Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Copperweld Steel, From Mite to Giant - Workday Wednesday

The Youngstown Vindicator published the following article on Sunday, February 14, 1943, page B-44.  This particular issue of The Vindicator was filled with articles about businesses in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and their production for the war effort.  Copperweld was mentioned in several other articles.
From Mite to Giant
Copperweld Steel's Expansion Puts It High Among Alloy Firms

(Special To the Vindicator)
50-ton furnace at Copperweld Steel
    Warren, Feb. 13.---Copperweld Steel Company's plant, still expanding, is a giant war producer.  It began as a comparative baby in October, 1939, and this summer will be producing a substantial proportion of the electric furnace steel made in America.
    Its products go into airplanes, ships and tanks with the United States Navy its principal receiver.
    A telegram from the Navy Department, read at a rally in the new cold draw building a few weeks ago, declared:  "The navy has given Copperweld a big job to do.  When your present expansion is completed you will be producing a substantial part of the electric furnace steel made in America.  The navy gives such assignments only to proven leaders.  The founder of your company, S. E. Bramer, is such a leader[.]"
    The telegram was signed by Clark H. Woodward, real [sic] admiral, chief of the incentive division of the U.S. Navy.
    Since Oct. 1, 1940, Copperweld's Warren plant has been in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Specializes in Specialties
    Copperweld's Warren plant makes virtually any kind of specialty steel.  Originally it was established for the dual purpose of supplying its Glassport, Pa., plant with the materials for the widely known Copperweld wire, rods and related products and other customers with high-grade alloy steels.
    The Glassport plant took billets of special steel, coated them with copper and molten-welded the two into a perfect bond.  The billets were than rolled into bars and rods.  From rods of about a half-inch thick, wire of all sizes down to as fine as a human hair was drawn.  In all sizes the same percentage of copper sheathing was maintained.  The advantages of the tensile strength of the steel with the electrical conductivity and corrosion-resistant properties of the copper made the product in high demand for the electric power and light industry.
Long Experience
    War brought new and tremendous demand for high-grade specialty steels.  President Bramer and his associates had 25 years experience in steel making and knew production design and methods to greatly expand efficient manufacture of specialty steels.  High ranking U. S. Navy officials frankly say they are glad this nation had Copperweld Steel's personnel.
    Electric furnace steel manufacture is a highly specialized process.
    The furnaces takes [sic] a charge of scrap iron with various combinations of iron, chromium, nickel, tungsten, spiegeleisen (bright iron), vanadium, silicon and other elements, reduces the mix to a molten mass at terrific temperature and in three or four hours disgorge alloy steel in ladles and thence to molds.
Finishing capacity Rises
    In Copperweld's plant there are 35-ton furnaces, 50-ton furnaces and a few as small as six-ton capacity to produce limited quantities of specialty steel.  Furnaces must be small enough to permit good control of the mixes and speedy enough to be efficient producers.
    The complete process of Copperweld's planned plant was casting ingots from the various proportional mixes, re-heating and then rolling the billets into bars or rods of the various sizes demanded by customers.
    Now, however, Copperweld not only makes thousands of tons more steel than originally planned, but has vastly increased finishing capacity.  There are 12, 18, 24, and 29-inch mills, a new 21-inch nearly completed and enlargements of all others.  There are greatly expanded finishing and fabricating units including large heat treating and cold drawing capacities.
    Men---and women also, nowadays---at Copperweld realize the importance of their jobs in the war effort.  Men of Copperweld last fall tore down and erected in 12 days the 29-inch mill.  It was a miracle of modern industry, but typical of Copperweld production.

Had my father, Lee Doyle, not worked at Copperweld I would probably have read this article with passing interest, but knowing he was working there during the war it helped me gain an appreciation for Copperweld's contribution to the war effort and for the work Dad performed there.  

Previous posts about Copperweld:
Copperweld Steel Mill - Workday Wednesday
Copperweld, Dad, and the War Years - Workday Wednesday



  1. Even though this isn't about your dad, it's a fascinating look into his daily world. We gather job titles for our databases, but rarely do we get to know what that job was really like for our ancestors and relatives.

    1. I think it's a great article, Wendy, and gives me more insight, but even this description is broad. I know many men had specialized jobs within the mill, but finding information about those jobs is hard. My brother worked in the mill for a few summers and my brother-in-law for 30 or more years. I'm hoping to get more specific information from them about my father's work -- which part of / department in the mill, his responsibilities, etc. Even without that, this article sheds more light than I had before.


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