Wingerter Laboratories Finds Value and Workmanship
in Older Tinius Olsen Testing Machines
It is rare today to find a product that can truly withstand the test of time. Yet in one Florida testing lab, Tinius Olsen has been a constant presence for nearly 54 years. More surprising, the Tinius Olsen materials testing machines used in that facility are nearly as old as the business itself.
Wingerter Laboratories in North Miami is a very modern company that runs with more than a little nostalgia. Roger Wingerter, now retired, managed the company for forty years, taking the reins from his late father, who started the business in 1949. Now Roger’s daughter Jill, the company’s current president, is in charge. They’ve kept it in the family for three generations now. That’s not the only continuous thread, either. All three generations of Wingerters have worked on Tinius Olsen testing machines – more precisely, the same two Tinius Olsen machines.
Roger Wingerter remembers the day his father’s new Tinius Olsen machine showed up. It was 1953 and Roger was 13 years old. “I remember them moving it into the building.” Flash forward fifty-four years – that same machine still sits in Wingerter Laboratories, functioning much as it did on day one.
In 1968, the original machine was joined with another machine – a Tinius Olsen 400 XL, which Roger put together in one day. Both machines are still in use, serving as the company’s main testing machines.
Talk about machines that work – Roger says his group has used both models with abandon. “We’ve tested probably 3 million cylinders on that press. We were doing 500-600 a day at one point, and we’d use both Tiniuses.” That was possible because Roger had built a rack system that lifted fifty cylinders at a time with a forklift. The bigger machine – the Tinius Olsen 400 XL – is in operation 30 minutes a day on average. But there are some days when it’s working all day. It is used primarily for testing prisms and tensile.
Amazingly, the 1953 machine has its original motor. That’s not to say all parts are original. Roger says, “We wore out the copper tubing, and I switched the valve in the back because dirt gets in there – it never had a filter on it. I put an aircraft filter on it years ago.” Other repairs were necessary, such as replacing the first set of gauges, which wore out, and then replacing them ten years later with new digital gauges. And there were breaks. “We broke one of the columns and I busted the head out. Beyond that, there’s not a lot that can go wrong with it.” Roger did separate the press from the machine to reduce vibration.
Roger, who is a member of American Council of Independent Laboratories, and co-founder of the Construction Materials Engineering Council (CMEC) in Florida, is a strong advocate of Tinius Olsen products. He’s been a bit of a salesman for Tinius. “The reason I really prefer their machines, besides their longevity is that Tinius uses low psi. And a bigger ram. When you compare a Tinius machine with competitive models, the others run up to 9,300 psi. What happens is that level blows the lines and gives a lot more shock when they explode the cylinder.” Tinius machines can be calibrated “down to infinity, it’s amazing,” as Roger puts it. He’s calibrated one machine to 10 psi, and was able to calibrate to 360 psi. At the moment, the lab is only testing 4-by-8 round test cylinders, though at one time they were able to test 6-by-12 cylinders at 1,470 psi.
The machines are time-tested, for sure. When asked if he thought it odd that his own machines have lasted for fifty-plus years, Roger says it’s no surprise to him given the quality of workmanship in Tinius Olsen products. “I bet if you found the guy who designed that machine, he’d say he designed it to last fifty years.”
Despite the fact that the company will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2009, Roger says he’s not replacing either of the Tinius Olsen machines. “Oh no, we have better than anybody. How can we not be pleased with it? It starts up every day.”
Tinius Olsen is a global provider of materials testing solutions (equipment, software, and calibration services) with over 125 years of testing experience. For more information, contact: Tinius Olsen, 1065 Easton Road, Horsham, PA 19044 USA, (215) 675-7100, Fax (215) 441-0899, www.TiniusOlsen.com. Or: Wingerter Laboratories, Inc., 1820 NE 144th Street, North Miami, FL 33181, (305) 944-3401, Fax (305) 949-8698.
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Wayne Hayward, Marketing Manager, Tinius Olsen
Phone: (215) 675-7100 Fax: (215) 441-0899
Jill Wingerter Chin-You, President, Wingerter Laboratories
Phone: (305) 944-3401, Ext. 8 Fax: (305) 949-8698
Dan Ditzler, Newton Associates
Phone: (610) 964-9300 Fax: (610) 964-9306