The Story of the Sheet and Tube Mill Models

Many who have visited the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor have marveled at the three steel tube mill models displayed on the lower level. The three models, of a buttweld tube mill, hot strip mill and seamless tube mill are true to scale models of their full sized counterparts which were once important producing units at the YS&T Campbell Works. The history of these models is equally as fascinating as the history of their prototypes.
Their story begins in the depths of the great depression. Myron S. Curtis, assistant to YS&T President James A. Campbell, came up with an idea to build models of the company's two most important steel finishing processes, a hand sheet mill with an automatic sheet return, and a welded pipe unit. The models would be taken to trade shows, conventions and other venues where the company had hoped to attract new customers. Mr. Curtis asked George V. James, foreman of the pattern shop; John McCaughney, patternmaker; and Edward Hendricks, toolroom foreman at the No. 1 machine shop to build the models.The first two models were made largely of wood and sheet metal with a few castings. The hand sheet mill was equipped with a working version of the automatic sheet return device, an invention that was designed to reduce the amount of labor needed to roll sheet. The tube mill also functioned, and spectators could watch a piece of small diameter pipe work its way from the heating furnace, through welding and sizing rolls, then onto a conveyor where the ends were trimmed before being stockpiled.
A few years after these two models were built steel making at YS&T changed dramatically. A 79" hot strip mill was installed rendering the hand mills obsolete. Complimenting the new hot strip installation was a three stand cold strip mill. Also, a seamless tube mill, an electric weld tube mill and a butt weld tube mill were built to replace the original lap pipe making machine. Mr. James, McCaughney and Hendricks were once again called upon to build models of the new mills. This time, the trio decided to employ the use of castings to a greater extent and to also increase the level of detail in the new models.