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Columbian press metal details

Started by Dave Hughes, April 12, 2016, 09:46:00 PM

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Dave Hughes

I've recently received this enquiry by email:

QuoteI am a final year mechanical engineering student at Plymouth University and am writing my dissertation on the exploration of new improvements for the Columbian available at the university, without changing the fundamental working principle, i.e it is still to be hand operated.
I have been unlucky in specifically identifying the exact material used, aside from being cast iron. I have used a spectrometer to work out the elements used in the composition of the cast iron, however, it does not show the amount of carbon content, therefore, I am a little stuck and would very much appreciate it if you could provide me with any help. I have assumed it to be gray cast iron as it is used for large mass structures, but i would like the exact or material properties from the 19th century in order to complete the evaluation and the calculations.

Thank you very much

I've got a feeling this could be a tough question, but I have confidence in the experts on this site.

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Jim King Uk

The most common type of cast used in old painting machines was grade 14 bs 1452

Hope this will help

Jim King

Dan Jones

I am not an expert, however I believe the answer could be found by working out the problem backwards. Developments with iron and steel progressed rapidly and significant improvements in materials can be documented with respect to the manufacturing date of the press. The historical development of ferrous materials, including cast iron, wrought iron & steel, is actually very fascinating. So first, confirm the exact date and figure out the processes in use at the time.  Second, determine the location of manufacture, different countries and regions could develop slightly different processes. Then, if possible, do an etched micro-sample of the actual material, nothing works better than this, it is a well developed process. If you cannot get a sample of this press due to historic considerations, then find a similar era casting and extrapolate. Good luck. Dan.

Julius Stafford-Baker

In an Albion Press (not Columbian) the bit called Earl Stanhope's Improvement,  twin levers to multiply pressure just above the top platen  mostly hidden in the hose casting,  were called 'the chill'.

I wonder if that  means some sort of metal hardening treatment, cold quenching perhaps or maybe a special steel.  I wonder if Earl Stanhopes archives would help??

I do know that a broken casting in an Albion leg etc at one time was a disaster, and only over strapping would help  ( I had one such  once and it worked fine)  but I believe that nowadays welding can be tried,  despite the very porous castings of the period.

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