Mesta Machine 50,000 ton press
I am inspired by Asquith's thread to dig up some photos and web sites of US manufacturing.
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. My father and most of the adults I knew worked in steel mills, rolling mills, foundries, etc. Sadly I did not get to see the inside of the mill where my father worked at an open hearth furnace.As a child I did get to see Bessemer Converters blowing in Youngstown, Ohio.
Monday, May. 16, 1955
The biggest forging press west of the Iron Curtain went into operation in an Aluminum Co. of America plant at Cleve land last week. Built by Mesta Machine Co. and operated by Alcoa under a lease, the giant, 50,000-ton press towers almost five stories in the air, and extends three stories underground. As it started up, along with another 35,000-ton unit (built by United Engineering & Foundry Co.) in the same plant, the Air Force marked the halfway point in its $279 million heavy-press program aimed at cutting costs and speeding production of such aircraft components as wing spars and landing-gear supports. Five of the big new presses are already in production ; five more will be finished by year's end.
The presses economize in time, men and materials. In one manufacturing operation, for example, the Air Force formerly needed a 1,600-lb. slab of aluminum, had to machine certain parts. Total cost: $18,000. Now, with the new presses, a 200-lb. slab of aluminum furnishes enough metal for the same number of parts, which can be stamped out. Cost: less than $2,000.
The Air Force has good reason to speed its heavy-press program along. At war's end Russia dismantled a 33,000-ton press in Germany and shipped it off for work behind the curtain. Furthermore, the Russians, with the help of German technicians, are believed to be hard at work on a new press that will have a compression power of 55,000 tons.
Photos of press:
pdf of brochure with photos of manufacturing and the press:
Last edited by paul39; 11-24-2008 at 11:52 PM.
Reason: add info
Mesta Machine has been the subject of some discussion in the past. They were one of the primary suppliers of machines for the steel industry in the U.S., as well as internationally. I cannot locate the photo caption, but as I recall, the "machine shop" was one of the largest in the US and stretched almost a half mile under one roof?
Here is some verbiage about the company:
"The Mesta Machine Company was created in 1898 through a merger with the Leechburg Foundry and Machine Company and the Robinson-Rea Manufacturing Company. The company was located in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Homestead. The twenty-acre plant complex was situated along the Monongahela River and the Pennsylvania Railroad, both of which transported the various types of products the company produced. During the first fifty years of the Mesta Machine Company's history, they were at the forefront of mechanical technology, producing some of the most efficient iron and steel products on the market."
This information as well as a number of photographs can be found at the following site:
OMG, look at photos #17 and 18 in the "Photos of press" link (2nd group). That's Titanium . So that's what you do with 100M pounds of pressing force .
Dang, I woud have loved to see that thing in operation.
Originally Posted by Finegrain
As far as I know the big Mesta and other similar big presses are still being used. For example the 50,000 ton Wyman-Gordon forging press at North Grafton Massachusetts was being used to forge the huge titanium main landing gear beam for the 747 (closed die, beam 20' long by 4' wide). According to my ASME Landmarks in Mechanical Engineering book, the Mesta is not open to the public, but you can (could when the book was written anyway in 1997) apply to Wyman-Gordon for a look at their monster...
I've seen that 50K Ton press at North Grafton. Lowey made it I think. For a while it was "militarily sequestered" (while it was making the spyders for the Huey Helicopters) but in recent years the work has become more mundane.
Many years ago they pressed a penny between the faces of the working part. It pressed out to about 4 inches in diameter. Not sure if done in one stroke or if they annealed it between strokes.
Joe in NH
Joe, Was this press used to make the Titanium bath tubs for the A-10 wort hog.
Latest I heard, last week no less, that the 50,000 ton in cleveland
was to be scrapped.
I have to confess my inspection of the North Grafton installation was at 15 years old and Boy Scout related. Not really into the specifics of "bathtubs" per se at that early juncture.
However, there is a lot on the 'net regarding the Warthog and it's "survivability" in combat, including the heralded "tubs." Most impressive! Back when US was still a "superpower" instead of a "superwallet." (not to change the subject.)
Joe in NH
Here's a link to that press's sister. From what I understand its sister is still in use at Wyman Gordon in Grafton MA.
Did Alcoa lose the F-35 contract? http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2...on_contra.html suggests that they had a fair amount of work available for that press - or would they easily run 1200 forgings in a year?
Originally Posted by digger doug
It looks as if there are a couple of presses of that sort of scale built annually nowadays; Sheffield Forgemasters enthuses about making the forgings for them, which are no bigger than the ones described in the 1955 brochure. One for jet-turbine parts being set up in Wuxi.
Nothing much bigger; there is a Soviet-era 75000-ton press at the VSMPO titanium factory in Yekaterinburg, which I think is used for some A380 parts.
Thanks for finding and posting that U. Pitt. Mesta site. 164 photos with captions. I had found it before and couldn't get back to it last night.
I grew up on Canal Street in Leechburg, PA and used to play around the concrete foundations of an old mill. Later research led me to believe it was a steel sheet mill. I will have to dig further to see where the Leechburg Foundry was located. The Hyde Park Foundry across the river from Leechburg was still operating when I left in 1957. Several of my HS graduating class went to work there.
Gear Planer up to 30 ft in diameter:
More Mesta Stuff
6. Henry2 Moesta/Mesta (Henry1 Moesta) was born July 08, 1834 in Hesse, Cassel, Germany, and died December 19, 1892. He married Annie E. Gerhold (Gerhote), daughter of John Gerhold. She was born July 03, 1834 in Hesse, Cassel, Germany, and died January 28, 1915.
Children of Henry Moesta/Mesta and Annie (Gerhote) are:
+ 19 i. Henry3 Mesta, born December 04, 1854 in Pittsburgh, PA; died August 25, 1912.
20 ii. Mary Mesta, born June 09, 1856 in PA; died August 25, 1875.
+ 21 iii. Ann Elizabeth Mesta, born November 22, 1860 in PA; died September 16, 1949.
22 iv. George Mesta, born March 31, 1863 in PA; died April 22, 1925. He married Perle Reid "Pearl" Skirvin 1917 in New York, New York; born 1889; died March 21, 1975.
23 v. Matilda S. Mesta, born September 16, 1865 in PA; died November 20, 1877.
24 vi. Aurelia Margaret "Emma" Mesta, born April 1868 in PA; died Unknown. She married (1) Walter J. Hirth; born Bet. 1860 - 1870; died Unknown. She married (2) Robert Cowen 1893; born Bet. 1860 - 1870; died Unknown.
25 vii. Amanda Adeline Mesta, born July 31, 1870 in PA; died January 31, 1920.
+ 26 viii. Charles Jacob Mesta, born February 1873 in PA; died Unknown.
27 ix. Frederick Ernest Mesta, born August 04, 1875 in PA; died August 31, 1925. He married Cora Moore Lentz September 02, 1900; born November 06, 1879; died February 04, 1932.
The Leechburg Foundry & Machine Co. was built in 1887, destroyed by fire in 1888 and rebuilt in the following year. The capital of the company was $100,000 and the officers were: W. A. Cochran, president; George Moesta, vice president; W. D. Rowan, secretary; R. R. Moore, treasurer. In 1900 the plant was moved to Homestead, Pa., to be nearer the source of their orders.
Leechburg has furnished more managers, superintendents and promoters of sheet steel mills and steel furnaces than any town of ten times its size anywhere in the United States.............Charles Moesta, owner and manager of the Moesta Machine Company, Homestead Pa., were from here..........
From: History of Pittsburgh and Environs, page 531
The Mesta Machine Company was incorporated in 1898 to take over
the affairs and properties of the Robinson-Rea Manufacturing Company
of Pittsburgh, which had had a successful career of more than sixty
years, together with those of the Leechburg Foundry and Machine Company, incorporated in 1887. The new organization bought twenty acres
of land adjoining the city of Pittsburgh on the south bank of the Monon-
gahela river and thereon erected a group of great buildings in which are
made gas and steam engines, condensers, rolling mill machinery, steam-
hydraulic forging and bending presses, cut and machine moulded gears,
steel castings, etc. George F. Mesta is president; F. E. Mesta, vice-
president; H. F. Wahr, secretary; J. O. Horning, treasurer. This factory
is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Steel was the reigning mineral of the Mon Valley since the late 19th century. Andrew Carnegie established mills all along the Monongahela shoreline. Mesta Machine Co. started operating under the shadow of these mills in 1898. It set up a shop manufacturing those machines which aid the process of steel making. A small town grew up around the machine shop and the area was incorporated as the borough of West Homestead.
Based in this West Homestead, Mesta Machine Co. turned into a large operation. It manufactured machines in a huge scale for the steel industry and became one of the worlds leading machine tool and steel mill equipment manufacturers. For a certain period it was the largest machine shop in the world under one roof, with its workshop extending over a mile.
Mesta Machine Co. manufactured some of the largest compound engines in the country. During the early 1900s, the company would claim that the carrying capacity of the three railroads with spurs to its plant outside Pittsburgh was the only limit to the size of the machine parts it could produce.
A brief stint with international history came with the 1959 visit of the Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to the Mesta Machine Co. The company hosted this tour during the Cold War and in many aspects the tour was controversial. Nevertheless the residents of West Homestead are proud of their brief moment to the headlines.
In the early 1980s Mesta Machine Co. suffered losses and announced that it would shut its foundry and forge shops at nearby West Homestead in an economy move and idle three hundred hourly employees. However, it continued to operate all other facilities at West Homestead where over 1600 workers were employed. In 1983, the manufacturing company reported a net loss of $19.3 million, including $14.5 million in costs associated with the declared shutdown. For the half, losses amounted to $26.1 million. It was a huge blow to the West Homestead community, but it managed to survive the Mesta bankruptcy.
During the same period the Cleveland based Park Corporation purchased the Mesta Machine assets and facilities located in West Homestead. It evaluated the potential of the West Homestead facility and welcomed the communitys offer of co-operation and a skilled labor force. The basic production facilities of Mesta were also in a sound state. The Park Corporation today operates the West Homestead Engineering & Manufacturing Co. (WHEMCO) on a portion of the Mesta property. The strategy was to down size and restructure the facility and to utilize the assets capable of manufacturing products in market demand. Some workshops of Mesta are still in use.
MESTA MANSION Classified as a historical monument, this is the only genuine Mansion in Pittsburgh's Historical District.
(IT WAS BUILT ON A HILL OVERLOOKING THE PLANT)
This is the original Mesta Mansion also called as Bryce Mesta Mansion. It's located in West Homestead on Doyle Avenue, near Pittsburgh. It was build by the Mesta family, including George Mesta who was the founder of Mesta Machine Company (now WHEMCO) - the largest Steel Component Manufacturer in the world in 1950s. The mansion overlooked his steel empire. He married Perle Mesta in 1916, who later became known as "the hostess with the mostess". She was widowed in 1925; and became the only heir to George Mesta's $78 million fortune. She lived in this mansion till George Mesta died. Then she moved to Washington to be the first true socialite.
President Truman appointed her as ambassadorship to Luxembourg where she launched the Nordstrom Sisters. But Perle Mesta is most noted for her parties, which brought together senators, congressmen, cabinet secretaries, and other luminaries in bipartisan soirées of high-class glamour. Invitation to a Mesta party was a sure sign that one had reached the inner circle of Washington political society.
THE MESTA MANSION
Mesta Mansion was occupied by the family members of Mesta till 1950s. After they left Pittsburgh, the mansion went into disrepair. The current owner of the Mansion is Manoj Chandran - an entreprenuer. He is restoring the Mansion into a High-Tech ultra-luxury mansion rivalling any victorian mansion in the world. He is adding several structures to the original mansion, including indoor swimming pool called the Grand Room, roof top decks offering breathtaking views of the Waterfront Shopping complex, the valley and river below. When it's fully renovated it'll be a 15,000 square foot mansion, where his family lives.
Last edited by paul39; 11-25-2008 at 11:18 PM.
Perle Mesta & West Homestead Today
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Perle Skirvin Mesta (October 12, 1889 – March 16, 1975) was an American socialite, political hostess, and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg (1949-1953).
Mesta was known as the "hostess with the mostes [sic]" for her lavish parties featuring the brightest stars of Washington, D.C., society, including artists, entertainers and many top-level national political figures.
She was born Pearl Skirvin, in Sturgis, Michigan, a daughter of William Balser Skirvin, an original 89er who became a wealthy Oklahoma oilman and founder of the Skirvin Hotel. Her younger sister was a silent-film actress, Marguerite Skirvin (1896-1963). She married steel manufacturer and engineer George Mesta in 1916, but was widowed in 1925; she was the only heir to his $78 million fortune. Mesta settled in Newport, Rhode Island, but moved to Washington, D.C., in 1940. She also maintained a home in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Homestead, PA, the location of her late husband's steel machining plant, but spent little time there, as she felt largely unaccepted by the Pittsburgh social scene. Four years later, Mesta changed the spelling of her first name to Perle.
She was active in the National Woman's Party and was an early supporter of an Equal Rights Amendment. She switched to the Democratic Party in 1940 and was an early supporter of Harry S. Truman, who rewarded her with the ambassadorship to Luxembourg where she launched the Nordstrom Sisters.
But Mesta is most noted for her parties, which brought together senators, congressmen, cabinet secretaries and other luminaries in bipartisan soirées of high-class glamour. Invitation to a Mesta party was a sure sign that one had reached the inner circle of Washington political society. Her influence waned somewhat, though, with the ascension of the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower administration in 1953. Nevertheless, she remained an avid hostess until her later years.
Mesta wrote an autobiography Perle: My Story, published in 1960, and was the subject of a book by Paul Lesch, Playing Her Part: Perle Mesta in Luxembourg. Lesch also directed a documentary film about Mesta's stay in Luxembourg entitled Call Her Madam (Samsa Film, 1997).
She was the inspiration for Irving Berlin's musical Call Me Madam, which starred Ethel Merman as the character based on Mesta in both the Broadway play and the movie. She appeared on the March 14, 1949 cover of Time Magazine.
Mesta lived in a palatial co-op apartment at (3900 Watson Place) in the NW of Washington, DC until early 1974, and then she moved to a rest home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mesta died on March 16, 1975, aged 85. She is interred with her late husband in Homewood Cemetery, a nonsectarian burial ground in Pittsburgh.
West Homestead Today
Scratch the surface of the one square mile riverfront area called West Homestead and you'll find what you find in every true Pittsburgh neighborhood: pride, history, sweat, tradition and, if you’re lucky, Eastern European delicacies.
In Mayor John Dindak and many others, you’ll also find a good story.
Dindak grew up just across the border in Homestead and like many here, spent decades working at U.S. Steel Homestead Works, a city in itself that once spanned more than 400 acres in West Homestead, Homestead, and Munhall and, in its heyday, employed more than 10,000. According to Dindak, most everyone worked at U.S. Steel or at Mesta Machine Co. which, at its peak, employed more than 4,000.
While those days are long gone, some fascinating historical sites remain, such as the Pump House and the Bost Building , home of the infamous and deadly steel strike. Your best bet: take a Rivers of Steel tour to deepen your appreciation of the once mighty steel industry.
While much has since been lost, much has been gained.
Now there is only one hotel in the area, the Courtyard Marriott, which is part of the Waterfront, a riverside development built on the site of the Homestead Works that provided a much need boost to the coffers of Homestead, Munhall and West Homestead. The Waterfront is now held up as an example nationwide of a brownfield site that underwent dramatic and successful transformation. (In June of 2004 Continental Real Estate valued the property at $300 million.)
It began in the 1980s when Ray Park, a salvager and liquidator of industrial sites, purchased the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works and Mesta Machine Co. properties. He started to develop the property and within a few years, Continental Real Estate came in bringing with it the retail and restaurants. The Waterfront is marked by the iconic stacks, a dozen towering and impressive brick structures that grace the entrance. They are the only thing left of the steelworks.
Striking a Balance
“The waterfront, as far as I am concerned, is a blessing. It brought the whole valley back alive,” says Dindak. With its dozens of stores and restaurants, including big box stores such as Costco and the Disneyesque Loew’s Theater, the Waterfront draws impressive crowds, especially on weekends. And in the summer? With Sandcastle, the popular water park down the street, with its Lazy River for rafting and steep water slides, Homestead/W. Homestead is quite the happening place.
Now West Homestead’s biggest conundrum is finding a balance between the old and the new, between the commercial success of the Waterfront and a community struggling to maintain its identity in its shadow.
Getting back to the 55,000 ton press. . .
Way back in time, around 1977, I applied for a drafting job at the Cameron Iron Works in Houston. While visiting different departments, I was shown some drawings to a hugh forging press, I swear they called it a 50,000 ton press. The boster plate was about 40 foot square and twenty something feet tall from what I remember. The four post were around two to three feet in diameter and nearly 100 foot long. Back then, they had equipment in houst to machine it. I never did take the job, nor know to this day if that press was ever built.
Before Wyman-Gorden bought out the forging division from Cameron, in the 1980's, the 747 landing gear was being forged in Houston. Wyman-Gordon is still operating most of that Cameron built equipment in Houston today.
50,000 ton press
The 50 (as it's called) is still in operation in North Grafton. As a current employee. I cannot say what type of forgings are produced. But I will say some parts are in exess of 20,000 pounds.
The Mesta machine shop is shown in several pictures on the second page of photos (21-40).
The Mesta Machine Company's Machine Department consisted of five sections. The first three sections, all totaling 1000 feet in length, included one main aisle at 60 feet wide, one aisle at 40 feet wide, and one aisle at 25 feet wide. Two other sections, each 460 feet in length, included one at 60 feet wide and the last one at 20 feet wide. Etc.
I wonder why they went to Germany to make the parts for the rebuild rather then use US manufacturers...
Germany still has an industrial base.