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Mark Green

La Farga Catalana

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Hi Gang,

I'm starting a new thread for the Catalan style smelt that Jesus, and I will run in early May.

Here are a few pics of the smelter construction.


I'm making it from a basic plan Jesus came up with. It is angle iron and sheet metal, fire brick, and clay.

This is just the start. The bricks are just stacked around to see if I had enough.
More to come.



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Mark,

 

Very exiting to see this project getting started. Thanks for posting it.

Jan

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Exciting indeed! If you're amiable to visitors for the smelt, I may have to make the drive :)

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I look forward to this immensely! But you knew that.

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OK, The metal form is set up.

I changed out the 2 & 3 upper walls with much thicker steel, and welded up the ore ramp.


Time for fire brick and clay mix walls.
Still need to roast up some more ore, so we have a 130+ lbs to play with. This is going to be fun. :)

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I am looking forward to this, just like everyone else!

kc

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Getting closer now.

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Looking good! I haven't been around a run of one of these in person before. Hoping the weather holds out!

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The weather looks great for Sat. So, unless something changes we will burn This Sat.

Just about ready to roll!!!!

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I'm just now jumping in to this thread and I need to go back and read through Miquel's thread. But was this a common size for these? My interest is more in the Catalan style forges that may have been in used in the isolated Appalachian communities.. but I believe those were much bigger. But any evidence that small scale iron was being made with something like this in the Appalachians? Alan will know this....

Edited by Scott A. Roush

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You'd think I would know, and I almost do! The ones that made Leslie's census in 1859 were all much larger, even if they only ran a few times per year. Production numbers are losted in tons of bars per year with most of the southern Appalachian forges showing from four to ten tons per year. A bit more than this little one could easily do... but I have not been able to find any records of smaller forges. Possibly they just didn't count, or possibly they didn't exist. Even in the most isolated areas the demand for iron would have exceeded capacity of a one- or two-man operation. Nail rod was imported from the time of the earliest settlement until the 1830s. Local iron was used for everything else.

 

Darn it Mark, I am tied close to home for the forseeable future or I'd show up for sure.

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This is about 1/2 -1/3 scale.
A full size one makes 200+ lb blooms. Not sure we could work that. :)

If we get good at running this though, we may do a near full size run sometime next spring if everything works out.

I have played with a small size Cat. years ago, before I had real clue. Jesus has a well, And we have been following Miquel's work closely.
So, when Miquel sent us a good book, and Lee, and Jesus were going to run a burn at Early Iron, I was ready to try again as well.


Well, the EA thing didn't happen, So, I asked Jesus, and anyone that wanted to, to come play with me, and here we are. Getting ready.

This type of furnace ( larger) was used in the early days here in NC, and likely, in Va., and New England as well.

We have been wanting to experiment with this again for some time now. It should be great fun.

Edited by Mark Green

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Hi Gang,

 

OK, we had a very fun, successful smelt in the Catalan furnace.

 

 

There will be a lot of pics. and vids., over the next few days, as the guys get them up.

Thanks to all the gang that came to play. Jesus, Dennis, John. Great job guys! And everyone who came to take pics., and play.

 

Some rough numbers. ( from Jesus, who was keeping the numbers) I will need to mull over this later on. Charcoal in about 44 kg, ore in about 54 kg, very approximate weight of slag tapped about 25+ kg, water in (really very rough approximation on this) about 30 liters. Bloom 7. 5 kg. Yield about 15%. Kind of low but we learned a lot. The ore was not as rich as expected given the amount of slag produced and we run it a bit too hot.
Not sure if this included the initial loading charge, and pre-heat. It doesn't look like it by the amount of charcoal remaining.


A lot more pics. to come.








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Brilliant!

Now, when you say "30l of water in", I thought the water only drove the air in? Or is it part of the process somehow?
I know hydrogen has been made by superheating water, and that is a good reductant, but in a closed furnace the oxygen would still be there?

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Brilliant!

 

Now, when you say "30l of water in", I thought the water only drove the air in? Or is it part of the process somehow?

I know hydrogen has been made by superheating water, and that is a good reductant, but in a closed furnace the oxygen would still be there?

 

I was there for the 2nd half of it, and he means water poured on the charcoal to cool the edges, and keep the heat in the middle.

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What Chris said.

 

A big part of this style smelt is fire management. Once you do your initial loading of ore, and charcoal, the fire needs to be directed towards the lump charcoal on the ramp side.
Plus, being in what is just a big hearth, you need to keep the fire down on the surface some, or it is way to hot to work over.
The water worked well. I'm sure, in period, a lot of water was used. As we were just guessing, it didn't seem like a lot.
We wet the finer ore as it was charged, as well as all the charcoal charges going in. It did seem to save a lot of charcoal.

 

 

Near the start. you can see the large charge of lump ore on the ramp side.
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Near the end. The ramp ore, which is half the total ore put in the smelter, has now moved into the bottom of the smelter. As we keep loading fine crushed ore, to keep a good slag bath on the now reducing lump ore.

 

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It was a nice day in very good company and a very successful smelt in many ways. To me mostly in what I learned from it.

 

Mark, that was surprisingly the total amount of charcoal that went in! We actually used 12.5 kg for the pre-heat and loading of the furnace and the other 31.5 kg is what we used for the smelt itself. We used very little charcoal and I think like you said that this is because of the added water to keep it wet on top. In retrospect, I feel like we were shy on the water and could have pour more to keep the flame more tamed on the tuyere side.

 

The other thought looking back at it, is that we run it too hot in the early stages (although we had our reasons to be cautious on this first attempt). We could have run it slower and enjoyed a less frantic pace. We charged on average every five minutes and tapped every 10-15 minutes. Some of those taps were unexpectedly large (no kidding! hopefully someone got some video of that) getting 5 kg of slag out at a time. We recharged only about 9 kg of slag of that tapped out.

 

This furnace is a very different animal compared to the stacks we are used to run. It is hot and busy. It kept all four of us moving most of the time with no breaks and it got hot enough that I can see the other reason for the use of the water was to keep the laborers able to approach the fire to do their work. The original furnaces were double in size of what this one was and eight times larger in volume. It must have been crazy to work in one of those.

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Wait, what, you put it back in?

Yes. This is how the Catalan process is described from historical accounts. There is an interesting question and answer on this issue that we can develop further as to whether this was a good or bad idea. They did it because it worked for them in this type of furnace and they had figured that out empirically. We did it because we were imitating them and trying to learn something while doing it. The initial thoughts from publications refer to recharging rich slag to extract as much iron as possible from it. That's one theory. Our slag was not very attracted to a magnet though. What we saw during stage two of the burn by looking through the glass in the tuyere, which is not something that the foremen of the old times had the advantage of, is that cold lumps of ore from the massive initial charge started to drop a few inches in front of the tuyere and were immediately cover with hot liquid slag pouring from above. Fascinating images. I have some theories as to why that could be beneficial for the smelt but I am not ready to discuss those until I have put more thought into this.

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Great time, and an excellent learning experience. I can only imagine what it must have been like to stand next to a full sized one of these! Here are a few pictures I took throughout the day. I'm curious to see some of the consolidation. From what Mark did the following day, it already looks promising. Thanks again Mark for the good time!

 

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Those are good pictures! Unfortunately those of us not on FB can't use your link. :(

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Alan, I will get a long Picasa page up tonight. :)

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Sunday afternoon I put the bloom half in the side blown charcoal forge.

It just fit. It was a 8.2lb half, and was very tough to get the whole thing hot on the first pass.
So, I ended up breaking of a bit more the 1/2 lb chunk. But, I was able to get it welded into a pretty good trade bar in 6-7 good heats.
I feel I melted off a bit more then I wanted to, but that happens, when your trying to weld up an 8lb chunk of bloom, in a little charcoal forge. ;)

A few pics.

She just fit in the forge. Here it is before I covered it up.

 


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After the first pass through the press. It wasn't really hot enough, but I had to get it more manageable.

 

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The bar after 6-7 heats.

 

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Near 5lbs. from 8.2, without a 1/2 + side chunk I will hearth melt for fun.

 

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