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Leader in Marine Craftsmanship
Wilmington Iron Works

432 West C Street

Wilmington, CA 90744


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Year Established 1920

Hard Work, Family Values, Quality Service

The History Behind Wilmington Iron Works

Walter Charles Richards, "Wally", was born in Watsonville, California. Early in his teenage years, Wally left home for San Francisco to serve an apprenticeship at the Union Iron Works Company. He rose swiftly through the ranks and became the youngest chief engineer to ever serve at that time.

While often away at sea from his wife and young family, Wally was given the opportunity to visit many ports of call. One such port left an important impression on him: the burgeoning Los Angeles Harbor with its bustling marine economy and dire lack of local ship repair facilities. Wally saw great potential, and so, in early 1920, he gathered his small family, which included seven-year-old Walter Charles Richards, Jr., ("Walt"), and two-year-old Edwin and moved south to Long Beach.

With the help of a few investors that Wally would eventually buy out, he purchased a small plot of land on "A" Street in Wilmington. A two-roomed shop was built to house the business, and Wilmington Iron Works, (named in tribute to the Iron Works where he learned his trade) was born. On March 1st, 1920, the doors were officially opened.

The shop stayed in its original location for ten years, and then moved to its current location on "C" Street in 1930. By the late 1940's, Wally handed operations control down to his two sons, Walt and Edwin, under whom the company incorporated in 1956. Walt came to run the company on his own, and in 1970, his son, Walter Charles Richards, III, ("Rich"), was working under him. Rich assumed control shortly after, in 1976. Rich was at the helm for nearly forty years, until handing the company off in 2012 to his son, Ryan Charles Richards ("Richie").

Though it started as strictly a marine-repair business, Wilmington Iron Works has always emphasized its machine shop capabilities. In fact, WIW now has one of the most versatile repair and fabrication facilities in the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor region. What was once a tiny two-roomed shop is now over 23,000 square feet of commercial space spread over an acre of property.

Inevitably, much has changed in the world since 1920. But through the years, Wilmington Iron Works has remained an unfaltering legacy of hard work, family values, and quality service.

March, 2014 marked our 94th year in business, and as Wilmington Iron Works moves steadily towards its centennial, we are looking forward to the future, while proudly celebrating our past.

Our Services

Wilmington Iron Works is proud to be the oldest complete machining facility in the Los Angeles Harbor region. Our shop boasts a wide variety of equipment, including:
• Multiple standard lathes • Vertical turret lathe • Horizontal boring mill • Ironworker • Vertical and horizontal saws • Multiple drill presses • Waterjet machine • We also offer an unusual long-bar capacity of up to 30 feet.

Wilmington Iron Works is happy to announce the addition of waterjet cutting to our wide array of services. This exciting machine cuts precision pieces from virtually any material, eliminating the need for secondary machining, thus reducing overall cost to our customers.

•Design services available
•Will cut through metal, wood, granite, quartz, plastic- virtually ANY material
•Computer-programmed two dimensional shape-cutting system that will cut material
up to 6" thick, and 6 x 10' wide
Examples of just some of the things our customers have had us waterjet cut:
bolt patterns, signs, gussets, tabs, flanges, address numbers, letters, and much more.

If you have an existing propeller shaft that is damaged or old, our primary goal is to rework it, using age-old specialty techniques, to make it new again. We save our customers money by reconditioning whenever it is possible, instead of replacing. When replacement is the only option (which our wall of shame demonstrates), we stock a wide range of the highest quality shafting material, along with most major transmission manufacturer companion flanges. Computerized shaft calculations are available upon request.
PROPELLER SHAFT FABRICATION: With quick turn-around time, our expert machinists will fabricate your new propeller shaft from the highest quality materials available. We can fabricate absolutely any shaft up to 15 inches in diameter and up to 36 feet long. Machined to SAE standards with filleted keyways, your shaft will come standard with new nuts, keys, and pin. Installation and facing of the coupling is included at no additional charge. Any special tapers, installation of muff couplings, or problems with existing couplings can be accomodated.

With a collaborating staff of machinists, welders, and designers, Wilmington Iron Works has provided expert industrial repair and fabrication services for over 90 years. Our extensive portfolio includes projects for the construction industry, commercial and recreational boating industries, the entertainment industry, local and national theme parks, residential and commercial decor, and much, much more. No project is too big or too small.

We have had many opportunities over the years to explore our artistic side at WIW. Our commissioned decorative projects run the gamut: furniture, wall decor, decorative garden structures, art installments, jewelry, signage, and too many others to name. We are limited only by our clients' imaginations.


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