Friday, July 13, 2012

Furnacey fun

I made the rest of my casting patterns the other day, and after painting them with glossy paint, set to finishing the furnace.

I lined it with the clay mix from before after grinding it down to a very fine powder. Because I knew I was short on volume I added all the sawdust I could find, most of a bag of perlite, some more sand, and the last of my bag of bentonite. I also filled the bottom of the body with dirt to fill up some of the extra space.

When lining furnaces it's important that your clay not be too wet. That was my problem the first time, and the loss of moisture caused a lot of shrinkage, and thus, cracks. This time I made the clay much drier. I spread the dry clay out as thinly as I could on a plastic ground sheet and sprayed a very fine mist of water over it, then mixed thoroughly with a rake. I repeated this until the clay was uniformly damp. It looked a bit like breadcrumbs and clumped together when squeezed, but did not feel wet. After that, I covered it for a while so it could percolate a bit, and to give me time to get the body ready to be lined.

The inner form was made by wrapping the metal from an old canola oil tin around a pair of wooden discs. Before doing this I rolled it up as tightly as possible and tied it like that for a few days. This meant that the metal was springy and would hold the discs, but also that it would pop in on itself when the discs were removed. I packed about an inch of clay down straight on top of the dirt, making sure there was a former for a drain hole. That done, I set the inner form on the clay bottom and began to ram clay in around it. When I got to the level of the burner I put the pipe in and continued to ram. You should build the lining up in very small layers, working around the furnace as you go.

To line the lid I just placed it on a piece of plastic sheet on the ground, inserted a piece of PVC in the middle as a former, and packed the clay in. I rand wires all through the lid to add stability. After using the concrete here it occurred to me that I should have used concrete in the bottom instead of dirt too...

Unfortunately, I was STILL short of clay, so the lid was only 2 thirds full, and the body lining stopped short about an inch from the top of the steel wall. To compensate for this I ground the steel on the body back to the level of the clay, I also filled the top of the lid in with quick set concrete. This is not a hotface, so concrete was fine. It was just to add stability.

I also began work on a lifting mechanism for the lid, but haven't finished it yet.

I cast my first four lathe parts the other day, and they came out reasonably well. Some had little pockets caused by loose sand, but the pockets are in non-critical places. It took all day, but I got the carriage, cross slide, compound base and compound slide castings done, and turned all my scrap into ingots. I'll upload some photos soon, but at the moment I'm busy machining the castings on a friend's milling machine.

1 comment:

  1. I realised when I was casting the lathe parts that I mentioned in this post that my idea of filling the dead space at the bottom with dirt was a pretty crap idea... as soon as I removed the former for the drain hole, dirt fell out. I fixed this today by enlarging the drain hole and back-filling the cavity under the bottom layer of refractory with concrete.