Clarke’s Sheet Metal has seen some big changes in its 50 year history. It is located in Eugene, Oregon, once the heart of the state’s wood manufacturing industry where it could serve adjoining mills virtually out of the back door.
For Clarke’s it has been a matter of imaginative engineering, construction and sales efforts that have extended well beyond its backyard – far overseas in fact. And the company established a new operation in the US south to get closer to the important southern forest industry.
Current president W James Clarke recalls just coming out of war time service in Korea in 1952 when he, his father, Ralph H Clarke, and mother, Belle C Clarke, established the company. It began with fans and blowpipes, later moving into high pressure blowpipes, cyclones, truck bins and many other mill components.
Mr Clarke said the firm’s early business was primarily industrial sheet metal, but shortly became specialised to include pneumatic conveying systems for the wood products industry. These systems typically included a fan and ductwork to collect and transport wood waste from process equipment to a cyclone receiver. As customers’ needs expanded, Clarke’s developed a complete line of metering and storage bins and expanded its products for pneumatic conveying systems to include dust filters and associated explosion safety devices.
Clarke’s first started manufacturing doffing and picker roll bins in 1981 and has nearly 100 of them operating in the US, Europe and Asia. Technical advances have reduced maintenance and increased life. 
Clarke’s developed its heavy duty Flo- Matic bin for storing and discharging hard to- handle materials such as hog fuel. A top conveyor distributes the full length, utilizing total bin capacity. A traversing discharge auger provides a controlled material flow out of the bin where it is transferred on to an accumulation conveyor. 
Clarke’s primary and secondary Pneu- Aire filters collect dust on the inside of bags, where it is removed by a reverse air purge system. Each of the filter bags is isolated from the incoming air stream. The purge air pulls dust from inside the bags. The positive cleaning action allows the dust and cleaning air to move in the same direction. 
With the addition of dust filters to Clarke’s product line, the need for explosion safety devices emerged. The fine collected wood dust can be quite explosive and the smallest spark can ignite it. The PyroGuard spark detection and extinguishing system detects and extinguishes sparks before they have a chance to enter dust collectors or storage bins. Other mechanical devices such as Hi Speed abort gates, back draft dampers and explosion vents are typically incorporated into the pneumatic systems. When applied properly, these devices greatly reduce the potential of an explosion. If an explosion takes place within the pneumatic system, the activation of these safety devices will minimise the damage caused to the overall system. 
Clarke’s early experience in the wood products industry paved the way for its involvement in many particleboard, MDF and OSB facilities in the US and overseas. The firm provided doffing roll metering bins and pneumatic conveying systems at Fuzhou Man Made Board Plant in Fuzhou, China. All the pneumatic conveying and filtration systems for the Medite MDF facility in Clonmel, Ireland followed. 
Mr Clarke recalls one particularly challenging project in Alaska when he moved a big 70ft waste burner up from California. The job was almost completed when a strong windstorm reaching 147 miles per hour hit the area. Burner parts were scattered along the beach for 11/2 miles. After moving the parts back to the site and bringing in new steel they got the burner ready to raise and waited for two days of foggy calm weather to finish the job.
As Clarke’s customer base grew so did its manufacturing facility. The current office and fabrication facility in Eugene, Oregon, has 45,000ft2 of fabrication area along with a 3,600ft2 machine shop and a 2,500 ft2 electronics laboratory.
Primary equipment includes a 14ftx30ft CNC plasma burning centre, 10ft-wide plate rolls and two press brakes, the largest 20ft long with a 350 ton capacity.
The machine shop is equipped with a CNC milling machine, and a CNC horizontal boring mill as well as multiple lathes used in the fabricating of Model ER and CFV machined rotary airlock/feeders. The electronics laboratory assembles and repairs the spark detection/extinguishing systems.
In 1983, Clarke’s bought a stand-alone manufacturing facility in Shreveport, Louisiana to more economically service southern US customers. This facility has 57,000ft2 of fabrication area and utilizes fabrication equipment similar to the Eugene plant. It does not have a machine shop. The work area is ideal for fabrication and final assembly of large components, such as the metering bins. Pre-assembly and delivery to the job site in the largest pieces, feasible for shipping, can greatly cut installation time.
Recent projects have included supplying six picker roll metering bins for the new J M Huber OSB facility being built in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and two wet picker roll metering bins and two rotary drum screens for the Langboard OSB facility in Quitman, Georgia. In the late 1990’s, Clarke’s delivered this same type of equipment, bins and screens, to Kronopol OSB facilities in Poland, France and Germany. The equipment was manufactured at both of Clarke’s facilities. For the overseas projects the equipment was shipped via container and delivered to European ports.
The management of Clarke’s Sheet Metal, Inc is made up of W James Clarke as president, Mike Eide, vice president of manufacturing, and Andy Clarke, vice president, sales and engineering.