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EZ Screen Finds Buried Treasure in Massachusetts

Wed March 01, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Walt Heithaus

Bob Holland Used Auto Parts, located in North Billerica, MA, is one of the largest operations of its kind in New England. Six days a week, Holland’s fleet of flat-bed trucks and tow trucks operated by privately-owned companies deliver vehicles to the 18-hectare (45 acre) site, located some 27 miles west of Boston.

The condition of a vehicle determines where it is located once inside the chain-link and razor-wire fence which surround the property. Vehicles with “usable parts” are sent to one area, while those that are no longer roadworthy await another fate.

Holland’s 40 employees work six days a week removing reusable vehicle parts and most exterior cladding. A stream of pick-up trucks and vans representing auto body shops from throughout the six-state region constantly prowl Holland’s sprawling yard, in search of a reusable quarter panel, GM transmission, Ford transaxle, or a generic alternator.

Once vehicles have been stripped of wheels, axles, engine, transaxle, seats and every part that may be reused, the cars are then flattened in a Texas Press, a gigantic machine that crushes a four-door sedan to an unrecognizable mass.

Operating three Texas Press machines, Holland contributes to a scene familiar to many American motorists: that of a flatbed truck, stacked six-high with similarly crushed cars, looming in the rearview mirror, a reminder of sorts of what could happen if you don’t change your oil every 3,000 miles.

In 1999, Holland, who admits he couldn’t even begin to estimate the number of cars he processes every year, acquired a machine usually found on a construction site: an EZ Screen 2000, manufactured by Argus Industrial Co. L.L.C. of Pontiac, MI.

“The EZ Screen’s primary use is to screen loam,” Holland said. “I use it to find valuable auto parts inadvertently buried during our frenetic daily operation.”

According to Al Skoropa, manager of Argus Industrial, which also makes the smaller EZ Screen 1000, Holland’s use of the larger unit is unusual. “It’s the first such use I’ve heard about,” he said.

Holland learned about the EZ Screen 2000 through Flip Henry of Chapel Tractor Sales, Milford, NH. Chapel represents Hyundai, New Holland, and Kubota tractor lines, Honda Power Equipment, and several smaller power equipment lines.

In early 1999, Argus and Chapel underwrote a broadcast mailing to announce that the New Hampshire tractor distributor was handling the EZ Screen line.

“Bob [Holland] saw the mailing, called me and said he had an idea for using the EZ Screen 2000,” said Henry who, over the past 13 years, has sold Holland 20 wheel loaders. Why so many? “Bob wears them out,” Henry said. “He runs them six days a week and puts about 2,000 hours on each machine; he’s that busy.”

Powered by a 28-kilowatt (37 hp), three-cylinder Deutz air-cooled diesel engine and equipped with wheels, a single-axle dump truck can tow the EZ Screen 2000 over the road or simply to another location. When it’s ready to work, hydraulic jacks raise the unit off the ground.

Since the EZ Screen 2000 was delivered to Holland, the used auto parts dealer has used it several times. For example, selected site areas are declared off limits to outside visitors as wheel loaders scrape off the top 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 8 in.) of loam and dump it into the EZ Screen 2000.

Along with large rocks, auto parts such as wheel drums, alternators, engine parts — any piece of metal that may have broken off — are separated from the loam. Scrap metal is loaded into the wheel loaders and repositioned to await recycling.

Holland’s crew then move the 7,983-kilogram (17,600 lb.) EZ Screen unit to another location in the used auto parts yard and begin the separation process all over again. Since the EZ Screen 2000 can accommodate loading buckets ranging in size from .9 to 3.7 meters (1 to 4 yds.), nearly every one of Holland’s 20 wheel loaders is used during the clean up.

“I’ve seen Bob’s crew perform this clean-up operation three or four times already,” Henry said, “and the EZ Screen 2000 works extremely well.”

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