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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • BRITISH COLUMBIA VACATION-LAND: 1950s

The Hanna Furnaces: 1942

The Hanna Furnaces: 1942

Coal tower over ovens of the Hanna furnaces, Great Lakes Steel, Detroit. Nov. 1942. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Arthur Siegel.

 

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Coke ovens

I started my steel mill career in the coke plant in Aliquippa, PA (J&L Steel). If you look real close you can see the larry car under the coal bunker - you can see the cone-shaped hoppers of the car.

This sure is a clean coke oven battery! It isn't new - you can tell because the standpipes are rusty and there is some coal dust on the battery top. It was probably swept for a couple hours before the photo was taken!

There are 3 lids on each oven. As far as the ones that have the lids off (the ones where you can see fire) - it looks to me (because the flames are somewhat transparent) that the one closest to the camera is an empty oven - the coke has been pushed out, and it's waiting for the larry car to refill it for the next coking cycle. (The coking cycle on this type of oven battery takes about 24 hours.) The oven furthest from the camera appears to be being 'pushed' (emptied). The pusher machine would be pushing the coke out from right to left - thus the low flames on the right, where the oven is already empty, and the high flames on the left, where the gas is coming out as the coke is being pushed.

Coke Ovens

A coal car rides up and down the tracks recharging the ovens. It usually leaves some coal lying around on top of the ovens. This oven is VERY clean, possibly brand new. The coal is heated in the ovens without oxygen to turn it into coke. Coke is used in the blast furnace to turn raw iron ore into high purity iron. The iron is transfered to the oxygen furnace where it is mixed with alloy materials and the iron is converted to steel.

This is a rad photo

This is a rad photo - although that flame on the left looks like someone caught fire, hehe.

Coke ovens

There was usually a lot of coal all over the top of the ovens. The rails are for the "larry" car that charged the coal into the ovens, and a lot of smoke. The heat was really bad. We had to wear "wooden clogs" to keep the soles of our shoes from melting.

Coke Ovens

I spent 31 years working on the coke ovens. I must say that the ovens shown are the cleanest I've ever seen.

[That's interesting. Would there normally be coal or soot up here? And what are the rails or tracks for? - Dave]

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