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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steel mills

Gallaway steam engine
As an apprentice I worked in the billet mill at AIS Pt.Kembla. On down days we were assigned to work in various parts of the mill. In the soaking pits the billets were red hot and in the crane over the the soaking pits had to be worked on while the operation could not stop and the temperature was over 140 degrees and you could not put your spanners down cause if you did they were too hot to pick up again. We worked five minutes on and half an hour off. On one occasion I worked in the Galloway steam engine the largest horizontal steam engine in the southern hemisphere. I could stand in the high pressure cylinder and the stroke was probably 10 feet long. This engine drove the mill to produce railway lines, the rolls were 36 inches diameter and this engine nearly stalled when the rolls were squeezed to close. It was about 5 thousand horse power. They also squeezed down steel ingots to be used in the billet mill, the steel started as from memory 3ft square and went into the mill at about three miles an hour and came out the other end at thirty miles an hour. Some times we had a cobble, that's when the steel goes the wrong way and comes out the side of the mill and goes any where and the process can not be stopped till the steel stock is threw the last rolls. There is a fifty ton billet that is squeezed into a three inch billet and all this steel is wrap around the mill like spaghetti then it cools and hardens and has to be cut up with oxyacetylene. At the end of the mill the steel is cut into billets to feed the wire mill, this is done on the flying shears at thirty miles an hour the blades slam shut every two seconds at the end of each billet, each billet was about forty feet long. From the billet mill the billets are reheated to white hot again and put threw the wire mill rolls and the length of the wire is a mile or more long after this. The blokes who worked there were cool to watch as they grabbed the red hot steel and sent it back the other way threw the second rolls and again threw the third rolls.
Posted by imagineering at 2:51 AM

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