By Donna Schmidt, Field Editor

The 2015 Bluefield Coal Show has been set for September 16-18 at its regular venue, the Brushfork Armory-Civic Center.

In the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, in extreme southern West Virginia, sits a small town that has become well known over the years for its place at the center of everything coal. It is Bluefield, home of the Bluefield Coal Show, which is returning once again in 2015 to the Brushfork Armory-Civic Center with a large expected attendee turnout (as was totaled about 7,500 in 2013) and more than 230 exhibition spaces both inside and outside the complex.

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Called the “Coal Show for Coal People,” the three-day event set for September 16-18 has sold every exhibitor slot and is receiving a steady stream of incoming registrations from miners throughout Appalachia.

The 2015 show will kick off on September 16 with a media appreciation breakfast at 8:30 a.m., immediately followed by a ribbon cutting to officially open the event at 9:50 a.m. Doors will open to everyone at 10 a.m. According to organizers, registrations have already come in from more than 12 U.S. states outside of the tri-state region of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, as well as Canada, India and Nepal.

The technical sessions were still being finalized at press time, but the organizer, the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, has set the start time of 2:30 p.m. for each two-presentation blocks on September 16 and 17 at the main building’s conference room. A hospitality room will be held daily throughout the show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow for speakers to prepare their materials and guests to begin to convene.

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“As is always the case, the economy and the coal industry are changing, and this year there is no exception,” said Charles Peters, general chairman of the event since 1976. “The coal industry has come under considerable scrutiny, but the industry continues to rally and the coal show allows the coal people the opportunity to be heard on all fronts.

“The Bluefield Coal Show is held in the heart of the coalfields and continues to support a positive future for the coal mining industry. Our show continues to receive interest throughout the coal mining industry with several new companies showcasing their products, equipment and services first time at this venue. We…are looking forward to another outstanding event.”

Recently, Coal Age spoke with some Bluefield exhibitors and were given a preview of plans for their booths and spotlighted products. What follows is a sample of what attendees will see while visiting Bluefield Coal Show 2015.

Brookville Equipment — Booth 107

Pennsylvania-based Brookville, a show exhibitor since the 1970s, is the U.S. underground mining market leader of powered, rail-mounted vehicles, including locomotives, personnel carriers and other specialty equipment. Founded in 1918, the company is dedicated to developing custom, innovative solutions that meet the needs of coal miners in the United States and around the world.

Caterpillar — Outdoor Exhibit Area

Regional dealers will highlight the Cat Exhibit. Keith Harrison, marketing supervisor for Carter Machinery, is leading the effort on behalf of several key coal mining dealers. Carter supports coal producers in all of Virginia and part of West Virginia. “Our display is centered on our strong commitment to this industry and the value a Cat dealer brings to its customers. Despite challenging times in the Appalachian coal industry, we continue to invest in the underground sector of our business,” he said.

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While the Caterpillar exhibit will be dominated by rebuilt machines and service displays, it will also include models of Cat equipment, CWW conveyor products, and video presentations of the Cat product line and dealer capabilities. The two rebuilt machines in the exhibit will be a coal hauler and a scoop.

Carter Machinery has fully rebuilt a number of Cat underground machines recently in their 140,000-square-foot facility in Princeton, West Virginia. Rebuild projects include two longwall systems, a trio of CM210 continuous miners, four coal haulers and two scoops. Carter also operates a 58,000-sq-ft reconditioning center in Salem, Virginia, where many mining machine components are rebuilt.

“Rebuilding equipment is a large part of our business as customers see the value in holding on to assets and getting the most out of their design lives,” said Kevin Barnhouse, vice president and general manager of Whayne-Walker Underground Mining, which supports customers in Kentucky as well as parts of West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana. “Cat products are designed to be rebuilt, and we fully expect you to come to us two, three, even four times to rebuild a machine.

“We have engaged in a very successful underground mining machine rebuild program with our customers — rebuilding scoops, shield haulers, continuous miners, feeder breakers and longwall gearboxes. We take great pride in the quality of work coming out of our rebuild facilities in Belle, West Virginia and Corbin, Kentucky, and we encourage visits to those locations. But rebuilds are only one example of the tools we have to help our customers.”

Shawn Martin, Caterpillar’s eastern region sales manager, called the Bluefield Coal Show a “super environment” for connecting with miners and talking shop in a low-key environment.

“At the same time, it’s an important opportunity for us to showcase what we can do, how well we do it, and where we can help customers with products or services that they’ve never considered before ? like financial services, remanufactured parts and service agreements,” Martin said.

Cincinnati Mine Machinery — Booth 1608

CMM, which has been exhibiting at the event since the late 1970s, will be bringing its quality, reliability and service mission to Bluefield once again, showcasing its dual-sprocket conveyor chain, its new CC-416 crawler chain for roof bolters, as well as various other styles of conveyor and crawler chains. The company will also display cutter chains and footshafts and sprockets.

Flexco — Booth 2102

Flexco, a part of the Bluefield Coal Show since 1995, will be bringing its conveyor rig to showcase its products. Its team will be doing live belt splicing, skiving and cutting demos.

The Flexco Pneumatic Single Rivet Driver will also be a main focus. Released in 2012, the product can speed installation by 33% and has been designed for use with Flexco SR fasteners and installation bases.

Imerys — Booth 914

A brand new addition to the Bluefield Coal Show in 2015 is Imerys, which will be bringing samples of conventional rock dust and its new moisture-tolerant rock dust. Company team members will be doing live demos of how water affects each of the dusts.

JH Fletcher — Booths 1615-1616

Long-time exhibitor J.H. Fletcher will be on hand this year at Bluefield to exhibit its RRII machine, modernized into a WT-DDR. The machine went through the modernization program at its rebuild facility, which has been successfully operating since 1994.

At the facility, the machines are stripped down and each component is either reworked or modernized. This process is done in close association with Fletcher’s engineering department to ensure that old parts are returned to original specs, and that any safety or design improvements are incorporated. Any parts that cannot be rebuilt are replaced with stock rebuilt parts or in many cases, with new parts.

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Top: The Fletcher RRII before being rebuilt. Bottom: The RRI post-modification.Top: The Fletcher RRII before being rebuilt. Bottom: The RRI post-modification.

Whenever possible, many of Fletcher’s innovations are designed in a way which renders them adaptable to older Fletcher equipment. Fletcher can salvage these old machines through their extensive “modernization” program.

“An example is the evolution of the DDO into the RRII,” according to Fletcher officials. “Many of the Fletcher Roof Ranger features are adaptable to a DDO, such as the new design front and rear lift systems, which eliminates possible chassis fatigue. An old DDO can be fitted with an approved ATRS system, an independent drop in oil tank, offset booms, new canopies, and support post assemblies with adjustable wear pads. To further the example, the Fletcher Roof Ranger can be upgraded into a ‘walk through’ WT DDR.”

Some of the new improvements include dust bag collection system, replacement boom with offset style boom, additional L-style ATRS, canopies and operator protection up to current standards, in-by and out-by rock deflector pads, joystick handle arrangements, new start switch, canopy extensions, rear entry into tram deck, tram compartment chain guard, rib access booms for “walkt hrough” machines, air canopy, and inadvertent activation joystick. After assembly, all components are tested as if it were a new machine.

With the Fletcher modernization program, customers not only receive up-to-date equipment, but an array of benefits. Equipment is updated with all new operator guarding and warning tags, along with new control labeling on equipment. Customers receive an updated parts book, service manual and circuit drawings. As always, Fletcher systems are certified; this includes MSHA approvals where required, and Fletcher assistance getting field approvals when needed. Fletcher backs their modernization program with a new machine warranty, as well as continued access to Fletcher engineers and service personnel.

With the rebuild and modernization facility, Fletcher is committed to ensuring that equipment designed and built by J.H. Fletcher & Co. can be continuously upgraded to provide customers with state-of-the-art equipment.

Joy Global — Booths 1709-1719

Joy Global is a longtime participant in the Bluefield show, and the major mining supplier plans to bring representative products from its surface, underground and hard rock offerings.

The company is known for providing direct service to those who buy its products, but this year, it will also be highlighting its “Service for Hire” program, through which it provides machine servicing for equipment outside the Joy Global brand family.

he P&H Wheel Loader training simulator.The P&H Wheel Loader training simulator.

From its underground equipment offerings, Joy Global plans to highlight new products and upgrades for continuous miners focused on productivity and safety, shuttle cars upgrades that improve performance and reliability, and longwall and hard rock products.

Joy Global conveyor products will also be represented, including its standard-setting HD-1500 (CEMA D+) and SDX-2200 (CEMA E+) idlers. The company will also be bringing its popular P&H Wheel Loader training simulator, so attendees can test their skills.

Strata Worldwide — Booth 1803

Returning again to its outdoor vendor space, Strata Worldwide will have a complete CommTrac and wireless AMS system on display and will also be holding demonstrations for proximity detection. A full team of Strata experts will also be on hand to talk about products and answer any questions, particularly about the company’s newest product offering, Strata’s completely wireless belt-drive monitoring system. Demos will be held on it as well.

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