Midwestern Manufacturing Ignites ’Boom’ in Pipelaying

Sat October 01, 2005 - West Edition

More than 50 years ago, a Tulsa-based pipeline pioneer, Armon H. Bost, applied his “hands on” and “in the field” experience to develop a hydraulic sideboom to replace the complicated and unreliable mechanical sideboom pipeline construction pipelayers being used in the industry at the time.

Bost was at first a swamper and sideboom operator and it became apparent to him that the pipeline construction industry needed a better solution for lowering in pipe sections. The mechanically-driven chain and winch sidebooms, standard in the industry at the time, were prone to slippage, were very difficult to operate and sometimes failed, exposing workers to considerable danger.

In addition, mechanical sideboom operators required many hours of training and experience before they could be trusted to handle the tricky controls of the old machines. Even well-trained and experienced operators could cause injury with minor mistakes in operating the unforgiving controls.

Bost believed hydraulic technology was the answer because it would provide more precise operation and would result in much safer pipelayers.

He strengthened his company’s engineering and product development capabilities and instilled an attitude of innovation and quality upon the entire Midwestern team, which soon included his two sons, James and Bob.

Midwestern Manufacturing pioneered the addition of hydraulic-actuated sidebooms to small early model Caterpillar crawlers to create pipelayers primarily used for distribution pipeline construction.

As Bost anticipated, hydraulic pipelayers proved more precise, easier to operate and less dangerous than the mechanical pipelayers they replaced. They not only saved time and money, they made pipeline construction safer and assisted pipeline contractors in reducing accidental injury to their workforce.

In the ensuing years, the quality of the products and the hydraulic technology made Midwestern sidebooms popular for their speed, safety and reliability in the pipeline industry throughout the world.

Midwestern engineering and equipment manufacturing expertise provides pipelayers and sideboom kits for a wide range of Caterpillar, Deere, Case, Ford and Komatsu tractors for both the domestic and export markets.

Since 1956, Midwestern has converted more than 4,500 tractors to hydraulic pipelayers. Conversions of OEM chassis provide equipment owners with extended equipment value by prolonging the useful life of used machinery and thereby creating significant cost savings to its customers.

Constantly updating the product line to adapt to changes in the manufacturer’s models is an on-going opportunity for Midwestern engineers. When Caterpillar began introducing high track machines, Midwestern was given the opportunity of adapting its sideboom kits originally designed for oval track crawlers to the new high-track machines.

One outstanding feature of Midwestern hydraulic sidebooms is the simplified control. The Midwestern three-lever control replaced the old mechanical sideboom’s six-lever control. The ease of operation of the simpler control has considerably shortened operator training time and lowered the skill level required to safely operate the pipelayer.

Consequently, downtime for training an operator and the increase in safety has greatly benefited pipeline contractors working in a critical timeframe.

Currently, Midwestern Manufacturing –– along with its sister companies, Midwestern Equipment, Midwestern Pipeline Products and Hi-Way Equipment Company –– employ more than 100 people in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. The companies are involved in the pipeline equipment, pipeline supplies and heavy equipment business.

The senior management team at Midwestern Manufacturing is comprised of Jim Bost, chairman of the board, and Thomas F. Golden, president of the Tulsa, OK-based company. The management team is increasing the Midwestern product line by expanding into heavy range pipelayers up to 200,000-lbs. lifting capacity.

The five-year projections by industry experts forecast a worldwide increase in large diameter (36 to 50 in.) pipeline construction projects.

Midwestern Manufacturing is looking forward to celebrating its 60th anniversary by continuing the company culture of quality established long ago by an industry pioneer, Armon H. Bost, and providing to the industry a new generation of safe, hardworking and reliable heavy range pipelayers.

For more information, call 918/446-1587.