A love of cars led CJ Jones to open a metalworks business in North Topeka, Kansas, in the early 1980s. He built MidWestern Metals (MWM) into an expert metal fabrication shop, completing projects for Ford Motor Company, Dearborn Midwest Conveyor and the U.S. National Guard Helicopter Division, among others.
CJ’s son, John, was determined to become a stockbroker after college — but after a single day on the job, he realized his heart was still in the shop with his dad. It wasn’t long before he found himself joining MWM and looking for a niche of his own. He found it when a local mining operation asked the company to overhaul and upgrade a dredge.
The project was so successful the mine requested that MWM build a facsimile of the existing dredge and then a second dredge from scratch. With that, a new company — Custom Dredge Works — was formed in 2001. In the two decades since, the operation has grown into one of the U.S.’s leading manufacturers of state-of-the-art custom dredges. They’re used to harvest valuable minerals, create or deepen ports and waterways, assist with ﬂ ood or erosion control, remove contaminated materials from areas affected by chemical spills or stormwater surges and much more.
Today, from land-locked Topeka, Kansas, Custom Dredge Works and its team of 100-plus employees manufacture new cutterhead suction, chain ladder, deep digging and electric-powered dredges — along with related equipment like booster pumps and dewatering bucket wheels — for dredging contractors and mining operations in every U.S. state and around the world.
In his metalworks shop, CJ Jones had been a faithful Cat® customer for decades, but the ﬁrst dredge he and his son overhauled was equipped with another brand’s engine. “We had to jump through a lot of hoops with them,” he says. So when Custom Dredge Works began building dredges from scratch, the company turned to its preferred manufacturer, Caterpillar, to supply engines for both dredges and the booster pumps that power them.
Options across the board. As the name makes clear, Custom Dredge Works tailors every dredge to the owner’s preferences. That includes cab size, controls, lights, cranes, pumps, winches and even the color scheme. Owners have their choice of diesel, electric or natural gas engines, too. “We recommend Cat® diesel engines due to the availability of replacement parts and serviceability via Cat dealerships and certiﬁ ed repair shops in most locations around the globe,” John Jones says.
Partners in power. Once a client makes the decision to power a dredge with Cat engines, Custom Dredge Works collaborates with its local Cat dealer, Foley Equipment, to choose the right model for the application. The wide range of Cat industrial power engine options available — along with solutions for varying emissions strategies — makes it easy for the company to give dredge owners exactly what they need. Most larger dredges feature C27 or C32 industrial engines, with smaller C9s or C13s providing supplemental power. So far, the most Cat engines used on a single dredge is four: two C32s plus a C9 and a C7.1 marine generator set.
Built to last. Dealer service and support are major reasons Custom Dredge Works prefers Cat power but so is longevity. The company describes its dredges as “built like a tank,” and when properly maintained, their lifespan can reach up to 40 years. The engines powering them need to stand up to tough conditions and work reliably day in and day out. With Caterpillar’s global dealer network, the company knows dredge owners will have the support they need to maintain optimum uptime and get the job done no matter the location.
See what other Cat® industrial engine customers have to say about our engines and related products, and the support they receive from the Cat dealer network.