Wabi Iron & Steel locked into Trent-Severn Waterway work: New Liskeard fabricator making components in rehabilitation of historic waterway.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position:Temiskaming & Region

New Liskeard fabricator Wabi Iron & Steel has landed a sizeable contract in the rehabilitation of the Trent-Severn Waterway.

The 65-employee company has secured a $ 1.6-million contract to manufacture the replacements for 13 sluice valves on some of the recreational locks on the central Ontario waterway.

Wabi is working through a major southern Ontario design-build contractor that was awarded one of four large bundles of work in Ottawa's $3-billion rehabilitation of the 386-kilometre long network of locks, bridges and dams under Parks Canada control.

The company is making the replacements for the original grey cast-iron valves that were installed. The new components will be made with ductile iron.

"They're like a huge toilet valve, really," said Wabi president Stan Gorzalcznski, in describing the components they will be re-engineering and casting based on century-old mechanical drawings.

"That's what makes this a unique thing. The originals were supplied by a foundry in the U.K. about 100 ago. There's really no OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to go to and say we want to reorder these values, and so we're starting from scratch."

The project will involve both the casting capabilities of the foundry division to shape the shell structure of the valve body, and the fabrication side of Wabi to make the valve spool structure.

"The whole assembly when it's all together would be about six feet in diameter and eight feet tall," said Gorzalcznski. "It's a sizeable chunk of metal ... with a valve opening of about five feet."

In mid-July, the company was in the process of finishing the tooling patterns before they could start casting.

The first batch of valves will be delivered in September, the rest in November.

"It's kind of way out of our traditional marketplace," said Gorzalcznski, who mentioned they were invited to bid through Parks Canada.

"They seemed to know about us and wanted the work to come our way. We made sure we were on the bidders list because we had no idea this was happening."

"One of the attractions of Wabi was the fact that we are able to fabricate on-site as well as produce castings," added Steve Hill, vice-president of business development. "There are not a lot of organizations that are able to do that."

The work for Parks Canada is a departure from Wabi's traditional bread-and-butter work in the mining industry.

The 111-year-old company is a major mining equipment supplier known for fabricating skips, cages, material...

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