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Old 03-15-2021, 04:26 PM   #1
adkman12986
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MacIntyre Blast Furnace

THE MACINTYRE BLAST FURNACE
by Thomas Joyce and John Oxenford
This is the third in a series of articles about our historic blast furnace. The authors continue to explore the great problems the original owners faced. At this point in the series, the authors and editor gratefully acknowledge the magnificent assistance being given them by Miss Marcia Smith, Librarian of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake. Without Miss Smith's fine cooperation in making valuable documentary research possible, this series would, indeed, not be possible.
The Seventh (1850) Census of the United States, Census of Manufacturers, stated that Adirondack Iron Co., Town of Newcomb, produced 600 tons cast iron valued at $15,000, 600 tons of Rought (wrought) valued at $36,000, used 12,000 tons of ore and 70,000 tons of charcoal, had a capital investment of $15,000 and employed 150 people.
Cast Iron
Cast iron was produced in a cupola furnace, a small blast furnace around 15 - 20 ft. high, 4 - 6 ft. in diameter, and lined with fire brick. Air was supplied from blowers or bellows via tuyeres situated near the bottom of the furnace. The charge was charcoal, pig iron and limestone. As the metal in the cupola was in contact with charcoal, the main tendency was to pick up carbon; alloys could be added here to obtain any desired mechanical properties of strength and hardness. McIntyre directed in 1846 that this recipe of alloying materials be tried, "to every charge of ore put in the blast furnace likely to produce 480 lb. metal, add the following mixture, either with the ore or fuel viz. Manganese 42 lb., charcoal 14 lb., plumbago 8 lbs., saltpetre 2 lbs. making together 66 lbs. The same may be
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applied with equal advantage in the puddling furnace, say two or three pounds when the metal is fused, and con tinuing to do so at intervals of a few minutes, incorporating it by stirring it with this metal until 66 lbs. are used or until the metal begins to thicken or till, as the workmen say, it comes to nature.
I have consulted an able chemist on the above. He sees clearly that manganese and saltpetre may be very ser viceable but cannot conceive how charcoal and plumbago can be . . . I know not whether it will do any good but anything that has the least probability of aiding ought to be tried and therefore let this be done." Sir Robert Hadfield's introduction of high manganese steel was a landmark in the history of steelmaking, but this was not until 1888!
In contrast to this amateur attempt, the last blast fur nace to be built incorporated one of the most up-to-date innovations of the period. In 1829 a Scots engineer, J. B. Neilson, took out a patent entitled, "Hot Blast for Fur naces"; he found that by heating the cold blast, three times as much iron could be produced from the same amount of fuel and the same amount of blast did twice as much work as the cold blast was able to do; furthermore, the temper
THE IRON DAM.
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Old 03-15-2021, 04:27 PM   #2
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ature necessary for fusion was attained at a point immedi ately above the tuyeres, the molten iron dropping down immediately to the hearth without decarbonization. Stoves were built on the top of the 1854 blast furnace and the hot waste gases heated the incoming blast.
The white cast iron produced, often referred to as white plate metal, was very hard, brittle and resistant to wear. It could not be machined by ordinary process and when frac tured had a white crystalline structure. Tests were done by the government at the Springfield Armory with a view to using it for gun barrels; a price of $140/ton was mentioned. Henderson, however, admits to McIntyre before the tests that, "the character of all white plate metal is brittle and although ours is much stronger and tougher than any I have seen, still it would not answer for cannon I fear. Grey pig is always used for cannon. I believe it is much tougher than the white. What our peculiar metal would be, if melted over again and lose a portion of its carbon, no one can say without trial."
On being turned down by the Armory, Henderson com mented, "It makes me think no worse of the quality of iron which our ores will make but it convinces me of the great pains which would be necessary to make gun barrel iron."
Wrought Iron
Wrought iron was produced in those days by the Wal loon process (named after a Flemish province south west of Liege in Belgium). Here the pig iron bar was fed into the charcoal-filled furnace and fired by an air blast. The liquid metal lost carbon in the strong oxidizing blast and collected as a semi-solid mass at the bottom of the hearth, since the removal of the carbon had raised the melting point of the iron. The bloom was then removed from the hearth and hammered into a bar, the whole process taking about 1 - 2 hours. This small furnace was referred to at Adirondac as a lumping fire, from the lump of iron which formed in the hearth.
Wrought iron was also produced here, using a rever beratory furnace which had been invented in 1784 by Henry Cort for puddling iron. Pig iron was charged to the furnace and heated to about 1000C, the material being puddled (rabbled) by the furnace men with long rabbles through holes in the sidewalls, thus exposing it evenly to the action of the flames. The blue flames which resulted
STACK
RABEUNG D o
SAND HAT
PuddlING FURNACE
from the burning of carbon monoxide were known as 'pud- dlers candles'; also, as the carbon monoxide was evolved, a violent boiling of the charge took place. As the iron became purer it could no longer remain liquid and the entire mass became pasty (comes to nature). When the reaction ceased, the mass was separated into portions which were worked into balls. The balls were then taken to the hammer and worked into blooms. This process, known as shingling, con sisted of nobbing, hammering and squeezing the puddled balls. There was a great flow of cinder from the hot mass and the compressing of the porous lump caused a consider able increase in temperature which favored the explusion of slag. When the metal had been sufficiently worked and shaped into a roughly rectangular block it was passed to the forge rolls where it was rolled into puddled bars.
The beauty of the puddling furnace was that there was
no direct contact between the ore and the fuel and thus, whereas charcoal had been used in the Walloon process for its purity (in the ratio one ton charcoal to one ton of wrought iron), wood could now serve as the fuel.
Henderson writes in 1845, "The advantages will be that spruce wood can be used instead of charcoal for heating, which will be a great saving . . . there is much spruce amongst the wood which the choppers have cut. His (Taylor) last letter informed that he has got hauled to the works about 700 cords one half of which is spruce."
Tongs and Ladle used in the early operation - both about 5 ft. long.
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AW
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