4000 ton Plate Stretching Machine, views taken on site, O/No. 57180, c.1959

Order 57180 for James Booth Aluminium Ltd., Birmingham, c.1959

D7338/14/5/9/5225
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5225A
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5225B
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5344
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5345
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5346
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5348
Gloucestershire Archives
D7338/14/5/9/5349
Gloucestershire Archives

Note the construction of the substantial foundations for this machine.  These three photos were added on 02/01/2014.

Click on a photograph to enlarge an image.

Click on the hyperlink to see other Notable Orders from the 1950s.

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

  • That’s it! “Loewy” I was trying to remember this name. It was cast into the parts that went to Germany. I’m 100% sure now that this machine, Loewy 5000T stretcher was known as “The Magnum”.

    Ed: Problem solved! Any idea whether there was a name for the 1200 ton press? John B

    By Dave (27/02/2019)
  • I’m thinking it was the larger machine which was repaired and I say this because of the location of the machine in the factory. I looked at the images of the 1200 tonne machine and can see the 4000 tonne in the background. It was that machine adjacent to the wall of the factory that was repaired. This happened sometime between 1989 and 1991 which ties in with the dates on my apprentice papers so that’s pretty concrete.
    Funny but when I look at the images of the 4500 tonne machine in Taiwan, that machine looks more familiar than the Diane machine.
    Great to find all these photo’s and memories, thanks for sharing them!

    Ed: Hi Dave! I am sure you are correct in that it was the larger machine, however, I am having difficulty with the years you identify. From the F & P records, the Fielding 4000 ton stretcher was refurbished early ’80s as I mentioned earlier, however, from the records, I have uncovered an order in 1985 from British Aluminium, Kitts Green, for a ‘Design Study’ on a 5000 ton Loewy Stretcher (I had forgotten about this one!). There is no subsequent reference to a ‘reconditioning contract’ and so I must assume any subsequent order was not placed with F & P. (F & P did enter voluntary Receivership in early 1986, so this may have had a bearing on things at that time). This may well tie in with the timescale you mentioned of ’89 – ’91 and the fact that parts were despatched for repair to Mannesmann in Germany. Not the Fielding stretchers, it would appear!

    A number of companies in the ’90s were interested in larger stretcher capacity and British Aluminium awarded F & P a further ‘Design Study’ in 1998 for the supply of a 120MN (12,000 ton) Aluminium Plate Stretcher. This was one of two studies that F & P undertook for large stretchers within a two-year period. As far as I am aware no orders were placed for a new stretcher of this size at Kitts Green. John B

    By Dave (26/02/2019)
  • Perhaps the name for the other stretcher at Alcan in the 80’s was the “Magnum”?
    I worked in the machine shop there in late 1980’s as an apprentice.
    It might be that “Magnum” was a larger newer machine than Diane. The reason I say this is that, as others have stated, when a plate broke the machine would try and destroy itself crashing into it’s end of travel buffers. This damaged the castings and they had to be sent by road to Mannesman Demag in Germany. The machine was off line for a while and customers like Boeing were not happy!

    Ed: Many thanks for that, Dave! I think you may be right regarding the name of the Fielding 1200 ton press.
    I know that ‘Diane’ was the larger of the two as the smaller stretcher was only 1200 tons force but it was ordered in 1962 making it the later stretcher.
    F & P won a substantial order in 1981 for refurbishment of the ‘Diane’ stretcher.
    It would be nice to clear up which stretcher had the damage! I suspect that you may be referring to the refurbishment undertaken by F & P in 1981, which I had an involvement at the time. John B

    By Dave (25/02/2019)
  • I have taken the liberty of copying to this page correspondence that Phil posted to the Messages section on 5th Oct. 2015.

    “I worked on maintenance of the above ‘Dianne stretcher’ in the mid seventies whilst working for Alcan Plate Ltd. The film Full Stretch brought back many memories and ironically I live about two miles from the fielding factory in Gloucester now.”

    John B response on 8th Oct.”

    Hi Phil!   Thanks for posting a message. Please refresh my memory, which was the ‘Dianne’ stretcher, the 4000 ton or the 1200 ton? ”

    Phil’s response on 14th Oct.

    Hi John!   ’Dianne’ was the 4000 ton stretcher and as far as I remember the 1200 did have a name but sadly I can’t remember it now, the mist of old age sadly. Great project you have here keep up the good work far too much of our industrial heritage has been lost forever.

    By John Bancroft (16/10/2015)
  • Hi Phil   Many thanks for clearing that up!  Hopefully, someone else reading this page may recall the ‘name’ of the Fielding 1200 ton stretcher.   John B 

    By John Bancroft (16/10/2015)
  • I can confirm that the energy released when a plate snapped was awesome. Great photos by the way! 

    By Phil Crumpton (14/10/2015)
  • Yes!  What seems like a lifetime ago I designed the electrical control for this Stretcher and also contributed to the commissioning. A machine not without its headaches what with a quite complex method of moving the gripper head and catering for the very high forces released when a plate was broken when stretched beyond its limit. To cater for the travel of the gripper head and to feed the electrical equipment on board a proprietary conductor unit had been installed similar to an overhead crane system. Unfortunately the whiplash of the conductors, that occurred at plate breakage, caused disconnection of the electrical supply to the gripper head. However, after some modification we were able to salvage the system by ensuring the rigidity of the conductors was maintained and that the pick-up shoes remained in contact with the conductors regardless of mechanical shock. In retrospect, the build quality of this stretcher was first-rate. To witness plate breakage and the release of such high energy was a quite remarkable and frightening experience.

    By John Tranter (12/12/2013)

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