SIX MONTHS' EXPERIENCE.
"Mr. W. Fisher, manager of Mr. Bennett's works, said, in answer to inquiries, that the puddling-machines had now been at work constantly during the day for the last six months at the Wombridge Iron-Works, and continued to work as well now as they did when first started; and there had been no occasion to repair any of the working parts since then, as the machines had been found very simple and strong. A man went round twice a day, and put a little oil on morning and evening ; and they could be worked night and day when desired. At first there had been a little difficulty in in troducing the machine; but now the men felt its advantage, and were anxious to have it employed on night-work also.
"The six months' experience of the working of the machine had shown that 5 cwt. of iron had been puddled by it in the time that a man would take to puddle 4 cwt. ; and it was also found that the machine made a great improvement in the quality of the iron. This was accounted for by the fact that, while in hand-puddling there the liability of under-hands to neglect their work, the machine went steadily on, working the tool constantly to and fro in the furnace without any intermission, and kept the iron well stirred during the whole time that the work was required to be put into it. The consequence was, that very seldom was a bit of raw iron seen from the puddling furnaces worked by the machine; and the puddled bars were very seldom found tc break off short in the rolling, unless the iron was too hot. In the heavy operation of puddling, it was impossible for any puddler to stand up to his work as the machine did, since the machine never tired, but kept steadily on without rest, and at a quiches rate of working than in hand-puddling. By using the machine to do the heavy part
of the work, it was only required for the puddler occasionally to disengage the tool and draw the iron from the sides of the furnace into the centre, leaving the machine during the rest of the time to perform its work alone. When the iron was ready fox balling up, the puddler came fresh to the work; and, from the men being relieved of the severest part of the labor, the furnaces worked by the machine turned out about 5 cwt. at each heat, and six heats during the day, with the same quantity of fuel as was used for the ordinary heats of only 4 cwt. in hand-puddling, with six heats pet day. The average result of a day's work with the machine was about 281 cwt. of puddled iron from 30 cwt. of pig iron, as compared with about 221 cwt. of puddled iron from 24 cwt, of pig iron by hand-puddling. The improvements effected by the machine were, therefore, that it produced a better quality of iron, with a decreased consumption of fuel, and turned out more iron in the same time.
"The machine did not interfere with the wages of the under-hands, as they had to be employed the same as without the machine; whilst the puddler's wages were increased by his being enabled to turn out more iron in the same time." We have witnessed and heard of several attempts to puddle iron by machinery, but none of the inventions with which we are familiar were successfully applied. The plan described in the foregoing quotation is undoubtedly practical and economical, and may be applied at all our rolling-mills with much benefit to proprietors and puddlers. There are, however, several other modes, which we will briefly describe.