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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

I The First Half Century - The Initial Struggle

II The Second Fifty Years - The Start Of Expansion

III The Third Fifty Years - Federation And The First World War
i General Conditions
ii Some Early Innovative Approaches
iii Concrete Pipes
iv Cement-fibre Pipes
v Concrete Products
vi The Birth of the Iron and Steel Industry

IV The Fourth Period - Second World War To The Present



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Concrete Pipes (continued)

Expansion beyond concrete started early in the twenties when Hume began producing steel pipes. The initial aim was to be able to produce pipe of varying diameter up to about 10 metres in length with the seam welded. Electric welding was very much in its infancy and a completely new rolling process had to be developed consisting of a forming machine followed by a closing and welding unit and finally a straightening machine. Three patents were taken out in 1923 and a new company Hume Steel Ltd. was formed. Once the steel pipe production was perfected, it was not long before the idea occurred of using the spinning process to cast a concrete lining inside the steel pipe and thus greatly increase its life and strength. Hume Steel Ltd. originated the concrete lining of steel pipes using the spinning process and this is now the accepted practice throughout the world.

During the Second World War, Humes were associated with the Government sponsored project to pipe water from the Murray River to the new steelworks at Whyalla. The final connection was made early in 1944 and required 215 km of 53mm, 600 mm and 660 mm Hume concrete lined steel pipe involving 19,570 tons of Australian steel plate and 3445 tonnes of cement.

Over the years there have been many refinements; manufacturing methods have changed and output has increased dramatically. This progress in pipe manufacture has been achieved by developing and applying sound laboratory-based technology and, in turn this had led to diversification into other concrete based products such as pre-stressed concrete, railway sleepers, bridge beams and box culverts.

Walter Hume remained Managing Director from 1910 until his death in 1943 and had been directly responsible for over 500 inventions patented by the Hume organization between 1910 and 1939.

In 1961 the Company moved into plastics and has produced many PVC articles for the agricultural and home market. A recent innovation was a product Plastiline, a new method of protecting concrete from attack by corrosive material, particularly concrete pipes to combat the effect of hydrogen sulphide attack.

The Company name was changed to its present form, Humes Limited in 1950. Today Humes has 63 factories in more than 40 cities and towns throughout Australia and operates 27 overseas manufacturing centres in New Zealand, USA, UK, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Hume Brothers Cement Iron Company Ltd; Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Ltd; Hume Steel Ltd; Humes Ltd

People in Bright Sparcs - Hume, Walter R.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 865 - 866, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher