Sercom for The Timken Company

Meanwhile The Timken Company had built a large research facility near the Akron/Canton airport. Timken lab people championed the idea of reducing the iron oxide in the mill scale to metallic iron and by this means, reducing the amount of scrap needed to make the heat of steel. The research folks approached WG to determine how to form the mill scale and coke breeze into a shape suitable to charge into the electric furnace. We tried dry pressing and extrusion without much success and finally settled on briquettes, as made like charcoal for a grill. Ralph Shipley, vice president of steel production from Timken, came up to me one day at Brookside and said, “Our management wants to go ahead with the sercom (their name for the briquettes) project.” I was a bit reticent in my answer as we were talking about very big tonnage. Ralph looked me in the eye and said, “Well, we are going to do it, aren’t we?” I said, “Absolutely.”

Within months, we had restored the Magnolia plant for this process, were hauling truckloads per day of mill scale from Timken to Magnolia, grinding and screening the mill scale, adding lime and molasses as a binder, briquetting and curing the mix, and loading it back into the truck for the return to Timken. Ralph Foster was plant manager of this operation and my daughter Lynn was the second shift supervisor. We obtained profitable revenues of $1 million per year from the project for five years, when the price of scrap dropped below the cost of the sercom and we discontinued the product.