
a high speed oil bypass system to quickly transfer hydraulic
fluid from the tops of cylinders to the bottoms, reducing
the volume of oil that must be pumped from the reservoir
and cutting cycle time.
Inc. of Ottumwa, Iowa, has made car crushers for four decades.
The company’s Impact V car crusher employs a four-guidepost
system that applies force evenly across a vehicle that is
to be crushed. “Most car crushers have one guidepost
right in the middle,” explains Curt Spry, sales manager.
“We have one on each corner. That distributes the
crush so you get the flattest, tightest car you’ll
find in the industry.” The Impact V sells for $137,000
and comes in a single configuration, with the only option
being either a John Deere or Cummins diesel engine.
Crushers should enjoy robust
sales as long as scrap prices remain high, manufacturers
say. An unexpected development is tied to Hurricane Katrina.
“We are currently selling a lot of these machines
to help in the cleanup of the hurricane,” says Spry.
“There are supposed to be a half a million cars to
be recycled down there, so they are going to need a lot
of car crushers.”