Sloss Furnaces - Birmingham, AL
John & Cathy Mandell
Raw materials (Iron Ore, Limestone, Coke), all obtained locally, are conveyed to the top of the furnace for "charging". Charging takes place every few hours (I seem to recall 4 or 6 hours)
The process is continuous and the furnace typically runs for months at a time. Raw materials are inserted at the top and molten iron collects at the bottom. Waste components (slag) floats on the molten iron and is removed periodically. The molten iron is periodically released to flow through "sows" to cast the "pigs".
For each of the 2 blast furnaces, there are 6 tall towers used to pre-heat the air before it is injected into the base of the furnaces.
Air pressure was originally created from 8 pumping steam engines. Each pump engine is about 30' tall and is a Corliss steam engine on the bottom and an air pump on the top. The cross head joins to two connecting rods turning a large flywheel on each side of the engine (2 flywheels/engine). I think all the air pumps are fed into a common duct system. Each pump engine had it's own boiler. Most of the fuel was from combustible gasses coming off the top of the blast furnaces.
Later, the 8 steam pumps were replaced by 2 electric driven turbine pumps.
Other steam engines ran generators.
Snapshots: (Some are in quite dark spaces!) Click to enlarge
Corliss steam driven air pumps (eight pumps)
One of the 2 electric pumps that replaced the 8 Corliss pumps
Air heaters, gate valve
Cooling pond, misc equipment
Casting shed. Molten iron was originally pored into pigs, depressions in the sand, inside the shed.
Later, molten iron was moved by rail in ladle cars. Pigs were continuously poured & cooled on a "conveyer" system.