An Epic Tale of Survival, and Upset Forging

“Largest machine of its type” is returned, restored, and ready to forge again

Upset forging is a process that’s been around for centuries and it remains the most common forging process, as calculated by the number of parts produced by that method – which uses mechanical force to compress a long product into a part with smaller dimensions and greater density. Relatively common products like valves, couplings, screws and so forth are manufactured this way.

But while there is nothing particularly intriguing about that description, it fails to capture the scale of the 9-in. upset-forging machine once described by National Machinery Co. as being among the largest ever built. Weighing 533,000 lbs., it was completed in 1941 and shipped by the Tiffin, OH, designer and manufacturer to a forger in the Soviet Union.

One can imagine the machine’s perilous journey across submarine-infested seas, then by rail across 1,000 or so miles to a plant well east of Moscow and (then) Leningrad, where it was installed to manufacture parts needed to defend that country against invasion. The story would be pretty fascinating if it ended there.

But 75 years later the machine has arrived “home” in Ohio. The return trip actually started in 2014: TrueForge Global Machinery bought the machine late that year, and the disassembly and relocation process began. Situated at the center of that remote Russian plant, it was removed from its foundations and transported in pieces to a rail spur. The two large frame sections (200,000 and 130,000 lbs.) were sent by rail, and seven more containers full of other parts were trucked to St. Petersburg, and from there the entire inventory was shipped to Antwerp, Belgium.

Waiting out the winter there, the materials were shipped again, across the Atlantic, and arrived in Cleveland in mid-March

In Cleveland, Henry & Wright Corporation has been retained to rebuild and update the forging machine. The distance of about eight miles from the Port of Cleveland to the Henry & Wright plant will require another round of logistical and tactical skill:  special haulers will be used to place the machine’s front frame atop a 205-ft. long, 19-axle twin trailer; the smaller rear frame will ride an 11- axle trailer. Interstate 90 will be closed to allow the caravan to make the next short trip of this long journey.

Henry & Wright will restore the machine’s bearings and liners to original running clearances and specifications. Then, it will install its own System 4005 Forge Safety Control Package, including the modern-standard air-clutch machine control.

Interested buyers may have the chance to acquire like-new machine in months, rather than the years necessary to design, plan, and manufacture needed to build a new upset-forging machine of comparable power and scale. Even so, it’s unlikely that the details yet to be revealed can improve on this epic tale.

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