Transformation

70-year old coil winder brings valuable experience

Bill Anderson, a western Pennsylvania resident and seasoned coil winder, embodies that age-old notion that any of us can always come back home. In his case, a return was mutually beneficial for him and a local business.

Anderson’s first go-round in Sharon, PA (27 miles from his native Sandy Lake) was with Westinghouse Electric, a name with a well-documented history dating back to 1886. The corporation is responsible for a multitude of firsts — the first U.S. public utility steam generator; the first main-line, AC-powered locomotive; the first continuous filament tungsten light bulb; the first all-electric kitchen range; the first factory-built radio receivers for home use; the first-electric clothes dryer; and the first temperature-controlled portable grill, to name a lot. Westinghouse lit up the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, installed the world’s fastest elevators at Rockefeller Center in 1933, and built the first radar in 1939. It pioneered the first international radio broadcast and televised the moon landing.

Alas, a series of sales and disbanding actions ultimately led to the original corporation’s end in 1999. Since the 1970s, thousands of workers have been laid off and the corporation has arguably struggled ever since. Bill Anderson was part of these layoffs. He was a coil winder for Westinghouse from 1966-1978. As Michael Roknick of the Sharon Herald reported this past Sunday, however, his story is one of redemption and purpose, not resentment and regret.

Anderson worked at the Sharon Transformer Division of Westinghouse during the aforementioned time period. He is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, 70 years of age and an experienced winder, but most importantly, he is a generous mentor. He worked various trades for years following the layoffs, eventually landing at Sunbelt Transformer, back in Sharon. Sunbelt is located less than a mile from the former Westinghouse plant, which ceased production in 1985. Based in Texas, Sunbelt has seven other locations scattered nationwide and employs over 100. The Sharon plant employs around 50, making it one of the company’s key locations. The company offers field services, rentals, repair, and testing for multiple varieties of transformers, as well as switchgear, components, and mobile GSU.

Anderson’s specialty is winding. This requires carefully handling the conductor, copper wiring, around a base of compressed paper and aluminum so that transformers can properly transfer electricity of an allotted voltage to the end-user. Large turning machines are used to get thick strands of copper wound around a paper and aluminum base which will eventually be placed inside a transformer. Those at Sunbelt use 100 millimeter thick, 200 millimeter wide copper, usually calling for about two and a half days turnaround time. Most winders will only achieve this deadline if they have the skills of an Anderson, which is why he is so valuable to the Sunbelt operation, who stopped employing coil winders initially. But Anderson’s unique skill set and experience bring essential training methods to the company’s current employees.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Westinghouse Mansion Bought | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - June 23, 2016

    […] back, we featured a newsletter item about an ageless coil winder. In it we included some of the history of Teco-Westinghouse as a company. What wasn’t mentioned is that the family behind George Westinghouse, the man who […]

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