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I Forge Iron

Williams and White self-contained 400

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Today a friend took me to the U.S. Coast Guard Shipyard in Baltimore. He wanted me to see the blacksmith shop. It is now seldom used. Mostly it supports a tool making role for the huge floor of welding platens that is used for shaping large ribs and such which are heated in a gas forge about the size of a one-car garage, and then bent to shape by hand using lever-type persuaders that pivot on pins inserted in to the platen holes and against forms pinned to the platens--think of a scrolling jig. In the blacksmith shop is a 1938 Williams and White 400 pound self-contained hammer made in Moline, Illinois. The tup is about 12" in diameter and the stroke about 9". The flat dies in it are 5" x 11". The top die recedes into the bore when idling. The tup is round with a V-groove on each side to keep it from rotating. The front half of the cylinder for the tup is joined to the back half (integral with the cast iron main hammer body) with four bolts on each side facing forward. There are three smaller bolts on each side that may be for tensioning the guides into those grooves. It appears to be a design that uses air flows only at the top side of the tup so that it is "sucked up and blown down". The power cylinder is inclined toward the tup cylinder and (based upon casting dimensions) of about the same bore size as the tup. The huge motor (about 18" in diameter) drives a 6 V-belt drive along the driver side of the hammer and the driven pulley is 3' or more in diameter. There may be an equal diameter flywheel on the other side of the hammer (under a metal shield). Both extend below floor level. A lever moves a rotating head on top of the power cylinder to achieve a clamping function and normal operation employs a foot treadle independent of that lever. The anvil is round, maybe 15" in diameter, extending below the floor, and clamped to main hammer body in a very precise way (no wood shims, etc.). Bottom die height is about 24". Condition of the dies and sow block and wedges suggests the machine has not seen hard use.

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No pictures I'm afraid, no camera at hand. The smith did turn it on for me but no demo other than clamp mode. Reflecting back I suspect the "smith" was not really a hammer man nor much into blacksmithing per se. (The dies were loose and he seemed to ignore the fact.) More into the forging of large bent objects on the platen floor in front of the mammoth gas furnace. But I have no way of knowing. He did say that blacksmithing in ship building is very different from other places. I think there may be pictures of another such machine here from months back with some disassembly shots.

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I was thinking of basher's pics of the alldays and onion hammers. But there is also a british self contained that has an inclined power cylinder. However I do not know its name anymore and whether or not its tup has a pressurized underside.

Also, quite a long time ago Grant Sarver said he had a friend with a 700 pound self-contained Williams and White.

John Larson

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