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Rolling cast steel in 18th century


duckweed
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I need someone who knows about history of steel manufacturing to help me. I have seen several adverts in mid to late 18th century advertising sale of cast steel and also rolling it into sheets. Sources also said that this cast steel varied and was not up to quality of Huntsman crucible method. I know powered steel rolling was new then in any case and Huntsman was having problems with quality control. Anyway implication is that there was cast steel that was not crucible steel. If not how did they cast it and what sort of industrial premises and equipment would they need to cast it? 

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 Before Huntsman came along and developed his steel making process ( to enable him to make reliable clock springs)  steel was made entirely by accident or  by heating wrought iron bars....( preferably of Swedish origin on account of its purity) in a mixture of carbonacious materials ( bone and charcoal) for many days until an amount of carbon had been diffused by high temperature into the outer iron. This was a very hit and miss operation and quality varied enormously .The process of making "useable" steel could take up to 3 weeks. This process was known as "cementation" or "blister" steel.... Six of the resultant bars would eventually be piled together in a "clip", raised in temperature to a white heat and then hammer-welded together to form a small bloom or "******". This was known as "F*ggot" or "Single Shear Steel". "Double shear steel" meant the F*ggot was nicked, bent over and hammer-welded again

Cast Steel is simply a term, originally applied to Crucible steel to distinguish it from "Shear Steel". Huntsman used "blister steel" as the feedstock for his process of manufacturing molten steel which could be poured into a mould and "Cast" to make an ingot... for further processing. Quality was improved and it became a reliable process.

 

* How silly that the name of an 18th century steel making process cannot be used in full in case it upsets someones 21st century sensibilities!!!🙄

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I know Huntsman called his steel Cast Steel but I also know several others such as Thomas Boulsover said they made Cast Steel sheets. To best of my knowledge the steel Boulsover rolled was not Huntsman's nor did Boulsover own a crucible stack or buy from Walker in Rotherham, so where did he get his cast steel and if it wasn't crucible steel what was it? The only link I get between Boulsover and Huntsman was a comment in a newspaper by a grandson of Boulsover who said Boulsover's rolling method was superior to Huntsman. 

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I too was puzzled by "cast steel" vs "crucible steel", since the essence of crucible steel is that it has been melted and cast!  It is possible that the adverts are wrong, but understandably if they are not technical.  In a dictionary of 1763-64 I read: "It is, when pure, naturally malleable and ductile under the hammer; ... When wrought into steel, or when in the impure state from its first fusion, in which it is called cast iron, it is scarce malleable at all."  Perhaps there is a confusion between cast iron and blister steel since they apparently shared similar properties?

In passing, Huntsman used blister steel, wrought iron and cast iron to make up his mixes, that's why he needed so many experiments.  Chemistry at that time was still in the phlogiston theory stage, it wasn't until the 1770s that Lavoisier showed that calxes were actually oxides of metals.

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3 hours ago, lysandernovo said:

 Before Huntsman came along and developed his steel making process ( to enable him to make reliable clock springs)  steel was made entirely by accident or  by heating wrought iron bars....( preferably of Swedish origin on account of its purity) in a mixture of carbonacious materials ( bone and charcoal) for many days until an amount of carbon had been diffused by high temperature into the outer iron. This was a very hit and miss operation and quality varied enormously .The process of making "useable" steel could take up to 3 weeks. This process was known as "cementation" or "blister" steel.... Six of the resultant bars would eventually be piled together in a "clip", raised in temperature to a white heat and then hammer-welded together to form a small bloom or "******". This was known as "F*ggot" or "Single Shear Steel". "Double shear steel" meant the F*ggot was nicked, bent over and hammer-welded again

Cast Steel is simply a term, originally applied to Crucible steel to distinguish it from "Shear Steel". Huntsman used "blister steel" as the feedstock for his process of manufacturing molten steel which could be poured into a mould and "Cast" to make an ingot... for further processing. Quality was improved and it became a reliable process.

 

* How silly that the name of an 18th century steel making process cannot be used in full in case it upsets someones 21st century sensibilities!!!🙄

Aren’t I supposed to enjoy faggots in onion gravy then? And as for Welsh faggots, the mind boggles.

 

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  I know Wortley Forge were rolling iron sheets having brought the idea from Wales and adapted it to water power. I am guessing this may have influenced the water powered rolling mills in Sheffield.  Boulsover seems to have had the earliest water powered rolling mill in Sheffield, two years before Hancock set up his Sheffield Plate Rolling Mill at Wardsend.  Boulsover was rolling out sheet steel for tools. Maybe he was buying steel from Boulsover and it just isn't recorded.  When I looked for definition of cast steel it implied it could be melted and run off into a mould from a blast furnace but that the steel was fairly soft. I know that scythemakers sandwiched steel between two sheets of iron. Maybe when Boulsover started rolling he was doing that and then changed to crucible steel later on in 1774 when he advertised it? 

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Cast and Crucible steel, quite simply, are one and the same! Blister steel was an alternative name for the Cementation process. and it took its name from the blisters produced on the bars surface by freed carbon monoxide during heating process. Huntsman spent a considerable amount of time in his experiments...many of which were conducted using furnaces originally intended for glass making and he did use iron as well as cementation steel with the properties he wanted .

Wrought iron is naturally malleable and when being produced is never totally molten. It contains slag ( a test for wrought iron is to use a magnifying glass on a broken piece  and look for dark spots of ...slag)...The presence of slag makes it unreliable as witness serious accidents where it was used in construction and in railway axles which broke under stress... Cast iron is anything but as its carbon content can be very high producing a brittle metal .Cast steel was mainly used for the production of tools until electric high frequencey furnaces replaced them.

I have to say that being an old "rolling mill" buff  and, to my shame, having also lived near the birthplace of Thomas Boulsover I have never come across his being involved in any form of rolling other than in the production of his Sheffield plate...where he combined copper plate with silver. The Walkers of Rotherham....actually from Grenoside....had 5 cementation furnaces by 1787!

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In general, Blast furnaces produce pig iron or its metal can be used directly into the modern steel making process. Cupolas produce cast iron mainly for use in a foundry where castings are produced.. Steel is made in steel making furnaces such as Bessemer converter. Siemens-Martin open hearth, Electric Arc, High Frequencey, Kaldo etc.

The process of heat and pressure welding steel of differing qualities was used by Rotherham Forge and Rolling Mills to produce plough "mould" boards well into thelate 1970.s/early 1980s when competition from Kverneland in Norway... using a process invented in WW2 Nazi Germany, made them uncompetitive.

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36 minutes ago, lysandernovo said:

Cast and Crucible steel, quite simply, are one and the same! Blister steel was an alternative name for the Cementation process. and it took its name from the blisters produced on the bars surface by freed carbon monoxide during heating process. Huntsman spent a considerable amount of time in his experiments...many of which were conducted using furnaces originally intended for glass making and he did use iron as well as cementation steel with the properties he wanted .

Wrought iron is naturally malleable and when being produced is never totally molten. It contains slag ( a test for wrought iron is to use a magnifying glass on a broken piece  and look for dark spots of ...slag)...The presence of slag makes it unreliable as witness serious accidents where it was used in construction and in railway axles which broke under stress... Cast iron is anything but as its carbon content can be very high producing a brittle metal .Cast steel was mainly used for the production of tools until electric high frequencey furnaces replaced them.

I have to say that being an old "rolling mill" buff  and, to my shame, having also lived near the birthplace of Thomas Boulsover I have never come across his being involved in any form of rolling other than in the production of his Sheffield plate...where he combined copper plate with silver. The Walkers of Rotherham....actually from Grenoside....had 5 cementation furnaces by 1787!

I started researching Boulsover and have found a number of anomalies when reading accounts and newspaper articles. Boulsover when he rolled silver plate he was using a jewellers hand roller. At the time the only mechanised rolling mill was at Wortley.  So early silver plating had to be for fairly small items. Handcock tried using horse power to increase quantity. Meanwhile having made a considerable fortune in the 6 years Boulsover had been making buttons, snuff boxes and other items he bought Whiteley Woods Estate from Pegge and built Forge Dam originally as a Paper mill but water was unsuitable, and then went on to build 2 dams for his rolling mills (which later became one Wiremill dam) Although the Forge Cottages are sometimes called Button Mill, the only inhabitant I could find that had an occupation listed was a saw handle maker. Forge Dam I know ran a drop Hammer and there was a second dam there too.  They took over the Leather wheel for grinding and I know later on it definitely was used for grinding saws. Boulsover revolutionised  saw making by changing how the teeth were set and allowing them to be made from a rolled sheet of steel and so mass manufacturing them. 

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