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Tube & Pipe

Refined pipe processing

By Nick Wright

With a strong, easy-to-use coper, Linders Specialty Co.’s clients complete jobs quickly

October 2011 - For a machine first sold in 1971, the LCV-2000 coper has proven to be a reliable abrasive-belt pipe notcher that companies continue to use. Occasionally, customers who picked up an original LCV-2000 at an auction will call Linders Specialty Co., St. Paul, Minn., to report their find. “It’s kind of neat, because most of these things never go away,” says Vince Linders, company president. “They keep recycling, keep coming back.”

Despite the original coper’s staying power in the industry, the LCV-2000 underwent a redesign in 1999. “I kind of revised the whole machine, went through it and simplified the construction, all the parts, and made things more accurate and easier to build so we could keep cost where it was,” Linders says, noting most of the upgrades will fit old machines.

The brawn behind the 12-gauge and 16-gauge belt guard comes mainly in 5 HP single-phase and three-phase motors, depending on the power available or required for a job. Custom copers have been built for oversize applications, according to Linders. The largest was equipped with an 8-in. belt and 8-in. pipe spindle.

The coper’s design is where Matt Welsh, owner of Welshco LLC, finds time and cost savings for his Union Mills, Ind.-based company. “The beauty of it is the simplicity of it,” he says.

Welsh purchased his first LCV-2000 in 1998. “At the time, we were doing a lot of dairy farm facilities, so we’d go through in an average week 80,000 lbs. to 100,000 lbs. of 11⁄2-in. pipe,” he says. His company provides fabrication and installation for structural work, process piping and plant maintenance. “We do a lot of work for construction companies,” he says.

Sourcing simplicity
With only six workers on the Welshco staff, virtually anyone can use the LCV-2000 coper, which Welsh has mounted on a wheeled-frame that allows him to bring the coper in the field. The frame holds his tooling and extra grinding belts and can run off the power generated from Welsh’s welding machines.

While the coper is not designed specifically for portability, it’s not uncommon for Linders’ customers to create a mobile setup for it, enabling a range of metal fabricators to take it from job to job. “It is a lot lighter than some of the ones on stands that our competitors have. We have made a shorter-frame version that uses a 72-in. belt. And I think we’ve got a couple of those mounted in trucks as field repair units,” says Linders. A 2 HP, 110 V shorter coper will be offered in the future.

“We run it in the field off of a 10,000-W engine drive welding machine as a power source. We’ve been in some pretty primitive environments,” Welsh says, noting during a particularly bad snowstorm in Michigan at one job, the welding machines ran the coper, which never abated during the squalls. “It snowed about 8 in. a day,” he says.

The newer incarnation of the LCV-2000 will take abrasive belts in 3-in., 4-in., 5-in. and 6-in. widths to accommodate a range of notching needs (the old machine only fit 3-in. belts). Zirconium, ceramic and combinations of the two are common abrasive compounds that customers use, according to Linders. Standard belts are 132 in. long, a length that allows them to cool and maximizes life.

For Welsh’s applications, typically he uses zirconium grits with 4-in. or 5-in. belts. “Say we’re coping 11⁄4-in. pipe, we only use a 4-in. head because that’s what we’re going up against,” he says. With thin-wall tubing, smaller grits reduce the impact on the wall material, which prevents it from bending in the case of finer finishes.

Welsh says it’s easy to cope transitions from one pipe size to another in fence fabrication, for example. “Say, all the posts were 4 in.,” Welsh says. “So that’s 41⁄2-in. OD. Your intermediates, they might go from 2 in. in one part of the facility to 11⁄2 in., to a lighter fence.”

The time savings Welsh has achieved from integrating the coper into his workflow is night and day, he adds. After using the machine for weeks at 10 hours a day, “it enables you to have someone with less skill and minimal training be very productive.”

Clean grind
Garrett Tramm, project manager and field supervisor for Northland Process Piping, Isle, Minn., incorporates two of the newer LCV-2000 machines into Northland’s Greeley, Colo., operation. Northland offers custom fabrication design, engineering and field installations for an array of products, such as staircases, conveyors, stainless steel tanks and industrial hot water sets.

“We use it normally for staircases and platforms,” Tramm says. “When we’re using pipe frames, we use it to cope out cross-support members and also we use them in the field for support systems and hangers that are going to be installed to existing and new equipment platforms, framework, etc.”

When Northland sought the LCV-2000, the company was looking to cut production time and boost efficiency, he says. “Before we purchased the coping machine, we were doing everything by hand. We either had to create all our cross-cuts or double mitres with grinders or with a band saw,” Tramm says. Northland frequently grinds 11⁄4-in. pipe for hand railings and anywhere from 1-in. to 4-in. pipe at thicknesses of schedule 10 to schedule 40. “We’ve used [the coper] on square tubing and other materials if we’re going to be installing to any pipe frame or other pipe structure,” he says.

Much like the setup Welshco uses, Northland has its coper mounted to a frame with casters so it’s moveable from site to site and within the shop. “It’s really easy to use. Sometimes is does require two people to use if you’re coping multiple angles at precise tolerances of hard-to-handle materials,” Tramm says.

The LCV-2000’s vise will hold pipe and round tube as well as bars and angles in both directions. That clamp optimization was part of the 1999 redesign.

“Instead of spending all this money on fixturing and tooling, why don’t we just make it adjustable so you can tune it in yourself?” Linders asks. “Or tune it off center if you want tangential tube connections. Say you have a 3-in. tube and you’re fitting 1-in. tubes into it and you want them to be flush on the outside,” he continues. “You can shift it off center. It doesn’t have to be on the center line. If you want to raise it 1⁄4 in., turn it four times around, as it’s 16 threads per inch.”

Clear communication
Fluid communication with a customer is key to providing the appropriate coper for end-use parts processing. This allows Linders to ensure the company is delivering the right setup for an application. But it’s not always easy.

“The hardest part is getting the right information up front, making sure you’re communicating with your customer properly so you don’t build them the wrong machine,” Linders says. “We try to get drawings of what the final parts are that they’re trying to make so we can see how it has to work.”

Before sourcing one of the LCV-2000 copers, smaller companies, for example, often use a hand grinder to make a small notch in a pipe, which doesn’t always yield the best fit, says Dan Linders, vice president at Linders Specialty Co.

“Without that good fit, you’re going to create extra welding time,” requiring additional welds over a seam, he says. A sloppy fit is imprecise, causes increased fabrication and looks unprofessional. When a customer articulates its requirements, Linders can estimate cost per cope based on time per cope and belt life. And, if it’s a large job, the machine will pay for itself sooner than later. “Now you’ve got the machine for the rest of your life,” Dan Linders says.

Welsh’s success can be drawn back to clear communication with Linders from the beginning, he says. “They understand. Part of the reason we would get a job wasn’t because we were the most competitive bid. We got the job because we could get it done,” Welsh says of his business since using the coper. “Everyone at Linders is super to work with.” FFJ

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Sources

  • Linders Specialty Co.
    St. Paul, Minn.
    phone: 651/488-0528
    fax: 651/488-1883
    www.lscmetalfab.com
  • Northland Process Piping
    Isle, Minn.
    phone: 320/679-2119
    fax: 320/679-2785
    www.nppmn.com
  • Welshco LLC
    Union Mills, Ind.
    phone: 219/767-2786
    fax: 219/767-2963
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