Spare Extrusion Press Main Cylinder, for a 5000 ton Loewy Press, O/No. 30-65850, c.1994

Order 30-65850 for Inco Alloys Ltd., Hereford, c.1994

Kindly supplied by Tim Lodge
Taken fom 'The Paul Regester Collection'
Kindly supplied by John Davis
Kindly supplied by John Davis
Kindly supplied by John Davis
5000 ton Loewy Steel Extrusion Press, taken after first main cylinder change in 1980 (see comments below).
Kindly supplied by David Young

This main cylinder remained in storage for many months in Gloucester before commencing its journey to Hereford by low loader.

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Click on the hyperlink to see other Notable Orders from the 1990s

If you remember designing, machining, fitting, installing, maintaining, or working with this machine please share your memories at the bottom of the page by clicking on the words Add a comment about this page.

Comments about this page

  • I remember producing the drawings for the replacement casting working alongside John Davis.
    Together we visited the site in Hereford to survey the cracked casting and double-check the extra pads added for pipe clamps etc.

    By satwinder kang (27/11/2019)
  • Hi John, many thanks for your reply. Robert Elkan was indeed the Loewy MD I was referring too. A brilliant engineer with an unassuming nature always willing to offer advice. Something rather special about heavy engineering people. My experience of the Fielding and Platt engineers including the machining department and the team that modified the controls on the extrusion press was always a pleasure.

    Ed: Mike, many thanks for your kind words, greatly appreciated! John B

    By Mike Charlesworth (22/11/2019)
  • Hi David, I can add some more information about the Loewy 5000ton extrusion Press, “Wigham”. The press was designed and built by Loewy. Many of the design engineers I was able to meet in their Bournemouth office. I was able to pick the “MDs” brains over a meal to help with the rebuild. The meal was in a dining club with Lord Stokes, then Chairman of British Leyland and not my favourite industrialist, on an adjoining table. I only wish I could remember Loewy’s chief engineers name. Probably one of the best mechanical engineers it has been my pleasure to meet.
    The initial main reason for the rebuild was that the 40ton main cylinder ram had worn to an extent that it was becoming impossible to maintain a seal. Despite the efforts of Chesterton seals and replacement bushes the press leaked.
    When I joined the Department a replacement ram had been on order from British Steel in Sheffield for some time. However no significant inspections had been carried out on the rest of the press since commissioning. I instigated a thorough inspection including the two main cylinders. To our amazement we discovered a deep pocket adjacent to the main water inlet effectively halving the wall thickness of the cylinder!!!
    Needless to say the decision was made to change the cylinder for the spare that had been on site since the press was new.
    A point of clarification. The press has two cylinders the main cylinder being 3500ton and the piercer cylinder 1500 tons. The latter being necessary when extruding tube.
    As you point out the press was completely manual with railway signal box levers used by the press driver. We replaced the controls with pneumatic servo valves operated by an Allan Bradley PLC controller. All the programming was carried out by electrician Roy Blunt and his foreman Alec Winter.
    The rebuild was carried out entirely by the Wiggin engineering department assisted by Fielding and Platt who carried out off site machining work. F &amp P also gave invaluable technical assistance including the final alignment of the press. The rebuild was completed in 4 weeks, half the time it took the sister rebuild project at Inco Huntington Virginia!
    It was a supreme effort by everyone involved leaving me with huge respect for the team in Hereford.
    Some key players:-
    Jack Gummer Mechanical Foreman
    Gordon Chambers Pipefitting Foreman
    Fred Riley Welding Foreman
    Alec Winter Electrical Foreman
    Following a similar rebuild of the Bliss 1500ton Forge press my career moved on to project manage the building of Plessey’s semiconductor plant in Plymouth, Cosworth’s casting facilty in Worcester and several facilities for Princess Yachts in Plymouth.
    Wiggin is home to the first computerized extrusion press, designed and built by F&P. I enjoyed its recommission to extrude depleted uranium, but that’s another story!
    I look by with fond memories of working with Fielding and Platt, a great company on many projects.

    Ed: Mike, many thanks for your recollections of the refurbishment/rebuild of the press. I also have fond memories of working with you and your Wiggin/Inco people when we upgraded the hydraulic lever valves to servo and introduced a closed-loop speed control system in 1983. Further work was done to the hydraulic system in 1987. The rebuild of a new main cylinder and ram, to which you refer, was carried out in 1980. I wonder whether the name of Loewy’s Chief Engineer, to whom you referred earlier, was Robert Elkan? John B

    By Mike Charlesworth (19/11/2019)
  • Hi David!  Good to have the additional information.  Well worth everyone looking at the link, although it begs the question where was it taken and why would anyone want to advertise such a main ram  and piercer ram leakage of soluble water?

    You also mentioned separately that Henry Wiggin, which became Wiggin Alloys, then Inco Alloys, ‘is now called Special Metals Wiggin (SMW) and is part of the PCC group.  And PCC is presently in the process of being taken over by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway‘.  All useful information.  John B

    By John Bancroft (21/12/2015)
  • Hi John!  My goodness, Mike Charlesworth!  Now there’s a blast from the past!  He used to be my manager for a while, but as I recollect he left to join Cosworth.  Not sure what happened to him after that.

    I also remember those upgrades, but I don’t have much in the way of personal experience, as by that time I had moved departments.  I do know, however, that the speed-control lasted until 1989 when the press underwent a massive overhaul (mechanical as well as electrical and control), but so far as I’m aware the water level-control system remains to this day – I retired at the end of February last year.

    I’m not sure how much knowledge you have of the 3500 ton press, but for the time it was extremely advanced – fully automatic with speed control governed by and electro-mechanical computer (the ICT panel) that was like Dr Who’s Tardis, but stuffed with uniselectors and post office relays.  (It also had a teleprinter print out that had a tendency to burst into flame, so we’ll not talk about that).

    In contrast, the 5000 ton press was, up until the early 80’s, purely manual and not too dissimilar to this [] though we would never have been allowed to have it leaking so much.  The company’s first venture into PLC control and your modifications certainly gave it a degree of automation, but the modifications of 1989 transformed it into a fully automatic machine, though not all of the modifications were a complete success.

    Before I left there were rumblings of another major upgrade (it’s certainly in need of it), but cost and downtime would undoubtedly be major stumbling blocks.

    By David Young (19/12/2015)
  • Hi David!  Many thanks for adding some information to this page.  Earlier, in the 1980’s, Fielding & Platt also supplied new hydraulic valve assemblies and a closed-loop speed-control system for the 5000 ton press, together with a new level control system for the air/water hydraulic accumulator station that provided power to the press. Mike Charlesworth was Engineering Manager at the time.   John B   

    By John Bancroft (18/12/2015)
  • And it’s still collecting dust in the old Rod Mill !!

    Back in the 70’s the original main cylinder was thought to have become porous so a replacement was ordered (not sure from whom) with the change-over taking place in 1980 -  I still have my company acknowledgement of my taking part in the exercise.  This replacement cylinder subsequently failed, the original was refitted and has remained in-situ to this day.  Still, they at least have a ready-made spare should the unthinkable happen again!

    Note: The above cylinder is for the Loewy 5000 ton press and not the 3500 ton press mentioned elsewhere on this site.

    By David Young (17/12/2015)

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