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General Motors Foundry Operations Grey Iron Foundry f/k/a Central Foundry a/k/a Saginaw Metal Casting Operations, Malleable and Nodular Foundries

Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan

General Motors Foundry Operations Grey Iron Foundry f/k/a Central Foundry a/k/a Saginaw Metal Casting Operations, Malleable and Nodular Foundries

Located in Saginaw, Michigan the General Motors Grey Iron Foundry is a source of asbestos exposure, Mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers. The plant originally opened in 1919 as Central Foundry on the North Side of Saginaw. In 1927 it became Chevrolet Grey Iron Foundry. A river dock and Foundry #2 were built in 1929. Foundry #3 was built in 1948 along with the old powerhouse just west of the plant. In 1958, the first water-wall cupola was installed as “A” cupola in Foundry #1. In 1962 the Experimental Foundry was built to research the Nodular Iron process. An addition was built onto it in 1962. In 1971 Ajax holding furnaces were attached to E & G cupolas. Brown Boveri holding furnaces were installed in the experimental plant.  In 1962 there were two Whiting Furnaces in #1 Foundry, on line # 14.

At one time Grey Iron employed about 6000 workers in the production of more than 100 different automobile parts cast of grey iron. The foundry had 19 cupolas in the different foundry departments which generated 3600 tons of grey iron daily.  Eventually the Malleable Iron and Nodular Iron Foundries became part of the Chevrolet Central Foundry Operations in Saginaw.

Central Foundry and Grey Iron became part of GM Powertrain Division and is now known as   Saginaw Metal Casting Operations. The Saginaw Metal Casting plant is the only foundry currently operated by GM in Saginaw County. Exposures to asbestos products at the foundry can cause Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Asbestosis and other cancers 10 – 40 years later.   Even if you smoked you may be entitled to compensation if you are suffering an asbestos related disease.

The General Motors Grey Iron Foundry Operations

Metal founding or casting is the pouring of molten metal into a cavity formed in some type of molding media. The principal media used is silica sand. The mold cavity may contain a refractory core to define a void in the casting. After cooling, the mold is taken to a shakeout facility where the molding media is removed from the casting. The casting is cleaned, extraneous cast metal is removed, and the molding sand is recycled to be conditioned for reuse.  Grey Iron Foundry is Saginaw Michigan primarily made Engine Blocks for GM vehicles.

The potential health hazards in foundry operations are exposure to various air contaminants like asbestos and physical conditions including noise, heat, and vibration. A survey of 281 foundries in Michigan in 1969 revealed that many of the employees were exposed to serious health hazards.


The majority of both ferrous and nonferrous castings are produced in green sand molds at the General Motors Grey Iron Foundry in Saginaw Michigan. The mold sand came from Lake Huron near the Charity Islands or from the shores of Lake Michigan. The sand is mixed with other ingredients in the muller. After mixing, the sand is placed in storage bins or silos and when required it is mechanically transferred to delivery bins at the molding positions. After the casting and shakeout operations the sand is conditioned so that it can be reused.


The core is a refractory element placed in the mold to define a cavity in the final casting. Since molten metal will flow around it, the core must be mechanically strong at that point and yet become friable after pouring and cooling to allow easy removal from the casting. Cores are made in a fashion similar to that for the molds described previously. In the oldest system in use, core sand is prepared in a muller by mixing silica sand with an organic binder such as linseed oil and starch such as dextrine. The sand is packed in a core box with a cavity defining the shape of the core. The fragile core is then removed and cured in a core oven at approximately 400F. The Grey Iron Foundry had Vertical, horizontal and batch core ovens all of which were insulated with asbestos prior to 1975.

Metal Casting

The process of casting includes preparation of the charge materials, preheating of the charge furnace and ladles, melting of the charge in the furnace, fluxing of the melt both in the furnace and at the ladle to remove silicates and oxides, inoculation of the charge with materials for improved metallurgical properties, tapping of the melting furnace, pouring from melting furnace to a holding furnace or receiving ladle, and subsequent transfer to smaller pouring ladle and pouring of the melt into the prepared molds. The major health hazards in both ferrous and nonferrous operations include exposure to asbestos dust from insulating products, refractories, clothing and fire shields.


Over 60% of the grey iron castings produced in the United States are produced by the cupola. It is the most economical way to convert scrap and pig iron to usable molten iron. As produced, the metal is grey iron; if inoculated with magnesium or cerium at the ladle, a ductile iron is formed. Alternate layers of coke, limestone, and metal are periodically charged to the furnace. A major hazard from cupola operation is exposure to carbon monoxide and asbestos. The cupola is insulated and lined with asbestos-containing refractories and insulation materials.

Transfer, pouring, cooling

The molten iron is taken from the receiving ladle, transferred to the pouring ladle and poured on the mold line by workers. These metal pourers and furnace operators are in close proximity to extreme heat. The metal pourers and operators directly involved in handling the molten metal used personal protective equipment including asbestos aluminized clothing.

There were many other occupations in the mill such as Coremakers, Moldmakers, Chippers/ Grinders, Forklift Operators, Shakeout and Maintenance Electricians, Millwrights, Painters, Pipefitters and Welders, that wore the asbestos clothing.

The workers were also exposed to the asbestos containing insulation and refractories during general maintenance and repairs to the furnaces, ladles and ovens. The foundry also had asbestos blankets, brakes, gaskets, packing and other products that the workers were exposed to.

Malleable Iron Foundry

The first foundry in Saginaw. It was built in 1919, GM bought it in 1929. Currently with 1,700 retired members and 1,050 active members, UAW 455 was the second biggest local. Malleable Iron Foundry was the second biggest employer in the county with 3,000 workers at it’s height. It uses exclusively malleable steel, a tougher iron than grey iron, and has the properties of a medium carbon steel. It made parts for cars, tractors, home appliances and diesel engines. Malleable iron melts at 2, 600 degrees.

Malleable had a cupola (melting) department (whose cupolas were removed in 1974), annealing department with 20 90 foot long heat treat annealing kilns (heated to 1,700 degrees), molding department, cleaning room, and core department (with core ovens that were torn out in about 1978). The six area with asbestos were the Core room, the melting (cupola) furnaces department, the foundry (with holding furnaces and ladles, the annealing department with about 20 annealing kilns, the powerhouse (with Wickes boilers) and the tunnels from the locker room to the foundry where asbestos wrapped pipes lined the tunnels. In 1947 the offices were renovated to todays configurations.

Nodular Iron Foundry

Built by November 1966, Nodular Iron was the last foundry built. It was the most modern when built with three cupolas, but a fourth was added in 1969, due to increasing demand for Nodular Iron. A fifth cupolas was added in 1971,  when the employees began to increase from 1,700 to 2,800. A sixth was planned in 1973, but not added until 1980 due to the recessions which affected the amount of castings required. Due to outsiders from GM Central Foundry division taking over the GM Saginaw foundries, the reduced demand for castings required. Due to outsiders from the reduced demand for castings and the difficult labor situation GM had, (UAW Local 668 represented both Nodular and Grey Iron and had a contract allowing members to “bump” back and forth between the two foundries almost at will) GM shut down its most modern foundry in 1987. Nodular Iron Foundry was torn down in 1996.

Nodular had six water-wall cupolas, annealing department with heat treat annealing kilns, molding department , cleaning room, and core department. The foundry was 690,000 sq. ft. and employed about 2,800 workers at its peak. This foundry made nodular iron parts for cars, and truck engines, such as crankshafts, clutch pressure plates, flywheels, wheel hubs, and differential cases. Nodular iron is harder than grey iron, and thus more expensive to make. Due to its unique properties, nodular iron melts at about 3,000 degrees, requiring higher temperature refractories.

There were many other plants in Saginaw, Bay City, and Midland where significant asbestos exposures occurred including Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, Wickes Boiler, Baker Perkins, DeFoe Shipyard, Michigan and Monitor Sugar.

If you or a loved one have questions regarding asbestos exposure at General Motors Grey Iron Foundry or anywhere in Saginaw Michigan, we have Michigan based and licensed lawyers with over 50 combined years of experience that would be able to assist you. Our attorneys have represented many individuals with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis in Saginaw County Circuit Court in the past 20 years. If you have any questions concerning your exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma at General Motors Grey Iron Foundry in Saginaw, MI call John Kelsey or John Pomerville. Our Michigan-based mesothelioma lawyers may be able to give guidance if you were exposed to asbestos in Saginaw, MI.

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you should immediately speak with an experienced Michigan based Lawyer to preserve your legal rights as this is a time sensitive matter and knowing the facts will help you make the best medical and legal decisions possible and help you recover financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering .

We have represented people injured by exposure to asbestos whose work histories include General Motors Grey Iron Foundry in Saginaw, Michigan. Our extensive database of jobsites and asbestos product identification built over 30 years of specializing in asbestos lawsuits allows us to effectively and efficiently represent those injured by asbestos in the workplace.

Why does it matter that General Motors Grey Iron Foundry is in our jobsites database?

In order to successfully pursue an asbestos claim, your lawyer needs to be familiar with the jobsites you worked at, including

  • the companies that employed you,
  • the products they purchased and used, and
  • the companies who produced those products,
  • depositions, testimony of other Saginaw Asbestos disease victims
  • documentation from the Plant and the Defendants

After more than 30 years pioneering asbestos litigation, we have a vast knowledge base covering things such as company diagrams, invoices from asbestos product manufacturers, revealing company memos demonstrating their knowledge of the risks, asbestos product packaging through the years, depositions from leading experts, and medical and scientific literature dating from the late 1800s to the current day.

General Motors Grey Iron Foundry is one of tens of thousands of jobsites in our database.

Being familiar with many different industries, manufacturers, and products means we can efficiently and effectively identify all the asbestos containing products that contributed to your injury. It’s a breadth of knowledge gained from years of experience representing people injured by asbestos and their families.

Asbestos Exposure Injuries

Asbestos exposure can cause a variety of non-cancerous and cancerous injuries such as:

  • mesothelioma
  • lung cancer
  • colon and colo-rectal cancers
  • throat cancer
  • laryngeal cancer
  • esophageal
  • asbestosis

Did you work at General Motors Grey Iron Foundry in Saginaw, Michigan? Have you been injured by asbestos? Contact us today for a FREE, no obligation consultation: 1-800-799-2234

Asbestos in Saginaw Michigan

Saginaw sits on the Shore of Saginaw River with a population of around 50,000. The city of Saginaw is the county seat of Saginaw County. The name “Saginaw’ is derived from the Ojibway  Indian term ‘Sace-nong” meaning “to flow out” and probably refers to the outflow of the Saginaw River into the Saginaw Bay.   Saginaw today is known for its diverse economy with leadership in automotive manufacturing, agricultural, medical and energy industries.  The city of Saginaw is adjacent to two bodies of water on the Saginaw River and to the Saginaw Bay. The freshwater coastal wetlands bountiful fishing while the Saginaw River empties into the Saginaw Bay rich agricultural landscapes give way to wooded forests.  Historically Saginaw was a lumber market town the founding settlers using trees and lumber launching prosperity. The 1880s boom was due to the lumber industry. The city was home to the manufacturers of tank engines for many years due to its many foundries which are a source of asbestos exposure. Saginaw was well on its way to becoming a diversified industrial center, having attracted such firms as Baker Perkins, Delco Moraine, General Motors Corporation, Central Foundry, Grey Iron, Malleable and Nodular Foundries, Wickes Boiler Company, Dow Corning Corporation, Saginaw Steering Gear, Delphi, Chevrolet Transmission and Parts Plants.

Saginaw has a history of manufacturing in fields known for using asbestos-containing materials, placing workers at a high risk category for asbestos exposure. Malignant mesothelioma may result when workers and loved ones have been exposed to asbestos .If you have been exposed to asbestos in Saginaw you may benefit by seeking legal counsel from our Michigan based asbestos lawyers. Our lawyers are very familiar with the Saginaw jobsites and the asbestos products workers were exposed to at these sites.

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you should immediately speak with an experienced Michigan based Lawyer to preserve your legal rights as this is a time sensitive matter and knowing the facts will help you make the best medical and legal decisions possible and help  you recover financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering .