Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 147 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883.
in every steel-producing country during the last four years, except in France, where, during this latter period, the increase has not been much more than one-fourth.  What is almost as remarkable as the enormous increase in the production of Bessemer steel is the great diminution in its cost.  In the years preceding 1875, the price of rails manufactured from Bessemer ingots fluctuated between L10 and L18 per ton, and I remember Lord George Hamilton when he was Under-Secretary for India of Lord Beaconsfield’s administration in 1875 or 1876, congratulating himself on his good fortune in having been able to secure a quantity of steel rails for the Indian government at L13 per ton.  Within the last three years we have seen them sold under L4 10s. in this country, and L5 10s. in Germany and Belgium.


This great reduction is the cumulative result of a number of concurrent improvements, partly in the conversion of the iron, and partly in the subsequent treatment of the ingot steel.  In most of the great steelworks the iron is no longer remelted, but is transferred direct from the blast furnace to the converter, a practice which originated at Terre-Noire, and was long considered in this country to be incompatible with uniformity in the quality of the steel produced.  The turn-out of the converter plant has been gradually increased in this country to more than four times that of fourteen years ago, while the practice of the United States is stated by a recent visitor to have reached such an astounding figure that I am afraid to quote it without confirmation; but the greatest economy arises no doubt in the labor and fuel employed in the mill.

Cogging has taken the place of hammering.  Even wash-heating will be, if it is not already, generally dispensed with by the soaking process of our colleague, Mr. Gjers, which permits of the ingot, as it leaves the pit, being directly converted into a rail.


An extract from a letter addressed to me by our colleague, Mr. E.W.  Richards, will describe better than any words of mine the perfection at which steel rail mills have arrived.  He says, “Our cogging rolls are 48 in. diameter, and the roughing and finishing rolls are 30 in. diameter.  We roll rails 150 feet long as easily as they used to roll 21 feet.  Our ingots are 151/2 inches square, and weigh from 25 to 30 cwts. according to the weight of rail we have to roll.  These heavy ingots are all handled by machinery.  We convey them by small locomotives from the Bessemer shop to the heating furnaces, and by the same means from the heating furnaces to the cogging rolls.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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