Franklin County Highway Department employee Frank Woodcock was shoveling debris from culverts when he came up with an idea to save taxpayer money.
Woodcock, who has been a highway department employee for 11 years, said he and his son Jim invented the Culvert Hog to avoid costly culvert replacement.
The machine, which he invented about 10 years ago, opens up metal and plastic culverts that get crushed on the end when vehicles run over them.
When the ends of the culverts get smashed it prevents water from freely flowing through them, Woodcock of Stanton noted.
In the past, the solution has been to dig up the road and replace the culvert, he said, but now there is a simpler solution, thanks to his invention.
A normal culvert replacement could cost around $1,000, he said.
His machine costs $9,800, and he said that money is easily made up with the savings created by the machine
The machine has opened up about 3,000 culverts in Franklin County, and in the last month alone it has fixed 280.
The machine attaches to a motor grader. This saves time because it allows the culverts to be repaired while the roads are being graded, County Highway Administrator Joe Feldmann noted.
Woodcock said Franklin County has purchased two of the machines, and he donated one to the county.
So far the machine has just been sold locally, but Woodcock has a vision to build a factory to manufacture the machines in Franklin County to be used across the nation.
He pointed out that he would like to provide local jobs by building the Culvert Hog in Franklin County.
Counties across the country could use the Culvert Hog, he said, adding that state and municipal governments could also find the machine useful.
The big savings created by the Culvert Hog comes from the fact that opening the pipes keeps water from pooling on the roadway and deteriorating the road, Woodcock said.
It feels good to invent a machine that saves county taxpayers’ money, he said, adding that the machine is patented in the United States and Canada.
He came up with the idea while he was operating a motor grader and was shoveling debris away from culverts. Once he moved the debris, he saw that the culverts were crushed closed on the ends.
Then he called his son to see if he could fabricate a piece of equipment for a motor grader to open culverts.
He and his son developed three prototypes.
Fixing the culverts with his machine also eliminates the hassle of having to locate electric, gas and water lines, which has to be done when digging up the roadway to replace a culvert, Woodcock said.
The county commission recognized Woodcock during the Tuesday meeting, and Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said it is not very often that there is an employee who invents and patents a machine that the county can use.
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker praised Woodcock, saying he can’t imagine how much money Woodcock’s invention saves the county.
“That’s awesome, Frank, and I appreciate it,” Brinker said. “I know you’re starting to reap the benefits of having such a creative genius inside you that you’ve released to the county.”
This demonstrates to the public the high-caliber employees Franklin County has, Griesheimer added.
“We really appreciate what you do but also all of the employees,” Griesheimer said.