Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 27 > Page 7 - From Conversations with Steelworkers: How Mike Oleschuk got his Farm / Regarding the Coke Ovens

Page 7 - From Conversations with Steelworkers: How Mike Oleschuk got his Farm / Regarding the Coke Ovens

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1 (393 reads)

And because I supported the Seamen's Union and my wife made sandwiches for the picket line and everything--some even said, Go burn Mike Oleschuk's house. The committee stopped them, said if I wanted to support them, it was my idea. Well, Jack Moraff, the Jew, he was my good friend. He didn't work at the plant but he was a good progressive man, and he knew me well. He came the next day. He said, "Mike, you have small children. By jeez, if you get kicked out of that plant, what are you going to do?" I said I didn't know. He said, "You saw what happened to Forlett-- he had to go to the old country. He got blacklisted and he can't get citizen pa? pers and he can't get a damned thing-- this.'ll be happening to you." He said, "Quit that. Let the Canadian people do it. You're a foreigner." I said, "Jack, I can't do it. It's too late for me." I said, "What the hell am I going to do?" He said, "Buy a piece of land and go there and farm there. If you get a kick in the ass, at least you can make a living." "How can I buy a piece of land?" "Don't worry. You're my good friend, and if you'd like to go on the farm--I'll buy it." And that's the way I landed on the farm. He took the mortgage The farm cost $10,000 and I paid $10,000. I paid only for the bank administration, 2 dollars a year for 18 years--so I paid 36 dollars interest for $10,000. You could say that was a good friend? He didn't make anything. An old country Jew. I'd come home from the plant and work the farm. We had COWS--10 cows at that time--and horses, pigs, chickens, garden--everything there. I'm coming on 74. I fought, and I'm still fighting. And you could say the Seamen's Union and Jack Moraff finally put me there on the farm. CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE PAGE 9 While these Conversa? tions with Steelworkers are not intended to present a detailed pic? ture of the steelmaking process, it might be helpful to have a very basic understanding of how steel is made. The sketch on page 9 gives a rough overview of some of the processes and products in the flowline of making steel. The first step is the coke ovens. In future issues we expect to offer a more detailed look at other departments in the steel plant. Regarding the Coke Ovens J.T. Collier, Manager of Coke Ovens, ret.: Of course, the coke plant is only the very beginning of the steel process. That makes coke which is used as a fuel, also chemi? cally to smelt iron ore into iron in the blast furnace. From there the hot iron is taken to the open hearth and made into steel. Coke has nothing to do with that. Today coal for coke comes from selected mines--but when I went there first, it was all Cape Breton coal. Cape Breton coal makes a very poor coke. It's very very high volatile and it runs about 35 or 36% volatile, and the reaction is so violent that it makes a very friable coke that will not support the burden in the blast furnace--you want good burden so you can get a draft through all the time--it breaks down and causes plugging. So for that rea? son, now, we selectively blend coals, blending coals that are less volatile with the high volatile coals locally, and end up with a composite that's probably a- round 297o volatile. By volatile, I mean the gaseous stuff that's actually driven off during the coking process. (You don't want the coke to catch fire then?) Well, the coke is made in a sealed chamber. It can't catch fire. There's no air in there. A coke oven is a literal name--coal is baked in an oven. Behind those doors are brick chambers that are hermetically sealed, are under pressure, and are heated from without, just like an oven. You bake coal just like you bake bread--you don't burn it, you bake it, to get coke. You can get by-products from the gas. But your pri? mary purpose in the coke plant is to make a fuel for the blast furnace. That's your including part of the 114 Koppers Ovens (7)
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