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Wheeling Steel, 1886

- from The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, September 14, 1886.

The Wheeling Steel Co.

Wheeling's Latest Big Concern — A Model Steel Plant

Nothing better illustrated the vitality and prosperity of Wheeling's industrial interests than the late and rapid growth of the steel manufacture here. The most recent notable addition to the manufacturing concerns of the community is the Bessemer steel plant of the Wheeling Steel Company, located at Benwood, four miles down the river. This plant is owned jointly by the Benwood, Belmont and Wheeling Nail Companies, and was built expressly to furnish steel of a reliable quality to the three nail mills of these companies. When in 1883 a monster union steel plant to furnish nail plat for all the factories here was contemplated nearly all the corporations secured amendments to their charters permitting them to invest in incidental industries. Under this arrangement the Wheeling Steel Company carries out in a modified form the original union steel plant project.The plant recently completed at Benwood was first projected and begun by the Benwood Company for its own use, but before much progress had been made in its construction the Belmont and Top mills enlisted in the project also; the original plans were modified, the capacity enlarged, and a little over a month ago the first steel was made in the concern.


The Wheeling Steel works are at once a model of completeness and a marvel of mechanism. They are admitted to be one of the best equipped steel plants, and the finest Bessemer plant without exception in the country.The plant is very advantageously situated, with respect to transportation facilities, being located near the south end of Benwood, a couple of hundred yards north of the railroad bridge, and between the lines of the Baltimore & Ohio and Ohio River railroads. The site includes several acres of ground, and the buildings are located in an admirable way with regard to convenience and the obtaining of the best possible results in operating the works. Each structure is built of iron in the best possible manner, and is equipped with the best machinery obtainable for the production of soft steel of a high quality. Its capacity is 175 tons per turn, 350 tons per day. It gives employment to about 300 hands. Power is supplied from four batteries of four boilers each, so arranged that any two boilers may be uncoupled without interfering with the others. Each boiler is 44 inches in diameter by 26 feet long, fitted with two 16 inch return flues. They are set facing the west, in a commodious boiler house near the Baltimore & Ohio main line. A finer battery of boilers is to be found nowhere. They excite the admiration of all machinery experts. The engines are even more admirable pieces of mechanism. There is a complete duplex blowing engine of the most improved Corliss-Reynolds pattern, made at Milwaukee by E. P. Ellis & Co. The steam cylinders are 36 inches in diameter by 60 inches stroke and the air cylinders 48 inches in diameter by 60 inch stroke.The reversing engine connected with the blooming train is of double duplex build, cylinders 40 inches in diameter by 58 inch stroke. The running gear and link motion enable the engine to be reversed at full speed without shutting off the steam.The pumping engine of the water works is of the same duplex pattern, pumping water through a 10-inch main into an elevated tank holding 50,000 gallons.


The rapid handling of such immense weights as are required to be moved quickly about a steel plant requires immense and powerful cranes operated by hydraulic power. The hydraulic machinery consists of two pairs of pumping engines, built after the duplex Worthington type, by Wilson & Snyder, of Pittsburgh. The steam cylinders are 25 inches in diameter by 30 inch stroke, and have 9 inch plungers. These engines work the hydraulic cranes at pressures ranging from 450 to 500 pounds per square inch by means of an accumulator, weighted with 385,000 pounds of scrap and pig iron. The cranes thus worked are two 15 ton ladle cranes, four 10-ton ingot cranes and two 5-ton auxiliary cranes.The Baker blowers, which are of the largest size, are driven by an 18x24 Porter-Hamilton engine, making 180 revolutions to the minute. The Blake crushers and grinders are of the latest and most improved make. The shears were made by the Morgan Engineering Company, of Alliance, Ohio, and are the largest of the type made. They weigh 195,000 pounds, and are guaranteed to cut an ingot of cherry red steel 10 inches square.The cupolas are three in number, with eight-foot shells. The bottom house is immediately in the rear of the converters, being thus very conveniently situated. A Yale-Towne traveling crane runs the entire length of the building.There are two six-ton converters, and the tuyeres have ten holes each. The converters are moved by hydraulic cylinders on rack and pinion movement, the scrapping being done from the level of the cupola floors.Conveniently situated to the ingot moulds is a Morgan-Williams pusher of large size, run by hydraulic power and capable of exerting a pressure of 1,100 pounds per square inch.


The works are abundantly supplied with railroad tracks for convenience in receiving raw material and shipping steel, three locomotives owned by the company handling the rolling stock. One of these locomotives is a six-wheeled Baldwin, and the other two H. K. Porter & Co. light weight narrow gauge engines.A complete system of tracks runs through the works. Beneath the surface of the ground the marvelous system of pipes for the transmission of hydraulic power and other purposes and sewers occupy a large space and form a system adequate to pipe a small city. In short the works are a city in themselves — populous, busy, productive — a desirable acquisition to any commonwealth, an important item in the prosperity and manufacturing supremacy of Wheeling and the Ohio Valley. Just south of the boiler house and east of the converters is a "dropper" for breaking up scrap, etc., dropping a weight of 3,500 pounds a distance of fifty-four feet. Sometimes the steel in the casting boxes where the ingots are run expands so in cooling that the powerful "pushers" cannot force it out. The plan is then resorted to of placing the casting boxes under this dropper, which breaks them, liberating the ingots. The broken boxes are re-melted as scrap.The LaBelle mill was originally in the company, but did not remain. The capacity of the plant having been fixed sufficiently large to supply the four mills, there will be a considerable surplus for sale, which in the present condition of the steel market is a state of affairs very gratifying to the company.The President of the company is A. J. Clarke, Esq., the well known lawyer, who is also a Director of the Belmont mill and one of its three representatives in the Board of Directors of the Steel Company. The Secretary is A. W. Wilson. W. I. Mann is the Superintendent and B. W. Peterson the Assistant Superintendent. In all respects this concern is one of the most valuable of those which have given Wheeling so prominent a position in the industrial world.

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