Film ID: YFA 5168 Video of YFA_5168 TOOL STEEL MANUFACTURE AT THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLEN & CO., LTD., SHEFFIELD TOOL STEEL MANUFACTURE AT THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLEN & CO., LTD., SHEFFIELD c.1939 Visitor TabsDescription This is a demonstration film made by Edgar Allen & Co., Ltd. in Sheffield, most probably at their the rail track site on Shepcote Lane. The film shows the various stages in the production of double shear steel as well as other kinds of steel. Extensive intertitles are used throughout the film providing information about the production process. Title – Tool Steel manufacture at the works of Edgar Allen & Co., Ltd., Sheffield. The film begins with a long text introduction on the making of double shear steel. Intertitle – Breaking bars of blister into 18’’ long for preliminary forging. Two workmen break off a length of steel into smaller lengths on an anvil using a hammer, while a man in a suite inspects the product. Intertitle – Hammering at an orange heat to flatten out the blisters and toughen the steel preparatory to welding. Using some tongs, a man manoeuvres a piece of steel while a mechanical hammer hammers it into shape. Intertitle – The hammered pieces are called ‘plated’ bars. Five of these are put into a steel clip with a handle, and packed tightly. This is called piling together. A workman hammers the clip into place. Intertitle – The piled bars are heated in a furnace to a welding heat. A workman pulls a red hot bar out of a furnace. Intertitle – Next the bars are hammered at a white heat and welded together. The result is a “faggot” or “bloom” of single shear steel. Again the workman manoeuvres a piece of steel under the hammer. Intertitle – To make double shear steel, the bloom is nicked and bent upon itself. This time the bar is cut in two as it is being hammered and folded back upon itself. Intertitle – It is then again heated to a white heat, re-welded and hammered down to its original size, and becomes double shear steel, afterwards being rolled into any desired shape. The additional work put into the steel by the second hammering in improves the steel’s structure and produces a higher quality steel. Again the workman manoeuvres a piece of steel under the hammer. Intertitle – Making tool steel by the crucible process invented by Benjamin Huntsman (1745). This process still exists, but is being gradually supplanted by the high frequency electric crucible process. The crucible is charged with the ingredients and heated up in a coke – or gas – fired furnace. The worker then draws the crucible from the furnace by main strength, and removes the slag adhering to it. A worker holds the red hot metal crucible with tongs while another taps off the slag. They take it over to two moulds. Intertitle – Another worker then pours or “teems” the liquid steel into an ingot mould. When the ingot is cold it is then forged or rolled into the required shape. A worker then pours the liquid steel into an ingot mould. Intertitle – Making tool steel in a wooden box by the new high frequency electric crucible process. Edgar Allen & Co., Ltd., were the first in the world to produce fine steels by this process in 1927. Sectional view of the crucible in which the steel is melted. The electric current passes in the direction indicated by the pointer. Someone indicates the flow through the machine by pointing with a stick. Intertitle – Sheets of mica are inserted for insulation purposes. The sheets are shown being inserted. Intertitle – Sand is poured in to act as packing and heat-insulation. Sand is carefully poured into the mould. The controls on the electric machine are switched on and molten steel is poured into the mould. Intertitle – A few of the finishing processes in the manufacture of tool steels. All ingots of tool steel have to be heated up and forged or “tilted” down to shape. Here you see a number of “tilting” hammers at work, reducing the ingots to smaller sizes. Several hammers are shown being used, pounding the steel into thinner pieces. Intertitle – Large ingots have to be specially treated. Here is a large ingot being withdrawn from the furnace in which it has been heated up. A large white hot ingot is taken out of a furnace using overhead chains. Intertitle – Next it is forged down to smaller size using a 500-ton hydraulic press. This is shown being done. Intertitle – And cuts as easily as butter. A piece of metal is placed along the length of the bar and the press pushes it through the bar to cut it into a smaller piece. Intertitle – Now it’s smaller. A thinner piece is being manoeuvred under the press. Intertitle – Steel is used for other purposes than tools. Many steel castings for machinery parts etc., are made in the Edgar Allen Steel Foundry. From a few ounces up to 17 tons in weight is the range and over 300 tons of finished castings a week can be produced. Intertitle – Steel Foundry Department Pattern Shop, for the production of wooden patterns from which the moulds are made in sand. In a large workshop the wooden box moulding are being made on benches. Intertitle – Moulding by hand machine. In another large workshop mouldings are being made. Intertitle – Tropeners steel converter, in which the steel for making castings is made from pig iron and alloys, and purified. Two men shovel material into a large furnace. Intertitle – Steel is also made for steel castings and ingots in the electric arc furnace, the heat being generated by immense carbon arcs through which the electric current passes. Here is seen the emptying or teeming of a Heroult electric arc furnace. [There follows another lengthy explanatory text] Molten steel is being poured from a large container into a smaller one. Then an overhead container is manoeuvred over ingots and the molten steel is poured out. Intertitle – Annealing and fettling steel castings. Workmen are hammering at castings to produce a final finish. Intertitle – Machining steel castings in a large steel shop. Many different castings can be seen on the floor of the shop. Intertitle – Making crushing and cement machinery, in which steel castings are used. Again the workshop is shown with much hammering, and moving castings around on overhead pulleys. Intertitle – Tramway and railway special trackwork is also made from an alloy steel called manganese steel, which has great wear resistance. Here are some of the finishing processes, such as grinding the surface of the rails. Rails are being polished and ground. Title – The End Context With war looming large on the horizon, the seemingly primitive production methods evidenced in this film makes one wonder just how well prepared the British steel industry was to compete with the Germans in 1939. On the other hand, the labour intensive nature of this back breaking work at the Edgar Allen works in Sheffield, under conditions of intense heat, testifies to the endurance and skill of its steelworkers. Edgar Allen may have been inspired to make this film by Park Gate Steelworks, just up the road in Rotherham, who made a very similar film with detailed intertitles a year or so earlier. The company divided into several separate companies in the 1960s. Like many of the steel and engineering works that dotted the area around Brightside, Atterclife and Tinsley, the two main Edgar Allen plants have now disappeared. But this film was most likely shot in the rail track site on Shepcote Lane which is still operating, although now run by Progress Rail Services UK in 2011 – via Mowlem, Carillion and Balfour Beatty.