Avery-Abex Metallurgical Collection
Scope and Content
The collection documents the research of metallurgist Howard S. Avery over the span of 50 years at the American Brake Shoe (later Abex) Company's Mahwah Research Center. Research topics concern mechanical properties, metallographic alloy microstructure, physical (electrical, conductive, or thermal) properties, spectroscopy (chemical) analysis, tribology (sliding and lubricant properties), and light, x-ray and other defractional properties. Data is available from experimental foundry “heats” of combined and melted alloys, hot tensile and room temperature tensile tests, and alloy compositions. Research data is recorded on glass negatives (photomicrographs) and metallographic photographs, in polymer resin-encased specimens (ca. 40,000), “Polaroid” negatives and prints, and ca. 3,000 case files (paper and microfiche). There are also master log books and a listing of compositions on keypunch cards, some of the Battelle Institute Research Reports, as well as research related publications and reference books.
Please note: Collection is being processed. Detailed collection information is available upon request. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.
The following is a list of common abbreviations found in the collection inventory.
- Howard S. Avery
- Heat Resistant Alloy or Alloys
- Corrosion Resistant Alloy or Alloys
- Hard Surfacing Welding Rod
- American Society for Metals
- Alloy Casting Institute
- Lantern slides, usually these are glass slides or plastic transparencies
- Chemical symbols
- Used for chemical elements and compounds, such as γ Mn St for Austenite Manganese Steel
- c. 1920s-1987
- American Brake Shoe Company (Organization)
- Avery, Howard S. (Howard Shaeffer), 1906-1996 (Person)
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Condition Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.
Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Administrative History - American Brake Shoe Company (later Abex Corporation)
The American Brake Shoe Company was formed as the American Brake Shoe and Foundry Company in 1902 from the merger of five smaller foundries that specialized in railroad brake shoes, castings and forging, as well as hydraulic equipment. The research laboratory, known as the Mahwah Research Center, from which the collection is drawn, did applied industrial research in mineral extraction, cement, construction, dredging, timber, railroad, and non-magnetic (e.g., submarine). Testing facilities included metallographic evaluation, chemical analysis, machining, heat treatment, various non-destructive methods such as x-ray testing, abrasion, physical, and mechanical analysis. In 1966, the company became Abex Corporation, and upon the purchase of Abex by Illinois Central Industries in 1990, the research center was closed.
Biographical Note - Howard S. Avery
The materials forming the collection were rescued from destruction by Mr. Howard Avery (1906-1996), VPI honors graduate (B.Sc. MinE 1927, M.Sc. MinE 1928), one of the Mahwah Research Center’s leading research metallurgists, with a national reputation in the field of wear-resistant and heat-resistant alloy research. His research career spanned 60 years, and his work included metals abrasion wear resistance analyses; hard surface facing and welding; manganese steel; and high chromium stainless steel; with primary areas of specialization being alloys utilized for railroad tracking, as well as austenitic manganese steel (alloy composition and heat treatment analysis).
248 Cubic Feet (165 boxes; approx. 100 feet of metallurgical samples in cases)
The American Brake Shoe (later Abex) Company was formed in 1902 from the merger of five smaller foundries that specialized in railroad brake shoes, castings and forging, as well as hydraulic equipment. The research laboratory, known as the Mahwah Research Center, from which the collection is drawn, did applied industrial research, but was closed in 1990. Howard Avery (1906-1996), VPI graduate (B.Sc. MinE 1927, M.Sc. MinE 1928), was one of the center’s leading research metallurgists. Collection includes research data of the properties of metals conducted by The American Brake Shoe Company (later Abex). Materials include research files, photographic materials, polymer resin-encased specimens, publications, and more.
Please note: This collection is in off-site storage and requires 2-3 days notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.
Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to Special Collections and University Archives in multiple accruals from 1995-1997. One report donated in 2006.
Numerous books were separated to the Rare Book Collection and Newman Library. Duplicates were weeded.
Some of Avery's personal papers and early professional papers were separated to Howard S. Avery Papers, Ms1997-026.
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Avery-Abex Metallurgical Collection by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
Minimal description and some processing was undertaken in 1998 and 1999.
Please note: Collection is being processed, as of 2022. An in-progress inventory of the collection is available upon request. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.
- Avery-Abex Metallurgical Collection, c. 1920s-1987
- In Progress
- LM Rozema, Archivist; Kaite Britt, Student Assistant; Bess Pittman, Archivist; and Special Collections and University Archives Staff
- 2021 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
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