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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 5 (September 1, 1927)

Tools Of Steel

page 34

Tools Of Steel.

“The gate to more-produce more and get more.”—The Rt. Hon. J. R. Clynes.

Most trades have their optimists and pessimists;the engineers and steel makers are no exception to the rule.

When high speed steel was first put on the market, several engineers declared that they could not afford to use it-“to—day, there is no production engineer who can afford to refuse it.” The first great stride in the development of tool steel was made in 1857, when Robert Mushet introduced his self-hardening tungsten steel capable of cutting at higher speeds than was possible with carbon steel.

Electric spot-welding machine in operation, Hillside Workshops.

Electric spot-welding machine in operation, Hillside Workshops.

For over thirty years this class of steel was developed and used all over the world, and after exhaustive experiments it was discovered that by raising the temperature from a bright red to a yellow heat, the tools made therefrom gave an increased cutting efficiency.

Credit for this revolutionary step in the further development of modern high speed steel must be given to Messrs. White and Taylor who exhibited and demonstrated high speed cutting tools at the Paris Exhibition in 1900. Since those days the steel tool industry has never looked back. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of experiments and actual tests have been, and are being made, each experiment and test crystallising the results of previous experience, the whole being the outcome of most careful thought, analysis, and the labours of scientific research departments working with the best metallurgists—all with the object of increasing our knowledge of steel tools.

For many hundreds of years it had been the standard practice to harden steel by bringing it to a bright red heat and then plunging it into water or oil, and to temper at various heats determined by colour.

The structural changes that took place were almost entirely unknown and success or failure depended to a very great extent on the skill and experience of the blacksmith. These were indeed the good old days when the village blacksmith was at his zenith. Then it was that his work and personality appealed so much to the imagination of early writers.

In the modern workshop the tool smith has superseded the blacksmith;and where tools are ground from the bar, and no smithing is required, they are handled by a specialist and scientifically heat treated in furnaces that are under perfect control. The tradesman is no longer left to grope his way in the dark; the rule of thumb has advisedly given way to the above practice which has made the tradesman a positive master of his craft. The manufacture and after treatment of high speed steel is both a science and an art. It is in the realms of the practical that the still obscure problems of chemistry and metallurgy will be solved, and time, patience and perseverance will ultimately give us a real super high speed steel that will meet the requirements of the modern Production Engineer.

The claim is no idle one that inside a quarter of a century high speed steel has revolutionised the engineering world; the striking results obtained, and the alacrity that users have shown in adopting this steel is the greatest possible tribute to the early pioneers.

Every practical and technical engineer has been compelled to recast his ideas or go to the wall.

page 35

Modern machine tool makers in their wisdom have incorporated a rigidity and strength of design into machinery to-day which gives it much superiority over the machinery of their predecessors.

The belt manufacturers also have had to look to their laurels and search the four corners of the earth for hides that, after special treatment, will transmit the power demanded of the modern high pressure machine. In spite of their efforts their one time monopoly is seriously menaced by the ever increasing demand for the direct drive and the silent steel chain.

The high speed tool is the mighty atom that dictated the equipment, and speeded up the work, of the modern machine shop.

N. Z. Scenery.

At the Citizens Luncheon Club, Palmerston North, recently Mr. G. L. Bennett gave a very interesting address on the Railways, scenic resorts, etc., of Switzerland. At the conclusion of the address Mr. J. W. Fergie of the New Zealand Railays, in extending a very hearty vote of thanks to the speaker on behalf of the Club, brought under notice the wonderful scenery of our own country, fine examples of which, he said, were the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.

A view of Tinsmith's Shop, Hillside-soon to give place to a more up-to-date shop under the workshops reorganisation.

A view of Tinsmith's Shop, Hillside-soon to give place to a more up-to-date shop under the workshops reorganisation.

New Engines Out Of Old.

It is intended as the old boilers run down, to renew all the “Q” class locomotives (13 in number) with “Ab” class boilers. Opportunity is also being taken to renew the central portion of the frame whilst the locomotives are being reboilered.

The older types of locomotives are now fast disappearing being replaced by more powerful types to meet modern requirements.

The classes of locomotives listed below have so far either been written off, or will be stopped and written off, in the near future:-

Class “Bc,” “C,” “D,” “K,” “O,” “S,”“V,” and “Wj” 466.

Probably the latter locomotive (the only one of its class-and used for many years assisting on the Ngaio bank) is better known as “Jumbo,” owing to the height of the side tanks and its general stumpy appearance.

These locomotives are not only being withdrawn from service: after being stripped of all useful gear they are being handed over to the Maintenance Department for dumping in suitable spots.

The photographs held in the Head Office at Wellington will soon form the only link with these old “coffee-pots” of the past.