Monday, January 01, 2007

Comments - Iron Raven

If you check the comment left on my last entry, you will see something from Bill Flemming. Bill is being a bit shy too - check:

I had known that there had been a local smith 'on site' during the construction of the Outlander 'viking village' set. Bill is the man!

For those wondering what Bill is talking about latter, I took a team from DARC to the Canadian national blacksmiths conference CANIRON V, which took place at Annapolis Royal NS just before Labour Day in 2005. We mounted a demonstration iron smelt using all Viking Age tools. One feature of that smelt was the use of a theoretical solution to an air delivery problem . Team member Kevin Jarbeau had constructed an extremely large version of what is considered the standard Norse double bellows. For the CANIRON demo, it was only our second use of this equipment. As with the first attempt with it, the smelt suffered a major air flow problem and resulting crash in temperatures about two hours into the sequence.

Our CANIRON host, Brad Allen, had tore off and ran back with a mile of electrical cord and this motor powered blower. This allowed us to swap out the historic bellows and get the smelt temperature back before the whole furnace froze up solid. I never did know who had loaned us the blower in al the confusion.

So thanks for the loan Bill!


For readers who wanted some more background on this particular sequence of 'all Norse' smelts:
First attempt and demo rehearsal (June 2005)
CANIRON demo attempt (August 2005)
Bonfield demo attempt (September 2006)
Check under the archive of this BLOG for:
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Viking Age Smelt - September 2

To date we have not gotten this large bellows to perform correctly. For two 2005 smelts, we had to switch over to electric blowers at about the 2 hour mark. In June we did get a very nice VA styled bloom at about 7 lbs. The CANIRON smelt produced an unweighed lump of cast iron (latter stolen - but thats another story!).
At the Bonfield smelt we were able (just barely) to employ the 'UbberBellows' for the entire sequence. Again the smelt product was cast iron.

For the first two smelts, the problem was with the internal valving system (or lack thereof) in the bellows. For the last smelt, at least a partial fix of the valves had been been made. At the Bonfield smelt, we allowed as many members of the crowd watching to take at hand at the bellows. In the end the variation in operators, coupled with a basic weakness in construction, resulted in breakage at the bellows hinges.

There is a discussion of WHY the 'UbberBellows' approach is being tested experimentally as part of my paper 'Adventures in Early Iron Smelting'. A version of the paper is available with illustrations ; HERE

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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