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Mick Maxen

Iron smelt at the IBF

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A couple of weeks ago, Owen and I had the privilege of demonstrating iron smelting at The International Blacksmiths Festival in Devon. We were there from Tuesday to late Saturday and smelted on the Friday

 

The event was one of the finest I have been to. Each day there were master classes and talks, plus teams of blacksmiths competing to make a panel for the showground that the festival was held at. Teams from Ireland, Israel, Holland and from various parts of the UK were competing.

The British Army were there with generators, welding plants and forges and made a panel for the team comp as well. I don't know if it was by luck or judgement but they were right next to the cider sellers. Which worked out in their favour as they were supplying power in exchange for cider, so they were happy and partying late into the night. Plus individual blacksmithing competitions were running each day.

 

A special thanks to John Bellamy and Merv Allen for inviting us and for all the hard work they put into organising this event over the last 2+ years.

 

Owen and I made the furnace on the Wednesday. Dried it out on Thursday and Friday morning. As you can tell we were not rushing about but there to enjoy ourselves as well. There was a buzz going about as to when the smelt was going to happen and we arranged it so that we would pull the bloom as it got dark around 9pm on Friday evening. To see the furnace broken open for a first time in the dark is quite something.

 

We started to charge about 3pm and by 8.30 there was a large crowd gathering in the darkness, 100+ people waiting to see what we had done. We had run about 66 kilos of Magnetite through by 8.30 and started to let the furnace burn down. The smelt had run like a dream with no problems at all and next to no patching up during the smelt. At 9pm we push the stack over and broke it open to reveal a bloom of about 25 kilos in weight to a cheering crowd.

 

The whole event was quite something to be involved in. Breaking open the furnace in front of 100 plus people was quite special. Plus the Red Arrows were based at Exeter Airport for a few days and we saw them fly out and back probably 3 times a day. Sitting drinking in the warm summer evenings with old and new friends whilst watching the Perseid Meteor Shower on Tuesday and Wednesday evening was magical as well.

 

 

A link to a 6 minute video of breaking open the stack,

 

A link to photos of the smelt and the Festival, https://www.flickr.com/photos/125218917@N02/page3/

 

Mick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monster!!!!

 

 

Congrats!! Looked like lots of fun.

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Mick,

That looks like a great smelt..thank you for posting the pictures of the whole event..great to see it.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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So forgive my ignorance, I know very little about the smelting side of iron, and I not trying to be funny here.

 

I am assuming that once you break apart the furnace, the bloom is then beaten into submission and everything that doesn't fall off is the true useable steel!

 

Is that a correct assumption??

 

How about a little detail on the process from beginning to end?? The building of the furnace, how it is fired, and what it is fed, how you know when it is time, etc., etc.! I am beginning to find this side more intriguing, and want to understand more about the process!

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Man, that looks like it was a fun event! Good show!

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