How old equipment gets new life at Luck Stone

By |  April 9, 2018
Photo courtesy of Luck Stone

Luck Stone loader operators will sometimes tandem load haul trucks to reduce load times. Photo courtesy of Luck Stone

The back end of a Caterpillar haul truck sticks out of a bay in the shop at Luck Stone’s Boscobel Plant.

This is by no means an unusual occurrence here, as Luck Stone’s frontline machines are typically rotated into the shop after every 40 or 50 hours of operation.

But these frequent checkups, specifically of the operation’s Cat equipment, are all part of a grander plan. For adjacent to Luck Stone’s Boscobel Plant in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, is Luck Stone’s Engineering and Operational Support (EOS) facility that’s dedicated to rebuilding equipment, adding second and, in some cases, third lives to the company’s yellow iron.

“Many people in the industry have their own philosophies,” says Jamey Epps, plant manager at Luck Stone’s Boscobel Plant. “For us, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 18,000 hours is when a machine is going to come in for a rebuild. Those numbers come from historic data that tell us components start to fail.”

A sustainable approach

Photo courtesy of Luck Stone


According to Epps, Luck Stone employs multiple experts who routinely rebuild and inspect front-line equipment.

The rebuild process at Luck Stone is manageable, too, because engineers and operational leaders have grown familiar with the Cat equipment Luck Stone relies on. These employees are accustomed to the way Cat equipment is built and how it operates. So they’re more easily able to turn around, say, a rebuilt haul truck in two or three months if it’s a project they’ve done before.

“Our EOS mechanics are rebuilding equipment from multiple sites on a daily basis,” says Epps, pointing out that Luck Stone currently operates multiple operations throughout Virginia and North Carolina. “Often, the machines are brought to the EOS shop here at Boscobel; however, some of the equipment is rebuilt at the site in which it normally operates.”

Maintenance tool

While rebuilds are central to the success Luck Stone has managing its fleet of equipment, regularly keeping up with preventative maintenance schedules enables the company to invest in these long-term rebuild projects.

If the equipment were not well-maintained, these rebuilds would not be cost-effective due to the increased frequency in which they would need to be done, the company says.

“Every machine is coming into our shop at least once a week to get some type of service,” Epps says. “Sometimes, they’re in here longer depending on what needs to be done. It’s important for us to get machines into the shop because it helps improve the availability of that unit. We know that maintaining the little things –grease, oils, lube, filters –is critical.”

Photo by Kevin Yanik.

The Boscobel Plant is fully automated from the primary surge pile through the tertiary plant. Says plant manager Jamey Epps: “We believe we get more consistent throughput by having an operator at this stage (primary crusher) of the process.” Photo by Kevin Yanik.

The devil is in the details

Away from the shop, Epps and other operation leaders pay regular attention to how loading and hauling equipment perform.

At the Boscobel Plant, which is the company’s fifth-largest site by volume, Epps notes how two loaders and three trucks sometimes work together. This setup is by design.

“Our skilled operators will tandem load in order to reduce load times,” Epps says. “Instead of a minute and a half they’ll load a truck in 45 seconds. We don’t do this every day, but we’ll do it at least a day or two per week, depending on shot location and the site’s daily demands.”

The load-and-haul approach at a Luck Stone plant can continuously change, he adds.

“Our pit and mine plan can often challenge this,” Epps says. “If we are working on tighter benches, it isn’t always feasible to run two loaders from a single muck pile effectively.”

The Boscobel Plant’s geology

At its Boscobel Plant, Luck Stone mines Petersburg granite, an igneous formation thought to be of the late Paleozoic age. Found in the Petersburg and Richmond areas of Virginia, this rock was formed from a molten mass and has a pink and sometimes blue multi-colored appearance. Quartz, orthoclase, plagioclase, muscovite and small amounts of dark colored minerals combine to give the stone its rich appearance.
Source: Luck Stone

Expanding its reach

Luck Stone, the construction aggregate division of Richmond-based Luck Companies, opened a new 55-acre distribution yard in the South Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The Greenwood Yard will stock a full-range of Virginia Department of Transportation-approved construction aggregate products that can be used in a number of applications. The facility, which created three new jobs, opened for business in mid-December in Chesapeake, Virginia.

“This new location enables Luck Stone to better serve its customers in the large, growing South Hampton Roads region,” says Rick Rowland, regional sales manager for Luck Stone’s Eastern Region. “We believe that the Greenwood Yard is one of the largest rail-served aggregates distribution yards in the state.”

Within the South Hampton Roads and Peninsula areas of Virginia, Luck Stone also operates the Berkley Yard in Norfolk, the Gilmerton Yard in Chesapeake, the Oyster Point Yard in Newport News, and the Toano Yard near Williamsburg.

Four more things

Photo courtesy of Luck Stone

Many Luck Stone sites have wheel wash systems like this one at the Boscobel Plant. Photo courtesy of Luck Stone

Jamey Epps, plant manager of Luck Stone’s Boscobel Plant, led a tour of the site for P&Q last fall. Here are some components of the site – and talking points in our conversation with Epps – that stood out.

1. The site’s long history. While Luck Stone acquired the Boscobel Plant in 1926, the quarry in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, was active long before the Luck family stepped foot on the property.

2. A brand-new scale house. When visited last fall, Luck Stone was in the midst of building a new scale house at the Boscobel Plant. The company embarked on the project for a few reasons.

“The new scale house will create a more inviting atmosphere for interactions with our customers and vendors,” Epps says. “It was also designed with our associates in mind, as we want to ensure their work environment is comfortable and inspiring.
“The interior will have visuals and language about the history of our company and of the location,” Epps says.

Luck Stone partnered with an architectural firm to design something special.

“The design and layout of the office aligns well with the emphasis we place and the value we have for aesthetics and a positive customer experience, from the entrance gate all the way to the bottom of the pit,” Epps says.

3. The wheel wash system. Many Luck Stone sites have such a system, according to Epps. They play a key role in maintaining the aesthetic the company strives for at its entrances, along with maintaining a debris-free entrance road that contract haulers frequently travel.

“We installed the wheel washes in such a manner that trucks have to drive through them before pulling onto the scales, so they’re not tracking dust and debris that could be on their tires and wheels out of the entrance.”

The water pumped into the system is sourced from a series of ponds and sumps located strategically throughout the site. Regularly, any fines collected through the system are cleaned and processed on site.

“We also sweep our entrance to further keep dust emissions to a minimum,” Epps says. “This really helps to support and maintain a site that is well-received in the community.”

4. Rail loadout. While the Boscobel Plant serves 250 to 300 customer trucks each day, a large percentage of its sales are dependent on rail transportation.

According to Epps, Luck Stone typically loads out by rail two or three days per week. A typical train ranges anywhere from 50 to 60 cars, but the range can vary depending on customer demand.

Two employees manage the rail loadout operation at Boscobel.

Joe McCarthy

About the Author:

Joe McCarthy is an Associate Editor of Pit and Quarry Magazine. You can contact him at and at 216-363-7930.

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