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Old 08-21-2018, 12:36 PM
Hapax Legomenon Hapax Legomenon is offline
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What looks like steel wool and is carried in bulk by rail?

While on the top deck of a passenger train recently, I saw a passing freight train which puzzled me. The first few cars were open wagons, full (to the top of the wagon) with something that looked very much like steel wool - fuzzy curled texture, dark grey in colour. It looked like it was loose in the car, heaped up in 'cloudy' formations much like unspun shhep's wool. I couldn't identify it on sight, and I have no idea what it might be.

The next several cars were open wagons half full with cubes of crushed aluminum or steel, presumably headed somewhere to be recycled, so I'm guessing the 'steel wool' was also headed for recycling. But what would need to be transported in fine shreds? Was this actual steel that for some reason was in puffs instead of crushed cubes, and if so, why? Any ideas?
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:55 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Swarf? It could have been massed metal lathe waste, which occurs in curls like the waste from engraving metal, only bigger.
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:56 PM
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It is steel and comes from lathes, milling machines and with as much computer control now they make a lot of long cut strands as that is how it leaves the machine. There is now even auto catching set up so the operator only has to clean up his machine at the end of shift as very little comparatively hits the floor as it did in days of old.... Like me. Bawahahaha

Last edited by GusNSpot; 08-21-2018 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Ninjad, I need to type faster.....
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:04 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Sounds like swarf. I've seen dumpsters full of the stuff from small machine shops. A large manufacturing plant must produce train car loads of it.

Last edited by TriPolar; 08-21-2018 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:58 PM
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Wouldn't it be compactified before shipping, though?
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:17 PM
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They need one of these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEigDc58En8
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Old 08-21-2018, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Sounds like swarf. I've seen dumpsters full of the stuff from small machine shops. A large manufacturing plant must produce train car loads of it.
Swarf. Sounds like a good word for the Says You NPR radio quiz program.
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Old 08-21-2018, 06:39 PM
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Wouldn't it be compactified before shipping, though?
It's actually rather difficult to compact -- it's like compacting a spring.

You could feed it through a chaff-cutter, but evidently it's not worth the trouble. Perhaps it has good enough density anyway.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:41 AM
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Swarf? It could have been massed metal lathe waste, which occurs in curls like the waste from engraving metal, only bigger.
Would have been my guess - did it look like this?
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:42 AM
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I've done crosswords for **mumble** decades and am constantly surprised by how often I come across a word I've never heard of yet.

And now I've learned about "swarf". Say it with a smile.

Thanks for my word of the day, folks. Coming to a crossword near you.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:52 AM
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Same. I've always called them "chips".
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:11 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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What looks like steel wool and is carried in bulk by rail?
Don King's hairpiece?
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:21 AM
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Don King's hairpiece?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that sounded like a joke opening.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:25 AM
Hapax Legomenon Hapax Legomenon is offline
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Would have been my guess - did it look like this?
Very much. Also like the stuff at about 1:01 of the video bob++ linked. Thanks for the insights, and now I also know a new word!
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:32 AM
Isosleepy Isosleepy is offline
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That’s neither swarf nor chips, but turnings.
Specifically, chips are small pieces of cast iron as a result of working cast iron - like drilling cast engine blocks. Swarf is very small pieces of steel or non- ferrous metal from machining, typically mixed with cutting or lubricating fluid. Turnings, finally, are also a by-product if machining steel or non-ferrous metal, but in long strands.

The difference is in what you can do with it. Turnings, though a low-value grade of scrap, can be charged into the furnace and melted for new steel, with relatively little yield loss. Swarf, in the other hand, often has too much non-metallic content to charge into a furnace. Even if relatively clean, the small particle size means there is a high surface-to-mass ratio. Meaning much of the material will be oxidized (and so useless in an electric-arc furnace). Further, the small particle size means it will never hit the bath ( molten steel) but more likely end up with the gasses in the baghouse as waste. It consequently has no to negative value, and is more often landfilled than recycled.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:39 AM
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Same. I've always called them "chips".
I spent years working in machine shops and I've never, ever heard anyone use the term "swarf" before.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:49 AM
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That’s neither swarf nor chips, but turnings.
Specifically, chips are small pieces of cast iron as a result of working cast iron - like drilling cast engine blocks. Swarf is very small pieces of steel or non- ferrous metal from machining, typically mixed with cutting or lubricating fluid. Turnings, finally, are also a by-product if machining steel or non-ferrous metal, but in long strands.

The difference is in what you can do with it. Turnings, though a low-value grade of scrap, can be charged into the furnace and melted for new steel, with relatively little yield loss. Swarf, in the other hand, often has too much non-metallic content to charge into a furnace. Even if relatively clean, the small particle size means there is a high surface-to-mass ratio. Meaning much of the material will be oxidized (and so useless in an electric-arc furnace). Further, the small particle size means it will never hit the bath ( molten steel) but more likely end up with the gasses in the baghouse as waste. It consequently has no to negative value, and is more often landfilled than recycled.
I assumed it was turnings from the description, didn't realize that wasn't called swarf also. Contaminated chips and the like do have lower scrap value although with tariffs the price and demand for all scrap is climbing.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:49 AM
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Same. I've always called them "chips".
I spent years working in machine shops and I've never, ever heard anyone use the term "swarf" before.
A fast-food restaurant near a machine shop: Swarf & Chips.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:04 PM
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So, when I use my grandmother's apple peeler, I'm actually producing turnings? I've erroneously been calling them apple swarf.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:30 PM
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So, when I use my grandmother's apple peeler, I'm actually producing turnings? I've erroneously been calling them apple swarf.
Would fish scraps be called fisherman's swarf?
  #21  
Old 08-22-2018, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Isosleepy:

Swarf, in the other hand, often has too much non-metallic content to charge into a furnace. Even if relatively clean, the small particle size means there is a high surface-to-mass ratio. Meaning much of the material will be oxidized (and so useless in an electric-arc furnace). Further, the small particle size means it will never hit the bath ( molten steel) but more likely end up with the gasses in the baghouse as waste. It consequently has no to negative value, and is more often landfilled than recycled.
It's not completely useless, though: It's great for tossing handfuls into the face of malicious fae.
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:41 PM
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I spent years working in machine shops and I've never, ever heard anyone use the term "swarf" before.
I've spent years working with people who work in machine shops and I've never, ever heard anyone use the term "turnings" before...
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:48 PM
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A fast-food restaurant near a machine shop: Swarf & Chips.

Pepsi! Cheeseburger! Swarf!
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:18 PM
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It's not completely useless, though: It's great for tossing handfuls into the face of malicious fae.
Also works against Tina.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:57 PM
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I've spent years working with people who work in machine shops and I've never, ever heard anyone use the term "turnings" before...
Turning is what happens to parts in a lathe (or on a potter's wheel), versus, say, milling.
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Old 08-23-2018, 02:25 AM
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Thanks for my word of the day, folks. Coming to a crossword near you.
"conflict in the West Coast produces scrap metal" (5)
  #27  
Old 08-23-2018, 04:49 AM
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In Britain, "swarf" used to mean the oily, gritty stuff that collects in machinery and gets all over your hands. Hence Swarfega, an essential stand-by in every dad's garage.
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Old 08-23-2018, 05:03 PM
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When I was a kid, I lived near a propeller manufacturer (airplane for sure and perhaps others) that had a tremendous piles of swarf out back. Big, long and really shiny coils. As a kid it looked like a Slinky fanatic's dream to play with. We always rode bikes around the neighborhood and one day stopped to take a closer look. My friend put his foot on the swarf and started pushing up and down and it was even more inviting with everyone now wanting to climb up the mound.

And that is when an employee came out to dump a load and just screamed, "NOOOO!!!!" and warned us to stay away. A fence went up within 24 hours.

And that is the story of how I didn't remove my hands or skin from much of my body.
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Old 08-23-2018, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
In Britain, "swarf" used to mean the oily, gritty stuff that collects in machinery and gets all over your hands. Hence Swarfega, an essential stand-by in every dad's garage.
And yet the online Oxford Living Dictionary defines swarf as

Quote:
Originally Posted by OLD
Fine chips or filings of stone, metal, or other material produced by a machining operation.

‘a curl of metal swarf’
‘The swarf became hot and started to steam, so the loading master called Essex Fire and Rescue Service, who dealt with the incident.’
‘For holes of a depth greater than five diameters, it is helpful to retract the drill at intervals and clear the swarf.’
‘When we first arrived at one of the designated factories and saw wing struts being milled out of solid slabs of Aluminium on a milling machine 80 metres long, I was gobsmacked - swarf and shiny metal everywhere.’
‘Using metal scrap and the steel swarf turned out from munition factories, blending in nickel, vanadium and manganese they created the high-speed tool steels that the arms factories were crying out for.’
‘There is a perception is that engineering is still cloth caps, oily rags, swarf and metal bashing - however, it isn't like that.’
‘Grinding, for a variety of reasons (e.g., speed of operation; coolant and swarf handling; wheel cost), can be an expensive operation.’
From this it sounds like chips and turnings would be subsets of swarf.
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Old 08-24-2018, 12:24 PM
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In a prior career I traded these products in very large quantities. To the people I dealt with, the definitions were very much as I outlined above, with swarf being, as Colophon put it very well, gritty stuff, rather than slinky-like, and with very clearly different possible uses for the various grades. They used these words daily, and the meanings were precise and served a purpose. That doesn’t mean they (and I ) were neccesarily correct in that usage. But there is zero doubt that the railcar which the op saw contained what both the buyer and the seller would call turnings, and if it were to be found to contain any of what buyer and seller would call swarf, the load would be rejected or down-graded at destination (said destination will be a mini-mill)
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:53 PM
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Turning is what happens to parts in a lathe (or on a potter's wheel), versus, say, milling.
We had fitters and turners. But our turners created swarf rather than turnings. And our long bits of swarf came from drilling, not turning. Perhaps because 'a turning' would have been the product, not the scrap.

Last edited by Melbourne; 08-24-2018 at 08:58 PM.
  #32  
Old 08-24-2018, 09:12 PM
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I was sort of hoping the answer would be a raven on a writing desk.
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:43 AM
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It does seem like it's time to treat the question as a riddle.
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Old 08-25-2018, 11:15 AM
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The difference is in what you can do with it. Turnings, though a low-value grade of scrap, can be charged into the furnace and melted for new steel, with relatively little yield loss. Swarf, in the other hand, often has too much non-metallic content to charge into a furnace. Even if relativelsell you dwarf clean, the small particle size means there is a high surface-to-mass ratio. Meaning much of the material will be oxidized (and so useless in an electric-arc furnace). Further, the small particle size means it will never hit the bath ( molten steel) but more likely end up with the gasses in the baghouse as waste. It consequently has no to negative value, and is more often landfilled than recycled.
Quote:
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It's not completely useless, though: It's great for tossing handfuls into the face of malicious fae.
Until you find a guy who’ll sell you swarf at unbelievably low prices, and you’re smiling, until you run into a peeved pixie and find out that your swarf came from a shop that machined aluminum.
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