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Rock-Solid Mesabi® Heat Exchangers Built Tough to Meet the Demands of Aggregate Mining

Dust and dirt don’t impede the work of Mesabi heat exchangers that are built to last and can be cleaned with ease.

 Aggregates make up 94 percent of asphalt and 80 percent of concrete. In other words, aggregate, such as class 5 gravel, is critical to the building of America. It’s the salt and pepper of everything that’s built – roads, bridges, buildings, power plants, water plants, the bases of wind turbines, and much more.

To provide some additional context, according to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, the construction of the average size school or hospital requires 15,000 tons of aggregate.

Sandvik Drill
Sandvik Drill

Aggregate mining includes an operation that mixes or recycles rock, sand, gravel or similar aggregate materials with water and cement or with asphalt. L&M Radiator supplies aggregate mining operations across the world with durable Mesabi heat exchangers, which optimize the operation of heavy-duty equipment, such as haul trucks, dozers, excavators, crushers, and mining drills.

“Mesabi products are a cornerstone of the aggregate mining market” said L&M Radiator OEM Sales Manager Gary Fairchild. “We’ve been here a long time and people trust the Mesabi name and the quality it represents. Potential customers often hear about the advantages of Mesabi heat exchangers, radiators and cooling systems from word of mouth.”

Just like the Mesabi products he sells people trust Gary Fairchild’s experience in working with cooling systems. An industry veteran, Fairchild has served the needs of aggregate mining operations for 48 years.

“I started working in the shop with L&M Radiator’s owner, Alex Chisholm. He was the first one to approach me about going into sales,” Fairchild said. “At that time, I had never been out of the Hibbing area. I started selling to phosphate mining operations in Florida and now I have been to all 50 states and Canada in serving the company’s customers.”

Mesabi Shock Absorbing Seals Protect Heavy Equipment from the Disruptive Vibrational Environment

When Fairchild began his work in the Southeast, there were not a lot of “big” trucks in the aggregate mining industry.

“At the time, the biggest truck was probably a 50-ton or 75-ton truck,” Fairchild said. “That’s changed over the years. There’s much larger equipment on today’s mining sites, such as 100-ton trucks, which are quite common now. These trucks can create a lot of vibration during the dumping and crushing process, which in turn, can mess up the average heat exchanger or radiator.”

But not Mesabi heat exchangers, noted Fairchild. That’s because Mesabi heat exchangers are designed to outperform any and all competitors, including units supplied by OEMs. L&M Radiator knows about the real challenges facing heavy-duty equipment in today’s mining sites – the company is located just down the road from some of the largest iron ore mines in the world on the world-famous Iron Range. No matter the size of the equipment or sizes of gravel being crushed, Mesabi heat exchangers are built to withstand heavy, constant vibration daily.

“It’s not uncommon for Mesabi heat exchangers and radiators to outlast two or more engines on the heavy-duty equipment used in these quarries,” said Fairchild. “Believe me, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve seen it all. Mesabi heat exchangers just keep on going and going and going.”

One of the secrets to the success of Mesabi heat exchangers being used in aggregate mining comes down to its rubber seals. “L&M is famous for the cooling systems’ rubber seals,” said Fairchild. “Our seals are specially designed to absorb the greatest shocks and repetitive hits of debris.”

Quarries work with different rock types and sizes, so each Mesabi product is tailored to meet the exact needs of the quarry and the equipment upon which Mesabi heat exchangers will be placed.

“Every quarry is different, but the most common aggregate operations we support focus on the construction industry and collect aggregate for roadbeds, highways and asphalt,” Fairchild said. “A typical quarry probably will run 50 pieces of heavy-duty equipment and L&M Radiator has a solution for nearly every piece of equipment involved in a typical aggregate mining operation.”

“Once our customers see how effective Mesabi heat exchangers are on one machine, they often inquire about upgrading the rest of the fleet,” Fairchild said.

Heat Exchangers that can be Cleaned Quickly, Efficiently

“We’re also a staple in the aggregate industry because of our V-Tube™ radiators,” Fairchild said. “As you can imagine, aggregate mining is especially dusty and dirty and produces lots of debris, so water trucks are on site spraying everything down, which also creates mud that can be picked up by the tires and often comes into contact with engines and their cooling systems.”

With mud and debris coating the machines, regular cleaning cycles are needed to maintain equipment. Unlike competitors, Mesabi V-Tube radiators are known for how easy they are to clean.

Sandvik drill mining
Sandvik drill mining

“You can use high pressure water (1,200 PSI) or air to flush and clean out our radiator systems because of the V-Tube design,” said Fairchild. “Our competitors’ fins fold under that amount of pressure. Our customers want to work all day; they don’t want to waste time and money taking breaks to reset or clean out debris.”

Fairchild often shares stories with clients to attest to the durability of legendary Mesabi heat exchangers.

“I have one story about a 50-ton Euclid truck that rolled over and slid down a quarry,” he said. “The impact of that rollover bent the tubes in the Mesabi radiator into an S-shape, and even with that, our tubes still didn’t leak. It was unbelievable. We even ran water through it because it was so twisted up, but it still did not leak, I show my clients photos of that just because it’s so incredible.”

Fairchild added that while this story isn’t a normal circumstance, it attests to the strength of the Mesabi products and the impression that Mesabi products leave on L&M customers.

“There’s a reason word-of-mouth is so important in our industry,” Fairchild said. “I have photos, records and tons of these stories from customers that I share and also clients exchange their own stories and often contact us.”

Mesabi R&D and Customer Service Respond to Client Feedback with Solutions

“To be effective in this industry, we have to keep listening to what clients need to do to improve their operations,” Fairchild said. “For example, tube and shell coolers have water going through them that is collected from a stream or reservoir. After 15-20 years, many of our clients wanted to use less water — we came up with air-to-oil cooling systems to eliminate water all together.”

This proved beneficial for customers in more ways than one. Air-to-cooling systems reduced water waste and proved to be a better fit for clients working in cold weather locations.

“If clients don’t drain the cooling systems in the wintertime, they freeze up. It could ruin their tube and shell coolers,” Fairchild said. “But with air-to-oil, we eliminated that problem.”

Fairchild added that most industry machinery, crushers specifically, have moved away from water-to-oil coolers and gone with air-to-oil systems.

Ease of Repair Convinces Customers to Upgrade to Mesabi

For any customer, downtime is a huge factor. It directly affects the bottom line. Companies know exactly how much it costs them for even one machine to be down.

“One of my selling points is, if you poke a hole in this radiator, you’re able to take that tube out without taking the entire machine apart, put a new tube in, and you’re back running in a matter of hours or less, rather than spending a day tearing it out, a day getting it fixed, and a day putting it back,” Fairchild said. “These cooling systems are an investment but they more than pay for themselves in durability and ease of repair.”

For aggregate mining operations, it’s fair to say, no one provides the strength, durability and ease of cleaning than a Mesabi heat exchangers.


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