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Pittsburg Boiler Works
201 - 205 N. Olive


Pittsburg Boiler Works - 201-205 N. Olive
Thomas McNally - Proprietor

- photo Prosperous Pittsburg Pictorially Portrayed - 1915
"This company has attained a wide reputation, having been established here over 25 years. In addition to national business their records show large shipments to Canada, Mexico and foreign countries. The average annual output will exceed $60,000. A large number of men are kept on the road installing their products, the yearly pay roll being over $18,000." Prosperous Pittsburg Pictorially Portrayed - 1915

McNally - International Corporation Headquarters in Pittsburg
By Ted Crawford

The McNally Pittsburg Manufacturing Corp. has its roots in a small boiler shop that was opened only 13 years after the city of Pittsburg was founded and it is one of the industries that enabled the community to evolve from a mining camp to become a Southeast Kansas Industrial Center. And the firm itself during those years grew tremendously, expanding its operations onto the international scene while continuing Pittsburg as its home base.
In 1889 a boilermaker named Thomas J. McNally established a shop in a 40 x 80 building on West Third St. [The building was located north of the Frisco tracks on the east side of Olive and south of Third Street, on land was donated to Thomas McNally by the Commercial Club of Pittsburg, who had been invited to come to town from Ashland, Wisconsin to set up a business in great need due to the growing coal mining. The Commercial Club was the predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce which was organized in 1911.] His skill was badly needed by local coal mines because all used steam engines. He soon expanded into general repairs and machining. With new mines opening and established mines expanding, those were busy years.
When his son. Thomas J. McNally Jr. assumed responsibility for the shop in 1906, he decided to look for opportunities for further expansion. This basic idea, "To look for Opportunity," remained as a guide from that time on. By the time Thomas McNall retired from day-to-day control of McNally Pittsburg in 1955 the company was known around the world, wherever coal was mined. Equipment and complete coal plants originating in Pittsburg can be found in the United States and Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia, the Near East, Africa, Australia and the Far East. In fact, the only continent missed is Antartica.
When the founder's grandson, Edward T. McNally, succeeded his father as president in 1955 the company had an international reputation. However, coal production. was declining in the United States, limiting the demand for new plants. Therefore the company looked for opportunities to which it could apply its engineering and manufacturing skills in other fields. The search resulted in new expansion. As a result the McNally manufacturing complex in Pittsburg grew to a total of 300,000 square feet, a far cry from the 40x80 boiler shop of 1889.


Complete service to the coal industry remains a major activity of McNally Pittsburg. Over the years it buflt an outstanding reputation for building quality machinery and efficient plants. It expanded facilities in Pittsburg. It purchased a manufacturing plant in Wellston , Ohio to better serve eastern coal fields.
This expansion was needed but was not sufficient, when management surveyed the situation in 1955. Additional fields of endeavor were needed. Sensing an opportunity in the hard rock and mineral field, McNally bought a manufacturing plant in Danville, Pa. with long experience in the stone industry. A major venture was undertaken in India. There, in association with local financiers, a brand new manufacturing plant was built to serve the growing Indian industry.
These major steps expanded capacity and reached new markets. Additional diversification was made by designing and constructing a wide range ot specialized heavy equipment. The company started manufacturing such items as giant tire molds, coke plant machinery, dredging equipment, oversize water valves for irrigation lines, dam gates and dam gate hoists.
Supplementing its manufacturing capacities, McNally engineers were ready to go to the customer to solve his problems. In short, when something mechanical was needed the company was ready, willing and able to lend technical help. It constantly tried to do more and to do it better than somebody else. All this activity was spurred by the idea voiced by Thomas McNally, "Look for Opportunity."


When Thomas J. McNally Jr. took over the Pittsburg Boiler & Machine Co. in 1906 the coal field necessarily occupied all of his attention. The Pittsburg coal area was growing. The coal operators were expanding. Therefore Thomas McNally decided to give them all the help he could and thereby grow beyond day-to-day repair work.
The company started building coal tipples. Following common practice these were made of wood; and they were not long lived. Therefore, in 1921 McNally designed and erected the first all steel tipple in the Pittsburg coal field, for the Sheridan Coal Co. It proved so efficient and attracted so much favorable comment that the steel tipple became standard in the area.
In simple terms, a tipple crushed the larger sizes of mine run coal and then screened it to commercially salable sizes.
Since coal crushers were needed in every plant, the boiler works designed and built its own crusher. This first unit began the development of a wide family of coal crushers that became standard wherever coal was mined.
In addition the company decided to develop other equipment such as elevators, screens, conveyors, loading booms, picking tables and heavy duty gear drives. In a relatively few years McNally was able to offer coal operators a complete plant designed and erected and fully equipped with McNally machinery. This new capacity enabled the company to extend its operation into other coal fields. In a true sense, expansion never stopped.


Introduction of machine mining underground and shovels in pits caused more "dirt" to be included in the mine run coal delivered to the processbig plant. A better cleaning process was needed.
This problem interested Thomas McNally, so he investigated several new ideas for automatic cleaning of mine run coal. He purchased a plunger type coal washer and installed it in a coal plant in 1929. Experience with this unit impelled him to look further and to investigate washing equipment made in Europe and England.
This search finally lead to a patent arrangement with Bertram Norton, an English engineer. The Norton washer was a superior machine using air for the pulsing cycle and an automatic discharge control.
Previously mentioned was the fact that the coal tipple simply crushed and screened coal. Any cleaning done was manual, with men and boys throwing rock off the picking table.
The coal washer offered a vastly superior method, at lower cost, with heavier tonnages and controlled quality of good coal. By floating run of mine coal through a pulsating bath of water, the heavier dirt, stone and pyrites sank, while the lighter coal floated to the top. There was a constantly moving layer of coal drawn off the top, with the heavier unburnables discharged from the bottom.
The first McNally Norton coal washer built in Pittsburg was put into service in Terre Haute, Ind. in 1932. It was a success. It proved to the coal industry that it could profit from this coal cleaning method.
With this unit McNally Pittsburg stepped up its pace. An experienced coal cleaning engineer, C.H.J. Patterson, joined the staff. Improvements in efficiency and size of the McNally Norton washer were constant, decade by decade. Machine capacity rose for 100 to 1300 tons per hour, with accurate control of clean coal recovery.
The first coal cleaning plants used but one McNally Norton washer. However, when coal operators entered extremely critical markets and needed better control, McNally engineers designed a system using two washers in tandem. This allowed exceptionally close control of ash (the general term for unburnable material). The tandem system also offered dividends in maximum production of clean coal.
Most plants were geared to capacities of several hundred tons. Some plants built processed 3,000 tons per hour. However, McNally engineers did not neglect the small operator. For him they designed the McNally Norton Unit Washer, a complete coal plant in one unit of equipment.


The McNally Norton washer revolutinized coal cleaning. But the company management never closed its eyes to other ideas. Because of this viewpoint, investigations into other systems never stopped. Two types of equipment offered usefulness and were adopted.
One was the McNally Rheolaveur washer, which used the action of water flowing through troughs to separate extremely fine coal from fine ash. It was an extra step in the washing plant, following the McNally Norton equipment. Another process was secured from a Dutch inventor. It is the McNally Tromp Dense Media Washer, used to clean extremely difficult coals.
McNally's also added over the years an important group of subsidiary equipment. It includes mechanical and thermal coal dryers, gigantic loading silos, car movers and car dumpers, and loading booms for both railroad cars and ships.
In fact, whatever, the problem or whatever the size, McNally Pittsburg proved that it can build and equip a coal preparation plant that is efficient. And since their own engineers start up each new plant and stay on the job until it is running properly, the coal operator knows he will get his money's worth from McNally Pittsburg. - Pittsburg Almanac 1876 -1976, pp 223-224

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