Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #24: Steam-Hydraulic Forging Presses

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 The Mesta Machine Company made large, and I daresay even huge, hydraulic forging presses for a great many years while they were in operation, and were widely used in industry. A while back I wrote a post about the 50,000 ton Mesta hydraulic forging press The “Fifty”, which was built several decades after the dinky little 8,000 ton steam-hydraulic press pictured above. Back in the day, however, an 8,000 ton forging press was a pretty big tool, and the largest that Mesta made at the time (circa 1919) was “only” 15,000 tons.

These machines were the workhorses of many forges through the years as the most efficient way of producing large forgings. I think that they’re wonderful.

plantproductofme00mest_0110The 1919 Mesta Product Catalog that is my primary source for this series of postings only has two pages concerning the large steam-hydraulic forging presses, which is pretty thin gruel by my standards, but while perusing the digital stacks of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I came across this interesting little pamphlet that I’ll share with you. Consider it a Boxing Day present if you will. The pamphlet’s title is: Steam-hydraulic presses for forging : shearing, flanging, bending, punching.

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So there is your extra-large helping of Mesta machinery in the spirit of the season.

Except where noted, all images are from the 1919 edition of “Plant and product of the Mesta Machine Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania“.

Other articles in this series:

Regarding the Images in “Mesta Memories

Mesta memories #22: Gear Drives

Mesta Memories #23: Rope Drives and Flywheels

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  • cruisintime

    With the decline of manufacturing in America I wonder how much of this heavy duty equipment is still around.

    • sawermassey

      I realized that I was drooling when i snapped out of my daydream of finding one of these for "$1 buy it now price, you must remove"

      • The Professor

        Now, daydream that you have a very large portable crane…

  • http://hooniverse.com/ Batshitbox

    I heart Mesta Memories!

    Just looking at the pictures I would assume they were hammer forges, and not press forges; probably because I've only ever seen hammer forges in real life. I always assume anything from before The Jazz Age has a higher level of danger and brutality. The 3600 ton shear boggles the mind to try and guess what they were cutting with it, it looks to be 6" thick glowing hot slabs. I also like the flange press making what looks like the same boiler heads that the press has on top! (Yes, that's a cylinder head and not a boiler head, but still.)

  • B72

    Impressive stuff. Anyone know if we still do much on this scale in the US? Airplanes are going carbon fiber. Airplane bulkheads are large, but not necessarily heavy. Car bodies wouldn't require big presses. About the only things I can think if where we still value sheer bulk are bridges, and trains. I know GE makes locomotives (not sure where). All of the rolling stock I see for passenger duty is made by Bombardier (Canada) or Kawasaki (Japan). I assume steel bridge manufacture is still done domestically, but I could be wrong…

    • http://hooniverse.com/ Batshitbox

      The rerpaired 50,000 ton press Alcoa owns in Ohio (The Fifty) is used to stamp out titanium bulkheads for F-15s. It was broken for a while, but evidently it's been fixed.

      It was the German war machine in the '40s that kicked off our program to build presses as large as theirs, so we could make airplanes as good as theirs. Guess who we went to when our Fifty needed fixing?

      atomictoasters.com/2012/02/big-complicated-machines-9-the-fifty/

      [youtube WPjVSryWC1A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPjVSryWC1A youtube]

    • sawermassey

      GE builds their locomotives in Erie, PA. However, they recently announced a massive layoff to move production to a cheaper Fort Worth, TX plant.

      (src =http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-09/ge-plans-to-cut-950-jobs-at-100-year-old-train-plant.html)

    • Vairship

      I would imagine Newport News shipyard might still have something like that, although their website doesn't go into that kind of detail: http://nns.huntingtoningalls.com/about/facilities

  • texlenin

    Ahh, Come On, Doc. I KNOW you have an anti-grav cargo lifter

    in that lab closet somewhere. Probably under your collection

    of Doris Day albums….

    OAN- is Nibbles the Server Mouse dead? I can’t see the Intensedebate

    login anywhere.

    • The Professor

      Hmm, ID is working for me, which it does only reluctantly, so my guess is that it might be on your end. Try flushing your browser cache and restarting your browser. Shrieking is sometimes helpful, and always theraputic.

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