Silver Brothers, Steel Makers

This page was last updated on October 20, 2018.

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High Grade Steel Made In Salt Lake

(Salt Lake Tribune, August 18, 1912)

New Process in Use by Silver Brothers Is Simple and Economical.


Good Results Certain


Development of the Industry Would Save Millions to Utah Each Year.


The development on a vast scale of the steel industry in the intermountain country, with Salt Lake as the great plant and industrial center, seems imminent through the successful introduction here of a new process for converting pig iron into steel of the finest grade and the establishment of a plant for casting every pattern that the steel world demands.

For many years iron castings have been put on the market in the intermountain country, made by intermountain firms, but steel plants have been confined to the east or middle west. The demands of the wide intermountain country have been fed for the most part by eastern concerns and the fact that steel is rapidly replacing iron in modern mechanisms leads to an idea of the millions that go forth from Utah each year in the purchase of steel.

Vast Possibilities.

The fact that steel castings of all kinds can be produced here as well as in the east and at a certain lesser cost to intermountain consumers because of the absence of shippin charges, predicts a great demand that at heretofore has gone east and which, in turn, would mean the rapid development of Utah's vast iron resources and the establishment here of numerous steel plants, which would vie not only for the intermountain market, but outside trade as well. This would mean more workmen, bigger payrolls, a new industry of immense worth, a saving of vast some to western consumers and large profits to those engaged in the industry.

For several months past Silver Brothers Iron works has been operating a modern steel plant, first as an experimental demonstration of a new process, said to be more efficient and economical than others, and later as an established plant, from which castings of high-grade steel are being furnished railroad, smelting, mining and other companies.

Detail of Process.

The pig iron is placed in a huge cupola or furnace and heated to about 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. In the molten state it is run off from the cupola into a large ladle of five tons' capacity. From there it is transferred in the molten state to a great converter. At this stage the new process is followed by adding to the molten steel a number of special alloys or chemical acids, which are ignitable when oxygen is blown against them. Through an electrical apparatus oxygen is blown against the metal and alloys in the converter and the result is to increase the temperature of the metal from 2200 degrees to from 3200 to 3600 degrees without additional fuel or flame. The retained heat of the metal, fed by combustion of the alloys and oxygen, seves the purpose without furnace. The blowing process requires a half hour until all impurities of the iron are eliminated, leaving high-grade steel.

The molten steel is then placed in a ladle of three tons' capacity, controlled by a bottom valve and suspended from an electric traveling orane, by which the ladle is moved to any desired location in the plant, for pouring the metal into molds. The finished product is obtained from the moldings or rough castings through the usual modern procedures.

Cast in Baked Sand.

It is interesting to note that patterns for all the castings desired are made in wood by carpenters. The pattern of a desired casting is then placed in silica sand, dampened. The pattern is then removed, leaving the impression of the casting desired. This mold of silica sand is then baked, to resist heat better, and the molten steel is run off into it and allowed to cool, after which it undergoes various finishing processes until ready for use, an exact replica of the original wooden pattern. The same method is followed with iron castings except that ordinary sand is used without the baking, as it stands the lesser heat of molten iron without this process.

Beginning Is Good.

The Silver Bros. plant is now operated with one converter which, when running to full capacity, produces from 36,000 to 40,000 pounds of high grade, tested steel a day. Steel crushing parts for smelters, car wheels and axles for railroads, all heavy types of pulleys and sheave wheels, standard ore mining cars and, in fact, all heavy mechanism used in modern industries, agriculture and manufactory, are being produced today in Salt Lake. A few mouths ago such an industry did not exist here. It is conservatively estimated that from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 has been spent here annually for all kinds of steel mechanism from eastern plants.

If the one converter now in use were increased to twelve, and the one steel plant increased to twelve, an intermountain and outside market would be at once created for the opening up of iron mines on a large scale, which would develop Utah's veritable mountains of iron. Consumers would save money and enrich the island empire which they are building. Now that the industry has been started, it is predicted that large capital will become interested in iron mining and the establishment in this section of steel plants. Salt Lake would be the logical distributing center to the north, south and west. Shipments today are being sent to Los Angeles.