It started in 1905 with a verbal agreement between Donald Campbell, Ira Wyant and George Cannon to put $10 a month into a savings fund to provide working capital for business opportunities. Three years later, on April 20, the Campbell, Wyant and Cannon (CWC) Foundry Company was founded.
By 1947, CWC was one of the largest foundry companies in the United States, owning or managing over a dozen foundries in the Midwestern U.S. On April 19, 1956, CWC was acquired by Textron, Inc. In 2003, CWC became part of the Kautex family, after Textron sold the remaining assets of its automotive group.
Today, roughly one-third of the vehicles produced in North America contain CWC camshafts. The foundry, located in Muskegon, MI, makes 12 million camshafts a year, and ships 50,000 cams per day.
The facility produces camshafts for Toyota (all of their N.A. production), GM, FCA, and Ford. Although most customers are U.S. and Canada based, CWC supplies as far away as Mexico, South Korea, and China.
CWC’s camshafts are produced using a mixture of sand, water, and clay to produce a 2300 lb. sand mold every 15 seconds. The sand is continuously reclaimed – CWC moves 200 tons of sand every hour. Once the mold is made, liquid molten iron at 2600oF is poured from a one ton pouring ladle and cooled. The solid camshafts are removed from the mold, and enters a “Vibradum” – a 48 foot “rocker” that separates the remaining sand and re-melt from the castings, to be recycled to make new molds and camshafts. The camshafts are then trim pressed or manually ground, and the lobes (see picture, right) are flame hardened. The camshaft is then cryogenically processed and tempered before being sent to a designated customer.
“It’s a very unique part of our business, the product and process is unlike any other segment of Kautex,” said Erik Jepsen, Director, Operations, CWC. “Even so, we face some of the same challenges the fuel systems business faces. For example, our customers are constantly looking for ways to reduce weight, so we are challenging ourselves to reduce the weight of our camshafts. We currently produce one camshaft that goes through a gun-drilling process, whereby we hollow out the camshaft to reduce the weight but leave the properties of the camshaft intact.” “We are also actively pursuing a process to make camshafts hollow by inserting a sand core into the mold, and pouring the iron around the core.”
“We, too, are looking for future opportunities to drive future growth, but we also have to be sure we have the processes in place to deliver on that growth – and to be able to leverage our existing resources to do so," said Erik.