Some 300 bidders, from local firms to resellers from as far away as Texas and Connecticut, were on hand Wednesday and Thursday to bid on 3,000 different lots of equipment.
"It's going great," David Golde, vice president for National Industrial Services Inc., said of Thursday's auction. Golde's firm spent more than a year inventorying the ammunition plant equipment for the auction _ everything from work tables to massive milling and fabricating machines to the buildings they were housed in _ went on the block.
"We're selling nearly every piece of equipment we found to sell. Some of the stuff goes back to the '40s and some up to the '70s," Golde said.
Some of the equipment, used to create tens of thousands of artillery shells for World War II and later, hadn't been used in decades. Thursday's highlight was the sale of three huge boring mills, with the most expensive selling for $190,000.
Odd lots included a complete four-lane bowling alley, shoes and balls included, in the basement of the recreation hall, just under where the auction was going on.
"We've had a few people interested. We'll have to see if it sells," Golde said. The auctioneers privately estimated the alleys could go for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
Tim Paul of Ravenna said he'd bought "a few small things" for his manufacturing firm. But Paul said he thought prices were a little high.
Outside the auction hall, three men representing equipment resellers were waiting for a special lot to come up _ a continuous oven for metal treatment.
Bruce Hynes of Detroit, Steve Davis of East Hartford, Conn., and Frank Kay of Cleveland were old hands at equipment auctions.
"You run into a lot of the same business people at these," Davis said.
Golde's firm will next strip out all scrap metal that can be sold from the buildings, leaving them empty husks ready for demolition.
"We'll take out about 190 miles of electrical wire, radiators, desks _ anything we can sell for scrap," he said _ including about 30,000 8-inch diameter brass shell cases found in the warehouses.
"The government won't let me sell to surplus. They don't want anybody loading them as shells," he said.
Proceeds from the sale will help pay for asbestos removal at the former
ammunition plant and storage depot. The Department of Defense is in the
early stages of an environmental cleanup of explosive and other chemical
residue at the plant. That work is expected to take several years and
several million dollars.