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On The Level’s Gorilla Hammers King of the Granite Jungle

Fri May 22, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

At 46, Jim Bresnick still has a good back and an even better hammer.

He needs both. The one-man operator of On The Level Construction & Excavation Inc., based at 165 Forge Village Road in Groton, Mass., is crushing approximately 15,000 tons (13,608 t) of granite a week at Fletcher Granite, a century-and-a-half-old quarry along acres of hills on Groton Road in Westford, Mass.

Fletcher Granite has hired Bresnick to remove unusable granite, offshoots of the finer stuff that goes to finer building.

“After we process, we have waste. Jim [Bresnick] will take the waste and make crushed stone out of it,” said Dave Psaledas, senior operations manager of Fletcher Granite, of the weekly grind.

On The Level is crushing more than a million tons (90,718 t) of material – hammering waste granite into much smaller pieces, and then screening it. Most of the material, Bresnick said, can be used for gravel.

The company then sells the stone; supplying gravel for many projects, such as the large bicycle path being laid out between Chelmsford and Acton, Mass.

This is the end of Bresnick’s third season at Fletcher Granite. He is using a Terex Pegson Jaw 1180, Terex Pegson 1300 and a Powerscreen 6203. He’s also using Cat 980H loaders with scale to measure the granite.

He is renting a rock truck from T-Quip, and using Link-Belt excavators purchased from Chadwick-BaRoss in Chelmsford. Bresnick has purchased more than 13 machines from Chadwick-BaRoss over the past few years.

To break the rock, Bresnick uses two big Gorillas. Gorilla Hammers, that is; a 12,000-lb. (5,443 kg) GHB175 on a Link-Belt LX460 and an 8,000–lb. (3,629 kg) GHB155 on a Link-Belt LX330.

“I love them,” Bresnick said of his Gorillas. “I was shopping for the biggest, baddest hammer they made for the Link-Belt LX460 excavator. “I spoke directly to Bob Tedesco (owner of Gorilla Hammers) three or four years ago, and told him, ’I want the biggest hammer you’ve got.’ It weighs about 10,000 lbs. And the Link-Belt 460 LX weighs about 105,000 lbs.”

After hundreds of thousands of tons of rock, the hammer still keeps on drilling like the day he bought it, he said.

“It’s working great,” added Bresnick. “We’ve got 3,000 hours on it and it hasn’t skipped a beat. Then, we have an LX330 Link-Belt with an 8,500-pound hammer, and that one has over 3,500 hours on it.”

Bresnick chose Gorilla Hammers because — with literally tons of rock at the ready for crushing — he needed tools that would last; something like the one-man operator himself.

“I’ve been in business by myself since I was 18,” said Bresnick. “I’ve been in rock crushing and materials business for six years. We were into sub-grinding, and building and framing houses up to three years ago, when the market dried up, and now we are just doing material portable crushing, hammer rentals and hammer service, rock crushing.”

In addition to working through Fletcher Granite, Bresnick also crushes stone at a quarry located at 39 Jungle Road in Leominster, Mass. — some 7 million tons (6,350,293 t) to crush and sell.

“We process gravel and use them for bicycle paths, structural fill under schools, under parking lots, sell 1-1/2 stone. We take concrete here at Westford for recycling,” added Bresnick. “We process through the crushers about 15,000 tons a week. Customers, a good chunk of them, come to pick it up.”

According to the Fletcher Granite Web site — through Dave Psaledas, senior operations manager — the depth of the quarry in Westford seems never to end, having supplied millions of tons of stone for centuries.

About Fletcher Granite

According to, the quarry was first discovered when settlers founded the area in the 1600s. The rock used for countless stone walls throughout New England — first discovered hundreds of years ago — are found still to this day, surrounding what were once fields belonging to farmsteads. Water power was harnessed to run the gristmills and saw mills in the late 17th century.

Granite was then in great demand to build the dams that held in the water and to make the grinding wheels that ground the grain.

By the early 1800s, the granite industry in Chelmsford was enhanced by the construction of canals to move goods from this area into Boston. Many buildings in Boston used the impressive Chelmsford Grey granite. Charles Bulfinch, a noted architect of this time, chose Chelmsford granite to build University Hall at Harvard University.

Chelmsford Granite, purportedly from a site close to where the present day Fletcher Quarry is situated, also was used to build the famous Quincy Market. The columns for Quincy Market were hauled to a landing in Chelmsford by 22 yokes of oxen. They were then loaded onto a barge and sent in to Boston. The oxen and ultimately the canal were replaced after 1895 when the railroad reached the town.

The granite business was well established in the Chelmsford area by the 1880s as it sits on a significant vein or lobe of granite called the “Chelmsford Range.” At this time, while clearing wood from family-owned land, 18-year-old Herbert Ellery Fletcher found an outcrop of granite that was most suitable for granite quarrying.

He went into partnership with Abram Brown, who was then 70 years old. In establishing his quarry, he was following a long tradition of granite production in the Chelmsford and Westford area.

Fletcher went into business by himself in 1881 when his partnership with Brown was dissolved. He joined briefly with his brother Henry in a partnership that lasted from 1903 to 1908. After this partnership dissolved, he incorporated the company in Maine as the H.E. Fletcher Company. The company was incorporated in Massachusetts in 1924.

Fletcher also operated a construction business until 1915, invested in other granite companies and a slate company. When his two sons, Harold and Ralph, returned home from World War I, he turned the operations of the company over to them to pursue his great love of solving engineering problems.

Fletcher lived to see a third generation of Fletchers running the company in 1956. Stone from the quarry was used to build his magnificent home in 1912 near the quarry, now occupied by the engineering, estimating and marketing offices at Fletcher Granite.

What started as a typical small New England quarry operation steadily grew to become what it is today, a large producer of Granite curbing and a major supplier of dimension stone and quarry blocks in the United States. From the introduction of the pneumatic drills into the quarry in 1903 through the succeeding decades the company has prided itself with being on the leading edge of quarrying and production technology. In the late 1920s, the company introduced the use of the core drill in the quarry, which allowed it to greatly increase the amount of stone extracted in the quarry.

In the late 1940s, the company developed a ten-wire silicon carbide saw that produced the curb slabs directly in the quarry ledge. This again greatly improved the amount of stone available for curb production thereby making granite curbing more affordable and competitive with concrete.

In the 1950s, the company worked with Linde Corporation to develop an oxygen burner used to burn the channels in the quarry wall. Later the company worked with Browning Engineering in developing the air burner that replaced the oxygen burner to a large extent.

During the 1960s and ’70s, the company bought the first hydraulic curb splitter made by Park Tool Company. Later, Fletcher worked with Park Industries in developing a splitter for radius curb. During this time, the company also developed a joint saw to cut the joints on both straight and radius.

During the 1990s, the company reentered the dimension stone business from which it had exited briefly in the late 1980s. To increase production in the dimension stone quarries Fletcher Granite worked with NED-JET to develop and test the water-jet, a machine that used high-pressure water to cut the stone from the ledge.

Fletcher continued to improve the efficiency of curb production by developing a machine to cut the slots in inlets and most recently a splitter that will cut small radius curb down to 2 ft. This machine also will cut corner curb.

The tradition of innovation continues today. Fletcher is testing the use of diamond wire in the quarry to cut channels and as a replacement for its ten-wire silicon carbide saw.

About Gorilla Hammers

Gorilla Hammers has a rental fleet of excavators equipped with hydraulic hammers and has built strong national sales spearheaded by its Gorilla hammers — a division of Tech Hydraulics Inc.

Globally, the company has sold hammers and parts throughout the entire Western Hemisphere and recently began trading with Western Europe and Africa. According to Bob and Joe Tedesco, owners of Gorilla hammers, the company has taken great pains to ensure that its customers receive the best service and technical expertise the industry has to offer.

Its service facility’s employees alone possess more than 60 years of hydraulic experience. of various makes.

“No short cuts,” is its business philosophy, which has led to Tech Hydraulics’s Gorilla division to doubling its annual sales over the past four years alone.

For more information, call 781/986-3905, or visit CEG

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