MRPS scheduled a field trip for members that took place on Saturday June 15th. Attendees met at the roundhouse at 7:00 am and car pooled to Elkhart, Indiana where they toured the Adlake manufacturing facility and the New York Central Railroad Museum.
Adlake President, Mike Rzeszutko, met the group at the door and after a brief introduction that included the company history, lead the group on a complete tour of the plant that is a major supplier to the rail industry. Adlake, originally Adams & Westlake, was founded in 1857 in Chicago, Illinois. Originally, the company manufactured and sold railroad supplies and hardware. The company prospered after railroad expansion west and eventually diversified becoming one of the largest suppliers to the transportation industry worldwide. In 1927 the company moved to Elkhart and to this day is a leading custom manufacturer that serves clients all over the world in a wide range of industries. All of their products are "100% made in the USA". Today, Adlake has partners in the transportation, railroad, military, RV, medical and grocery industries.
Because Midwest's interest is railroading, that was the primary focus of our tour. Adlake still manufactures many of the same products that they sold in the 1800's, such as lanterns, locks and keys, window shades and hardware. They also refurbish many of those items as well, preserving the historic integrity of the original component. In the past, Adlake has provided Midwest with quotes for the window shades on our historic passenger cars and we are looking at the possibility of having them quote replacing or refurbishing the door lock assemblies as well.
The plant has a non-ferrous sand casting foundry that produces unfinished parts in aluminum, nickel, bronze and brass, utilizing self produced sand cores. The finishing department has a wide range of polishing operations and also does zinc, brass, nickel and chrome plating. The machine shop includes CNC machines and lathes. Curtains and shades are made in the industrial sewing department and all materials comply with modern toxicity requirements. They also have a press room, weld shop and the ability to engineer custom designs and prototypes using CAD (computer aided design).
Much of Adlake's production is labor intensive due to the fact that many of their orders are for historic restorations. They try to save as much of the original hardware as possible when refurbishing window shades and locks, and that can include hand polishing and grinding.
The visit to Adlake was truly a great experience and Mike Rzeszutko's enthusiastic presentation of his company, products and facilities made the tour that much more enjoyable.
Midwest Field Trip, Part 2 covers the visit to the New York Central Railroad Museum and will appear in the August issue of Marker Lights.