Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 11, 2013

Writing the book of Haynes

Committee of retirees forging a history of longtime Kokomo company


Haynes alloys, explained former Haynes VP of sales and marketing Charlie Sponaugle, perform a lot like regular old carbon steel at room temperature.

But heat both regular steel and a Haynes alloy up to 1,500 degrees, and the Haynes alloy will stay strong while the steel warps and bends, Sponaugle said.

Made with often hard-to-find metals like tungsten, molybdenum, chromium and cobalt, the Haynes alloys are also much too expensive for anything but industrial applications.

“There are very few people who do what we do,” Sponaugle said. “There are maybe three or four companies worldwide who make this kind of stuff.”

Haynes first grew to prominence during World War I, when machine lathe tools made of Haynes alloy became highly sought after.

The hard alloys could turn out machined parts in a fraction of the time and didn’t wear out, making them ideally suited to the war effort.

In World War II, Haynes reached its employment peak with about 3,500 employees.

During that time, Haynes alloys were used in the superchargers on B-29 bomber engines. The superchargers compressed air, which was then forced into the engines’ combustion chambers.

Because of the superchargers, B-29 crews could fly at 40,000 feet, high above anti-aircraft fire. The devastation wreaked by the B-29 is generally credited with helping to bring about a quicker end to the war.

“We tried to put together examples of how things Haynes International did, over the past 100 years, changed history,” said Ed Bickel, who started out working on the factory floor before heading to the front office later in his career.

The evolution of the company, from a maker of flatware in the 1920s to the caster of airplane engine parts, to the movement away from casting into wrought products (which probably saved the company) is a story which group members say isn’t that different from how some other remarkable American companies grew.

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