I am probably telling you what you already know, but will say it anyway in
case it helps:
My understanding is that the hammer in finery forges was usually a belly
helve, lifted between the pivot and the head. Cast iron nose helves appear
to be a 19th century innovation. Tilt hammers (where the force was applied
downwards at the opposite end of the helve) were able to work faster, but
were only used to forge thin pieces of iron in plating forges (called tilts
at Sheffield). I assume that the strain on a wooden helve was too great for
a full weight forge hammer (1/4 tons) to be mounted as a tilt hammer. A
lighter hammer mounted as a tilt hammer might do as much work, but the first
part of the work would be absorbed in elastic deformation, so that the work
done in deforming the work-piece was less. However I am guessing here.
The helve was fixed in a loop-shaped hurst, made of cast iron with
projections on which it could pivot. These fitted into cast iron gudgeons.
(I hope I have got the terminology right).
The helve was lifted by cams on the perimeter of a wheel fixed to the end of
the shaft of the water wheel
Furnaces had some kind of ventilated foundations, enabling steam to escape.
In an example I have seen in Scotland, they were of stone, but I have no
doubt that wood was more plentiful at Falling Creek.
A furnace would require only one water wheel, but a forge would probably
have four - for two fineries, 1 chafery, and the hammer. I would not have
expected two lots of machinery to be driven off the same waterwheel, not
would I expect the furnace and forge to be part of the same building.
However, perhaps I have misunderstood you
49, Stourbridge Road,
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From: Arch-Metals Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of
Lyle E. Browning
Sent: 22 February 2007 21:29
To: Peter King
Subject: Furnace & Forge Items
Further investigation of the timbers exposed by recent flooding at
Falling Creek and the production of a set of measured drawings has
led to the conclusion that they are the support system for (in order
north to south/outside to inside) for the furnace consisting of the
wheelpit and then the supports for the axle, bellows and finally the
furnace. We have uncovered only the inner margins of the wheelpit and
the outside edge of the timber crib frame for the axle and bellows.
The furnace itself is still farther south under road fill.
It appears that a set of in-line wheels were in the pit (66" in
length) that would work for the furnace and forge wheels.
In looking for parallels for the timber foundations, Diderot (Forges
2nd Section, Pl 1) has an entire furnace with a crossed timber
foundation. The timbers are not laid abutting, but with about a
timber's width between each and in 3 layers. One assumes this is to
provide the stable foundation needed along with a means of keeping
water out of the works to avoid the problems that would cause.
The extant Virginia Company documents dealing with the early
ironworking of the Virginia colony clearly indicate a furnace and a
forge are to be built at Falling Creek. Diderot (Forges 4th Section
Pl II) and Hassenfratz (Pl 43) both show trip/helve hammer set-ups.
One part of the system is shown that I am interpreting without
benefit of vast knowledge as to why it is shaped as it is in Diderot.
That part is at the back end of the hammer shaft and appears to be
the hinge/swivel through which the shaft is put. The item is iron,
and is not symmetrical in Diderot, but is symmetrical in Hassenfratz.
The side away from the axle is far longer and more pointed than the
side toward the axle and that is why I assume it is made that way so
that the support timber for the butt end swivel frame isn't in
contact with the axle. But is that a reasonable interpretation?
Diderot's figure 8 in the Section drawing shows the item in question.
However, it is shown with a round hole whereas the shaft is square
but they are clearly intended to be part of the whole so one assumes
a drawing error.
And my French isn't up to the task, and my dictionary hasn't got the
older words anyway.
Any speculation from all of you would be greatly appreciated.