At Columbia Specialty, in addition to being one of the premier PVF distributors in the West, we pride ourselves on meeting our customers’ needs with quality machining and welding services. Beyond excelling in standard machine shop work, our team has a breadth of experience in partnering with our customers to manufacture hard-to-find or custom parts and to solve complex machining and fabrication problems using specialty equipment.
In addition to the standard lathes, drill presses, mills, and saws found in any job shop, we have a number of specialty machines. The VTL (vertical turret lathe) enables us to turn pieces that are up to sixty inches in diameter. The VTL is used for taper boring and flange face modifications of large flanges.
The first steps to produce specially-sized custom flanges out of forgings are done on the VTL. Non-production forgings, which we use to create custom flanges, have significantly more stock that must be removed than production forgings. For example, custom large weld-neck flanges can have as much as three times more stock by weight than production forgings for the same flange. VTLs shine by efficiently removing this excess stock and allowing us to machine custom flanges to a variety of final dimensions and tolerances.
The T-lathe is a short bed, large diameter lathe used to machine large diameter, thin, stock down to one eighth of an inch thick. To support stock this thin, the T-lathe uses a faceplate instead of a chuck. There are also many horizontal lathes of various sizes in our shop to accommodate the many different size flanges in the industry. The types of modifications performed are flat facing, taper and through boring. We also machine a number of flange face finishes, including standard (spiral) serrations, concentric serrations, and MWD (Metropolitan Water District) serrations. We also produce RTJ (ring joint) faces and reducing flanges on these lathes.
The drill presses are used for a variety of operations, including the drilling of bolt hole patterns in flanges and of NPT (National Pipe Thread) taps in flanges and fittings. When we are working on distribution headers, the drill presses are used to put holes in the headers for the branch connections. Pipe threading, grooving and beveling is done on our horizontal lathes and threading machines.
Many customers have the false impression that threads cut with a die (threading machine) are better than single point cut threads. In fact, threads that are single point cut on a lathe have a better surface finish than threads cut with a die. One important reason for this is better chip control on single point cut threads. Threads cut with a die are likely to have chips in the cutting area, which results in chips getting caught in the die and damaging the threads that have already been cut. Our shop has the capacity for single point cutting of threads up to twelve inch pipe. Pipe sizes two inches and under in carbon steel are done in a Rothenburger/Collins pipe threading machine and we have the capability to thread up to 6” pipe on our Landis pipe thread machine. Victaulic cut grooves are performed on the engine lathes as well.
We provide both cut and roll grooved end connections for all types of pipe, including carbon, stainless, and other alloy materials. When roll grooving pipe, the groove is pressed into the pipe, creating oftentimes unacceptable reductions in the inner diameter. Cut grooving is an excellent alternative because the depth of the groove is actually less than the depth of pipe threads and the integrity of the pipe connection is maintained.
We prepare our weld joints on several machines, including our lathes and mills, for the highest quality result that routinely exceeds industry standards. These machined preparations are vastly better and more uniform than those that are produced by hand. The joints are tighter and more consistent. Consistency in weld joint preparation is important to the overall integrity and appearance of a weld joint, and machine prepped welds ensure consistency and quality.
We primarily perform Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), also known as TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. This is the most complex of all welding disciplines. TIG welding is the most difficult to master, requiring years of training and practice. TIG produces the most structurally sound, precise welds because of the amount of control the welder has over the energy in the arc and the feed of the rod. As a result, TIG welding can take as much as four times longer than comparable welds done with Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), but the quality is far superior. We have gained expertise in TIG welding through working with exotic alloys, including Nickel, Alloy 20, Duplex Stainless Steel, and Inconels. Furthermore, all welds are performed to the requirements of ASME Section IX. In working with an increasing number of exotic alloys, we continue to build a library of ASME-compliant weld procedures and develop the skills of our welders. This means that we can begin welding sooner instead of waiting for weld procedures to be created and approved, which reduces our project turnaround time.
Most importantly, it’s not our machines that put the “specialty” in our name. It’s our ability to partner with our customers and create solutions to difficult fabrication problems. We assist our customers with design difficulties, manufacturing process problems, and simple completion time issues. Our team is eager to meet fresh challenges, and work with you to offer solutions to your unique project needs. We believe in growing our expertise to the benefit of our customers and are ready to see a project through to completion with quality products in the most efficient manner feasible. We are grateful for the glowing feedback we receive from our customers on our workmanship and professionalism. Please contact me directly or through your sales representative if you have any questions about our capabilities or would like to tour our shop. We look forward to working with you.