By John B. SnyderMarch 3, 2011
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Are Arsenal welders working on a new product line' Well, kind of. The Arsenal recently received a $750,000 order from the Army to fabricate support legs for the 120mm mortar system...a mission the Arsenal had until the early 1990s.
"For one reason or another, about 17 years ago the Arsenal quit making the support legs that stabilize the 120mm mortar tube to its baseplate," said Support Division Chief Ray Gaston.
"This is no easy job because those who worked on this project in the 90s no longer work here," Gaston added. "Therefore, accepting this job was more than simply dusting off old blueprints because the types of metals that we will use have changed since the 1990s, as well as the mortar system has undergone several modifications since we last worked on the legs."
It will take about two months from receipt of the mission to the first product shipped, said Greg Stone, the Arsenal's lead welder. The first shipment of support legs will go out in March.
"The welds on these legs were unbelievably tough due to the tight tolerances required and because of the uncommon angles of the various add-on parts," Stone said. "In fact, in order to hold the multiple parts in place to weld, we had to manufacture many of the support custom fixtures because of the uniqueness of this mission."
Stone added that this product line has a much bigger impact to the Arsenal than just on the welding team.
"There are more than 40 processes required for each leg," Stone said. "Once the welders get done with their work, then there is machining, painting, and packaging required."
Production Control & Program Management Chief Randy Huffy added, "We have been nurturing the Army and Marine Corps' mortar program for about 15 months because we want to be their first choice for mortar requirements. This order is a direct result from this long-term engagement with the Army."
Huffy added that the Army's mortar program manager will fund the purchase of $4.3 million of new machinery to help with future production. This will further solidify our relationship with the mortar community.