Friday, October 29, 2021

Sell Out (10 lines #2)


You can’t be serious, they actually will sell these resources to us?

Certainly, our analysis of the overall cultural matrix shows a consistent historic pattern of destructive exploitation, usually benefiting the personal greed of individuals, most commonly by more technologically advanced groups over those resident at the resource sites. 

Excellent, mounting an invasion is so time consuming, and the costs involved certainly adversely effect our own final profit taking. 

Further, there is no centralized authority, outside of their ‘United Nations’, which is in reality more like some kind of in-effective debating society, with little to no power to enforce decisions even if they are made. 

You mean we will be dealing with separate sub groups, making individual deals for each commodity and physical location?

Even better, they have this obscure concept about trade goods, fully expecting a short use life, coupled with rapidly modified designs based on what they call ‘latest style’. 

You are actually telling me we can exchange valuable raw materials for poorly made consumer goods, sure to fail?

Yes, and they have little appreciation for waste management, hardly are concerned about environmental degradation, and will be fully expecting fast depletion of any resources required in the production of these goods.

Really, we can even use sloppy manufacturing to make this junk, on their soil, then simply walk away from the mess once we have stripped the place?

I know, it is simply unbelievable, and to quote one to their own famous poets : 'What fools these Mortals be’!

Hardly a new concept - from 1964

I actually wrote this piece first, then in looking for something to use as an illustration, got thinking about Science Fiction I had read, way back in early high school. 'To Serve Mankind' first came to mind, then this one ...

The 10 Line Challenge' is to write a short story using only 10 sentences. The piece is formatted here so to make the sentence count clear. This (again) may be cheating just a little, as some of those lines are a wee bit on the long size. 

The first contribution was 'Globes'

Monday, October 25, 2021

'Weathering Heights' - Oct 30 IRON SMELT

 Those who have been following the work on Icelandic / Hals - Phase 3 have seen that the originally intended set of experiments has been modfied :

Part A / June 2021- full build using Icelandic simulated clay mixture, thin walls with sod cone support

June - after extraction
Part B / September 2022 - repair and re-use of furnace, after exposure to weather.

September - after extraction
Part C / (June 2022) - repair and re-use of furnace after over wintering

Part D / (continuing) - long term observation of furnace as it naturally erodes

State of the furnace 9/21/21


A combination of factors contributed to more damage to this furnace than had originally been foreseen. Additionally, September at Wareham was exceptionally wet (September 14 saw 5.5 cm on that one day alone, where the historic average for the entire month was 7.8 cm). Combined, the remaining clay liner had slumped forward 17 degrees over the first three weeks since the September 4 firing. Although it was perhaps possible to recover and repair this furnace, it certainly would never have survived in viable condition over an entire winter exposure. 

For that reason, it was decided to skip the spring re-use, and proceed directly to Part D - recording the furnace as it weathers over coming years. (The hope is for a full decade of observations, which will certainly depend on my own longevity!)

 The next smelt will mark the start of another long duration exposure project. 

Another 'clean' sand pad had been built earlier this summer, 8 x 8 feet square. This was framed by standard 2 x 4 lumber, set on narrow edge, then filled with course sand. On to this was built a 'standard Short Shaft' furnace, clay / sand / manure mix walls, set on a low stone block plinth. (This build detailed in an earlier blog post, first segment). On consideration of the possible recording scheme detailed below, an additional 15 cm of wall height was added. The total shaft height (above 10 cm plinth) is now roughly 85 cm, with an expected stack height (above tuyere) at 65 cm. (Re-cycled clay material included both ash and charcoal fines, resulting in the colour seen below)


Finished clay build - chalk lines at 10 cm

The intent is to run a 'typical' smelt, using roughly 30 kg of DD-1 analog (red oxide with 10% flour binder). Then leave the furnace plus any debris created in place. As there are no special problems expected from this well proven build, layout or ore, the smelt itself is most likely to follow the pattern of (many) earlier experiments.

The acquisition of several accurate instruments by Neil Peterson has suggested adding some more detailed measurements as the experimental element during the actual smelt. To this end, a number of new fittings were created (as detailed in an earlier blog post, lower segment).

  • A new air volume gauge will allow for recording 'in line' amounts (in finer detail than required)
  • The existing air pressure gauge, although an older dial / analog type, can be included
  • A 'Y' fitting equipped with a simple one way valve will permit the existing 'Norse Smelt Bellows' to be integrated into the air system. As the current high volume air blower is normally fitted with a sliding air gate, it will be possible to switch to human powered air supply over frequent (if short duration) periods over the whole smelting cycle. 
  • The furnace itself will be equipped with two sets of small diameter holes, allowing for frequent internal temperature measurements. Spaced every 10 cm of shaft height, one set above the tuyere, the other located at 90 degrees.

The projected outline would be to have :

  • Air volume recorded constantly (via computer lap top input), but most likely reported as 5 minute intervals.
  • Air pressure recorded as a rough visual average every 5 minutes
  • Human Bellows utilized for a five minute period, once every 30 minutes, with operators alternating. 
  • Temperatures recorded individually over the set of ports, once every 30 minutes. 

It is expected that once the extraction process starts, further measurements will not prove possible. An attempt to video the extraction will also be made.

Combined with the normal cycle of charcoal and ore additions (typically something every two minutes) plus the usual clearing of slag blockages and tapping events, this will make for a fairly busy activity level for this smelt! 

Note : The details on the two Phase 3 smelt experiments were documented in a more formal style, available as a PDF : Phase 3 : P3 A & B

The full web site has a number of individual reports covering the Phase 3 work.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

in EXARC Journal 2021 Digest

 I am quite pleased that a condensed version of my article 'Standardized Reporting of Bloomery Iron Smelting - a modest (?) proposal' has been included in the 2021 EXARC Journal Digest.

The complete Journal version can be seen  HERE
The original version, as prepared for the 2020 Woodford Furnace Festival, is available as a PDF (off the Wareham Forge Iron Smelting web site)

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Furnace Build - October 30 Iron Smelt


Considerable help from Neil Peterson and Gus Gissing.
Build for the October 30 iron smelt :
  • 28 cm ID
  • 70 cm stack
  • on 10 cm stone plinth
  • lower walls at 6 cm thick, tapers to 4 cm
  • set on an (8 x 8 foot) clean sand pad
This furnace will have our 'standard' layout, and will be used for a 'typical' iron smelt sequence / 30 kg analog :
  • The main addition will be constant monitoring of input air volumes, via Neil's new (accurate) meter. The M2 smelting bellows will be mounted in tandem, allowing duplicate measurements on an occasional basis.
  • The overall debris created through this smelt will be left in place (and recorded)
  • The furnace will be allowed to naturally decay over time, as exposed to summer rain and winter snows. This will be documented on a regular time frame, ideally over the next decade.

Saturday, October 09, 2021


This is a light weight treadle hammer I built years back. This was my first attempt at a larger tool, so at best only an 'intermediate' quality. This is an excellent tool for surface embellishing using decorative punching. It allows for careful positioning of forming tools or dies (basically 'hands free' striking).

(Sorry about the image quality)

The working head is built around a 12 inch long piece of rail track, roughly 90 lbs.
The bundle of springs 'floats' that weight. 

The framing is heavy angle iron - so not as rigid as it could be?
The board on the foot peddle is not fixed in place, but is the size of the framing there.

The whole thing stands over five feet tall (68 inches), it is 30 inches wide by 32 inches deep. The base is 30 x 20.
It is sized for my body height (at 5 foot 11 inches), comfortable to work with my long legs. The working table is set to 38 inches from the ground. 

The table is made of a disk of 1 inch thick mild steel, total diameter at 9 1/2 inches.

The striking head is 5 x 5 inches, with two 1/2 diameter holes set on 3 1/2 inch centers, which were intended to allow for the attachment of top forming dies.

It would at least be theoretically possible to somewhat disassemble. (Not sure what the total weight is) You can see the large bolts that hold the head too the impact (leaf) springs, leaves and return springs to the frame. 

There might be some adjustment possible in the return spring to treadle board attachments (these all are bolted) but I've never tried to change any of those alignments.

I had built this just about the time I was switching to full time, the welds are stick (so not the best, I can tell you). I never ended up using it. At the time I was doing a lot of decorative punch work, this would allow for one hand on the bar and one hand using a handled punch. David Robertson got interested in small air hammers just as I finished this build - and I ended up funding that project, and getting my first 50 lb air hammer as my large power tool. 

This sat in the corner of my main workshop (unheated with dirt floor) for a long while. Eventually I moved it out to the front entrance overhang, so it has been stored out of doors, but out of the rain. Obviously there is surface rust (it never was painted). 




My old friend / sometime student Gus Gissing will be the new owner.


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

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