By James A. Mulholland
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Extra resources for A History of Metals in Colonial America
Here partially finished bar iron was heated and reduced by passing it between heavy rolls. One waterwheel drove both rolls and slitters, sets of opposed discs with hardened steel edges that could cut the rolled bar to a desired width. The resulting rod was a suitable starting material for the manufacture of nails, a commodity much in demand for building in the growing colony. Iron emerged from the forge at Hammersmith, then, primarily as bar iron from which the blacksmith could form tools and other hardware items.
Nevertheless, Winthrop probably was able to increase his interest in and general knowledge of metals from correspondence with friends in England and from lesser published sources. 46 His interest, coupled with a winning personality and strong connections because of the status of his family, made Winthrop the ideal person to promote the formation of an ironworks in Massachusetts. , was hard at work promoting a scheme for the creation of an iron industry in America in addition to his official duties.
The heart of the indirect process was the blast furnace. A blast furnace performs two major functions in the production of iron. First, using charcoal both as fuel and to provide a reducing atmosphere of carbon monoxide gas and using limestone or some other rock melting at a relatively low temperature as a flux to carry away dirt and other impurities in the ore, the furnace reduces the oxide ore to liquid, metallic iron. Most of this is used in the form of pig iron, so named from the casting process which allows long molds to be filled simultaneously from a trench (the sow) leading from the furnace.
A History of Metals in Colonial America by James A. Mulholland