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Blacksmith 1908, steel fabricator now

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article image The triple-decker transporters.

PORT Pirie company S.J. Cheesman Engineering began business as a blacksmith shop in 1908 when supplying materials for horseless carriages was just beginning as an industry.

Almost a century later the company still has connections to the carriage trade and has developed into a significant South Australian engineering and steel fabrication specialist.

It's latest project involves the fabrication of innovative triple-decker rail wagons for the movement of cars between Adelaide and Perth.

"Each month Pacific National freights more than 700 motor vehicles to Perth," S.J. Cheesman Engineering managing director Stephen Richter said.

"Two years ago they developed a simple engineering solution to improve the capacity of their freight wagons.

"We were the successful tenderer for the job of turning double-decker car carrying frames into triple-decker units.”

The conversion process for each unit begins at Bluebird Engineering in Adelaide, where pairs of double-decker frames are linked to articulate over a new central bogie.

The newly paired units are then shunted to Cheesman Engineering's Port Pirie workshops where its employees add a third deck, made from 5mm, 250 Grade BlueScope Xlerplate steel.

Carrying capacity of the triple-decker car transporters is also maximised by the addition of a swivelling section positioned on each deck above the central bogie.

These sections, which are also fabricated using 5mm, 250 Grade Xlerplate steel, increase the car carrying capacity of each combined rig from 24 vehicles to 27.

"We've carried out a lot of work which may have been more technically challenging, but these car carrier conversions have a certain amount of satisfaction attached to them," Stephen Richter said.

"The double decker units on which they are based are up to 15 years old, but the addition of the central bogie and a third deck will see them continue to give service for years to come."

S.J. Cheesman Engineering has carried out a wide range of projects, including major contracts for the Port Pirie lead smelter operated by Zinifex and ductwork associated with the development of the Roxby Downs mine.

It also built components for the heavy-duty ballast wagons used during construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway and its workshops are now building components for ore wagons under a contract with EDI.

The company uses Xlerplate steel for general fabrication work.

"We've always used steel from BlueScope Steel, and its predecessor, mainly supplied via OneSteel," Stephen Richter said.

"Because of our quality procedures we really can't afford to use anyone else's plate. There is never any problem with quality and the data certificates make it easy to track pieces of plate.

"When you are dealing with large customers such as Zinifex, EDI and Pacific National it helps to have the resources of BlueScope Steel behind you.”

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