Sunday, January 24, 2016

Austin Western Road Machinery Co. in Aurora, IL

3D Satellite

Topo map and aerial photo

C.H. Smith started in 1877 in Mount Prospect, Iowa, making a scraper to help him fulfill his contracts with railroads to prepare the right-of-ways. By 1891 he had outgrown Mount Prospect and moved his operations to Aurora, changing the firm name to Western Wheeled Scraper Company. 
In 1904, the firm's inventive genius emerged again in a perfected dump cars with twelve cubic yard capacity, operated by air. Within a year, capacity had been increased by over 50%. These cars became the backbone of earth moving operations that enabled the Panama Canal to be constructed ahead of schedule and below budget.
One of his chief competitors for road graders was Austin Manufacturing, which dated from 1859 in Harvey, IL. So the address of Carroll and Carpenter in Chicago in an advertisement must have been for their headquarters.
VintageMachinery, Harvey, IL
Note the advertisement indicates Austin made other products such as well drills and pipe.
Steve OConnor posted

In 1934 the two firms merged to form Austin-Western.
Aurora headquarters on Farnsworth directed both the large Aurora and Harvey plants, from which came industry firsts, which even before World War II included: steel reversible road grader; motor roller; crawler wagon; duel drive leaning wheel; diesel and four wheel drive graders. Austin-Western dump cars, graders, rollers, street sweepers, power shovels, scrapers and crushing plants spread to every developed community of the globe.
WorldSweeper, Austin-Western Aurora Plant
They evidently got into the sweeper business by buying a company whose use of an industrial designer grew their market beyond what they could handle.


In 1939 all manufacturing and headquarters operations were consolidated in Aurora.

Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton realized their steam locomotive business was dying and purchased Austin-Western on March 8, 1951 to try to ride the road-building boom of the 1950s and 60s. But 1961 was the peak year for the Austin-Western brands and manufacturing facilities.
In July of 1965, Armour and Company of Chicago, Illinois, purchased Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation of Philadelphia. In December of 1970, the Greyhound Corporation purchased all of Armour and Company and its subsidiaries.
In May of 1971 the Clark Equipment Company (Collection 252) purchased only the Construction Equipment Division from Greyhound. This consisted of the Austin-Western Division of Aurora, Illinois; the Lima Division of Lima, Ohio; and the Division of BLH Canada located at St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
Clark went on to phase out the Austin-Western name in the mid-1970s, consolidating the line into its Crane Division. It also moved production of graders--the last survivor of the line--to the former Hancock Manufacturing Company plant in Lubbock, Texas in 1978. The Lubbock plant was closed and the grader line discontinued in 1981. (RitchieWiki)
Whoever bought the site after 1978 retained the headquarters building. Who and when the manufacturing buildings were updated is unknown.

Lost Illinois Manufacturing has found a nice collection of photos. Below are some I found particularly interesting.



Lost Illinois Manufacturing added

Use this link to get this search result in your own window so that you can access the photos.
Esther Bubley, 1948, CARLI's archive of Newberry's CB&Q "Daily Life Along the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad"
An Austen-Western sign still exists on the north side of their old building.
Halsted Pazdizior posted
On the west end of Eola yard two Geeps switch out cars.

A finished 1948 grader

One of five photos posted by Marty Bernard
3. CB&Q 953 shot from West Eola Tower on August 26, 1964. This GP30 built 1962 became BN 2230 and had EMD #27164.

Marty Bernard posted
On September 8, 1964 while visiting West Eola Tower in eastern Aurora, IL on the CB&Q racetrack, GP35 987 came roaring by with a freight headed west.  The shot is from the tower's steps.

Caterpillar made their first road grader in 1938, Diesel #12 Auto Patrol. (source)
Lost Illinois Manufacturing posted
Austin-Western in Aurora using a Sundstrand machine tool made in Rockford. Illinois company using Illinois machine tools. Aurora Beacon News, Fox Valley Progress Edition, 1953.
I'm adding a view of the north side because I have read that BNSF plans to remove some of the buildings so that it can expand its Eola Yard that is just to the east of these buildings.
3D Satellite
Bernie Moening posted
Austin Western Badger shovel owned by Clarence and Robert. Lee of East Stroudsberg Pa. Photo by James O. Peck Co. of Ny. Year ? . Lima did build a few of these Badgers after BLH bought Austin Western.
[BLH was the merger of Baldwin, Lima and Hamilton.]
Randy Mckee Looks like a farmall tractor for power maybe an H?
Bernie MoeningAuthor International I-30 engine
Bernie MoeningAuthor It could be a shovel or crane or dragline or clamshell depending on the front end when purchased.
Andrew Dawson Randy Mckee appears to be a IH W-9.
Michael Mack Could be an IHC UG14 gasoline power plant too.
Bernie MoeningAuthor I have a roll film on these machines for viewing in a slide projector and it has on one of the images that the standard engine is an International I-30 and can come in diesel power but no engine is listed. This film was for advertising purpose.
Dustin Stark My dad has one of these! It has the backhoe on it now but we have the shovel attachment for it also!!

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