Steam Hammer Pile-driver


The Royal Dockyards ,
Steam hammer for Devonport ,
Scene at the first stroke ,
My Lords of the Admiralty ,
Steam hammer pile-driver required ,
The new docks at Devonport ,
The pile-driver delivered ,
Its description ,
Trail against the old method ,
Its general adoption ,
Happy thoughts ,
Testing of chain cables and anchors ,
Causes of failure ,
Punctilliousness of officials at royal dockyards ,
Egyptian workman employed ,
Affiffi Lalli ,
Letter from Faraday

IN 1840 I furnished Sir Edward Parry with a drawing of my steam hammer, in the hope that I might induce him to recommend its adoption in the Royal Dockyards. Sir Edward was at that time the head director of the steam marine of England. That was after the celebrity he had acquired through his Arctic voyages. I was of opinion that the hammer might prove exceedingly useful in forging anchors and large iron work in those great establishments. Sir Edward appeared to be much struck with the simplicity and probable efficiency of the invention. But the Admiralty Board were very averse to introducing new methods of manufacturing into the dockyards. Accordingly, my interview with Sir Edward Parry, notwithstanding his good opinion, proved fruitless.

Time passed by. I had furnished steam hammers to the principal foundries in England. I had sent them abroad, even to Russia. At length it became known to the Lords of the Admiralty that a new power in forging had been introduced. This was in 1843, three years after I had submitted my design to Sir Edward Parry. The result was that my Lords appointed a deputation of intelligent officers to visit my foundry at Patricroft to see the new invention. It consisted of Captain Benison (brother of the late Speaker), and Captain Burgman, Resident Engineer at Devonport Dockyard. They were well able to understand the powerful agency of the steam hammer for marine forge work. I gave them every opportunity for observing its action. They were much pleased, and I may add astonished, at its range, power, and docility.

Besides showing them my own steam hammer, I took the deputation to the extensive works of Messrs. Rushton and Eckersley, where they saw one of my five-ton hammer-block steam hammers in full action. It was hammering out some wrought-iron forgings of the largest class, as well as working upon smaller forgings. By exhibiting the wide range of power of the steam hammer, these gentlemen were entirely satisfied of its fitness for all classes of forgings for the naval service. They reported to the Admiralty accordingly, and in a few days we received an official letter, with an order for a steam hammer having a 50 cwt. hammer-block, together with the appropriate boiler, crane, and forge furnace, so as to equip a complete forge shop at Devonport Dockyard. This was my first order from the Government for a steam hammer.

When everything was ready, I set out for Devonport to see the hammer and the other portions of the machinery carefully erected. In about a fortnight it was ready for its first stroke. As good luck would have it, the Lords of the Admiralty were making their annual visit of inspection to the dockyard that day. They arrived too late in the afternoon for a general inspection of the establishment; but they asked the superintending admiral if there was anything of importance which they might see before the day closed. The admiral told them that the most interesting novelty in the dockyard was the starting of Nasmyth's steam hammer. "Very well, they said, "let us go and see that".

I was there, with the two mechanics I had brought with me from Patricroft to erect the steam hammer. I took share and share alike in the work. The Lords were introduced to me, and I proceeded to show them the hammer. I passed it through its paces. I made it break an eggshell in a wine-glass without injuring the glass. It was as neatly effected by the two-and-a-half ton hammer as if it had been done by an egg-spoon. Then I had a great mass of white-hot iron swung out of the furnace by a crane and placed upon the anvil block. Down came the hammer on it with ponderous blows. My Lords scattered to the extremities of the workshop, for the splashes and sparks of hot metal flew about. I went on with the hurtling blows of the hammer, and kneaded the mass of iron as if it had been clay into its devised forms.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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