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The birth of American casting: Saugus Iron Works. (Shakeout).

The Beginning

In 1642, near Lynn, Massachusetts, the Company of Undertakers for the Iron Works (made up of artisans from England and Wales) chose a site on the Saugus River to build the first plant in the New World for the production of cast and wrought iron. The company chose the site at Saugus for its waterpower, water transport, woodlands and raw materials.

Born in the U.S.A.

The first casting produced by Saugus Iron Works was an iron cooking pot cast in a small clay mold buried in the ground. The molds (made of four parts clay and five parts sand) for cast iron pots were made through the loam molding process. The pot casting weighs approximately 3 lb, has an internal diameter of 4.5 in and is being preserved in Lynn, Massachusetts.

A Blast Furnace for Three Seasons

The Iron Works built a four-sided blast furnace 20 ft high and 24 sq ft at its base. The furnace either produced ingot sows (for the forging operation and rolling and slitting mill) or was tapped into a ladle to pour castings in buried loam molds. A leather bellows created a steady blast and maintained temperature in the furnace. The bellows was operated by a waterwheel, which could not function in freezing weather, making winter and/or draught operations impossible. The furnace's capacity was 8 tons of iron/wk, and by 1652 the foundry was pouring both gray and white iron.

The Loam Holding Process

In the loam molding process, a bench with a core bar suspended at both ends is used with three removable loam molding boards (one each for the core, thickness and cope layers of the mold). The core bar rotates horizontally as layers of rope, loam molding material and clay wash (to keep each mold layer from adhering to each other) are applied. The three layers of loam are slid together off the end of the core bar, and the rope is removed from the center of the core. The mold is cut in half and the thickness layer is removed, creating a cavity where the pot body will be formed. Finally, the two halves are patched using loam and the mold is ready for firing and pouring (after being buried underground).

Shortlived Success

Although the Saugus Iron Works stands out as the conception of the American foundry industry, it never achieved greatness. In 1688, the firm closed as a result of litigation, nuisance suits and the reduction of timber resources. The Saugus Iron Works has been restored and reconstructed and is now a national historic site.

Information courtesy of Saugus Iron Works
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Comment:The birth of American casting: Saugus Iron Works. (Shakeout).
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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