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Wrought iron is a general term for the commodity, but is also used more specifically for finished iron goods, as manufactured by a blacksmith or other smith.
It was used in this narrower sense in British Customs records, such manufactured iron being subject to a higher rate of duty than what might be called “unwrought” iron.
Before they came to be made of mild steel, items produced from wrought iron included rivets, nails, wire, chains, rails, railway couplings, water and steam pipes, nuts, bolts, horseshoes, handrails, straps for timber roof trusses, and ornamental ironwork.
The word “wrought” is an archaic past participle form of the verb “to work,” and so “wrought iron” literally means “worked iron”.
The spongy mass contained iron and also silicate (slag) from the ore; this was iron bloom from which the technique got its name.
They were in turn replaced from the late 18th century by puddling, with certain variants such as the Swedish Lancashire process.Air was blown in through a tuyere to heat the bloomery to a temperature somewhat below the melting point of iron.In the course of the smelt, slag would melt and run out, and carbon monoxide from the charcoal would reduce the ore to iron, which formed a spongy mass. If the bloomery was allowed to become hot enough to melt the iron, carbon would dissolve into it and form pig or cast iron, but that was not the intention.Pig iron and cast iron have high carbon content which make them very brittle, but they have a lower melting point than iron or steel.Cast and especially pig iron have excess slag which must be at least partially removed to produce quality wrought iron.