Sunday, February 14, 2021

Wyman-Gordon/Ingalls-Shepard Forging in Dixmoor, IL

(Flickr1; Flickr23D Satellite, the power plant and its smokestack are the only major structures left)

(Allis-Chalmers had an engine plant in Harvey, IL, that it closed in 1986. Arco also closed in 1986. [ChicagoTribune])

Ingalls-Shepard Forging was started in 1910 and it was bought by Wyman-Gordon of Worcester, MA, in 1920. "During and after World War I, Wyman-Gordon Company produced parts for military and commercial aircraft. World War II proved an extremely profitable time. The company claims that it produced more military airplane components than all of its competitors combined. As technology progressed, Wyman-Gordon began forging titanium alloy jet engine parts, which were used in the Korean and Vietnam Wars." They closed this plant in 1986. [PlacesThatWere] As I suspected, the power plant is still standing because it has asbestos. [reddit] At the time of closure, crankshafts was one of its major products. Wyman-Gordon has dodged cleanup responsibility for their brownland. Cleanup costs may exceed the market value of the land after remediation. Photos show that much of the equipment still remains inside the building. Normally metal is stripped for its scrap value. The fact tht there is a lot of metal left in the power house is probably a testament to the dangers of disturbing the asbestos.  [AmericanUrbex, vjurbex]

"Photo (source): Logo from an advertisement for Wyman-Gordon with the Harvey plant on the right."
"US Army engineers kept on the heels of the front lines to dismantle superior German industrial technology and pass it on to American businesses such as Wyman-Gordon."

Wyman-Gordan was started in 1883 to support the loom building industry. That would explain why their plant was in New England. But they quickly expanded into the bicycle, railroad and auto markets. They started making crankshafts between 1902 and 1904. WWI introduced them to airplane engines and airframes. WWII expanded their market. "During the war, every plane in combat included either engine parts, a crankshaft, structural airframe components, propeller mechanisms, or landing gear parts that were forged by Wyman-Gordon." After the war they were able to successfully retool their factories to support the new demands of jet engines including working with titanium. And during the cold war they expanded into missiles. "Wyman-Gordon constructed a series of three hydraulic presses with an 18,000 ton capacity, a 35,000 ton capacity, and a 50,000 ton capacity. The 50,000 ton capacity hydraulic press was the largest forging press ever built in the United States. The company also developed new techniques to produce alloys such as titanium, including forging superalloys at extremely high temperatures within a vacuum and compacting metals in powder form under such high pressures of intensely heated gases that they take the shape desired." Because of a shortage of titanium in 1978, they got into the business of producing titanium to supply their forging operation. But by the late 1980s, the end of the Cold War and a decrease in commercial airplanes impacted their market. "By early 1993, the aerospace industry business had declined by a whopping 40 percent since the lucrative days of the mid-1980s." Its firsts include: "the first to commercially develop the science of "heat treating," the first to manufacture a titanium support beam for the landing gear of the new 747 airplane, and the first to produce the largest closed-die forging of titanium in the world." [FundingUniverse]

Kathy Brook posted two photos with the comment:
The long-abandoned Wyman-Gordon Power & Manufacturing plant,  formerly located in Harvey Illinois-So sad to see the extreme deterioration of what was once a thriving Chicagoland spot....This town was once filled with jobs, grocery stores, clothiers, pharmacy stores, bakeries & restaurants, even movie theaters....Now it’s all gone, the main street(154th), closely resembling images of some vast & virtual post-apocalyptic nightmare....The last time I made a trip down that street, it was really hard for me to hold back tears, remembering what it once was....
[This is also in PlacesThatWere]

[This is also in PlacesThatWere]

Wyman Gordon still has several locations, but not in Chicagoland. [wyman_gordan]

This building was also part of the Wyman-Gordon plant. [vjrurbex]
3D Satellite

The federal government helped two companies build 50,000 ton closed-die presses to help keep its military airplanes competitive with the rest of the world and this was one of them. See "closed-die forging press" for more information on these presses.

It took me a while to write these notes because the 1938 aerial photo showed vacant land where the power plant exists today. Fortunately, I found this screenshot because it shows that the buildings on this land were rebuilt. For example, there are two power plant smokestacks in the screenshot, neither of which is today's power plant. The 1938 photo caught the land after it had been leveled for new construction and before the new construction began.
Video of space-age forging (Wyman Gordon) Harvey IL location [DeBruler]
[This is from a 2017 post. It is such a bummer that the YouTube link has broke. At least I grabbed a screenshot of this plant.]

From that aerial, I was able to determine the land that they owned.
Satellite plus Paint

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

I captured several topo maps to show the "churn" of the buildings. "Retooling" in this industry evidently means new buildings as well as new tools.
1923 Blue Island and Harvey Quadrangles @ 1:24,000

1953 Blue Island and Harvey Quadrangles @ 1:24,000

1973 Blue Island and Harvey Quadrangles @ 1:24,000

1993 Blue Island and Harvey Quadrangles @ 1:24,000

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