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HYDMECH Helps Restore U.S. Historic Landmark

Their donation of a VCS-20VSD Band Saw helps San Francisco volunteers showcase a WW2 submarine.

Posted: July 25, 2016

The USS Pampanito submarine is being restored back to its pristine WW2-era fighting condition. The submarine receives about 4,000 students a day, and 100,000 visitors flock to the site annually for a totally immersive educational experience.

You don’t cut corners when restoring a treasured national historic landmark: you need the best tools for the job. At San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf, dedicated volunteers from the city’s Maritime Park Association are helping to bring the USS Pampanito submarine back to its pristine WW2-era fighting condition. The submarine receives about 4,000 students a day and 100,000 visitors flock to the site annually for a totally immersive educational experience.

The restoration project involves passionate people wanting to get the vessel back into ship-shape condition. Over the course of a 30-year long restoration job, these volunteers often faced challenges in borrowing time from local machine shops, which was a time-consuming process. The Maritime Park Association realized they needed a dedicated, in-house machine shop and set about acquiring the tools they needed to fill it. Thanks to a donation of a crucial piece of equipment from HYDMECH (Woodstock, ON), a VCS-20VSD Band Saw, the intrepid machine shop crew now has the tools to bring history back to life.

“We really appreciate their incredible generosity,” said Richard Pekelney, who has volunteered since 1991 as part of the restoration crew working in a machine shop. “It was a substantial donation and we’re happy that a producer of best-in-class saws was the one donating. We got a saw that’s going to last and last. It’s critical for us.” Just days after delivery, the machinists were operating the versatile band saw, which is capable of making specialty items to reproduce parts that would have been used on the historic warship.

The VCS-20VSD Band Saw is a manual vertical-column contour band saw with a variable speed drive. It will cut a range of materials from steel and aluminum to wood and plastic. “This saw was the critical piece to it,” noted Pekelney. “But we quickly realized that the huge saws we saw were really beaten to death, because people just don’t give up a good quality saw.”

Not knowing anyone at HYDMECH, Pekelney was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the donation came together. “I got help from literally the first person who answered the phone, who helped me find the exact person I needed to ask – and it wasn’t a protracted process. They recognized our mission, saw the importance of what we were doing and went for it.”

This national landmark attracts those who want to honor the people who served their country in a time of war, but also to have the unique experience of being on a real submarine. “Everything is real,” Pekelney said. “Hydraulics, electronics, everything is very physical and very real. That inspires kids to ask how this technology works and why.”

Founded in 1978, HYDMECH is a worldwide leader in metal band saw and cold saw technology and metal sawing solutions that serves the aerospace and automotive industries, steel service centers, metal fabrications shops and more. They have an advanced 200,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Woodstock, with another extensive manufacturing facility in Conway, AR. They have grown into a global player through their membership in the MEP Group of Companies, a coalition of manufacturers and distributors helping iserve marketplaces in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

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