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Texas Tatara-First run.

Dan O'Connor

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Yesterday, I did my first Tatara run. Learned a WHOLE lot and even made a little high carbon steel.


Here is a short video after the first charcoal charge went in.

This is the first time the fuigo actually pumped air to a fire.


More later.


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There where several things that went wrong with this smelt
1) Not enough charcoal
2) Way too much Air. The burn rate was much too fast.
3) I did not let the furnace get really hot before adding the first charge of ore.
4) Smelt only lasted 2.5 hours.

The good is:
1) I definitely have enough air supply.
2) The system will reduce the magnetite I have.
3) Other than the the outer clay/sand shell the Rammed Earth Tatara held up well.
4) I made steel-very high carbon steel or maybe even cast. Got about 15 lbs out of 60 lbs ore. There was a lot of slag in the upper part of the furnace. More charcoal and a longer time I hope would have given more of a yield.

Now I just need to have more charcoal and dial it back.
I am building a bigger charcoal kiln.

The beginning of the video is the preheat. My one year old Turkish Kangal Bhalor is hamming it up.

At the end it is a shot inside the furnace after the air was shut off and I had dug out one side. Still really hot. Not sure what I am seeing and what it is telling me.

A little disappointed but pretty pumped that the system works.





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There's something extremely comforting and wholesome about the sound of the Fuigo operating. Fantastic setup and great to watch.

Bhalor should get an Oscar!


Best regards



"He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest." Dylan Thomas

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What you're seeing in the last few minutes there is the slag bowl draining off the bloom, unless you already pulled said bloom, in which case it's just slag. Cool, regardless! One question: Why are you leaving the tap hole open during the run? That should be closed except when you're actively tapping slag, or you risk funkiness with the furnace atmosphere. Mostly loss of heat where you want it most, but also excessive decarb and loss of iron where the air is flowing out of the furnace bed.


What's the slag like? If it's magnetic you're losing iron.


I look forward to see where this goes. B)

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I did have the slag holes plugged during the first part of the run. This was towards the end. All the videos I have seen of the big Tatara, the holes are open with a continuous run of slag. Not sure where in the process this occurs though.


I am feeling more confident in my pine charcoal. Theoretically, hardwood charcoal has more heat energy. But it takes more energy (air blast) to extract it. I saw that in this run. I think I made pretty accurate measurements of my airflow and it seemed to be on the minimum side of recommendations. In practice it was way too much. Also, because of its greater porosity pine CC is much more reactive (CO2 to CO) than hardwood CC.

So the first order of business is to establish a burn rate and then play with ore/charcoal ratios from that.


Scoped out my local sawmill last week and they directed me to big piles of scarp pine on the back of the property. Now I need bigger tow vehicle and trailer. Oh where does it all end!!!! :wacko:



As for your ceiling question-other than a loud pop when the steel heated up it looks unscathed.

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I don't think I have made cast iron.
Just very high carbon steel. I believe the crumbling is caused by slag
or unreduced ore kind of gluing small pieces of steel together. I tried
the carbon reducing Orishigane method but did not really do it I think. I
did get some sparklers. Once I got it to welding heat the slag/ore
crumbled away and any steel left forged quite well. I tried a couple of
pieces and got several nuggets of steel. Pictured is one of them I
forged to a wafer, quenched and then broke it it up. Broke very easily
and spark test shows high carbon.


Heating up



A few sparklers




Forged to a wafer.




Broken up. Can't seem to get my zoom lens to get a good focus close up.




Different lighting



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How does the grain look after a few normalizations? Looks big from here...


Softwood charcoal was always the preferred fuel, be it pine/fir/spruce or even alder.


I'm just now getting my head wrapped around single-tuyere smelting. I have seen Mike Blue and Randal Graham do some nice tamahagane with a MUCH smaller four-tuyere tatara-type base shaft furnace, so I know it works, I'm just not going to be much help on it. :lol:

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