Motor Shop Safe After Scare

Burnout oven at Dorward Electric yields smoke; no damage

Where there’s smoke, there isn’t always fire.

Firefighters, aptly familiar with such encounters, are the most relieved at this unlikely result. Getting a call is what they prepare for, but tackling the smoke doesn’t always mean imminent disaster, and when they ultimately discover no injuries and no damage beyond it, that’s a firefighting team’s best possible scenario upon response. So you can bet Slatington (PA) firefighters who were dispatched to Dorward Electric Corp. August 2 felt a sigh of relief once they found the source of billowing smoke to be a burnout oven.

Electric motors being stored in a burn-out oven at Dorward Electric in Slatington, Penn.—Dorward Electric photo

Electric motors being stored in a burnout oven at Dorward Electric in Slatington, Penn.—Dorward Electric photo

Smoke was reported around 5:50 PM at the electric motor rebuild plant on Tuesday, according to a report by Frank Warner of The Morning Call, a Lehigh Valley newspaper. Upon arrival, the firefighters saw black smoke emitting from the roof. The team forced their way through a garage door and canvassed the premises but found no fire. The source was determined to be a ventilation pipe from a burnout oven with a recently installed nozzle that had malfunctioned, according to a fire official.

“No one was injured and no damage was done,” Warner reported—the best words any of us can hear.

Burnout ovens (sometimes referred to as ‘burn-off’, or with ‘furnace’ substituted for ‘oven’) are commonly applied to the electric motor industry as a method of cleaning prior to rebuild or repair. A pyrolysis process cleans motor parts—usually insulation material—by using heat to decompose organic material into vapors and gases, which are then filtered through an afterburner, eliminating harmful emissions and contaminants. The excess is then discharged through an exhaust stack. In Tuesday’s instance, the likely issue was that the new nozzle didn’t function properly, so the black smoke that was cause for alarm was unfiltered.

First used by electric motor rebuilders, the apparatus adapted for use by automotive engine and parts rebuilders, paint and powder coaters, oil and gas producers, and plastics, fiber and chemical manufacturers. Today’s ovens cover thermal cleaning and parts reclamation. Burnout ovens have many benefits: they are pollution-free and can extend service life of tools and parts. Many are fully automated, reducing labor times, and are known to be fuel efficient and durable.

Dorward Electric specializes in the service and repair of industrial and residential electric motors, power tools, pumps, hoists, gearboxes, etc. and also offer new motor sales. Established in 1978 we are a family owned business located in Slatington, PA. They handle single phase, DC, and three phase motors up to 300 hp, and submersible and sewage grinder pumps.



  1. Talking Shop | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - August 11, 2016

    […] of a machining shop, which allowed the creation of custom parts and brought in the use of a burnout oven and auto-winding machine. The latter two increase energy efficiency by enabling controlled burns […]

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