McKees Rocks Forgings is a division within the Standard Forge Products Plant located in Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania. The entire plant is staffed by 130 employees and produces forged axles and circular forgings. The circular forgings have been produced for over 100 years under various names but have been continuously produced as Mckees Rocks Forgings since the 1980’s. Our products have been utilized in many different applications throughout the world and we continue to modernize and expand our production capabilities to ensure we meet our customer’s needs.
In 1901, a portion of McKees Rocks Forging’s current plant was known as the Shoen Brake Shoe Company. Here, brake shoes and other rail car parts were manufactured for the neighboring railroad car shop, called the McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprise. This was where the first all-steel railroad cars were built. The plant as a whole was eventually renamed the Pressed Car Steel Works and later also become part of our current plant.
In 1902, after years of research and development, the first forged steel rail car wheel was produced here, and the first patent was issued to Hendrik Loss. This patent covered the machine that rolled the wheels from circular ingots.
By 1908, 200,000 forged and rolled steel wheels were in service and the Carnegie Steel Company purchased the Pressed Car Steel Works.
Then, in 1940, the Howard Axle Works (part of Carnegie Steel) was relocated to this plant to make room for a huge expansion of the Homestead Steel plant so it could produce steel armor planting needed for World War II.
The first GFM was installed at McKees Rocks by US Steel for the production of railroad axles in 1966. Competitors quickly followed this technological breakthrough, and today, all axles are produced on GFM’s. A continuous heat treat line was also added to the list of upgrades at McKees Rocks, and US Steel also upgraded the wheel manufacturing line. Upon installing all of the upgrades in 1970, this US Steel plant was the most modern axle and wheel manufacturing facility in the world.
But this plant was not without its down turns. In 1979, US Steel closed the wheel line due to the cast freight car wheel being accepted over the forged wheel as the economical solution. The remaining parts of the plant, axle and circular forging, remained open and profitable through 1981.
In 1982, US Steel incurred huge losses when rail car production dropped from 90,000 cars to 5,000 cars. This drop occurred when the Federal Government closed a tax loophole which had encouraged every doctor, lawyer, and other wealthy investors to own a railroad car for the tax advantages. By 1985, US Steel closed the McKees Rocks facility after four years of heavy losses, both at McKees Rocks and at all of their other plants.
Former plant managers and an investor from Chicago leased the Axle plant from US Steel in 1986 under the new name “Standard Forged Products.” McKees Rocks Forgings production of crane wheels then commenced in September with a total workforce of 14 people.
In 1989, after becoming profitable and with interest of reopening of the axle facility, Trinity Industries purchased McKees Rocks Forgings and Standard Forged Products from US Steel. Major investments were made to equipment to modernize and also bring the work force to current wages and benefits.
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