Johnny Charles Wachel

Johnny Charles Wachel

B.S.M.E. 1957, M.S.M.E 1959
Retired President, Engineering Dynamics, Inc.

Johnny C. “Buddy” Wachel’s combination of technical prowess and entrepreneurial acumen led him to become one of the most recognized and successful figures in mechanical vibration problems.

Wachel grew up in East Texas and attended Kilgore College, graduating in 1954 with an associate’s degree. After transferring to The University of Texas at Austin, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, accepted a teaching assistantship and completed his master’s degree in the same field.

Upon graduating, he worked for two years at Texas Instruments before joining Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in 1961. At SwRI, he performed research on vibrations of piping systems and two kinds of large compressor units, developing many procedures and calculation methods that are still used in the industry today.

By 1967, Wachel was a full-time consultant solving vibration and failure problems in existing compressor, pump and piping systems. Many of these compressor failures were caused by non-synchronous vibrations due to higher compressor speeds and pressures, and Wachel quickly became a recognized expert in this area. Between 1972 and 1978, he investigated numerous instability problems, which led him to develop the Wachel Equation for accurately estimating the destabilizing forces in compressors, ultimately improving the correlation between design calculations and measurements.

As a section manager at SwRI, Wachel developed and managed a group of specialists to perform vibration studies. He and his group emerged as universally respected engineering vibration consultants and preferred resources for companies in the United States and abroad. Combining this expertise with his entrepreneurial spirit, Wachel co-founded Engineering Dynamics, Inc., (EDI) in San Antonio in 1982, where he was president and manager of engineering until his retirement in 1997.

With Wachel’s experienced guidance, EDI quickly became known for its superior-quality work in solving difficult vibration and pulsation problems and performing meticulous design audits. EDI made an important breakthrough by developing digital computer techniques to simulate acoustical pulsation characteristics of gases and liquids in piping systems of compressors and pumps – a valuable and unique technological advance for the petrochemical, nuclear and other industries. EDI become recognized throughout the world as a source to perform pulsation design studies of compressor and pump installations and to develop solutions for pulsation-induced vibration and failure problems.

Believing knowledge should be shared, Wachel and his staff published many of the case histories about the field vibration and failure problems they had solved. In addition to the publication of more than 50 technical papers, Wachel also shared his experience by teaching engineering seminars on vibrations and pulsations around the world.

During his career, Wachel received several honors and awards, most notably the ASME Fellow award in 1989 and the Life Fellow award in 2003. The ASME Petroleum Division awarded Wachel the Eugene Jacobson Award for the best all-around paper in the field of mechanical engineering in 1985. Wachel also served on the ASME O&M 3 Nuclear Code -- Subgroup on Piping Vibrations committee for more than 20 years. Always loyal to The University of Texas and the College of Engineering, Wachel is a member of Friends of Alec, Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, the Longhorn Foundation and a lifetime member of the Texas Exes.

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