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818
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IRON AND STEEL


1400° C., with the consequence that the metal, now below its melting point, solidifies in pasty grains, or “ comes to nature.” These grains the puddler welds together by means of his rabble 2 2

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Ash Pit Floor Line

Flo. 14.-Puddling Furnace.

into rough So-lb balls, each like a sponge of metallic iron particles with its pores filled with the still molten cinder. These balls are next -worked into merchantable shape, and the cinder is simultaneously expelled in large part, first by hammering them one at a time under a steam hammer (fig. 37) or by squeezing them, and next by rolling them. The squeezing is usually done in the way shown in fig. 15.

Here BB is a large fixed iron cylinder, corrugated within, and C an ex centric cylinder, also corrugated, which, in turning to the right, by the friction of its corrugated surface rotates the puddled

bal D which has just entered at A,

so that, turning around its own

axis, it travels to the right and is

gradually changed from a ball into

a bloom, a rough cylindrical mass

of white hot iron, still dripping

with cinder. This bloom is inimediately

rolled down into a long

flat bar, called “muck bar, ” and

this in turn is cut into short lengths

which, piled one on another, are

reheated and again rolled down,

sometimes with repeated cutting,

piling and re-rolling, into the

final shape in which it is actual]

to be used. But, roll and re-roll

as often as we like, much cmder remains imbedded in the iron, in the form of threads and rods drawn out in the direction of rolling, and of course weakening the metal in the transverse direction. 80. Machine Puddling.-The few men who have, and are willing to exercise, the great strength and endurance which the puddler needs when he is stirring the pasty iron and balling it up, command such high wages, and with their little 500-lb charges turn out their iron so slowly, that many ways of puddling by machinery have been tried. None has succeeded permanently, though indeed one offered by ]. P. Roe is not without promise. The essential difficulty has been that none of them could subdivide the rapidly solidifying charge into the small balls which the workman dexterously forms by hand, and that if the charge is not thus subdivided but drawn as a single ball, the cinder cannot be squeezed out of it thoroughly enough. 81. Direct Paddling.-In common practice the cast iron as it runs from the blast-furnace is allowed to solidify and cool completely in the form of pigs, which are then graded by their fracture, and remelted in the puddling furnace itself. At Hourpes. in order to save the expense of this remelting, the molten cast iron as it comes from the blast-furnace is poured directly into the puddling furnace, in large charges of about zzoo Tb, which are thus about four times as large as those of common puddling furnaces. These large charges are puddled by two gangs of four men each, and a great saving in fuel and labour is effected.

¢

rn

FIG. 15.-Plan of Burden's

Excentric Revolving Squeezer

for Pucldled Balls.

Attractive as are these advances in puddling, they have not been widely adopted, for two chief reasons: First, owners of puddling works have been reluctant to spend money freely in plant for a process of which the future is so uncertain, and this unwillin ness has been the more natural because these very men are in 'large part the more conservative fraction, which has resisted the temptation to abandon puddling and adopt the steel-making processes. Second, in puddling iron which is to be used as a raw material for making very fine steel by the crucible process, quality is the thing In

of first importance. Now in the series of operations, the blast furnace, puddling and -crucible processes, through which the iron passes from the state of ore to that of crucible tool steel, it is so difficult to detect just which are the conditions essential to excellence in the Hnal product that, once a given procedure has been found to yield excellent steel, every one of its details is adhered to by the more cautious iron masters, often with surprising conservatism. Buyers of certain excellent classes of Swedish iron have been said to object even to the substitution of electricity for water-power as a means of driving the machinery of the forge. In 'case of direct puddling and the use of larger charges this conservatism has some foundation. because the established custom of allowing the cast iron to solidify ives a better opportunity of examining its fracture, and thus of rejecting unsuitable iron, than is afforded in direct puddling. So, too, when several puddlers are jointly responsible for the thoroughness of their work, as happens in puddling large charges, they will not exercise such care (nor indeed will a given degree of care be so effective) as when responsibility for each charge rests on one man.

82. The removal of phosphorus, a very important duty of the puddling process, requires that the cinder shall be “ basic, ” i.e. that it shall have a great excess of the strong base, ferrous oxide, FeO, for the phosphoric acid to' unite with, lest it be deoxidized by the carbon of the iron as fast as it forms, and so return to the iron, following the general rule that oxidized bodies enter the slag and unoxidized ones the metallic iron. But this basicity implies that for each part of the silica or silicic acid which inevitably results from the oxidation of the silicon of the pig iron, the cinder shall contain some three parts of iron oxide, itself a valuable and expensive substance. Hence, in order to save iron oxide the pig iron used should be nearly free from silicon. It should also be nearly free from sulphur, because of the great difficulty of removing this element in the puddling process. But the strong deoxidizing conditions needed in the blast-furnace to remove sulphur tend strongly to deoxidize silica and thus to make the pig iron rich in silicon. 8 3. The “ refinery process ” of fitting pig iron for the puddling process by removing the silicon without the carbon, is sometimes used because of this difficulty in making a pig iron initially low in both sulphur and silicon. In this process molten pig iron with much silicon but little sulphur has its silicon oxidized to silica and thus slagged off, by means of a blast of air playing on the iron through a blanket of burning coke which covers it. The coke thus at once supplies by its combustion the heat needed for melting the iron and keeping it hot, and by itself dissolving in the molten metal returns carbon to it as fast as this element is burnt out by the blast, so that the “ refined ” cast iron which results, though still rich in carbon and therefore easy to melt in the puddling process, has relatively little silicon. 84. In the Bessemer or “pneumatic ” process, which indeed might be called the “ fuel-less ” process, molten pig iron is converted into steel by having its carbon, silicon and manganese, and often its phosphorus and sulphur, oxidized and thus removed by air forced through it in so many fine streams and hence so rapidly that the heat generated by the oxidation of these impurities suffices in and by itself, unaided by burning any other fuel, not only to keep the iron molten, but even to raise its temperature from a point initially but little above the melting point of cast iron, say 1150° to 125O° C., to one well above the melting point of the resultant steel, say 1 500° C. The “ Bessemer converter ” or “ vessel ” (fig. 16) in which this wonderful process is carried out is a huge retort, lined with clay, dolomite or other refractory material, hung aloft and turned on trunnions, DD, through the right-hand one of which the blast is carried to the goose neck E, which in turn delivers it to the tuyeres Q at the bottom. 1

There are two distinct varieties of this process, the original undephosphorizing or “ acid ” Bessemer process, so called because the converter is lined with acid materials, i.e. those rich in silicic acid, such as quartz and clay, and because the slag is consequently acid, 'i.e. siliceous; and the dephosphorizing or “ Thomas ” or “ basic Bessemer ” process, so called because the converter is lined with basic materials, usually calcined dolomite, a mixture of lime and magnesia, bound together with

tar, and because the slag is made very basic by adding -much