"Driven to Perform: Odenthal Manufacturing" written by Sean Burr
Odenthal Manufacturing came about through David’s love of racing go karts and his dad’s automotive machining back- ground. “Growing up my brother and I raced karts,” explains David. “Dad had an automotive machining business in the local area and spent every penny he made putting my brother and I through racing. He wasn’t married so it was what we did together. We traveled all over the country on what was considered to be a small racing budget.”
After graduating high school in 1986 David attended Northern Idaho College’s two year vocational machine tech program. After graduating in 1988 he got a job with MSM Design making various types of film equipment including IMAX cameras. That is where he got his first shot at designing. “Marty Mueller was my mentor and gave me a shot at designing a brand new film magazine” said David. He had a skill and love for both racing and making things, so in 1992 Keith Odenthal sold his automotive machine shop, teamed up with David, and Odenthal Manufacturing was born. Their first product was the Odenthal Racing Products engine mount for go karts.
Other products were added to the Odenthal Racing Products catalog like a universal mount for karting exhaust systems and a spring puller. Like the motor mounts that preceded them, all Odenthal’s products are CAD designed using Solidworks and CNC machined to standards more fitting of Formula One than a go kart. “I really wanted to deliver new and innovative products to the sport,” describes David. “Our Exac- Toe 2 alignment system was more advanced than what they were using on race cars at the time. You use it to check dynamic camber and toe on the front end of the kart.”
For those not familiar with 100mph racing karts there is no suspension. The chassis flex controls handling. Before the Exac-Toe 2 system racers used a primitive plate system with a ruler to check the alignment. Being able to have the driver in the kart on the ground puts sag in the chassis and you can adjust off how the kart sits under racing conditions. “The Exac-Toe 2 and the mounts were big sellers for us, but we always knew that kart
“Again things took off for us and we purchased our second Kitamura in 2007, an HX300, which was our first Horizontal, and a year later a second Kitamura HX300. Like everyone else we hit a downturn after September 11th, and again in 2008, but since 2008 we have been back on the rise adding people and machines.”
Odenthal Manufacturing is staffed currently with 6 full time people running two shifts on five machines. The shop is packed in tight with a Fanuc Robodrill T14A, Boston Digital BD 22, OKK PCV-40, and a pair of Kitamura Mycenter HX300s with full 4th axis. “Ever since the first Kitamura I have loved those machines,” tells David. “They are a box way machine with high rigidity and a 20,000 RPM spindle. Speed and rigidity are key factors in removing metal quickly and accurately and the Kitamuras deliver.”
No offense to Haas, they are a great company and I like them even more now that they have a F1 team to cheer for, but our Kitamuras offer an advantage over a standard vertical. Take a billet aluminum box with machining on six sides as an example. On a vertical machine you would have six setups, we only have two.” David purchased his last two Kitamuras from Jerrett Clark and Gail Hogue of Hogue Machine and sealed the deal with a tour of the factory and dinner with Aki Kitamura himself. For twenty plus years the Kitamura brand has been the workhorse of his manufacturing operations and will con- tinue to be well into the future.
Odenthal Manufacturing works primarily in aluminum on parts requiring a lot of metal removal and a clean finish. Customers range from rugged computer housings, to AR-15 parts, but recent years have seen a spike in archery components. “We work with a few different archery companies like Ben Pearson and Obsession Bows,” touts David. “Obsession is out of Georgia and our largest archery customer.” Odenthal manufactures various bow parts including cam systems, limb pockets and suppressor rods for Obsession. They also machine sights, and a Quiver system for another top named archery company.
All of the archery products require outside processing so a quality finish is imperative. David believes a good finish starts with a good machine and ends with quality tooling.
He praises their strong corners and how their unique geometry helps to curve the chip out of the gullet. “The Viper cost more than a cheap endmill, but the lifespan is better and the finish is really nice compared to the cheaper tools. Their variable Helix design helps reduce chatter so we can keep the speeds up higher.”
“The 2006 Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal was the highlight of my karting career,” concludes David. “Having the chance to represent my country on the world stage against the best on the planet was amazing. I feel the same about our work here in the shop. We are proud to be part of a manufacturing brotherhood that is still getting it done for American companies.” Odenthal Manufacturing is not the biggest shop in Coeur d’Alene, but like in racing they fight well above their weight class. They get the job done with finesse and purpose that has left many scrapping it out for 2nd place.
June-July 2016 issue
Driven to Perform: Odenthal Manufacturing
Written by Sean Burr