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Steel quality and origin


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The only thing I can say about different quality steel is why does Johnathon Wilson insist that his steel comes from the UK, Sweden or Germany? Quality shell builders maybe care that their boats are built from quality steel is my thoughts

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1 hour ago, peterboat said:

The only thing I can say about different quality steel is why does Johnathon Wilson insist that his steel comes from the UK, Sweden or Germany? Quality shell builders maybe care that their boats are built from quality steel is my thoughts

 

1 hour ago, AMModels said:

I would be happy with Dutch too

 

I suspect the answer to the first question is familiarity and certainty based on past experience. They are countries with a strong steelmaking tradition after all. That fact may also be the kind of thing an unknowledgable customer finds comforting. Nothing wrong with that but to suggest that those are the only countries producing steel of the designated quality today would be wrong. For starters one obvious omission would be Austria, a country whose steel producers have been at the forefront of technological advances in steel making since the end of the Second World War and remain so today. In terms of usage by a particular fabricator it could simply be lack of local availability of the required product that precludes use.

 

There is lots of European steel happily doing the job it's designed to do all over the UK. I know of 40+ year vintage French and German steel that does exactly what it's neighbouring UK produced sections do. The same applies to more recent Austrian and Italian steels that have been imported to the UK. I work in the field of policy development and technical standards in relation to usage and assurance of these steels and I know of no circumstance in which steels from across Europe are managed any differently to one another or hold different expectations as to performance as UK steel and it really would matter if any of these steels were inferior. 

 

The same cannot be said of any steels of 40+ years vintage which suffer chemical segregation, impurities and gas inclusions on account of steel making processes that have long been superseded or improved. That's not to say modern steel is perfect but it's mechanical capabilities and assurance of performance are massively better than older steels if you require to use them to the limits of their capability. The key issue here being that you never do this on a narrowboat.

 

However this situation has not always been the case with all European countries but things move forward as trade becomes more global. Although I don't have experience of them there are now significant quantities of Eastern European and Russian steel imported to the UK seemingly without major issue. Asia is following and unless something major changes in world trade (and that isn't impossible) we will be reliant on it in the foreseeable future. That's why Asian companies have bought UK and European steel producers. They take our expertise and marry it to their modern facilities and paint by numbers approach to process.

 

For the past decade or so steel has been traded as a global commodity which requires adherence to a common Quality Assurance regime to enable export. The principle being that the product must be of the same basic standard no matter it's source. There is no dispute that Asian steel producers have had to up their game as a result. But if you operate a restrictive buying policy over a period of time at what point do you simply not know the state of the art?

 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg
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3 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

 

I suspect the answer to the first question is familiarity and certainty based on past experience. They are countries with a strong steelmaking tradition after all. That fact may also be the kind of thing an unknowledgable customer finds comforting. Nothing wrong with that but to suggest that those are the only countries producing steel of the designated quality today would be wrong. For starters one obvious omission would be Austria, a country whose steel producers have been at the forefront of technological advances in steel making since the end of the Second World War and remain so today. In terms of usage by a particular fabricator it could simply be lack of availability.

 

There is lots of European steel happily doing the job it's designed to do all over the UK. I know of 40+ year vintage French and German steel that does exactly what it's neighbouring UK produced sections do. The same applies to more recent Austrian and Italian steels that have been imported to the UK. I work in the field of policy development and technical standards in relation to usage and assurance of these steels and I know of no circumstance in which steels from across Europe are managed any differently to one another or hold different expectations as to performance as UK steel and it really would matter if any of these steels were inferior. 

 

The same cannot be said of any steels of 40+ years vintage which suffer chemical segregation, impurities and gas inclusions on account of steel making processes that have long been superseded or improved. That's not to say modern steel is perfect but it's mechanical capabilities and assurance of performance are massively better than older steels if you require to use them to the limits of their capability. The key issue here being that you never do this on a narrowboat.

 

However this situation has not always been the case with all European countries but things move forward as trade becomes more global. Although I don't have experience of them there are now significant quantities of Eastern European and Russian steel imported to the UK seemingly without major issue. Asia is following and unless something major changes in world trade (and that isn't impossible) we will be reliant on it in the foreseeable future. That's why Asian companies have bought UK and European steel producers. They take our expertise and marry it to their modern facilities and paint by numbers approach to process.

 

For the past decade or so steel has been traded as a global commodity which requires adherence to a common Quality Assurance regime to enable export. The principle being that the product must be of the same basic standard no matter it's source. There is no dispute that Asian steel producers have had to up their game as a result. But if you operate a restrictive buying policy at what point do you simply not know the state of the art?

 

JP

Why change what works is the answer, he was delivered steel of dubious quality a few years ago it reinforced his opinion of other countries steel. Plus If your order book is full so people are happy to pay for a premium produce why change it is another way of looking at it

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3 hours ago, AMModels said:

Follow the submarine around and pick up the ones that fall off, save yourself £3k a time :D 

...but then no one would be able to see your boat! These tiles are to make the subs invisible. People would keep crashing into you at bridge holes.

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7 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

...but then no one would be able to see your boat! These tiles are to make the subs invisible. People would keep crashing into you at bridge holes.

They would just bounce off though. Like hitting a giant bouncy castle. 

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I supplied roughly 100k tonnes of steel pa while working in a stockholders and analysed samples from possibly 25k tk a year using various instruments inc gas spectrometer and both hardness and tensile strength machines. European Steel > UK Steel > other steels based on my experience on a price point basis. This could have changed over the years for the very reasons Cap P says, regs change over time but opinions are formed and as boat buyers tend to be a bit older they may have been formed when the above tests were performed.

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I'd suggest that if we were an automotive forum we wouldn't be having this debate.  The issue of steel quality and "modern" steel being inferior was settled long ago when car manufacturers started properly rustproofing their products.   The issue is kept on the boil in boating (narrowboating) circles simply because of the inconsistent nature of hull and cabin protection.  

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16 hours ago, peterboat said:

The only thing I can say about different quality steel is why does Johnathon Wilson insist that his steel comes from the UK, Sweden or Germany? Quality shell builders maybe care that their boats are built from quality steel is my thoughts

Funnily enough we've just loaded up with steel at the huge works in Oxelosund, Sweden, destined for Hull. 

20181005_184851.jpg

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Do they load the steel in the coffins? Nothing fires the blood like a road full of wagons with coils in the well and a warehouse already full to the rafters :D 

Was standing in Cardiff station a few weeks ago and a train from Llanwern ran through the station with a load of coil, in the olden days much of it headed to Round Oak rail head and the gravel voiced Olwyn.

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24 minutes ago, AMModels said:

Do they load the steel in the coffins? Nothing fires the blood like a road full of wagons with coils in the well and a warehouse already full to the rafters :D 

Was standing in Cardiff station a few weeks ago and a train from Llanwern ran through the station with a load of coil, in the olden days much of it headed to Round Oak rail head and the gravel voiced Olwyn.

There are coils below deck level as well as flat sheets. I'm not sure if there is any steel inside the containers, but most of those were loaded from other ports and contain all sorts of cargo.

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15 minutes ago, AMModels said:

Do they load the steel in the coffins? Nothing fires the blood like a road full of wagons with coils in the well and a warehouse already full to the rafters :D 

Was standing in Cardiff station a few weeks ago and a train from Llanwern ran through the station with a load of coil, in the olden days much of it headed to Round Oak rail head and the gravel voiced Olwyn.

Not just in the olden days. Still two or three trains a day to Round Oak from Llanwern. I recall more than one derailment of those trains in the sidings at Round Oak. I see them regularly and more often feel and hear them from home which is about 100 metres away from where they pass.

 

I would though hazard a guess those coils you saw were from Margam (Port Talbot) possibly heading to Llanwern, although there is a daily early morning train of coils from Margam to Corby. Llanwern is only rolling mills these days although all rail borne steel traffic is still staged there whether or not it unloads or loads any product.

 

I was a guest in the cab of a 2400 tonne Llanwern to Dee Marsh (Shotton) steel train three of four years ago. That was an eye opener although it was unfortunately one of those American GM locomotives. It really struggled.

 

JP

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  • 1 month later...
On 06/10/2018 at 09:16, BEngo said:

Submarines hulls are made of high strength high toughness steels.  The welders are somwhat special too.

Boats are generally not painted but are covered in rubbery tiles.

They also, like pressurised or miltary aeroplanes, have a hull life based on pressure cycles.

N

Same as HP pipelines. Which can be "reconditioned" if decided with a hydraulic  test 》 100 smys.

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On 07/10/2018 at 11:54, Neil2 said:

I'd suggest that if we were an automotive forum we wouldn't be having this debate.  The issue of steel quality and "modern" steel being inferior was settled long ago when car manufacturers started properly rustproofing their products.   The issue is kept on the boil in boating (narrowboating) circles simply because of the inconsistent nature of hull and cabin protection.  

Good point. The "best" steel won't fully protect you from a poor quality coating and good maintenance regime.

Edited by mark99
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  • 4 months later...

All very interesting and informative., thank you all.  

It still doesn't stop the 'cowboy' builder picking up the nearest pit of scrap and letting the tea boy 'weld' it in.    Ultrasonic weld testing anyone? 

It does matter in a narrowboat, if the first time you hit something, the weld fails and lets water seep in.

My first boat was a wartime bridge pontoon, ply on teak frames, took several batterings, but not a drop of water got in.  I had coated it in heavy bitumen, and I mean heavy, not the cheapo stuff.

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36 minutes ago, Chris Williams said:

All very interesting and informative., thank you all.  

It still doesn't stop the 'cowboy' builder picking up the nearest pit of scrap and letting the tea boy 'weld' it in.    Ultrasonic weld testing anyone? 

It does matter in a narrowboat, if the first time you hit something, the weld fails and lets water seep in.

My first boat was a wartime bridge pontoon, ply on teak frames, took several batterings, but not a drop of water got in.  I had coated it in heavy bitumen, and I mean heavy, not the cheapo stuff.

You could specify your steel and welding specification and then hire inspectors to verify compliance.

But a much better use of your money would be to specify a high quality coating system and then hire a coating application inspector to inspect, 

Surface preparation. Compliance with application limitations.

Acheived coat dry film thickness compliance.

I certainly believe that not fully removing mill scale before painting is a false economy. Any inclusion or contamination between the steel and the first coat of paint seriously degrades the performance of all the cost and effort of the coats above.

This will have a much greater influence on the rate of corrosion then any differences in mild steel composition.

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7 hours ago, DandV said:

You could specify your steel and welding specification and then hire inspectors to verify compliance.

But a much better use of your money would be to specify a high quality coating system and then hire a coating application inspector to inspect, 

Surface preparation. Compliance with application limitations.

Acheived coat dry film thickness compliance.

I certainly believe that not fully removing mill scale before painting is a false economy. Any inclusion or contamination between the steel and the first coat of paint seriously degrades the performance of all the cost and effort of the coats above.

This will have a much greater influence on the rate of corrosion then any differences in mild steel composition.

You forgot to say about temperature particularly wrt dew point!!! Just as important.

Fully agree about mill scale. It must be removed.

.......but it must be welded properly. No amount of good coating will patch up poor welding!

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3 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

.but it must be welded properly. No amount of good coating will patch up poor welding!

And the guy doing the welding should be properly trained and have certificates to prove it.  Anyone can do bodge job welding.

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15 minutes ago, Chris Williams said:

And the guy doing the welding should be properly trained and have certificates to prove it.  Anyone can do bodge job welding.

Don't forget that the same applies to your car that has just failed the MOT.

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