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Old 03-31-2018, 03:52 PM
longyard longyard is offline
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Default A Visit to the Eckold Plant

While writing Book 7 in the Barton series, I was in frequent contact with Hartmut Eckold, the retired chairman of the Eckold company and son of the founder, Walter Eckold. He invited me to tour the plant and have lunch, and so after attending the Essen and Stuttgart classic car shows I went to Trimmis, Switzerland.

Herr Eckold took me on a tour of the plant and explained how the company started, and evolved over the years, some of which has already been told in Book 7. In short, Walter Eckold got in trouble with Hitler's regime for not joining the Nazi Party and so was forced out of Junkers (aircraft manufacturer). He started his own company but when the Russians took over in 1945 he learned from a sympathetic "white Russian" that the secret police were going to arrest him that day, so he escaped across the border to the American zone where he soon set up another company. Some years later, still worried about a Russian invasion of West Germany, he was in the process of moving to Switzerland when he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Harmut had just graduated college and decided to continue his father's plans in Switzerland. His older brother decided to remain with the factory in Germany. That is why "Eckold" is actually TWO separate companies that operate in tandem, and are publicly thought of as "one" company. They are not. The German factory produces the big Kraftformer and deals mostly with German sales, while the Swiss company manufactures the Piccolo, hand former, and other smaller tools like the pneumatic planisher, and handles sales outside Germany. Herr Eckold told me of some incredible sales trips he made into Soviet Russia in the 1960s and 70s.

The factory itself is surgically clean and there are many CNC mills and lathes. I witnessed an extremely harmonious workforce with whom Herr Eckold interacted in a very natural, collegial manner. He said the Swiss model of employee-employer relationships is much more about consensus building than even the German model at the other plant, and the German model is one of the reasons for Germany's economic success compared to other European countries like France and England which often have contentious labor-management relationships.

Only a part of Eckold's current business is based on tool sales. Much of the business now comes from two other ventures. Manufacturing for outside companies, particularly high-precision aerospace firms, and also, somewhat incongruously, truck conversions!

This doesn't mean that Eckold is phasing out of tool production, in fact, far from it. I was shown a prototype being built of a new machine they hope to market, but asked not to show it or discuss it, so I won't. All I can say is that it is different from previous products, and is aimed at sheet metal shops.

As we walked the line of products being prepared for shipping, Herr Eckold showed me four boxes whose labels stated they were headed for an airlines company in Russia...two KF 470s and two Piccolos. I asked him why he doesn't manufacture in other less expensive countries and he said that they have found it too hard to control quality. He said that one of the misunderstood features of the Kraftformer family is the robust strength of its cast steel case. When the Chinese tried to copy the machine a few years back, they used typical casting techniques and the machines cracked their cases often in as little as an hour. He said that EVERY airline repair facility in China now uses genuine Eckold machines.

In addition to the new machine being developed, Eckold is looking into holding Eckold-specific sheet metal classes at their facility.

Herr Eckold's son Marc now directs the company and the board of directors consists mostly of family members.

On a side note, having now visited the small city of Chur, of which Trimmis is a suburb, I wouldn't move the company either. It's too beautiful there!

ONE MORE THING: Because of new information I learned about the origins of the Kraftformer, I will soon post an addendum to Barton Book 7 which owners of the book should print out and included in the Eckold chapter. Interesting stuff.




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Son of company founder Walter Eckold, Hartmut Eckold stands in front of a production run of KF170 PDs. Eckold strictly operates on a "just in time" production schedule because of the high cost of storage in Switzerland.

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A technician uses a die grinder to bring a part into the close tolerances demanded by aerospace customers. Note the measuring devices in the foreground used to ensure precision. Every part is hand measured before moving to assembly.

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Most production utilizes CNC lathes and mills. Herr Eckold stated that the factory usually buys the best available machines because in the long run they are cheaper, and can be resold at a good price.

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A shipment of KF 470s and Piccolos going to a Russian airline. Most airline use the Eckold machinery to straighten out panels after heat treating. They use the No-Mar jaws for these operations.

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Marcel Spielmann directs the trade show operations, and demonstrates the tools to clients both before and after sales. Eckold is considering having Eckold-specific shaping classes available to all at their Swiss plant.

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An aluminum nose made by one of Marcel's students in two days by using the Kraftformers in the demo room.


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The complicated electronics of the new computerized KF 675 is housed in a separate cabinet to isolate it from the vibrations of the machine.

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Hartmut Eckold and me.

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Chur is the oldest town in Switzerland dating back to Roman times, and during my visit was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The Eckold plant is four miles out of town in the suburb of Trimmis.
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Old 03-31-2018, 04:43 PM
Gareth Davies Gareth Davies is offline
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Thanks for posting Bill, it looks like a very interesting place to visit.
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Old 04-01-2018, 03:10 AM
Jaroslav Jaroslav is offline
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Bill Visiting Dreams. But did not show you substantial technology. It's interesting how well you can handle the product well, but the copy does not work. This is the insuperable secret of the kitchen.

I recently produce the production of the stressed parts. She did not hold in a pressurized operation. The machining made two companies in Switzerland in two operations and a heat treatment in our country. Nobody knew it. Just forgotten the basic procedures, scrapped machines. Modern technology has productivity but some things do not can.

It is good that you write a book in which you record the technological process. It is hoped that some of the consciousness will be captured, understood, and used.

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Photo of their first machine. The first model has a tilting table in two positions. You can shape deep things.
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Old 04-01-2018, 03:49 AM
longyard longyard is offline
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The green machine was designed by Walter Eckold. If you photographed it in Poland it may have been brought there by the Russians in 1945 when many Germany plants were stripped of equipment and sent east. The machine itself was probably made in 1939. ERCO in the US copied it, too. Hartmut was not sure if ERCO had a license to build it, but thinks that the German-American Emile Berliner (father) may have brought the machine to his son's (Emile, jr, founder of ERCO) attention.
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Old 04-01-2018, 04:14 AM
Jaroslav Jaroslav is offline
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The machine what very ugly, I own, and sometimes I use it.

He worked at BFW - Messerschmidt, Focke - wulf.
I saved him the moment they wanted give to scrap him because they did not understand what it was. Tools gived to scrap. Because they could easy manipulation ...... People folly and ignorance rule the world.

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Snímek 3431.jpg
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Old 04-01-2018, 06:32 AM
longyard longyard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaroslav View Post
The machine what very ugly, I own, and sometimes I use it.

He worked at BFW - Messerschmidt, Focke - wulf.
I saved him the moment they wanted give to scrap him because they did not understand what it was. Tools gived to scrap. Because they could easy manipulation ...... People folly and ignorance rule the world.


That's a great working fixture you have created there! What kind of part are you making?
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Old 04-01-2018, 06:58 AM
Jaroslav Jaroslav is offline
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Did I produce for a part for the rear of the Mercedes 290 ? Rear wheel storage part.
Sheet 1,5mm. My product I was could make it pretty good and in surprise pretty. At that time I did not have jaws for download and even the machine was a big part for the weak for this work. The product was accurate and round. Today I would have made it relatively light.

DSC09461.jpg
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Old 04-01-2018, 07:53 AM
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Kerry Pinkerton Kerry Pinkerton is offline
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Jeroslav, thank you for the photos. I've never seen a plate version before, only ones with cast frames.

It is interesting how much the machine with the top flywheel resembles the ERCO machine. I suspose we will never know.

Regarding your wheel tub for the Mercedes, Cass Nawrocki made a very similar fixture for his Eckold and Steve Hamilton and I had the honor of making the very same part for a 540K that he was building. It came out really nice.
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Old 04-01-2018, 08:17 AM
longyard longyard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerry Pinkerton View Post
Jeroslav, thank you for the photos. I've never seen a plate version before, only ones with cast frames.

It is interesting how much the machine with the top flywheel resembles the ERCO machine. I suspose we will never know.

Regarding your wheel tub for the Mercedes, Cass Nawrocki made a very similar fixture for his Eckold and Steve Hamilton and I had the honor of making the very same part for a 540K that he was building. It came out really nice.

Kerry, Read my post a couple of posts above this. Hartmut said that the ERCO came after his father's machine, but is not sure if it was licensed or not. He believes IT WAS licensed, though, because at the time ERCO began producing them, the USA was not at war with Germany and both countries honored each others patent laws. (WWII started Sept. 1939, Germany declared war on Germany December, 1941.)
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Old 04-01-2018, 11:41 AM
Jaroslav Jaroslav is offline
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Bill. There is still something going on in my part of Europe. Once there are interests from the West, one from the East, then from another. One thing is certain. If the Russian took anything away, he certainly did not leave it in Poland.

If you link your book with history and techniques. You will be surprised at what you will find in historical contexts.

In the Czech Republic was, the in war a full war produce of aircrafts and the production of components aircraft were working. In last time There has been change recently and some smart people have been replaced by most smarter ones. Space for new thinking. Space for forgetting history. Degradation time. Time out of friendship and history. This is repeated periodically. I think that me it will not surprise me much things.
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