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Lexington Blacktop Bumps Up Output With Blaw-Knox ’Thoroughbred’

Sat January 08, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Lexington Blacktop Inc., Lexington, KY, recently purchased a new Blaw-Knox PF-150 paver. Hiram Nuckols Jr., one of the founders of the company, has increased his production by 25 percent with the new machine.

“I’d have to credit the new laydown machine for a large part of that. It is the thoroughbred of asphalt pavers,” said Nuckols.

Johnny Merritt, the firm’s president and other partner, commented that they work in an eight county area throughout Kentucky.

Merritt credits the new 6,750-kilogram (15,000 lb.) paver for enabling them to do more work and to tackle larger projects.

The majority of Lexington’s work is in the commercial segment of the private sector. This would include anything from an asphalt patch to a single 5,400-metric-ton (6,000 ton) industrial site. Commercial and industrial parking lots, deep depth truck loading pads at shipping docks and horse farms.

The business of raising and racing thoroughbred horses is a major industry in the state of Kentucky, second only to the tobacco industry and there are an estimated 480 horse farms in the company’s service area. Each one of these horse farms has a need for asphalt paving. Calumet Farms, for example, has more than six miles of asphalt paved roads on its 725-acre property. Lexington Blacktop has performed repeat work on several of the top name farms including Darby Dan Farms, Hopewell Farm and Three Chimneys.

Nuckols and Merritt met and formed a friendship while students at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Nuckols was studying economics and business administration while Merritt was a liberal arts candidate majoring in geography. When the opportunity arose, the two young men, neither with a family background or experience in construction or asphalt paving, elected to start a seal coat business.

“We began with a 550-gallon sprayer and a pickup truck. One thing led to another and eventually into a small rudimentary asphalt paving company… finally we had enough money to buy our first Blaw-Knox paver, a used PF-22 in 1982,” said Merritt.

“One of our routine but somewhat interesting asphalt paving operations on the various horse farms in the area involves what are known as ’barn aisles.’ This is were we actually take our paver inside the building and put down a mat of material the length of the barn. This contributes significantly to its cleanliness and, when you have invested anywhere from one to three million dollars in a horse, you want the very best for it. We have even paved the horse stalls themselves.” said Nuckols.

“For paving the stalls, we use what is called a ’stall mix’ which is simply a combination of liquid asphalt and No. 9 stone. A subbase, a 6- to 8-inch course of No. 57 stone, is first put down and compacted. This is a durable put porous mix, which permits the permeability of liquid easily. A bucket or two of warm soapy water is often enough to do the job,” said Merritt.

An average barn aisle can be something on the order of 36 meters (120 ft.) long, 4 meters (13 ft.) wide, normally 5.08 centimeters (2 in.) compacted thick and require around 14 to 16 metric tons (16 to 18 tons) of asphalt. Because of the weight, screed size, maneuverability and transportability of the PF-150 paver, Lexington can, and often does, several of these in a single day.

Although it has some age showing and has had an estimated 225,000 metric tons (250,000 tons) of mix through it, the PF-22 paver that Lexington bought used 18 years ago is still in service.

“We often use it as a backup machine when the work-load demands and the job is appropriate. The new Blaw-Knox PF-150, however, is something else,” said Merritt.

Lexington looks to Brandeis Machinery & Supply Co., Louisville, KY, for its equipment needs.

“Brandeis was as responsive as we could have asked for. Once we called them, they responded within the hour and fixed the glitch. We really appreciate that kind of service, especially since they only took on the Blaw-Knox line recently. If the paver has to go into their shop, Brandeis can normally get it back to us within a day,” said Merritt.

(This article appears courtesy of Blaw-Knox.)

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