This great reduction is the cumulative result of a number of concurrent improvements, partly in the conversion of the iron, and partly in the subsequent treatment of the ingot steel. In most of the great steelworks the iron is no longer remelted, but is transferred direct from the blast furnace to the converter, a practice which originated at Terre-Noire, and was long considered in this country to be incompatible with uniformity in the quality of the steel produced. The turn-out of the converter plant has been gradually increased in this country to more than four times that of fourteen years ago, while the practice of the United States is stated by a recent visitor to have reached such an astounding figure that I am afraid to quote it without confirmation; but the greatest economy arises no doubt in the labor and fuel employed in the mill.

Cogging has taken the place of hammering. Even wash-heating will be, if it is not already, generally dispensed with by the soaking process of our colleague, Mr. Gjers, which permits of the ingot, as it leaves the pit, being directly converted into a rail.

Steel Rails 150 Feet Long

An extract from a letter addressed to me by our colleague, Mr. E.W. Richards, will describe better than any words of mine the perfection at which steel rail mills have arrived. He says, "Our cogging rolls are 48 in. diameter, and the roughing and finishing rolls are 30 in. diameter. We roll rails 150 feet long as easily as they used to roll 21 feet. Our ingots are 15½ inches square, and weigh from 25 to 30 cwts. according to the weight of rail we have to roll. These heavy ingots are all handled by machinery. We convey them by small locomotives from the Bessemer shop to the heating furnaces, and by the same means from the heating furnaces to the cogging rolls.

So quickly are these ingots now handled that we have given up second heating altogether, so that after one heat the ingot is cogged from 15½ inches square down to 8 inches square, then at once passed on to the roughing and finishing rolls, and finished in lengths, as I have said before, of 150 ft., then cut at the hot saws to the lengths given in the specifications, and varying from 38 ft. to about 21 ft. The 38 ft. lengths are used by the Italian 'Meridionali' Railway Company, and found to give very satisfactory results." I need scarcely say that in a mill like this, the expenditure of fuel and labor and the loss by waste caused by crop ends are reduced to a minimum.