Hardie-Tynes Co., Inc., founded in October 1895 by William Hardie and William Tynes as the Birmingham Engine Works, was a manufacturer of large-scale engineered industrial parts, including water control systems, mining equipment, steam turbines, pressure vessels, bridge sections, and industrial and defense equipment. The company was headquartered at 800 28th Street North in Birmingham's Central City neighborhood.
Hardie-Tynes began as an offshoot of the Birmingham Iron Works, founded by William Hardie's father John in 1882. After his father's death the younger Hardie, experienced in foundry operations, partnered with businessman Tynes to establish the Engine Works as an independent manufacturer processing raw gray iron into large, complex machines which were sold to mining and industrial companies across the South. Its first plant was located near Sloss Furnaces on the 2500-2700 blocks of 1st Avenue North.
The Engine Works specialized in producing steam engines based on the patented designs of Rhode Island engineer George Corliss, along with a variety of other engines, valves, hoists and compressors. A fire on January 24, 1901 destroyed the original plant, prompting its relocation to the larger present site at 8th Avenue North and 28th Street. It adopted the name Hardie-Tynes Manufacturing Company shortly before reopening in 1903. The new plant utilized steam engines to generate electrical power for its machine shop and cranes. The plant turned to production of ship engines and propeller screws as well as 2" shells during World War I, necessitating expansion of the plant with additional cranes and generators. In 1918 the foundry expanded its capacity by installing a larger-diameter cupola. After the war, the company was primarily engaged in producing equipment for public utilities such as Alabama Power and the Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as for the U.S. Navy. A large locomotive repair contract signed in 1922 necessitated the installation of rail track and a turntable.
A second fire in August 1924 prompted the foundry to be re-designed with heavy steel columns and girders. The water tower for the new sprinkler system became a landmark sign for the company's plant. New product lines included larger compressors, more complicated valves, and various types of chemical processing equipment. In 1933-1934 Hardie-Tynes manufactured valves and gates used in the Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) in Colorado. In 1938 the company erected a new, larger machine shop adjacent to its existing factory. During World War II the plant returned to war production, manufacturing turbine steam engines for Liberty ships, and high-pressure compressors for submarines, destroyers and carriers. The plant ceased steam power generation and installed large transformers as it began buying electricity.
The company's main product line shifted again in the post-war economy. It introduced boiler equipment such as feed pumps and blowers. It also continued to rely on military contracts for compressors and other equipment, including reactor vessels and Tomahawk missile canisters. In 1962 the company's iron casting foundry was shut down and it turned solely to machining in steel. The closing of a fabricator that supplied some of its parts prompted Hardie-Tynes to expand its fabricating capabilities in 1974.
The DeBardeleben family purchased the company in 1997. Charles DeBardeleben served as president until the company ceased operations in 2016. The vacant site was purchased by U-Haul for $1.75 million in 2018 and adapted for use as a city center rental facility and storage yard.
- English, Tanya (n. d.) "Hardie-Tynes Manufacturing Company" Historic American Engineering Record. HAER No. AL-13
- Tomberlin, Michael (March 7, 2012) "Birmingham industrialist brothers see pending crisis for skilled labor." The Birmingham News
- Godwin, Brent (March 13, 2018) "Deals of the Year: U-Haul breathes life into Hardie-Tynes facility." Birmingham Business Journal