The tapped steel was poured into ingot moulds and transported to the stripper yard


The moulds holding the ingots were stripped off. Asolid ingot remained, although still glowing hot..


A piece of iron ore went through the process of heating and cooling four times before it reached its finished product.



The Art of Steel Making - continued
By Sydney S. Slaven

The ingots of steel were placed in the Blooming Mill pits, which were sealed containers, where they were heated to rolling temperature. A crane drew the ingot from the pits and placed it on a run in table to the huge Blooming Mill rolls. Here the ingot was reduced to bloom size by a number of passes through a series of reducing and shaping rolls. A long bloom strand was produced and it proceeded to the shears where it was cut into workable lengths.

There were two paths these blooms could now follow, depending on the desired product. If they were for the manufacture of rails, they were transferred to a table which carried them to the Rail Mill where they were stored in a furnace to be brought up to desired temperature. If not intended for the Rail Mill the blooms entered the Billet Mill where they were further reduced by a series of rolls and cut to length before being shipped to either the Big Billet Yard or the Small Billet Yard where they were stored for further use.

Upon leaving the Rail Mill furnace the bloom went into a series of rolls and passes that shaped into the size rail desired. At the hot saw this rail was cut to length and sent up a table to a hot bed for cooling before being sent to the Rail Finishing Mill.

In 1931 a Steel Plant metallurgist named Mackie had developed a controlled cooling process that eliminated hydrogen bubbles from the rail. This allowed Dosco to produce the finest rail in the world. All rails went through this process. After this the rails were straightened and the ends milled and drilled. They were now released to the domestic market by rail and to the world by shipment from the Dosco International Piers.

Steel billets from the Small and Big Billet Yards went into a large diversity of products. These included the Bar Mill and the Rod Mill. At the Bar Mill the billets were heated once again and in a re-heat furnace. Upon exiting the furnace they went into a series of passes in rolls were they were sized and shaped. This was accomplished by employees know as catchers. When a strand of steel exited a roll it was manually caught by a “catcher” with a pair of thongs and he then redirected the strand into the next roll. It took a lot of skill and stamina. They usually worked only 15 minutes and then had a 15 minute break to recover from the heat and strain.

The Rod Mill also had its own re-heat furnace. Her billets were reduced to wire size through a series of rolls. The wire was bundled and placed on a conveyor from whence it traveled to the Wire Mill or the Nail Mill. The Wire Mill manufactured all gauges of wire including barbed wire and galvanized wire. The Nail Mill manufactured all sizes of nails, both galvanized and plain.

An interesting note is that a piece of iron ore went through the process of heating and cooling four times before it reached its finished product. A rail for example was heated from ore to iron first at the Blast Furnace. Next it was re-heated in the O.H. furnace. Once more it cooled until re-heated in the Blooming Mill pits. Once more it was cooled before going to the Rail Mill furnace for it’s final re=heat.

There were many employees involved indirectly in producing steel and they were all just as important as say the melter on a furnace. These included the dock workers, the railway employees, the pattern shops, the foundry and machine shop workers, all the service departments and last but not least, the dedicated medical personal.

And so we see, a piece of coal or a piece of iron ore was much more than a single entity. When placed in the hands of a skilled workforce such as that of the Sydney steel plant, the finest steel products in the world were produced.



Website designed by Carole Lee Boutilier
Pictures compliments of Ray Martheleur
Last updated February 1, 2006