Entries by Michael Ross

Straightness Is Perishable

Bananas turn brown, avocados turn mushy, cars rust. Those are things we recognize as having a shelf-life. They are not permanent. They are perishable. When discussing steel shafting, especially in the field of maintenance, straightness is an important property. If a shaft is received at the end user’s plant bent, It is not usable. You can’t grind it. You can’t machine it. You can’t install it. In fact, unless you are cutting it into little […]

What is the Length of a “Random Steel Bar”?

While there may be typical answers to that question, it is still a little like asking “What is the price of a car?” It depends on a lot of variables. The most universally accepted random bar length would be 12ft random. A close runner-up would be 20ft random. The problem that comes into play is relative to the fact that there is no literal interpretation for random bar lengths. Further, in the steel industry, twelve […]

It’s Not So Obvious

“If you live in a hard-partying area of the country, you may not want to buy a new car that was assembled on a Monday. And, you may not want to shoot pool with someone whose first name is the name of a major city”. Just some considerations learned from experience. In heavy industrial maintenance, seasoned professionals have their own hard-won cautions like the above. Those may not always be obvious. Wouldn’t it be great […]

Does Your Stainless Remember Things?

Most likely it does, regardless of the state of your memory. When I first heard the term “Memory”, relative to stainless steel, I was anxious to find out what it referred to. An associate with one of the stainless mills responded with this little tidbit; “Memory, regarding stainless steel, generally refers to retained stress, specifically in austenitic grades. That relates to “Movement”, or “Walking”. (Bars won’t hold straightness). Those grades of stainless (304L and 316L) […]

Review of Earlier Posts (Pop Quiz)

At this point perhaps we should have a little review of the earlier posts, just to see how things are going.   1. 304 and 316 can be thermally hardened to a. They can’t be thermally hardened to b. The consistency of a ripe peach c. A hardness that would hurt if you were struck on the head   2. Muffler Stock is material used to make a. An article of women’s winter apparel b. […]

Muffler Stock (Finally!)

For a long time, austenitic stainless grades enjoyed the lion’s share of business in the world. Austenitic refers to the grain type, Austenite. Very simply described, these were non-magnetic (would not attract a magnet) grades of stainless, that were not hardenable by heat treatment. They were very good for general corrosion and had some strength. These grades contained significant amounts of Chromium and Nickel. They were often referred to as Type 18-8. (Where 18 was […]


Are you able to find the particular material, grade, size and shape, by conducting a simple web-search? Availability will be influenced by many factors. Let’s assume the adage; “If you got the money and the time, you can probably get it.” is still very true. But since most often general plant maintenance is the last rung on the “Exotic Metals Food Chain”, most of us will not have the money nor the time. The global […]

So, How is Stainless Steel Different Than Mild or Carbon Steel?

Stainless steel is defined as any steel containing a minimum of 10-3/4% chromium, or 11%, depending on what your reference is. Stainless steel generally resists corrosive damage better than carbon steel and medium-alloyed carbon steel. Corrosion might be atmospheric (airborne particles), spray, gaseous, or liquid. How bad the corrosion is will be subject to an infinite number of variables, such as: Variations in temperature (service temperature) movement solution strength stress torque air bubbles (aeriation) vibration, […]

Stainless Steel

Introduction to a Series Over the 45 years of working with materials used for heavy industrial maintenance, I’ve seen that matching stainless grades of steel with the appropriate application can be awfully confusing to the many support folks who do not have a background in the sciences. I speculate that a lot of hard working “non-metallurgical” people would be happier and more effective if they understood a bit more of what governs the decisions and […]