May 24, 2012
Turns out that we do not have the connectivity to set up a webcam out at the furnace, but we will try to post pictures as they are available.
In the meantime, we began preheating the furnace on Monday and have been heating it slowly since with a fire at ground level in the furnace ash pit. This morning the interior reached about 1000⁰ F. The folks from Newport News Shipbuilding have been monitoring the temperature with a “point and shoot” pyrometer and have been providing us with some other high-tech assistance. We’ll fill everyone in on details later.
At this point, we want to hold a temperature somewhat below the melting point to heat up the entire mass of the furnace, and, as we get closer to pouring, we will build a fire in the archway under the melting floor to ensure it is heated and the bronze doesn’t freeze to it. We also are playing with chimney dampers and an iron door covering the upper ash pit opening. When it is decided to start ramping up the temperature for the melt, we will move the fire up to the fire grating higher in the furnace. Don’t know yet exactly when it all will take place. We’ll wait until it is ready, whenever that is.
This project is possible through a generous gift by the Ambrose and Ida Fredrickson Foundation. Research assistance was provided by Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum, and the National Park Service. We are grateful to the Museum Restoration Service and The Royal Artillery Historical Trust for the use of their images.