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Where Beauty and Terror Dwell


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He was taken to the Bessemer furnace, where they made billets of steel—a domelike building, the size of a big theater. Jurgis stood where the balcony of the theater would have been, and opposite, by the stage, he saw three giant caldrons, big enough for all the devils of hell to brew their broth in, full of something white and blinding, bubbling and splashing, roaring as if volcanoes were blowing through it—one had to shout to be heard in the place. Liquid fire would leap from these caldrons and scatter like bombs below—and men were working there, seeming careless, so that Jurgis caught his breath with fright. Then a whistle would toot, and across the curtain of the theater would come a little engine with a carload of something to be dumped into one of the receptacles; and then another whistle would toot, down by the stage, and another train would back up—and suddenly, without an instant's warning, one of the giant kettles began to tilt and topple, flinging out a jet of hissing, roaring flame. Jurgis shrank back appalled, for he thought it was an accident; there fell a pillar of white flame, dazzling as the sun, swishing like a huge tree falling in the forest. A torrent of sparks swept all the way across the building, overwhelming everything, hiding it from sight; and then Jurgis looked through the fingers of his hands, and saw pouring out of the caldron a cascade of living, leaping fire, white with a whiteness not of earth, scorching the eyeballs. Incandescent rainbows shone above it, blue, red, and golden lights played about it; but the stream itself was white, ineffable. Out of regions of wonder it streamed, the very river of life; and the soul leaped up at the sight of it, fled back upon it, swift and resistless, back into far-off lands, where beauty and terror dwell. Then the great caldron tilted back again, empty, and Jurgis saw to his relief that no one was hurt, and turned and followed his guide out into the sunlight.”


The Jungle, ch. 21, Upton Sinclair 

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14 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

If you've never seen one in operation...

 

 

I'm pretty sure I saw that film in elementary school... or one very much like it.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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Long story to get to the funny part at the end: 

 

When I was about 20 I worked one summer for a company that sold industrial pumping and spraying equipment.  One of our customers was a foundry that did centrifugal castings, and they used equipment from us to spray a mold release on the inside of the tubular molds.  In this case ~10' long 4" tubes used to cast starting stock for piston rings.

 

Like most spray system customers, they felt the secret to better atomization was to crank up the air pressure.  Also like most customers, when they got poor atomization results because of way too much air pressure, they blamed the equipment. 

 

This particular customer was convinced that prior poor spray performance had been caused by burs in the "Obviously inferior" nozzles my boss decided to sell.  In order to make them happy he agreed to 100% visually inspect every nozzle that went to them.  Of course he didn't do that because there wasn't a need.

 

(Now the funny part)

One morning during the summer I was there the customer called to complain that we had shipped them defective nozzles again.  My boss knew they had cranked the air pressure up again and caked up the jets with dried material, but they wouldn't listen over the phone.  He came out to the shop and grabbed me (The young nerdy college student), and told me, "Look, your are going to pretend to be an expert in spraying mold release in foundries.  Agree with everything I say, and look smart."  I didn't know enough about the world at that time to question him, so I just jumped in the truck.

 

We showed up at what was a relatively small foundry, but it was the first time I had ever been in one.  It wasn't 5 minutes after we had walked out onto the floor that a two-story tall crucible was pouting iron, the entire place was bathed in an orange glow, and I was standing there gaping in amazement with my jaw on the floor.  The next thing I sensed was my boss' elbow in my ribs and him saying, "Close your mouth, this isn't your first time in a foundry!"

 

 

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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-Brian

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This goes back to our discussion over the giant chain links...

 

It is mind boggling to consider the rate of invention, risk, and determination that came out of the late 1800's and early 1900's.

 

Here where I've always lived, well before my time, right when the timber trade played out ALCOA aluminum went into high gear. I used to hear a lot of the old men talk about having to start out in "the pot rooms". Different metal, similar technology. They made tons of stuff for WWII, then made the tail fin inserts for '57 Chevys. My mom was a secretary at the North Plant before she had me.

 

Just stop and meditate on all that we have thanks to the steel industry... and where we'd be without it. Planes, trains, ships, heavy equipment, and cars. Railroads, bridges, buildings. Hand tools, power tools, garden tools, and knives, forks, & spoons. Nails, screws, paper clips and staples. And cell towers.

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I didn't get into the industry until 2007.  It is amazing to me how much WWII era equipment I have used.  Furnaces, ladles, and mills.  I have worked in plants that had stuff I was pretty sure was pre-WWII, and I was running a cluster computer doing casting simulations (pour/fill, shrink/feeding, segregation, distortion).  I have worked on (and continue to work on) automation to improve employee effectiveness.  I need a mech suit similar to Ripley's in Aliens, but more agile.  About 12 years ago the foundry I work at bought a "new to us" muller for our green sand system.  It was built in 1954.  Our newer one we bought last year is only about 10 years old.  Crazy industry.  I love it.  

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Ever think of how many craftsmen out there have an anvil that was made in the 18th century?

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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10 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

Ever think of how many craftsmen out there have an anvil that was made in the 18th century?

 

I have two anvils.

 

One is a "no pritchel" Mouse Hole that would be 200 years old, give or take a few. It was made from three or four chunks of wrought and a steel plate being forge welded together by men with hammers. I still use this anvil on occasion.

 

My other came from liquid tool steel poured in a mold and surfaced with a mill.

 

We marvel at the price of new anvils, but imagine what it would cost today to have someone forge you a 170lb anvil.

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5 hours ago, Don Abbott said:

We marvel at the price of new anvils, but imagine what it would cost today to have someone forge you a 170lb anvil.

 

I can tell you that the price to cast them is incredibly high!  

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