November 2005

Equipment Spotlight
AUTO CRUSHERS
by Mark Henricks

View 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 combines.

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.

Granutech Saturn CrusherToday, 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's E-Z CrusherThe 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 Model.

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 equipment.”

OverBuilt's CrusherOverBuilt 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 vehicles.

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.

Al-jon CrusherAl-Jon 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.”

Manufacturers
Company Name
Contact Person
Phone
OverBuilt, Inc.

Jeff Hebbert

800-548-6469
Granutech-Saturn Systems Glenn Newton 877-582-7800
Al-jon, Inc. Curt Spry 888-255-6620
The R.M. Johnson Co. David VanVleet 800-328-3613
 

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