Friday, April 01, 2011

OUT of 'Africa'

- This is the third of my draft reports on the activities at this year's Smeltfest in Lexington Virginia with other members of the Early Iron Underground...

In the last report, we had stumbled into bed at roughly 5:30 in the morning. The last ore charges were added and the furnace was left to burn down untended. I was in considerably better shape than some, as I had crashed at midnight and then gotten back up at 4 AM.
The next morning, individuals arrived back up to the work site at random times - largely based on how much sleep they had gotten the night before. Jake and Lee were first on the scene, but it was about 10:45 AM before serious work on opening up the furnace started.

This is an 'down the kilt' shot, taken from inside the loading gate, down the shaft into the hot base of the furnace. You can see a mound of charcoal towards the centre still remaining. The hot spots to the left and right corners mark the location of the east and north sets of tuyeres (respectively).

The first slag block to be pulled free was the one to the larger north facing arch. The block is seen here rotated 90 degrees CCW from its initial position. The bases of the clay tuyeres are seen embedded into the slag, and broken off at the point they would have been surrounded by the initial loose clay packing to seal the arch. The glow seen in the interior of the left most tuyere reminds you that this block is still orange hot in the centre!

This is a view down inside the furnace from that same north side arch. The larger masses seen on top of the charcoal are actually pieces of the interior wall of the furnace, which fell down on top of the remaining charcoal and slag blocks. This primarily due to the whacking and prodding required to pull the slag block free. You can see that the base of the furnace has slumped down, the slag blocks burning down into the supporting sticks to about even with the ground level.

Here, Jake is working on prying up one of the slag blocks from the west arch. Some better indication of the heat can be seen. In fact, in the couple of minutes required for this operation, the wooden block used as a support here would catch on fire due to radiant heat. (Although it was a good 18 inches back from the furnace.)

Here you see that with Jake on tongs and Lee assisting with a bloom hook, this second slag mass is extracted. Again the bases of the broken off tuyeres can be seen in the lower edge of the block.

Although there was some expectations of a large bloom mass (for Jake at least) no large bloom was found. A number of smaller, roughly tennis ball sized, fragments were broken out from within the various slag blocks.

This process of recording then breaking up slag to recover potential iron metal was still underway when I left Smeltfest on Saturday morning. When some final measurements are available I will finish this series of reports.

No comments:


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

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE