McCrary Stone Service Crushing Rock in the Appalachians

Fri April 17, 2009 - Southeast Edition
CEG




In the early 1940s Charles W. McCrary formed a rock crushing business he named McCrary Contracting. The company worked on North Carolina and Tennessee highway projects. Upon his retirement his sons bought the business and, in 1968, incorporated it as McCrary Stone Service Inc.

According to the owner, Pat McCrary, “My dad crushed rock onsite for both highway and dam projects. I went along with him as a youth whenever I could and, except for two years of service in the Army, I have always been involved in the crushing business. I’m 73 years old and I am still crushing. I am onsite all day every day. I don’t spend much time behind a desk.”

Instead, he spends his time near rocks — granite to be specific.

“We crush granite. It’s good hard rock and porous. We can turn out about 400 tons an hour and average close to half a million tons per year. It’s good rock for highway use, doesn’t break down.”

With a lifetime of experience, McCrary has seen a lot of changes in equipment over the years.

“It doesn’t take as much labor now to crush the rock. Years ago they used jackhammers and wagon drills to drill holes for dynamite. In the mid-50s these were replaced with air-track drills.”

Both dynamite and air-track drills involved blasting. In the early 1950s McCrary added cone crushers to its plant of jaw crushers and roll crushers.

“To bust up the boulders we would use 12,000-pound drop-balls hoisted and released from 40 feet in the air.”

But these days, McCrary uses breakers that maneuver around the boulder and pinpoint the hammer to break rock down to size.

Just as McCrary’s father taught him the crushing business, he taught his son.

“My son is in his forties and has always been around crushing equipment,” McCrary explained.

One thing he taught his son is the importance of maintaining equipment, and his son now does this job regularly.

“You have to keep the shims and wear parts in good condition. Poor maintenance costs more money in the long run with replacement parts and downtime, which affects production and labor. Equipment in good condition is also safer.”

For that very reason, McCrary buys its equipment from A.E. Finley of Gray, Tenn.

“They sell reputable, dependable machines,” McCrary said.

A.E. Finley is about an hour away from McCrary’s quarry in Madison County, N.C.

“Danny Meadows, our sales rep from Finley, really stands behind the equipment. They give great service and have great parts always available when we need them.”

McCrary remembers when his dad used Link-Belt Speeders in the 40s and 50s. He knew A.E. Finley’s line of Link-Belt machines would be reputable.

In 2007, McCrary purchased a Link-Belt model 240LX excavator equipped with a 42-in. (107 cm) bucket and a Solesbee model SET-3H hydraulic thumb from Finley. With McCrary’s other Link-Belt 240LX machine he uses a Kent KF35 hammer.

“You get much better control and maneuverability with today’s machines,” McCrary said.

McCrary uses a fleet of Kawasaki loaders in both the pit and stockpile yard ranging in models from the 80ZIV2 to the 115ZV. He has three 45-ton (41 t) Terex off-road haulers to move rock from the quarry and to feed the crusher.

A.E. Finley sells and services these makes of machines as well as the Link-Belts.

“Machines are a lot more comfortable and safer today than they used to be,” McCrary said. “The operator works in an air-conditioned, heated cab that is sound suppressed and where he is protected from the rock dust. Machines are all equipped with back-up alarms, safety glass and seat belts. Everything is safety regulated to protect the operator.”

McCrary believes that dependability, service, easy-to-use controls for the operator and safety are all important factors when buying a machine.

“A.E. Finley does what they say they will do, that’s important,” he said.

McCrary opened the Madison Quarry in 1971 and has operated there between portable rock crushing jobs. Throughout the ’60s to ’90s, McCrary has worked in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia subcontracting under such names as A.B. Burton, Daniels Construction, Georgia Marble, Martin Marietta, Nello-Teer, Oman, Shepherd Construction, Vecillio & Grogan, Vulcan Materials and Wright Brothers on major Interstate highway projects I-81, I-26, I-40, I-240, I-85 and I-285.

“Now I operate out of just the one quarry,” McCrary said. “We sell to the NCDOT, local contractors and public. Our crushers and screening plants allow us to produce everything from boulders straight from the pit down to all sizes of rip rap, ballast, 57s, ABC, 78ms and screenings.”

“We’re in the Blue Ridge Range of the Appalachian Mountains about 18 miles from Asheville. You can see the highest peak in the East, Mount Mitchell, from here. It’s beautiful.”