Powell Brothers “Take the High Road’ as Caterpillar Purchases their Inventions
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 1, 2023
The new methods of asphalt application developed by Stuart and Michael Frost are “the most significant innovations for the asphalt screed in almost a century” and will be exclusively available through Caterpillar.
Stuart and Michael Frost are the owners of Mountain Construction Company in Powell. In addition to numerous other projects, they were responsible for laying the asphalt on six miles of the South Fork road as part of the Southfork Federal Lands Access Project.
The brothers also founded Axenox Construction Solutions, which develops new tools for more effective construction. And now, they’re struck a big deal with one of the world’s leading construction equipment manufacturers.
Caterpillar has purchased the intellectual rights to two of the Stuart brothers’ inventions. Soon, the entire world could benefit from the asphalt screeds developed and already at work in Park County.
“Oxclaw” and “Bullox” are revolutionary in the world of asphalt paving, and many contractors already see a limitless future for the new methods.
Asphalt screeds are the massive machines seen laying down hot asphalt on under-construction roads and parking lots.
Unlike traditional screeds, Oxclaw has a textured surface instead of a flat one. According to Equipment World, “The breakthrough occurred when (Stuart and Micael Frost) came up with a sine wave concept instead of a flat screed plate. The waves would allow asphalt to travel down through a gradually widening channel to add lateral movement to the asphalt placement instead of just vertical downward pressure.”
The plates are also made out of a 26% chromium carbide cast, which is more wear-resistant than steel.
The results speak for themselves -the system cut plate-change times by 80% – from one to two days to less than four hours. And the Oxclaw screed plates were achieving densities as high as 85% to 89% before the compactors came out.
When workers walked across the fresh mat directly behind the screed, they left no footprints behind.
Other benefits observed in the field include:
- Reduced thermal and linear segregation issues.
- More uniform surface textures.
- Less reflective rutting and bumps from underlying defects leading to fewer “must grinds.”
- More uniform screed plate heat across the surface.
- Longer screed plate life.
- Higher densities behind breakdown rollers, with no check cracking.
It’s all very technical for most people who used the roads where Oxclaw screed plates were used. But for contractors, it’s not game-changing – it’s a new game altogether.
Caterpillar personnel observed the Oxclaw and Bullox screed plates in action and committed to purchasing the intellectual rights in November 2022.
Caterpillar is currently putting Oxclaw and Bullox through its product development process. Once finished, the plates will be developed exclusively for Caterpillar pavers and screeds and sold at Caterpillar dealers. The company calls the plates “an exceptionally well-developed proof of concept.”
With the marketing might of Caterpillar, Oxclaw and Bullox could quickly be in use worldwide. And it all started on the ambling roads of Northwest Wyoming.
For Stuart and Michael, it’s an exciting development with tremendous opportunities. And they’re still at work at Axenox working on other construction innovations.