I have researched the origin of hot metal cars for many years. In the very early years of iron production and later steel production historical is sketchy at best. Almost in plant equipment was built on sight and sometimes no drawings were used. The ability of American fabricators in the late 1700 and the 1800 amazes me. A case in point is Otto Mears a German immigrant that built most of the three foot gauge railroads in the Colorado Rockies. He had a third grade education and was a mere blacksmith but he accomplished engineering marvels. He built a turntable for 75 to 100 ton locomotives literally on the side of a steep mountain. This was so locomotives with snow plows could be in front of the train while negotiating switch backs. But this man was not alone it seemed America was full of such men in the late 18th and 19th century. As we cover hot metal history we find even more outstanding men like Otto Mears but in the iron and steel business. Another thing was nobody on the planet could dish out cooperate skullduggery better that American giants. Sir Hennery Bessemer got a good dose when we tried to jack up American iron producers with his invention he was skunked in the courts by Mister Fritz and his crew (including William Kelly) from the Cambria Iron consortium. Not to belittle Sir Henry Bessemer because he was a giant in the world of invention. The pneumatic furnace was only one of a long list of his accomplishments. He was a prodigious inventor and a good marketer. His only problem is that he misunderestimated the American colonial upstarts.
Well you might wonder what all of this has to do with Hot Metal cars. Well it was the master minds of the gentlemen in American steel that invented and produced the most mind boggling equipment on a scale never imagined.
During the early years of the industrial revolution in Europe. As you will see. They did it all and nobody could even come close once we got started.
First when I started my search for hot metal I was disappointed at the lack if historical information but I got caught up in the history of iron and steel. There is little known about this fabulous period of American History It is simply fascinating. There is so much that never shows up in the history books about the industry and the legacy of iron
Iron is a chemical element, It is the most common element (by mass) forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth’s outer and inner core It is the fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust. Iron is probably the most precious metal on earth. Civilization would be lost without it. You cannot build a bridge with Gold.
The history of man and iron starts about 4,000 years BC. Some people say the Egyptians discovered iron smelting. All I can find is that as far back as 3500 BC, Egyptians were mining iron from meteorites, the only form in which it exists as a pure element. But it took another 2,000 years to find drawings of an Egyptian smelter. About 1500 BC the Hittites had a fairly substantial knowledge of iron smelting but that empire was destroyed in 1200 BC. This empire was middle Asia, Southern Russia and northern Turkey. The Hittites and later the Assyrians had very advanced weapons;
The Hittite empire was at its peak at about 1500 BC but was destroyed about 1200 BC. This put serious iron smelting out of production until about 550 BC when the Greeks and then the Romans Picked up iron smelting or reinvented it. So the actual history of iron smelting dates back about 6,000 years.
Europeans began casting iron in the15th century, but the black metal remained a rare and precious substance for nearly 300 years because melting iron required enormous amounts of wood for fuel. Great Briton was producing iron at a prodigious rate but the smelting process required wood and charcoal made from wood. It was not long until the deforestation was destroying the country side. This set off horrendous outcries...