A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice
by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.
Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.
New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.
GLASS-MAKING, general principles of. Glass may be defined in technical phraseology, to be a transparent homogeneous compound formed by the fusion of silica with oxydes of the alkaline, earthy, or common metals. It is usually colorless, ad then resembles rock crystal, but is occasionally stained by accident or design with coloured metallic oxydes. At common temperatures it is hard and brittle, in thick pieces; in thin plates or threads, flexible and elastic; sonorous when struck; fracture conchoidal, and of that peculiar lustre called vitreous; at a a red heat, becoming soft , ductile, and plastic. Besides glass properly so called, other bodies are capable of entering into vitreous fusion, as phosphoric acid, boracic acid, arsenic acid, as also certain metallic oxydes, as of lead and antimony, and several chlorides; some of which are denominated glasses. Impure and opaque vitriform masses are called slags; such are the productions of blast iron furnaces and many metallurgic operations.
Silica, formerly styled the earth of flints, which constitutes the basis of all commercial glass, is infusible by itself in the strongest fire of our furnaces; but its vitreous fusion is easily effected by a competent addition of potash and soda, either alone or mixed with lime or litharge. The silica, which may be regarded as belonging to the class of acids, combines at the heat of fusion with these bases, into saline compounds; and hence glass may be viewed as a silicate of certain oxydes, in which the acid and the bases exist in equivalent proportions. Were these proportions, or the quantities of the bases which silica requires for its saturation at the melting point, exactly ascertained, we might readily determine beforehand the best proportions of materials for the glass manufacture. But as this is far from being the case, and as it is, moreover, not improbable that the capacity of saturation of the silica varies with the temperature, and that the properties of glass also vary with the bases, we must, in the present state of our knowledge, regulate the proportions rather by practice than by theory, though the latter may throw an indirect light upon the subject. For example, a good colorless glass has been found by analysis to consist of 72 parts of silica, 13 parts of potash, and 10 parts of lime, in 95 parts. If we reduce these numbers to the equivalent ration, we shall have the following results; taking the atomic weights as given by Berzelius.
1 atom potash = 590 14.67
1 lime 356 8.84
3 silica 1722 42.79
2 silica 1155 28.70 } 71.49
- - 3823 95.00
This glass would therefore have been probably better compounded with the justatomic proportions, to which it nearly approaches, viz. 71.49 silica, 14.67 potash and 8.84 lime, instead of those given above as its actual constituents.
The proportions in which silica unites with the alkaline and other oxydes modified by the temperature as above stated; the lower the heat, the less silica will enter into the glass, and the more of the base will in general be required. If a glass which contains a n excess of alkali be exposed to a much higher temperature than that of its formation, a portion of the base will be set free to act upon the materials of the earthen pot, or to be dissipated in fumes, until such a silicate remains as to constitute a permanent glass corresponding to that temperature. Hence the same mixture of vitrifiable materials will yield very different results, according to the heats in which it is fused and worked in the glass-house; and therefore the composition would always be referrible to the going of the furnace. When a species of glass which at a high temperature formed a transparent combination with a considerable quantity of lime, is kept for some time in fusion at a lower temperature, a portion of the lime unites with the silica into another combination of a semi-vitreous or even a stony aspect, so as to spoil the transparency of the glass altogether. There is probably a supersilicate and a sub-silicate formed in such cases; the latter being much the more fusible of the two compounds. The Reaumur's procelain produced, by exposing bottle glass to a red heat for 24 hours, in a example of this species of vitreous change in which new affinities are exercised at a temperature. An excess of silica, caused by the volatilization of alkaline matter with too strong firing, will bring on similar appearances.
The specific gravity of glass varies from 2.3 to 3.6. That of least specific gravity consists of merely silica and potash fused together; that with lime is somewhat denser, and with oxide of lead denser still. Plate glass made from silica, soda, and lime, has a specific gravity which varies from 2.50 to 2.6; crystal or flint glass from 3.0 to 3.6.
The power of glass to resist the action of water, alkalis, acids, air, and light, is in general the greater, the higher the temperature employed in its manufacture, the smaller the proportion of its fluxes, and the more exact the equivalent ratios of its constituents. When glass contains too much alkali, it is partially soluble in water. Most crystal glass is affected by having water boiled in it for a considerable time; but crown glass being poorer in alkali, and containing no lead, resists that action much longer, and is therefore better adapted to chemical operations. The affinity of glass for water, or its hygrometric attraction, is also proportional to the quantity of alkali which it contains. In general also potash glass is more apt to become damp then soda glass, agreeably to the respective hygrometric properties of these two alkalis, and also tot the smaller proportion od soda than of potash requisite to form glass.
Air and light operate upon glass probably by their oxidizing property. Bluish or greenish coloured glasses become by exposure colorless, in consequence undoubtedly of the peroxidizement of the iron, to whose protoxide they owe their tint; other glasses become purple red from the peroxidizement of the manganese. The glasses which contain lead, suffer another kind of change in the air, if sulphuretted hydrogen be present; the oxide of lead is converted into a sulphuret, with the effect of rendering the surface of the glass opaque and iridescent. The more lead is in the glass the quicker does this irisdescence supervene. By boiling concentrated sulphuric acid in a glass vessel, or upon glass, we can ascertain its power of resisting ordinary menstrua. Good glass will remain smooth and transparent; bad glass will become rough and dim.
The brittleness of unannealed glass by change of temperature is sometimes very great. I have known a thick vessel to fly by vicissitudes of the atmosphere alone. This defect may be corrected by slowly heating the vessel in salt water or oil to the highest pitch consistent with the nature of these liquids, and letting it cool very slowly. Within the limits of that range of heat, it will, in consequence of this treatment, bear alternations of temperature without cracking as before.
It has been said that glass made from silica and alkalis alone will not resist the action of water, but that the addition of little lime is necessary for this effect. In general 100 parts of quartzose sand require 33 parts of dry carbonate of soda for their vitrification, and 45 parts of dry carbonate of potash. But to make unchangeable alkaline glass, especially with potash, a smaller quantity of this than the above should be used, with a very violent heat. A small portion of lime increases the density, hardness, and lustre of glass; and it aids in decomposing the alkaline sulphates and muriates always present in the pearl ash of commerce. From 7 to 20 parts of dry slaked lime have been added for 100 of silica, with advantage, it is said, in some German glass manufactories, where the alkaline matter is soda; for potash does not assimilate well with the calcareous earth.
In many glass works on the Continent, sulphate of soda is the form under which alkaline matter is introduced into glass. This salt requires the addition of 8 per cent. of charcoal to decompose and dissipate its acid; a result which takes place at a high heat, without the addition of any lime. 88 pounds of quartz-sand, 44 pounds of dry glauber salt, and 3 pounds of charcoal, properly mixed and fused, afford a limpid, fluent, and workable glass; with the addition of 17 pounds of lime, these materials fuse more readily into a plastic mass. If less carbon be added, the fusion becomes more tedious. The two following formulæ afford good glauber salt glass.
- - 1. 2.
Sand - 100 60.3
Calcined sulphate of soda 50 26.8
Lime 20 10.8
Charcoal 2.65 2.1
The first mixture has been proved in the looking-glass manufactory of Neuhaus near Vienna, and the second by the experiments of Kirn. The fusion of the first requires 18, of the second 21 hours. The bluish green tinge which these otherwise beautiful and brilliant glasses possess, is not removable by the ordinary means, such as manganese or arsenic, which decolour alkaline glass. When the sulphate of soda and charcoal are used in smaller proportions, the glass becomes more colorless. The tinge is no doubt owing to the sulphur combining with the oxide of sodium, in some such way as in the pigment ultramarine.
By a proper addition of galena (the native sulphuret of lead), to glauber salt and quarts sand, without charcoal, it is said a tolerably good crystal glass may be formed. The sulphuric acid of the salt is probably converted by the reaction of the sulphuret of lead into sulphurous acid gas, which is disengaged.
One atom of sulphuret of lead = 1495.67, is requisite to decompose 3 atoms of sulphate of sida = 2676. It is stated, on good authority, that a good colorless glass may be obtained by using glauber salt without charcoal, as by the following formula.
Quartz-sand - 100 pounds
Calcined glauber salt - 24
Lime - 20
Cullet of soda glass - 12
The melting heat must be continued for 26½ hours. A small quantity of the sand is reserved to be thrown in towards the conclusion of the process, in order to facilitate the expulsion of air bubbles. The above mixture will bear to be blanched by the addition of manganese and arsenic. The decomposition of the salt is in this case effected by the lime, with which the sulphuric acid first combines, is then converted into sulphurous acid, and dissipated. Glass made in this way was found by analysis to consist of 79 parts of silica, 12 lime, and 9.6 soda, without any trace of gypsum or sulphuric acid.
Glauber salt is partially volatilized by the heat of the furnace, and acts upon the arch of the oven and the tops of the pots. This is best prevented by introducing at first into the pots the whole of the salt mixed with the charcoal, the lime, and one fourth part of the sand; fusing this mixture at a moderate heat, and adding gradually afterwards the remainder of the sand, increasing the temperature at the same time. If we put in the whole ingredients together, as is done with potash glass, the sand and lime soon fall to the bottom, while the salt rises to the surface, and the combination becomes difficult and unequal.
Sulphate of potash acts in the same way as sulphate of soda.
Muriate of soda also, according to Kirn, may be used as a glass flux with advantage. The most suitable proportions are 4 parts of potash, 2 of common salt, and 3 of lime, agreeably to the following compositions: -
- | - | 1. | 2.
Quartz-sand | - | 60.0 | 75.1
Calcined carbonate of potash | - | 17.8 | 19.1
Common salt | - | 9.9 | 9.5
Lime | - | 13.3 | 14.8
For No. 1, the melting heat must be 10 hours, which turns out a very pure, solid, good glass; for No. 2, 23 hours of the furnace are required. Instead of the potash, glauber salt may be substituted; the proportions being then 19.1 glauber salt, 9.5 muriate of soda, 14.3 lime, 75.1 sand, and 1.3 charcoal.
The oxide of lead is an essential constituent of the denser glasses, and may be regarded as replacing the lime, so as to form with the quartz-sand a silicate of lead. It assimilates best with purified pearlash, on account of the freedom of this alkali from iron, which is present in most sodas.
It atomic constitution may be represented as follows:-
Silicic acid | 5 atoms = 2877 | Computation 59.19 | Analysis 59.20
Oxyde of Lead | 1 atoms = 1394 | Computation 28.68 | Analysis 28.20
Potash | 1 atoms = 590.0 | Computation 12.13 | Analysis 9.00
Oxydes of iron and manganese - | Computation - | Analysis 1.40
- - - 4861.4 | Computation 100.00 | Analysis 100.00
The above analysis by Berthier relates to a specimen of the best English crysta glass, perfectly colorless and free from air-bubbles. This kind of glass may however take several different proportions of potash and silica to the oxide of lead.
The composition of mirror plate, as made on the Continent, is as follows:-
White quartz-sand - 300 pounds
Dry carbonate of soda - 100
Lime slaked in the air - 43
Cullet, or old glass - 300
The manganese should not exceed one half per cent. of the weight of the soda.
Optical glass requires to be made with very peculiar care. It is of two different kinds; namely, crown glass and flint glass. The latter contains a considerable proportion of lead, in order to give it an increased dispersive power upon the rays of light, in proportion to its mean refractive power.
Optical crown glass should be perfectly limpid, and have so little color, that a pretty thick piece of it may give no appreciable tinge to the rays of light. It should be exempt from stiæ or veins as well as air-bubbles, and have not the slightest degree of milkiness. It should moreover preserve these qualities when worked in considerable quantities. Potash is preferable to soda for making optical crown glass, because the latter alkali is apt to make a glass which devitrifies and becomes opalescent, by long exposure to heat in the annealing process. A simple potash silicate would be free from this defect, but it would be too attractive of moisture, and apt to decompose eventually by the humidity of the atmosphere. It should therefore contain a small quantity of lime, and as little potash as suffices for making a perfect glass at a pretty high temperature. It is probablyowing to the high heats used in the English crown glass works, and the moderate quantity alkali (soda) which is employed, that our crown glass has been found to answer so well for optical purposes.
Practical Details of the Manufacture of Glass
The Venetians were the first in modern times who attained to any degree of excellence in the art of working glass, but the French became eventually so zealous of rivalling them, particularly in the construction of mirrors, that a decree was issued by the court of France, declaring nor only that the manufacture of glass should not derogate from the dignity of a nobleman, but that nobles alone should be masters of glass-works. Within the last 30 or forty years, Great Britain has made rapid advances in this import art, and at the present day her re-eminence in every department hardly admits of dispute.
There are five species of glass, each requiring a peculiar mode of fabrication and peculiar materials: 1. The coarsest and simplest form of this manufacture is bottle glass. 2. Next to it in cheapness of material may be ranked broad or spread window glass. An improved article of this kind is now made near Birmingham, under the name of British or German plate. 3. Crown glass comes next, or window glass, formed in large circular plates or discs. This glass is peculiar to Great Britain. 4. Flint glass, crystal glass, or glass of lead. 5. Plate or fine mirror glass.
The materials of every kind of glass are vitrified in pots made of a pure refractory clay; the best kind of which is a species of shale or slate clay dung out of the coal-formaation near Stourbridge. It contains hardly any lime or iron, and consists of silica and alumina in nearly equal proportions. The masses are carefully picked, brushed and ground under edge iron wheels of considerable weight, and sifted through sieves having 20 meshes in the square inch. This powder is moistened with water (best hot), and kneaded by the feet or a loam-mill into a uniform smooth paste. A large body of this dough should be made up at a time, and laid by in a damp cellar to ripen. Previously to working it into shapes, it should be mixed with about fourth of cement of old pots, ground to powder. The mixture is sufficiently plastic, and being less contractile by heat, forms more solid and durable vessels. Glass-house pots have the figure of a truncated cone, with the narrow end undermost; those for bottle and window-glass being open at top, about 30 inches diameter at bottom, 40 inches at the month, and 40 inches deep; but the flint-glass pots are covered in at top with a dome-cap, having a mouth at the side, by which the materials are introduced, and the glass is extracted. Bottle and crown-house pots are from 3 to 4 inches thick; those for flint-houses are an inch thinner, and of proportionally smaller capacity.
The well-mixed and kneaded dough is first worked upon a board into a cake for the bottom; over this the sides are raised, by laying on its edges rolls of clay above each other with much manual labor, and careful condensation. The clay is made into lumps, is equalized, and slapped much in the same way as for making pottery. The pots thus fashioned must be dried very prudently, first in the atmospheric temperature, and finally in a stove floor, which usually borrows its heat directly from the glass-house. Before setting the pots in the furnace, they are annealed during 4 or 5 days, at a red heat, in a small reverberatory vault, made on purpose. When completely annealed, they are transferred with the utmost expedition into their seat in the fire, by means of powerful tongs supported on the axle of an iron-wheel carriage frame, and terminating in a long lever for raising them and swinging them round. The pot-setting is a desperate service, and when unskilfully conducted without due mechanical aids, is the forlorn hope of the glass-founder. - Quæque ipse miserrima vidi. The celebrated chemist, Dr. Irvine, caught his last illness by assisting imprudently at this formidable operation. The working breast of the hot furnace must be laid bare so as to open a breach for the extraction of the faulty pot, and the insertion of the fresh one, both in a state of bright incandescence. It is frightful to witness the eyes and fuming visages of the workmen, with the blackening and smoking of their scorched woollen clothes, exposed so long to the direct radiations of the flame. A light mask and sack dress coated with tinfoil, would protect both their faces and persons from any annoyance, at a very cheap rate.
The glass-houses are usually built in the form of a cone, from 60 to 100 feet high, and from 50 to 80 feet in diameter at the base. The furnace is constructed in the centre of the area, above an arched or groined gallery which extends across the whole space, and terminates without the walls, in large folding doors. This cavern must be sufficiently high to allow labourers to wheel out the cinders in their barrows. The middle of the vaulted top is left open in the building, and is covered over with the grate-bars of the furnace.
1. Bottle glass. - The bottle house and its furnace resemble nearly fig. 505. The furnace is usually an oblong square chamber, built of large fire-bricks, and arched over with fire-stone, a siliceous grit of excellent quality extracted from the coal measures of Newcastle. This furnace stands in the middle of the area; and has its base divided into three compartments. The central space is occupied by the grate-bars; and on either side is the platform or fire-brick siege (seat), raised about 12 inches above the level of the ribs upon which the pots rest. Each siege is about 3 feet broad.
In the sides of the furnace, semi-circular holes of about a foot diameter are left opposite to, and a little above the top of each pot, called working holes, by which the workmen shovel in the materials, and take out the plastic glass. At each angle of the furnace there is likewise a hole of about the same size, which communicates with the calcining furnace of a cylindrical form, dome-shaped at top. The flame that escapes from the founding or pot-furnace is thus economically brought to reverberate on the raw materials of the bottle glass, so as to dissipate their carbonaceous or volatile impurities, and convert them into a frit. A bottle-house has generally eight other furnaces or fire-arches; of which six are used for annealing the bottles after they are blown, and two for annealing the pots, before setting them in the furnace.
The laws of this country till lately prohibited the use for making common bottles of any fine materials. Nothing but the common river sand and soap-boilers' waste, was allowed. About 3 parts of waste, consisting of the insoluble residuum of kelp, mixed with lime and a little saline substance, were used for 1 part of sand. This waste was first of all calcined in two of the fire arches or reverberatories reserved for that purpose, called the coarse arches, where it was kept at a red heat, with occasional stirring, from 24 to 30 hours, being the period of a journey or journés, in which the materials could be melted and worked into bottles. The roasted soap-waste was then withdrawn, under the name of ashes, from its arch, coarsely ground, and mixed with its proper proportion of sand. This mixture was now put into the fine arch, and calcined during the working journey, which extended to 10 or 12 hours. Whenever the pots were worked out, that frit was immediately transferred into them in its ignited state, and the founding process proceeded with such despatch that this first charge of materials was completely melted down in 6 hours, so that the pots might admit to be filled up again with the second charge of frit, which was founded in 4 hours more. The heat was briskly continued, and in the course of from 12 to 18 hours, according to the size of the pots, the quality of the fuel, and the draught of the furnace, the vitrification was complete. Before blowing the bottles, however, the glass must be left to settle, and to cool down to the blowing consistency, by shutting the cave doors and feeding holes, so as to exclude the air from the fire-grate and the bottom of the hearth. The glass or metal becomes more dense, and by its subsidence throws up the foreign lighter earthy and saline matters in the form of a scum on the surface, which is removed with skimming irons. The furnace is now charged with coal, to enable it to afford a working heat for 4 or 5 hours, at the end of which time more fuel is cautiously added, to preserve adequate heat for finishing the journey.
It is hardly possible to convey in words alone a correct idea of the manipulations necessary to the formation of a wine bottle; but as the manufacturers make no mystery of this matter, any person may have an opportunity of inspecting the operation. Six people are employed at this task; one, called a gatherer, dips the end of an iron tube, about five feet long, previously made red-hot, into the pot of melted metal, turns the rod round so as to surround it with glass, lifts it out to cool a little, and then dips and turns it round again; and so in succession till a ball is formed on its end sufficient to make the required bottle. He then hands it to the blower, who rolls the plastic lump of glass on a smooth stone or cast-iron plate, till he brings it to the very end of the tube; he next introduces the pear-shaped ball into an open brass or cast-iron mould, shuts this together by pressing a pedal with his foot, and holding his tube vertically, blows through it, so as to expaand the cooling glass into the form of the mould. Whenever he takes his foot from the pedal-lever, the mould spontaneously opens out into two halves, and falls asunder by its bottom hinge. He then lifts the bottle up at the end of the rod, and transfers it to the finisher, who, touching the glass tube at the end of the pipe with a cold iron, cracks off the bottle smoothly at its mouth-ring. The finished bottles are immediately piled up in the hot annealing arch, where they are afterwards allowed to cool slowly for 24 hours at least. See BOTTLE MOULD.
2. Broad or spread window-glass. - This kind of glass is called inferior window glass in this country, because coarse in texture, of a wavy wrinkled surface, and very cheap, but on the Continent spread window-glass, being made with more care, is much better than ours, though still far inferior in transparency and polish to crown glass, which has, therefore, nearly superseded its use among us. But Messrs. Chance and Hartley, of west Bromwich near Birmingham, have of late years mounted a spread-glass work, where they make British sheet glass, upon the best principles, and turn out an article quite equal, if not superior, to anything of the kind made either in France or Belgium. Their materials are those used in the crown-glass manufacture. The vitrifying mixture is fritted for 20 or 30 hours in a reverberatory arch, with considerable stirring and puddling with long-handled shovels and rakes; and the frit is then transferred by shovels, while red hot, to the melting pots to be founded. When the glass is rightly vitrified, settled, and brought to a working heat, it is lifted out by iron tubes, as will be described uder the article CROWN GLASS, blown into pears, which being elongaed into cylinders, are cracked up along one side, parallel to the axis, by touching them with a cold iron dipped in water, and are then opened into sheets. Glass cylinders are spread in France, and at West Bromwich, on a bed of smooth stone Paris-plaster or laid on the bottom of a reverberatory arch; the cylinder being placed on its side horizontally, with the cracked line uppermost, gradually opens out, and flattens on the hearth. At one time, thick plates were thus prepared for subsequent polishing into mirrors; but the glass was never of very good quality; and this mode of making mirror-plate has accordingly been generally abandoned.
The spreading furnace or oven is that in which cylinders are expanded into tables or plates. It ought to be maintained at a brisk red heat, to facilitate the softening of the glass. The oven is placed in immediate connection with the annealing arch, so that the tables may be readily and safely transferred from the former to the latter. Sometimes the cylinders are spread in a large muffle furnace, in order to protect them from tarnished by sulphureous and carbonaceous fumes.
Fig. 500 represents a ground plan of both the spreading and annealing furnace; fig. 501 is an oblong profile in the direction of the dotted line x, x, fig. 500.
a is the fire-place; b b the canals or flues through which the flame rises into both furnaces; c the spreading furnace, upon whose sole is the spreading slab. d is the cooling and annealing oven; e e iron bars which extend obliquely across the annealing arch and serve for resting the glass tables against, during the cooling. f f the channel along which the previously cracked cylinders are slid, so as to be gradually warmed; g opening in the spreading furnace, for enabling the workmen to regulate the process; k a door in the annealing arch, for introducing the tools requisite for raising up and removing the tables.
In forming glass-plates by the extension of a cylinder into a plane, the workman first blows the lump of glass into the shape of an oblong pear, the length of which must be nearly equal to the length of the intended plate, and its diameter such, that the circumference, when developed, will be equal to the breadth of the plate. He now rests the blowing iron on a stool or iron bar, while an assistant, with a pointed iron, pierces a hole into the extreme end of the pear, in the line of the blowing-pipe. This opening is then enlarged, by introducing the blade of a pair of spring-tongs, while the glass is turned round; and by skilful management, the end of the pear s eventually opened out into a cylindrical mouth. The workman next mounts upon a stool, and holds the blowing-iron perpendicularly. The blown cylinder is now cracked off, and punto rod of iron having been previously stuck to its one end, to form a spindle for working the other by. This rod has a flat disc on its end, or three prongs, which being dipped in melted glass, are applied to the mouth of the cylinder. By this as a handle, the glass cone is carried to the fire, and the narrow end being heated, is next opened by spring tongs, and formed into a cylinder of the same size as the other end. The cylinder, thus equalized, is next cracked or slit down in its side with a pair of shears, laid on a smooth copper plate, detached from the iron rod, spread out by heat into a plane surface, and finally annealed. This series of transformations is represented in fig. 502, at A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H.
Figs. 503 and 504 represent a Bohemian furnace in which excellent white window glass is founded. Fig. 503 is a longitudinal section of the glass and annealing furnace. Fig. 504 is the ground plan. a is the ash-pit vaulted under the sole of the furnace; the fire-place itself is divided into three compartments; with a middle slab at d, which is hollowed in the centre, for collecting any split glass, and two hearth tiles or slabs b b. c c are draught or air holes; e e are arches upon which the bearing slabs f f partly rest. In the middle between these arches, the flame strikes upwards upon the pots g g, placed as closely together as possible, for economy of room. h is the breast wall of the furnace, i, fig. 504, the opening through which the pots are introduced; it is bricked up as soon as they are set. k k, is the base of the cone or dome of the furnace; l l l, the working orifices, which are made larger or smaller according to the size of the glass articles to be made. m is the flue which leads to the annealing stove n, with an arched door. Exterior to this, there is usually a drying kiln not shown in the figure; and there are adjoining stoves called arches, for drying and annealing the new pots before they are set.
The cooling of annealing arch, or leer, is often built independent of the glass-house furnace, is then heated by a separate fire-place, and constructed like a very long reverberatory furnace. See COPPER.
The leer pans or trays of sheet-iron, are laid upon its bottom in an oblong series, and hooked to each other.
3. Crown-glass. - The crown-glass house with its furnace is represented in fig. 505, where the blowing operation is shown on the one side of the figure, and the flashing on the other. The furnace is usually constructed to receive 4 or 6 pots, of such dimensions as to make about a ton of glass each at a time. There are, however, several subsidiary furnaces to a crown-house. 1. A reverberatory furnace or calcar, for calcining or fritting the materials; 2. a blowing furnace, for blowing the pear-shaped balls, made at the pot-holes, into large globes; 3 a flushing furnace, and bottoming hole for communicating a softening heat, in expanding the globe into a circular plate; 4. the annealing arch for the tables; 5. the reverberatory oven for annealing the pots prior to their being set upon the founding siege.
The materials of crown glass used to be, fine sand, by measure 5 parts, or by weight 10; ground kelp by measure 11 part, or by weight 16½ but instead of kelp, soda ash is now generally employed. From 6 to 8 cwts. of sand, lime and soda-ash, mixed together in wooden boxes with a shovel, are thrown on the sole of a large reverberatory, such as is represented in the article COPPER. Here the mixture is well worked together, with iron paddles, flat shovels, and rakes with long handles; the area of this furnace being 6 feet square, and the height 2 feet. The heat soon bring the materials to a pasty consistence, when they must be diligently turned over, to favor the dissipation of the sulphur, and other volatile matters of the kelp or soda ash, and to incorporate the fixed ingredients uniformly with the sand. Towards the end of three hours, the fire is considerably raised, and when the fourth hour has expired, the fritting operation is finished. The mass is now shovelled or raked out into shallow cast-iron square cases, smoothed down, and divided, before it hardens by cooling, into square lumps, by cross sections with the spade. These frit-bricks are afterwards piled up in a large apartment for use; and have been supposed to improve with age, by the efflorescence of their saline constituents into carbonate of soda on their surface.
The founding-pots are filled up with these blocks of frit, and the furnace is powerfully urged by opening all the subterranean passages to its grate, and closing all the doors and windows of the glass-house itself. After 8 or 10 hours the vitrification has made such progress, and the blocks first introduced are so far melted down, that another charge of frit can be thrown in, and thus the pot is fed with frit till the proper quantity is used. In about 16 hours the vitrification of the frit has taken place, and a considerable quantity, amounting often to the ewt. of liquid saline matter, floats over the glass. The salt is carefully skimmed off into iron pots with long ladles. It is called Sandiver or Glass-gall, and consists usually of muriate of soda, with a little sulphate. The pot is now ready for receiving the topping of cullet, which is broken pieces of window glass, to the amount of 3 or 4 cwts. This is shovelled in at short intervals; and as its pressure forces up the residuary saline matter, this is removed; for were it allowed to remain, the body of the glass would be materially deteriorated.
The heat is still continued for several hours till the glass is perfect, and the extrication of gas called the boil, which accompanies the fusion of crown glass, has nearly terminated, when the fire is abated, by shutting up the lower vault doors and every avenue to the grate, in order that the glass may settle fine. At the end of about 40 hours altogether, the fire being slightly raised by adding some coals, and opening the doors, the glass is carefully skimmed, and the working of the pots commences.
Before describing it, however, we may state that the marginal figure 506 shews the base of the crown-house cone, with the four open pots in two ranges on opposite sides of the furnace, sitting on their raised sieges, at each side of the grate. At one side of the base the door of the vault is shown, and its course is marked by the dotted lines.
Detailed description of the crown-glass furnace, figs. 507, 508. - It is an oblong square built in the centre of a brick cone, large enough to contain within it, two or three pots at each side of the grate room, which is either divided as shown in the plan, or runs the whole length of the furnace, as the manufacturer chooses. Fig. 507 is a ground plan, and fig. 508 a front elevation, of a six-pot furnace. 1, 2, 3, fig. 507, are the working holes for the purposes of ventilation, of putting in the materials, and taking out the metal to be wrought. 4, 5, 6, 7, are pipe holes for warming the pipes before beginning to work with them. 8, 9, 10, are foot holes for mending pots and sieges. 11 is a bar of iron for binding the furnace, and keeping it from swelling.
The arch is of an elliptic form; though a barrel arch, that is, an arch shaped like the half of a barrel cut longwise through the centre, is sometimes used. But this soon gives way when used in the manufacture of crown glass, although it does very well in the clay-furnace used for bottle houses.
The best stone for building furnaces is fire-stone, from Coxgreen in the neighborhood of Newcastle. Its quality is a close grit, and it contains a greater quantity of talc than the common fire-stone, which seems to be the chief reason of its resisting the fire better. The great danger in building furnaces is, lest the cement at the top should give way with the excessive heat, and by dropping into the pots, spoil the metal. The top should therefore be built with stones only, as loose as they can hold together after the centres are removed, and without any cement whatever. The stones expand and come quite close together when annealing; an operation which takes from eight to fourteen days at most. There is thus less risk of any thing dropping from the roof of the furnace.
The inside of the square of the furnace is built either of Stourbridge fire-clay annealed, or the Newcastle fire-stone, to the thickness of sixteen inches. The outside is built of common brick about nine inches in thickness.
The furnace is thrown over an ash-pit, or cave, as it is called, which admits the atmospheric air, and promotes the combustion of the furnace. This cave is built of stone until it comes beneath the grate room, when it is formed of fire-brick. The abutments are useful for binding and keeping the furnace together, and are built of masonry. The furnaces are stoutly clasped with iron all round, to keep them right. In four-pot furnaces this is unnecessary, provided there be four good abutments.
Fig, 509 is an elevation of the flashing furnace. The outside is built of common brick, the inside of fire-brick, and the mouth or nose of Stourbridge fire-clay.
Fig. 510 is the annealing kiln. It is built of common brick, except round the grate room, where fire-brick is used.
Few tools are needed for blowing and flashing crown-glass. The requisite ball of plastic glass is gathered, in successive layers as for bottles, on the end of an iron tube, and rolled into a pear-shape, or a cast-iron plate; the workman taking care that the air blown into its cavity is surrounded with an equal body of glass, and if he perceives any side to be thicker than another, he corrects the inequality by rolling it on the sloping iron table called marver, (marbre). He now heats the bulb in the fire, and rolls it so as to form the glass upon the end of the tube, and by dexterous swing or two he lengthens it, sown in R, fig, 511 [kuva puuttuu]. To extend the neck of that pear, he next rolls it over a smooth iron rod, turned round in a horizontal direction, into the shape K, fig 511. By further expansion at the blowing-furnace, he now brings it to the shape L, represented in fig. 511.
This spheroid having become cool and somewhat stiff, is next carried to the bottoming hole (like fig. 509), to be exposed to the action of flame. A slight wall erected before one half of this hole, screens the workman from the heat, but leaves room for the globe to pass between it and the posterior wall. The blowing-pipe is made to rest a little way from the neck of the globe, on a hook fixed in the front wall; and thus may be made cavolve on its axis, and by giving centrifugal force to the globe, while the bottom of it, or part opposite to the pipe, is softened by the heat, it soon assumes from exhibited in M, fig. 511.
In this state the flattened globe is removed from the fire, and its rod being rested on the casher box covered with coal cinders, another workman now applies the end of a solid iron rod tipped with melted glass, called a punto, to the nipple or prominence in the middle; and thus attaches it to the centre of the globe, while the first workman cracks off the globe by touching its tubular neck with an iron chisel dipped in cold water. The workman having thereby taken possession of the globe by its bottom or knobbed pole attached to his punty rod, he now carries it to another circular opening, where he exposes it to the action of moderate flame with regular rotation, and thus slowly heats the thick projecting remains of the former neck, and opens it slightly out, as shewn at N, in fig. 511. [puuttuu] He next hands it to the flasher, who, resting the iron rod in a hook placed near the side of the orifice A, fig. 509, wheels it rapidly round opposite to a powerful flame, till it assumes first the figure o, and finally that of a flat circular table.
The flasher then walks off with the table, keeping up a slight rotation as he moves along, and when it is sufficiently cool, he turns down his rod into a vertical position, and lays the table flat on a dry block of fire-clay, or bed of sand, when an assistant nips it off from the punto with a pair of long iron shears, or cracks it off with a touch of cold iron. The loose table or plate is lastly lifted up horizontally on a double pronged iron fork, introduced into the annealing arch fig. 501 and raised on edge; an assistant with a long-kneed fork preventing it from falling too rapidly backwards. In this arch a great many tables of glass are piled up in iron frames, and slowly cooled from a heat of about 600° to 100° F., which takes about 24 hours; when they are removed. A circular plate or table of about 5 feet diameter weighs on an average 9 pounds.
4. Flint glass. - This kind of glass is so called because originally made with calcined flints, as the silicious ingredient. The materials at present employed in this country for the finest flint glass or crystal, are first, Lynn sand, calcined, sifted, and washed; second, and oxide of lead, either red lead or litharge; and third, pearlash. The pearl ash of commerce must however be purified by digesting it in a very little hot water, which dissolves the carbonate of potash, and leaves the foreign salts, chiefly sulphate of potash, muriate of potash, and muriate of soda. The solution of the carbonate being allowed to cool and become clear in lead pans, is then run off into a shallow iron boiler, and evaporated to dryness. Nitre is generally added as a fourth ingredient of the body of the glass; and it serves to correct any imperfections which might arise from accidental combustible particles, or from the lead being not duly oxidized. The above four substances constitute the main articles; to which we may add arsenic and manganese, introduced in very small quantities, to purify the colour and clear up the transparency of the glass. The black oxide of manganese, when used in such quantity only as to peroxidize the iron of the sand, simply removes the green tinge caused by the iron; but if more manganese be added than accomplishes that purpose, it will give a purple tinge to the glass; and in fact, most manufacturers prefer to have an excess rather than a defect of manganese, since cut glass its brilliancy increased by a faint lilac hue. The arsenic is supposed to counteract the injury arising from excess of manganese, but itself very apt on the other hand to communicate some degree of opalescence or at least, to impair the lustre of the glass. When too much manganese has been added, the purple tinge may indeed be removed by any carbonaceous matter, as by thrusting a wooden rod down into the liquid glass; but this cannot be done with good effect in practice, since the final purple tinge is not decided till the glass is perfectly formed, and then the introduction of charcoal would destroy the uniformity of the whole contents of the pot.
The raw materials of flint glass are always mixed with about a third or a fourth of their weight of broken crystal of like quality; this mixture is thrown into the pot with a shovel; and more is added whenever the preceding portions by melting subside; the object being to obtain a pot full of glass, to facilitate the skimming off the impurities and sandiver. The mouth of the pot is now shut, by applying clay-lute round the stopper, with the exception of a small orifice below, for the escape of the liquid saline matter. Flint glass requires about 48 hours for its complete vitrification, though the materials be more fusible than those of crown glass; in consequence of the contents of the pot being partially screened by its cover from the action of the fire, as also from the lower intensity of the heat.
Fig. 512 represents a flint glass house for 6 pots, with the arch or leer on one side for annealing the crystal ware. In fig. 513, the base of the cone is seen, and the glass pots in situ on their platform ranged round the central fire grate. The dotted line denotes the contour of the furnace, fig. 512.
Whenever the glass appears fine, and is freed from its air bubbles, which it usually is in about 36 hours, the heat is suffered to fall a little by closing the bottom valves, &c., that the pot may settle; but prior to working the metal the heat is somewhat raised again.
It would be useless to describe the manual operations of fashioning the various articles of the flint-glass manufacture, because they are indefinitely varied to suit the conveniences and caprices of human society.
Every different flint-house has a peculiar proportion of glass materials. The following have been offered as good practical mixtures.
1. Fine white sand - - 300 parts.
Red lead or litharge - - 200.
Refined pearlashes - - 80.
Nitre - - 20.
Arsenic and manganese, a minute quantity.
In my opinion, the proportion of lead is too great in the above recipe, which is given on the authority of Mr. James Geddes, of Leith. The glass made with it would be probably yellowish and dull.
2. Fine sand - 50.6
Litharge - 27.2
Refined pearlashes (carbonate of potash, with 5 per cent. of water) 17.5
To these quantities from 50 to 50 parts of broken glass or cullet are added; with about a two-thousandth part of manganese, and a three-thousandth part of arsenic. But manganese varies so extremely in its purity, and contains often so much oxide of iron, that nothing can be predicated as to its quantity previously to trial.
M. Payen, an eminent manufacturing chemist in France, says that the composition of crystal does not deviate much from the following proportions: -
Siliceous sand - Wood fire 3. Coal fire 3.
Minium - Wood fire 2. Coal fire 2½.
Carbonate of potash - Wood fire 1½. Coal fire 1½.
I conceive that this glass contains too much lead and potash. Such a mixture will produce a dull metal, very attractive of moisture; defects to which the French crown-glass also is subject.
The flint-glass leer for annealing glass, is an arched gallery or large flue, about 36 feet long, 3 feet high, 4 wide; having its floor raised above 2 feet above the ground of the glass-house. The hot air and smoke of a fire-place at one end pass along this gallery, and are discharged by a chimney 8 or 10 feet short of the other end. On the floor of the vault, large iron trays are laid and hooked to each other in a series, which are drawn from the fire end towards the other by a chain, wound about a cylinder by a winch-handle projecting through the side. The flint-glass articles are placed in their hot state in to the tray next the fire, which is moved onwards to a cooler station whenever it is filled, and an empty tray is set in its place. Thus, in the course of about 20 hours, the glass advances to the cool end thoroughly annealed.
Besides colorless transparent glass, which forms the most important part of this manufacture, various coloured glasses are made to suit the taste of the public. The taste at Paris was lately for opaline crystal; which may be prepared by adding to the above composition (No. 2) phosphate of lime, or well burnt bone ash in fine powder, washed and dried. The article must be as uniform in thickness as possible, and speedily worked into shape, with a moderate heat. Oxide of tin, putty, was formerly used for making opalescent glass, but the lustre of the body was always impaired by its means.
Crystal vessels have been made recently of which the inner surface is colourless and all the external facets colored. Such works are easily executed. The end of the blowing-rod must be dipped first in the pot containing colorless glass, to form a bulb of a certain size, which being cooled a little is then dipped for an instant into the pot of coloured glass. The two layers are associated without intermixture; and when the articles is finished in its form, it is white within and coloured without. Fluted lines, somewhat deeply cut, pass through the coloured coat, and enter the colorless one; so that when they cross, their ends alone are colored.
For some time past, likewise, various crystal articles have been exhibited in the market with coloured enamel-figures on their surface, or with white incrustations of a silvery lustre in their interior. The former are prepared by placing the enamel object in the brass mould, at the place where it is sought to be attached. The bulb of glass being put into mould, and blown while very hot, the small plate of enamel gets cement to the surface. For making the white argentine incrustations, small figures are prepared with an impalpable powder of dry porcelain paste, cemented into a solid by means of a little gypsum plaster. When these pieces are thoroughly dried, they are laid on the glass while it is red hot, and a large patch of very liquid glass is placed above it, so as to encase it and form one body with the whole. In this way the incrustation is completely enclosed; and the polished surface of the crystal, which scarcely touches it, gives a brilliant aspect pleasing to the eye.
An uniform flint-glass, free from striæ, or wreath, in much in demand for the optician. It would appear that such an article was much more commonly made by the English manufactures many years ago, than at present; and that in improving the brilliancy of crystal-glass they have inured its fitness for constructing optical lenses, which depends not so much on its whiteness and lustre as on the layers of different densities being parallel to each other. The oxide of lead existing in certain parts of a potful of glass in greater proportion than in other parts, increases the density unequally in the same mass, so that the adjoining strata are often very different in this respect. Even a potful pretty uniform glass, when it stands some time liquid, becomes eventually unequable by the subsidence of the denser portions; so that striæ and gelatinous appearances begin to manifest themselves, and the glass becomes of little value. Glass allowed to cool slowly in mass in the pot is particularly full of wreath; and if quickly refrigerated, that is, in two or three hours, it is apt to split into a multitude of minute splinters, of which no use can be made. For optical purposes, the glass must be taken out in its liquid state, being gathered on the end of the iron rod from the central portion of a recently skimmed pot, after the upper layers have been worked off in general articles.
M. Guinand, of Brennets near Geneva, appears to have hit upon processes that furnished almost certainly pieces of flint-glass capable of forming good lenses of remarkable dimensions, even of 11 inches diameter; of adequate density and transparency, and nearly free from striæ. M. Cauchoix, the eminent French optician, says, that out of ten ten object glasses, 4 inches in diameter, made with M. Guinand's flint glass, eight or nine turned out very good, while out of an equal number of object glasses made of the flint glass of the English and French manufactories, only one, or two at most, were found serviceable. The means by which M. Guinand arrived at these results have not been published. He has lately died, and it is not known whether his son be in possession of his secret.
An achromatic object glass for telescopes and microscopes consists of at least two lenses; the one made with glass of lead, or flint-glass, and the other with crown-glass; the former possessing a power of dispersing the coloured rays relatively to its mean refractive power, much greater than the latter; upon which principle the achromatism of the image is produced, by reuniting the different coloured rays into one focus. Flint-glass to be fit for this delicate purpose must be perfectly homogeneous, or of uniform density throughout its substance, and free from wavy veins or wreaths; for every such inequality would occasion a corresponding inequality in the refraction and dispersion of the light; like what is perceived in looking through a thick and thin solution of gum-arabic imperfectly mixed. Three plans have been prescribed for obtaining homogeneous pieces of optical glass: 1, to lift a mass of it in large ladles, and let it cool in them; 2. to pour it out from the pots into moulds; 3. to allow it to cool in the pots, and afterwards to cut it off in horizontal strata. The last method, which is the most plausible, seldom affords pieces of uniform density, unless peculiar precautions have been adopted to settle the flint glass in uniform strata; because its materials are of such unequal density, the oxide of lead having a specific gravity of 8, and silica of 2.7, that they apt to stand at irregular heights in the pots.
One main cause of these inequalities lies in the construction of the furnace, whereby the bottom of the pot is usually much less heated than the upper part. In a plate glass furnace the temperature of the top of the pot has been found to be 130° Wedgew., while that of the bottom was only 110°, constituting a difference of no less than 2610° F. The necessary consequence is that the denser particles which subside to the bottom, during the fusion of the materials, and after the first extrication of the gases, must remain there, not being duly agitated by the expansive force of caloric, acting from below upwards.
The preparation of the best optical glass is now made a great mystery by one or two proficients. The following suggestions, deduced from a consideration of principles, may probably lead to some improvements, if judiciously applied. The great object is to counteract the tendency of the glass of lead to distribute itself into strata of different densities; which may be effected either by mechanical agitation or by applying the greatest heat to the bottom of the pot. But however homogeneous the glass may be thereby made, its subsequent separation into strata of different densities must be prevented by rapid cooling and solidification. As the deeper the pots, the greater is the chance of unequal specific gravity in their contents, it would be advisable to make them wider and shallower than those in use for making ordinary glass. The intermixture may be effected either by lading the glass out of one pot into another in the furnace, and back again, with copper ladles, or by stirring it up with a rouser, then allowing it to settle for a short time, till it becomes clear and free from air bubbles. The pot may now be removed from the furnace, in order to solidify its contents in their homogeneous state; after which the glass may be broken in pieces, and be perfected by subjecting it to a second fusion; or, what is easier and quicker, we may form suitable discs of glass without breaking down the potful, by lifting out in flat copper ladles with iron shanks, and transferring the lumps after a little while into the annealing leer.
To render a potful of glass homogeneous by agitation, is a more difficult task, as an iron rod would discolor it, and a copper rod would be apt to melt. An iron rod sheathed in laminated platinum would answer well, but for its expense. A stone-ware tube supported within by a rod of iron, might also be employed for the purpose in careful hands; the stirring being repeated several times, till at last the glass is suffered to stiffen a little by decrease of temperature. It must then be allowed to settle and cool, after which the pot, being of small dimensions, may be drawn of the fire.
2. The second method of producing the desired uniformity of mixture, consists in applying a greater heat to the bottom than to the upper part of the melting pot. Fig. 514 represents in section a furnace contrived to effect this object. It is cylindrical, and of a diameter no greater than to allow the flames to play round the pot, containing from three to four cwts. of vitreous materials. A is the pot, resting upon the arched grid b a, built of fire-bricks, whose apertures are wide enough to let the flames rise freely, and strike the bottom and sides of the vessel, From 1½ to 2 feet under that arch, the fuel grate c d is placed. B C are the two working openings for introducing the materials, and inspecting the progress of the fusion; they must be closed with fire-tiles and luted with fire-clay at the beginning of the process. At the back of the furnace, opposite the mouth of the fire-place there is a door-way, which is bricked up, except upon occasion of putting in and taking out the pot. The draught is regulated by means of a slide-plate upon the mouth of the ash-pit f. The pot being heated to the proper pitch, some purified pearl-ash, mixed with fully twice its weight of colorless quartz sand, is to be thrown into it, and after the complete fusion of this mixture, the remaining part of the sand along with the oxide of lead (fine litharge) is to be strown upon the surface. These siliceous particles in their descent serve to extricate the air from the mass. Whenever the whole is fused, the heat must be strongly urged, to ensure a complete uniformity of combination by the internal motions of the particles. As soon as the glass has been found, by making test vials, to be perfectly fine, the fire must be withdrawn, the two working holes must be opened, as well as the mouths of the fire-place and ash-pit, to admit free ingress to cooling currents of air, so as to congeal the liquid mass as quickly as possible: a condition essential to the uniformity of glass. It may be worth while to stir it a little with the pottery rod at the commencement of the cooling process. The solidified glass may be afterwards detached by a hammer in conchoidal discs, which, after chipping of their edges, are to be placed in proper porcelain or stone-ware dishes, and exposed to a softening heat, in order to give them a lenticular shape. Great care must be taken that the heat thus applied by the muffle furnace be very equable, for otherwise wreathes might be very readily reproduced in the discs. A small oven, upon the plan of a baker's, is best fitted for this purpose, which being heated to dull redness, and then extinguished, is ready to soften and afterwards anneal the conchoidal pieces.
Guinand's dense optical flint glass, of specific gravity 3.616, consists, by analysis of oxide of lead, 43.05; silica, 44.3; and potash, 11.75; but requires for its formation the following ingredients: 100 pounds of ground quartz; 100 pounds of fine red lead; 35 pounds of purified potash; and from 2 to 4 pounds of saltpetre. As this species of glass is injured by an excess of potash, it should be compounded with rather a defect of it, and meted by a proportionably higher or longer heat. A good optical glass has been made in Germany with 7 parts of pure red lead, 3 parts of finely ground quartz, and 2 parts of calcined borax.
5. Plate glass.
This, like English crown-glass, has a soda flux; whereas flint-glass requires potash and is never of good quality when made with soda. We shall distribute our account of this manufacture under two heads.
1. The different furnaces and principal machines, without whose knowledge it would be impossible to understand the several processes of a plate-glass factory.
2. The materials which enter into the composition of this kind of glass, and the series of operations which they undergo; devoting our chief attention to the changes and improvements which long experience, enlightened by modern chemistry, has introduced into the great manufactory of Saint-Gobin, in France, under the direction of M. Tassaert. It may however be remarked, that the English plate-glass manufacture derives peculiar advantages from the excellence of its grinding and polishing machinery.
The clay for making the bricks and pots should be free from lime and iron, and very refractory. It is mixed with the powder of old pots passed through a silk sieve. If the clay be very plastic it will bear its own weight of the powder, but if shorter in quality, it will take only three fifths. But before mingling it with the cement of old pots, it must be dried, bruised, then picked, ground, and finally elutriated by agitation with water, decantation through a hair sieve, and subsidence. The clay fluid after passing the sieve is called slip (coulis).
The furnace is built of dry bricks, cemented with slip, and has at each of its four angles a peculiar annealing arch, which communicates with the furnace interiorly, and thence derives sufficient heat to effect in part, if not wholly, the annealing of the pots, which are always deposited there a long time before they are used. Three of these arches, exclusively appropriated to this purpose, are called pot-arches. The fourth is called the arch of the materials, because it serves for drying them before they are founded. Each arch has, moreover, a principal opening called the throat, another called bonnard, by the French workmen, through which fire may be kindled in the arch itself, when it was thought to be necessary for the annealing of the pots; a practice now abandoned, The duration of a furnace is commonly a year, or at most 14 months; that of the arches is 30 years or upwards, as they are not exposed to so strong a heat.
In the manufacture of plate-glass two sorts of crucibles are employed, called the pots and the basins (cuvettes). The first serve for containing the materials to be founded, and for keeping them a long time in the melted state. The cuvettes receive the melted glass after it is refined, and decant it out on the table to be rolled into a plate. Three pots hold liquid glass for six small basins, or for three large ones, the latter being employed for making mirrors of great dimensions, that is, 100 inches long and upwards. Furnaces have been lately constructed with 6 pots, and 12 cuvettes, 8 of which are small, and 4 large; and cuvettes of three sizes are made, called small, middling, and large. The small are perfect cubes, the middling and the large ones are oblong parallelopipeds. Towards the middle of their height, a notch or groove, two or three inches broad, and an inch deep, is left, called the girdle of the cuvette, by which part they are grasped with the tongs, or rather are clamped in the iron frame. This frame goes round the four sides of the small cuvettes, and may be placed indifferently upon all their sides; in the other cuvettes, the girdle extends only over the two large sides, because they cannot be turned up. See m T, fig. 515, p. 596.
The pot is an inverted truncated cone, like a crown glass pot. It is about 30 inches high, and from 30 to 32 inches wide, including its thickness. There are only a few inches of difference between the diameter of the top and that of the bottom. The bottom is 3 inches thick, and the body turns gradually thinner till it is an inch at the mouth of the pot.
The large building or factory, of which the melting furnace occupies the middle space, is called the halle in French. At Ravenhead in Lancashire it is called the foundry, and is of magnificent dimensions, being probably the largest apartment under one roof in Great Britain, since its length is 339 feet, and its breadth 155. The famous halle of St. Gobin is 174 feet by 120. Along the two side walls of the halle, which are solidly constructed of hewn stone, there are openings like those of common ovens. These ovens, destined for the annealing of the newly cast plates, bear the name of carquaises. Their soles are raised two feet and a half above the level of the ground, in order to bring them into the same horizontal plane with the casting tables. Their length, amounting sometimes to 30 feet, and their breadth to 20, are required in order to accommodate 6, 8, or even 10 plates of glass, alongside of each other. The front aperture is called the throat, and the back door the little throat (gueulette). The carquaise is heated by means of a fire-place of a square form called a tisar, which extends along its side.
The founding or melting furnace is a square brick building laid on solid foundations, being from 8 to 10 feet in each of its fronts, and rising inside into a vault or crown about 10 feet high. At each angle of this square, a small oven or arch is constructed, likewise vaulted within, and communicating with the melting furnace by square flues, called lunettes, through which it receives a powerful heat, though much inferior to that round the pots. The arches are so distributed as that two of the exterior sides of the furnace stand wholly free, while the two other sides, on which the arches encroach, offer a free space of only three feet. In this interjacent space, two principal openings of the furnace, of equal size in each side, are left in the building. These are called tunnels. They are destined for the introduction of the pets and the fuel.
On looking through the tunnels into the inside of the furnace, we perceive to the right hand and the left, along the two free sides, two low platform or sieges, at least 30 inches in height and breadth. See figs. 506, 508.
These sieges (seats) being intended to support the pots and the cuvettes filled with heavy materials, are terminated by a slope, which ensures the solidity of the fire-clay mound. The slopes of the two sieges extend towards the middle of the furnace so near as to leave a space of only from 6 o 10 inches between them for the hearth. The end of this is perforated with a hole sufficiently large to give passage to the liquid glass of a broken pot, while the rest is preserved by lading it from the mouth into the adjoining cuvette.
In the two large parallel sides of the furnnace, other apertures are left much smaller than the tunnels, which are called ouvreaux (peep holes). The lower ones, or the ouvreaux en bas, called cuvette openings, because, being allotted to the admission of these vessels, they are exactly on a level with the surface of the sieges, and with the floor of the halls. Plates of cast-iron form the thresholds of these openings, and facilitate the ingress and egress of the cuvettes. The apertures are arched at top, with hewn stone like the tunnels, and are 18 inches wide when the cuvettes are 16 inches broad.
The upper and smaller apertures, or the higher ouvreaux called the lading holes, because they serve for transvasing the liquid glass, are three in number, and are placed 31 or 32 inches above the surface of the sieges. As the pots are only 30 inches high, it becomes easy to work through these openings either in the pots or the cuvettes. The pots stand opposite to the two pillars which separate the openings, so that a space is left between them for one and more cuvettes according the the size of the latter. It is obvious that if the tunnels and ouvreaux were left open, the furnace would not draw or take the requisite founding heat. Hence the openings are shut by means of fire-tiles. These are put in their places, and removed by means of two holes left in them, in correspondence with the two prongs of a large iron fork supported by an axle and two iron wheels, and terminated by two handles which the workmen lay hold of when they wish to move the tile.
The closing of the tunnel is more complex. When it is shut or ready for the firing, the aperture appears built up with bricks and mortar from the top of the arch to the middle of the tunnel. The remainder of the door-way is closed; 1. on the two sides down to the bottom, by a small upright wall, likewise of bricks, and 8 inches broad, called walls of the glaye; 2. by an assemblage of pieces called pieces of the glaye, because the whole of the closure of tunnel bears the name of glaye. The upper hole, 4 inches square, is called the tisar, through which billets of wood are tossed into the fire. Fuel is also introduced into the posterior openings. The fire is always kept up on the hearth of the tunnel, which is, on this account, 4 inches higher than the furnace-hearth, in order that the glass which may accidentally fall down on it, and which does not flow off by the bottom hole, may not impede the combustion. Should a body of glass, however, at any time obstruct the grate, it must be removed with rakes, by opening the tunnel and dismounting the fire-tile stoppers of the glaye.
Formerly wood fuel alone was employed for heating the melting-furnaces of the mirror-plate manufactory of Saint Gobin; but within these few years, the Director of the works makes use with nearly equal advantage of pit-coal. In the same establishment two melting furnaces may be seen, one of which is fixed with wood, and the other with coals, without any difference being perceptible in the quality of the glass furnished byeither. It is not true, as has been stated, that the introduction of pit-coal has made it necessary to work with covered pots in order to avoid the discoloration of the materials, or that more alkali was required to compensate for the diminished heat in the covered pots. They are not now covered when pit-coal is used, and the same success is obtained as heretofore by leaving the materials two or three hours longer in the pots and the cuvettes. The construction of the furnaces in which coal is burned, is the same as that with wood, with slight modifications. Instead of the close bottomed hearth of the wood furnace, there is an iron grate in the coal-hearth though which the air enters, and the waste ashes descend.
When billets of wood were used as fuel, they were well dried beforehand, by being placed a few days on a frame-work of wood called the wheel, placed two feet above the furnace and its arches, and supported on four pillars at some distance from the angles of the building.
Composition of plate-glass. - This is not made now, as formerly, by random trials. The progress of chemistry, the discovery of a good precess for the manufacture of soda from sea salt, which furnished a pure alkali of uniform power, and the certain methods of ascertaining its purity, have rendered this department of glass-making almost entirely new, in France. At Saint Gobin no alkali is employed at present except artificial crystals of soda, prepared at the manufactory of Chauny, subsidiary to that establishment. Leaden chambers are also erected there for the production of sulphuric acid from sulphur. The first crop of soda crystals is reserved for the plate-glass manufacture, the other crystals and the mother-water salts are sold to the makers of inferior glass.
At the mirror-plate works of Ravenhead, near St. Helen's in Lancashire, soda crystals, from the decomposition of the sulphate of soda by chalk and coal, have been also tried, but without equal success as at Saint Gobin; the failure being unquestionably due to the impurity of the alkali. Hence, in the English establishment the soda is obtained by treating sea-salt with pearl-ash, whence carbonate of soda and muriate of potash result. The latter salt is crystallized out of the mingled solution, by evaporation at a moderate heat, for the carbonate of soda does not readily crystallize till the temperature of the solution falls below 60° Fahr. When the muriate of potash is thus removed, the alkaline carbonate is evaporated to dryness.
Long experience at Saint Gobin has proved that one part of dry carbonate of soda is adequate to vitrify perfectly three parts of fine silicious sand, as that of the mound of Aumont near Senlis, of Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight, or of Lynn in Norfolk. It is also known that the degree of heat has a great influence upon the vitrification, and that increase of temperature will compensate for a certain deficiency of alkali; for it is certain that a very strong fire always dissipates a good deal of the soda, and yet the glass is not less beautiful. The most perfect mirror-plate has constantly afforded to M. Vauquelin in analysis, a portion of soda inferior to what had been employed in its formation. Hence, it has become the practice to add for every 100 parts of cullet or broken plate that is mixed with the glass composition, one part of alkali, to make up for the loss that the old glass must have experienced.
To the above mentioned proportions of sand an alkali independently of the cullet which may be used, dry slaked lime carefully sifted is to be added to the amount of one seventh of the sand; or the proportion will be, sand 7 cwts.; quicklime 1 cwt.; dry carbonate of soda2 cwt. and 37 lbs.; besides cullet. The lime improves the quality of the glass; rendering it less brittle and less liable to change. The preceding quantities of materials, suitably blended, have been uniformly found to afford most advantageous results. The practice formerly was to dry that mixture as soon as it was made, in the arch for the materials, but it has been ascertained that this step may be dispensed with, and the small portion of humidity present is dissipated almost instantly after they are thrown into the furnace. The coat of glaze previously applied to the inside of the pot, prevents the moisture from doing them any harm. For this reason, when the demand for glass at Saint-Gobin is very great, the materials are neither fritted nor even dried, but shovelled directly into the pot; this is called founding raw, Six workmen are employed in shovelling-in the materials either fritted or otherwise, for the sake of expedition, and to prevent the furnace getting cooled. One third of the mixture is introduced at first; whenever this is melted, the second third is thrown in, and then the last. These three stages are called the first, second, and third fusion or founding.
According to the ancient practice, the founding and refining were both executed in the pots, and it was not till the glass was refined, that was laded into the cuvettes, where it remained only 3 hours, the time necessary for the disengagement of the air bubbles introduced by the transvasion, and for giving the metal the proper consistence for casting. At present, the period requisite for founding and refining, is equally divided between the pots and the cuvettes. The materials are left 16 hours in the pots, and as many in the cuvettes; so that in 32 hours the glass is ready to be cast. During the last two or three hours, the fireman or tiseur ceases to add fuel; all the openings are shut, and the glass is allowed to assume the requisite fluidity; an operation called stopping the glass, or performing the ceremony.
The transfer of the glass into the cuvettes, is called lading (tréjelage). Before this is done, the cuvettes are cleared out, that is, the glass remaining on their bottom is removed, and the ashes of the firing. They are lifted red hot out of the furnace by the method presently to be described, and placed on an iron plate, near a tub filled with water. The workmen, by means of iron paddles 6 feet long, flattened at one end and hammered to an edge, scoop out the fluid glass expeditiously, and throw it into water; the cuvettes are now returned to the furnace, and a few minutes afterwards the lading begins.
In this operation, ladles of wrought iron are employed, furnished with long handles, which are plunged into the pots through the upper openings or lading holes, and immediately transfer their charge its contents into the cuvette. Each workman dips his ladle only three times, and empties its contents into the cuvette. By these three immersions (whence the term tréjeter is derived), the large iron spoon is heated so much that when plunged into a tub full of water, it makes a noise like the roaring of a lion, which may be heard to a very great distance.
The founding, refining, and ceremony, being finished, they next try whether the glass be ready for casting. With this view, the end of a rod is dipped into the bucket, which is called drawing the glass; the portion taken up being allowed to run off, naturally assumes a pear-shape, from the appearance of which, they can judge if the consistence be proper, and if any air bubbles remain. If all be right, the cuvettes are taken out of the furnace, and conveyed to the part of the halle where their contents are to be poured out. This process requires peculiar instruments and manipulations.
Casting. - While the glass is refining, that is, coming to its highest point of perfection, preparation is made for the most important process, the casting of the plate, whose success crowns all the preliminary labors and cares. The oven or carquaise destined to receive and anneal the plate is now heated by its small fire or tisar, to such a pitch that its sole may have the same temperature as that of the plates, being nearly red hot at the moment of their being introduced. An unequal degree of heat in the carquaise would cause breakage of the glass. The casting table is then rolled towards the front door or throat, by means of levers, and its surface is brought exactly to the level of the sole of the oven.
The table T, fig. 515, is a mass of bronze, or now preferably cast iron, about 10 feet long, 5 feet broad, and from 6 to 7 inches thick, supported by a frame of carpentry, which rests on three cast iron wheels. At the end of the table opposite to that next to the front of the oven, is a very strong frame of timber-work, called the puppet or standard, upon which the bronze roller which spreads the glass is laid, before and after the casting. This is 5 feet long by 1 foot in diameter; it is thick in the metal but hollow in the axis. The same roller can serve only for two plates at one casting, when another is put in its place, and the first is laid aside to cool; for otherwise the hot roller would at a third casting make the plate expand unequally, and cause it to crack. When the rollers are not in action, they are laid aside in strong wooden trestles, like those employed by sawyers. On the two sides of the table in the line of its length, are two parallel bars of bronze, t, t, destined to support the roller during its passage from end to end; the thickness of these bars determines that of the plate. The table being thus arranged, a crane is had recourse to fit for lifting the cuvette, and keeping it suspended, till it be emptied upon the table. This raising and suspension are effected by means of an iron gib, furnished with pulleys, hold horizontally, and which turns with them.
The tongs T, fig. 515, are made of four iron bars, bent into square frame in their middle, for embracing the bucket. Four chains proceeding from the corners of the frame v, are united at teir other ends into a ring which fits into the hook of the crane. Things being thus arranged, all the workmen of the foundry co-operate in the manipulations of the casting. Two of them fetch, and place quickly in front of one of the lower openings, the small cuvette-carriage, which bears a forked bar of iron, having two prongs corresponding to the two holes in the fire-tile door. This fork, mounted on the exle of two cast-iron wheels, extends at its other end into two branches terminated by handles, by which the workmen move the fork, lift out the tile stopper, and set it down against the outer wall of the furnace.
The instant these men retire, two others push forward into the opening the ectremity of the tongs-carriage, so as to seize the bucket by the girdle, or rather to clamp it. At the same time, a third workman is busy with an iron pinch or long chisel, detaching the bucket from its seat, to which it often adheres by some spilt glass; whenever it is free, he withdraws it from the furnace. Two powerful branches of iron united by a bolt, like two scissor blades, which open, come together, and join by a quadrant near the other end, form the tongs-carriage, which is mounted upon two wheels like a truck.
The same description will apply almost wholly to the iron-plate carriage, on which the bucked is laid the moment it is taken out of the furnace; the only difference in its construction is, that on the bent iron bars which form the tail or lower steps of this carriage (in place of the tongs) is permanently fastened an iron plate, on which the bucket is placed and carried for the casting.
Whenever the cuvette is set upon its carriage, it must be rapidly wheeled to its station near the crane. The tongs T above described are now applied to the girdle, and are then hooked upon the crane by the suspension chains. In this position the bucket is skimmed by means of a copper tool called a sabre, because it has nearly the shape of that weapon. Every portion of the matter removed by the sabre is thrown into a copper ladle (poche de gamin), which is emptied from time to time into a cistern of water. After being skimmed, the bucket is lifted up, and brushed very clean on its sides and bottom; then by the double handles of the suspension-tongs it is swung round to the table, where it is seized by the workmen appointed to turn it over; the roller having been previously laid on its ruler-b ars, near the end of the table which is in contact with the annealing oven. The cuvette-men begin to pour out towards the right extremity x of the roller, and terminate when it has arrived at the left extremity D. While preparing to do so, and at the instant of casting, two men place within the ruler-bar on each side, that is between the bar and the liquid glass, two iron instruments called hands, m, m, m, m, which prevent the glass from spreading beyond the rulers, while another draws along the table the wiping bar c, c, wrapped in linen, to remove dust, or any small objects which may interpose between the table and the liquid glass.
Whenever the melted glass is poured out, two men spread it over the table, guiding the roller slowly and steadily along, beyond the limits of the glass, and then run it smartly into the wooden standard prepared for its reception, in place of the trestles v, v.
The empty bucket, while still red-hot, is hung again upon the crane, set on its plate-iron carriage, freed from its tongs, and replaced in the furnace, to be speedily cleared out anew, and charged with fresh fluid from the pots. If while the roller glides along, the two workmen who stand by with picking tools, perceive tears in the matter in advance of the roller, and can dexterously snatch them out, they are suitably rewarded, according to the spot where the blemish lay, whether in the centre, where iit would have proved most detrimental, or near the edge. These tears proceed usually from small portions of semi-vitrified matter which fall from the vault of the furnace, and from their density occupy the bottom of the cuvettes.
While the plate is still red-hot and ductile, about 2 inches of its end opposite to the carquaise door is turned up with a tool; this portion is called the head of the mirror; against the outside of this head, the shovel, in the shape of a rake without teeth, is applied, with which the plate is eventually pushed into the oven, while two workmen press upon the upper part of the head with a wooden pole, eight feet long, to preserve the plate in its horizontal position, and prevent its being warped. The plate is now left pushed farther in by means of a very long iron, tool, whose extremity is forked like the letter y, and hence bears that name; and is thereby arranged in the most suitable spot for allowing other plates to be introduced.
However numerous the manipulations executed from the moment of withdrawing the cuvette from the furnace, till the cast-plate is pushed into the annealing oven, I have seen them all performed in less than five minutes; such silence, order, regularity, and despatch prevail in the establishment of Saint Gobin.
When all the plates of the same casting have been placed in the carquaise, it is scaled up, that is to say, all its orifices are closed with sheets of iron, surrounded and made tight with plastic loam. With this precaution, the cooling goes on slowly and equably in every part, for no cooling current can have access to the interior of the oven.
After they are perfectly cooled, the plates are carefully withdrawn one after another, keeping them all the while in a horizontal position, till they are entirely out of the carquaise. As soon as each plate is taken out, one set of workmen lower quickly and steadily the edge which they hold, while another set raise the opposite edge, till the glass be placed upright on two cushions stuffed with straw, and covered with canvass. In this vertical position they pass through, beneath the lower edge of the plate, three girths or straps each four feet long, thickened with leather in their middle, and ending in wooden handles; so that one embraces the middle of the plate, and the other two, the ends. The workmen, six in number, now seize the handles of the straps, lift up the glass closely to their bodies, and convey it with a regular step to the warehouse. Here the head of the plate is first cut off with a diamond square, and then the whole is attentively examined, in reference to its defects and imperfections, to determine the sections which must be made of it, and the eventual size of the pieces. The pairings and small cuttings detached are set aside, in order to be ground and mixed with the raw materials of another glass-pot.
The apartment in which the roughing-down and smoothing of the plates is performed, is furnished with a considerable number of stone tables truly hewn and placed apart like billiard tables, in a horizontal position, about 2 feet above the ground. They are rectangular, and of different sizes proportional to the dimensions of the plates, which they ought always to exceed a little. These tables are supported either on stone pillars or wooden frames, and are surrounded with a wooden board whose upper edge stands somewhat below their level, and leaves in the space between it and the stone all round an interval of 3 or 4 inches, of which we shall presently see the use.
A cast plate, unless formed on a table quite new, has always one of its faces, the one next the table, rougher than the other; and with this face the roughing-down begins. With this view, the smoother face is cemented on the stone table with Paris-plaster. But often, instead of one plate, several are cemented alongside of each other, those of the same thickness being carefully selected. They then take one or more crude plates of about one third or one fourth the large base of a quadrangular truncated pyramid of stone, of a weight proportioned to its extent, or about a pound to the square inch. This pyramidal muller, if small sized, bears at each of its angles of the upper face a peg or ball, which the grinders lay hold of in working it; but when of greater dimension, there is adapted to it horizontally a wheel of slight construction, 8 or 10 feet in diameter, whose circumference is made of wood rounded so as to be seized with the hand. The upper plate is now rubbed over the lower ones, with moistened sand applied between.
This operation is however performed by machinery. The under plate being fixed or embedded in stucco, on a solid table, the upper one likewise imbedded by the same cement in a cast iron frame, has a motion of circum-rotation given to it closely resembling that communicated by the human and arm, moist sand being supplied between them. While an eccentric mechanism imparts this double rotatory movement to the upper plate round its own centre, and of that centre round a point in the lower plate, this plate, placed on a moveable platform, changes its position by a slow horizontal motion, both in the direction of its length and its breadth. By this ingenious contrivance, which pervades the whole of the grinding and polishing machinery, a remarkable regularity of friction and truth of surface is produced. When the plates are sufficiently worked on one face, they are reversed in the frames, and worked together on the other. The Paris plaster is usually coloured red, in order to show any defects in the glass.
The smoothing of the plates is effected on the same principles by the use of moist emery washed to successive degrees of fineness, for the successive stages of the operation; and the polishing process is performed by rubbers of hat-felt and a thin paste of colcothar and water. The colcothar, called also crocus, is red oxide of iron prepared by the ignition of copperas, with grinding and elutriation of the residuum.
The last part of the polishing process is performed by hand. This is managed by females, who slide one plate over another, while a little moistened putty of tin fine levigated is thrown between.
Large mirror-plates are now the indispensable ornaments of every large and sumptuous apartment; they diffuse lustre and gayety round them, by reflecting the rays of ligth in a thousand lines, and by multiplying indefinitely the images of objects placed between opposite parallel planes.
The silvering of plane mirrors consists in applying a layer of tin-foil alloyed with mercury to their posterior surface. The workshop for executing this operation is provided with a great many smooth tables of fine freestone or marble, truly levelled, having their contour a rising ledge, within which there is a gutter or groove which terminates by a slight slope in a spout at one of the corners. These tables rest upon an axis of wood or iron which runs along the middle of their length; so that they may be inclined easily into an angle with the horizon of 12 or 13 degrees, by means of a hand-screw fixed below. They are also furnished with brushes, with glass rules, with rolls of woollen stuff, several pieces of flannel, and a great many weights of stone or cast-iron.
The glass-tinner, standing towards one angle of his table, sweeps and wipes its surface with the greatest care, along the whole surface to be occupied by the mirror-plate; then taking a sheet of tin-foil adapted to his purpose, he spreads it on the table and applies it closely with a brush, which removes any folds and wrinkles. The table being horizontal, he pours over the tin a small quantity of quicksilver, and spreads it with a roll of woollen stuff; so that the tin-foil is penetrated and apparently dissolved by the mercury. Placing now two rules, to the right and to the left, on the borders of the a sheet, he pours on the middle a quantity of mercury sufficient to form everywhere a layer about the thickness of a crown piece; then removing with a linen rag the oxide or other impurities, he applies to it the edge of a sheet of paper, and advances it about half an inch. Meanwhile another workman is occupied in drying very nicely the surface of the glass that is to be silvered, and then hands it to the master workman, who, laying it flat, places it s anterior edge first on the table, and then on the slip of paper; now pushing the glass forwards, he takes care to slide it along so that neither air nor any coat of oxide on the mercury can remain beneath the plate. When this has reached its position, he fixes it there by a weight applied on its side, and gives the table a gentle slope, to run off all the loose quicksilver by the gutter and spout. At the end of five minutes, he covers the mirror with a piece of flannel, and loads it with a great many weights are left upon it for twenty-four hours, under a gradually increased inclination of the table. By this time the plate is ready to be taken off the marble table, and laid on a wooden one sloped like a reading desk, with its under edge resting on the ground, while the upper is raised successively to different elevations by means of a cord passing over a pulley in the ceiling of the room. Thus the mirror has its slope graduated from day to day, till it finally arrives at a vertical position. About a month is required for draining out the superfluous mercury from large mirrors; and from 18 to 20 days from those of moderate size. The sheets of tin-foil being always somewhat larger than the glass-plate, their edges must be paired smooth off, before the plate is lifted off the marble table.
Process for silvering concave mirrors. - Having prepared some very fine Paris plaster by passing it through a silk sieve, and some a little coarser passed through hair-cloth, the first is to be made into a creamy liquor with water, and after smearing the concave surface of the glass with a film of olive oil, the fine plaster is to be poured into it, and spread by turning about, till a layer of plaster be formed about a tenth of an inch thick. The second or coarse plaster, being now made into a thin paste, poured over the first, and moved about, readily incorporates with it, in its imperfectly hardened state. Thus an exact mould is obtained of the concave surface of the glass, which lies about three-quarters of an inch thick upon it, but is not allowed to rise above its outer edge.
The mould, being perfectly dried, must be marked with a point of coincidence on the glass, in order to permit of its being exactly replaced in the same position, after it has been lifted out. The mould is now removed, and a round sheet of tin-foil is applied to it, so large that an inch of its edge may project beyond the plaster all round; this border being necessary for fixing the tin to the contour of the mould by pellets of white wax softened a little with some Venice turpentine. Before fixing the tin-foil, however, it must be properly spread over the mould, so as to remove every wrinkle; which the pliancy of the foil easily admits of, by uniform and well-directed pressure with the fingers.
The glass being placed in the hollow bed of a tight sack filled with fine sand, set in a well-jointed box, capable of retaining quicksilver, its concave surface must be dusted with sifted wood-ashes, or Spanish white contained in a small cotton bag, and then well wiped with clean linen rags, to free it from all adhering impurity, and particularly the moisture of the breath. The concavity must be now filled with quicksilver to the very lip, and the mould, being dipped a little way into it, is withdrawn, and the adhering mercury is spread over the tin with a soft flannel roll, so as to amalgamate and brighten its whole surface, taking every precaution against breathing on it. Whenever this brightening seems complete, the mould is to be immersed, not vertically, but one edge at first, and thus obliquely downwards till the centres coincide; the mercury meanwhile at first, and thus obliquely downwards till the centres coincide; the mercury meanwhile being slowly displaced, and the mark on the mould being brought finally into coincidence with the mark on the glass. The mould is now left to operate by its own weight, in expelling the superfluous mercury, which runs out upon the sand-bag and thence into a groove in the bottom of the box, whence it overflows by a spout into a leather lug of reception. After half an hour's repose, the whole is cautiously inverted, to drain off the quicksilver more completely. For this purpose, a box like the first is provided with a central support rising an inch above its edges; the upper surface of the support being nearly equal in diameter to that of the mould. Two workmen are required to execute the following operation. Each steadies the mould with the one hand, and raises the box with the other, taking care not to let the mould be deranged, which they rest on the (convex) support of the second box. Before inverting the first apparatus, however, the reception bag must be removed, for fear of spilling its mercury. The redundant quicksilver now drains off; and if the weight of the sandbag is not thought sufficient, supplementary weights are added at pleasure. The whole is left in this position for two or three days. Before separating the mirror from its mould, the border of tinfoil, fixed to it with wax, must be pared off with a knife. Then the weight and sandbag being removed, the glass is lifted up with its interior coating of tinamalgam.
For silvering a convex surface. - A concave plaster mould is made on the convex glass, and their points of coincidence are defined by marks. This mould is to be lined with tinfoil, with the precautions above described; and the tin surface being first brightened with a little mercury, the mould is then filled with the liquid metal. The glass is to be well cleaned, and immersed in the quicksilver bath, which will expel the greater part of the metal. A sandbag is now to be laid on the glass, and the whole is to be inverted as in the former case on a support; when weights are to be applied to the mould, and the mercury is left to drain off for several days.
If the glass be of large dimensions, 30 or 40 inches, for example, another method is adopted. A circular frame or hollow ring of wood or iron is prepared, of twice the diameter of the mirror, supported on three feet. a circular piece of new linen cloth of close texture is cut out, of equal diameter to the ring, which is hemmed stoutly at the border, and furnished round the edge with a row of small holes, for lacing the cloth to the ring, so as to leave no folds in it, but without bracing it so tightly as to deprive it of the elasticity necessary for making it into a mould. This apparatus being set horizontally, a leaf of tinfoil is spread over it, of sufficient size to cover the surface of the glass; the tin is first brightened with mercury, and then as much of the liquid metal is poured on as a plane mirror requires. The convex glass, well cleaned, is now set down on the cloth, and its own weight, joined to some additional weights, gradually presses down the cloth, and causes it to assume the form of the glass which thus comes into close contact with the tin submersed under the quicksilver. The redundant quicksilver is afterwards drained off by inversion, as in common cases.
The following recipe has been given for silvering the inside of glass globes. Melt in an iron ladle or a crucible, equal parts of tin and lead, adding to the fused alloy one part of bruised bismuth. Stir the mixture well, and pour into it as it cools, two parts of dry mercury; agitating anew ans skimming off the drossy film from the surface of the amalcam. The inside of the glass globe, being freed from all adhering dust and humidity, is to be gently heated, while a little of the semi-fluid amalgam is introduced. The liquidity being increased by the slight degree of heat, the metallic coating is applied to all the points of the glass, by turning round the globe in every direction, but so slowly as to favor the adhesion of the alloy. This silvering is not so substantial as that of plane mirrors: but the form of the vessel, whether a globe, an ovoid, or a cylinder, conceals or palliates the defects by counter reflection from the opposite surfaces.
Colored Glasses and Artificial Gems. - The general vitreous body preferred by Fontanieu in his treatise on this subject, which he calls the Mayence base, is prepared in the following manner. Eight ounces of pure rock-crystal or flint in powder, mixed with 24 ounces of salt of tartar, are baked and left to cool. This is afterwards poured into a basin of hot water, and treated with dilute nitric acid till it ceases to effervesce; when the frit is to be washed till the water comes off tasteless. The frit is now dried and mixed with 12 ounces of fine white lead, and the mixture is to be levigated and elutriated with a little distilled water. An ounce of calcined borax is to be added to about 12 ounces of the preceding mixture in a dry state, the whole rubbed together in a porcelain mortar, then melted in a clean crucible, and poured out into cold water. This vitreous matter must be dried, and melted a second and a third time, always in a new crucible, and after each melting poured into cold water as at first, taking care to separate the lead that may be revived. To the last glass ground to powder, five drachms of nitre are to be added, and the mixture being melted for the last time, a mass of crystal will be found in the crucible with a beautiful lustre. The diamond is well imitated by this Mayence base. Another very fine white crystal may be obtained, according to M. Fontanieu, from eight ounces of white lead, two ounces of powdered borax, half a grain of manganese, and three ounces of rock-crystal, treated as above.
The colours of artificial gems are obtained from metallic oxydes. The oriental topazis prepared by adding oxide of antimony to the base; the amethyst from manganese with a little purple precipitate of Cassius: the beryl from antimony and a very little cobalt; yellow artificial diamond and opal from horn-silver (chloride of silver); the blue stone from cobalt. See PASTER and PIGMENTS VITRIFIABLE.
The following are recipes for making the different kinds of glass.
1. Bottle glass. - 11 pounds of dry glauber salts; 12 pounds of soaper salts; a half bushel of waste soap ashes; 56 pounds of sand; 22 pounds of glass skimmings; 1 cwt. of green broken glass; 25 pounds of basalt. This mixture affords a dark green glass.
2. Yellow or white sand, 100 parts; kelp, 30 to 40; lixiviated wood ashes, from 160 to 170 parts; fresh wood ashes, 30 to 40 parts; potter's clay, 80 to 100 parts; cullet or broken glass, 100. If basalt be used, the proportion of kelp may be diminished.
In two bottle-glass houses in the neighborhood of Valenciennes, an unknown ingradient, sold by a Belgian, was employed, which he called spar. This was discovered by chemical analysis to be sulphate of baryta. The glass-makers observed that the bottles which contained some of this substance were denser, more homogeneous, more fusible, and worked more kindly, than those formed of the common materials. When one prime equivalent of the silicate of baryta = 123, is mixed with three primes of the silicate of soda = (3 x 77.6) 232.8, and exposed in a proper furnace, vitrification readily ensues, and the glass may be worked a little under a cherry-red heat, with as much case as a glass of lead, and has nearly the same lustre. Since the ordinary run of glass-makers are not familiar with atomic proportions, they should have recourse to a scientific chemist, to guide them in using such a proportion of sulphate of baryta as may suit their other vitreous ingredients; for an excess of defect of any of them will injure the quality of the glass.
3. Green window glass, or broad glass. - 11 pounds of dry glauber salts; 10 pounds of soaper salts; half a bushel of lixiviated soap waste; 50 pounds of sand; 22 pounds of glass pot skimmings; 1 cwt. of broken green glass.
4. Crown glass. - 300 parts of fine sand; 200 of good soda ash; 33 of lime; from 250 to 300 of broken glass; 60 of white sand; 30 of purified potash; 15 of saltpetre (1 of borax); ½ of arsenious acid.
5. Nearly white table glass. - 20 pounds of potashes; 11 pounds of dry glauber salts; 16 of soaper salt; 55 of sand; 140 of cullet of the same kind. Another. - 100 of sand; 235 of kelp; 60 of wood ashes; 1½ of manganese; 100 of broken glass.
6. White table glass. - 40 pounds of potashes; 11 of chalk; 76 of sand; ½ of manganese; 95 of white cullet.
Another. - 50 of purified potashes; 100 of sand; 20 of chalk; and 2 of saltpetre.
Bohemian table or plate glass is made with 63 parts of quartz; 26 of purified potashes; 11 of sifted slaked lime, and some cullet.
7. Crystal glass. - 60 parts of purified potashes; 120 of sand; 24 of chalk; 2 of saltpetre; 2 of arsenious acid; 1/16 of manganese.
Another. - 70 of purified pearlashes; 120 of white sand; 10 of saltpetre; ½ of arsenious acid; ½ of manganese.
A third. - 67 of sand; 23 of purified pearlashes; 10 of sifted slaked lime; ½ of manganese; (5 to 8 of red lead).
A fourth. - 120 of white sand; 50 of red lead; 40 of purified pearlash; 20 of saltpetre; ½ of manganese.
A fifth. - 120 of white sand; 40 of pearlash purified; 25 of red lead; 13 of saltpetre; 1/12 of manganese.
A sixth. - 30 of the finest sand; 20 of red lead; 8 of pearlash purified; 2 of saltpetre; a little arsenious acid and manganese.
A seventh. - 10 of sand; 45 of red lead; 35 of purified pearlashes; 1/7 of manganese; 1/5 of arsenious acid.
8. Plate glass. - very white sand 300 parts; dry purified soda 100 parts; carbonate of lime 43 parts; manganese 1; cullet 300.
Another. - Finest sand 720; purified soda 450; quicklime 80 parts; saltpetre 25 parts; cullet 425.
A little borax has also been prescribed; much of it communicates an exfoliating property to glass.
Tabular view of the composition of several kinds of Glass.
- | Nr. 1. | Nr. 2. | Nr. 3. | Nr. 4. | Nr. 5. | Nr. 6. | Nr. 7. | Nr. 8. | Nr. 9. |
Silica | 71.7 | 69.2 | 62.8 | 69.2 | 60.4 | 53.55 | 59.2 | 51.93 | 42.5 |
Potash | 12.7 | 15.8 | 22.1 | 8.0 | 3.2 | 5.48 | 9.0| 13.77 | 11.7 |
Soda | 2.5 | 3.0 | | 3.0 | s. pot | | | | |
Lime | 10.3 | 7.6 | 12.5 | 13.0 | 20.7 | 29.22 | | | 0.5 |
Alumina | 0.4 | 1.2 | | 3.6 | 10.4 | 6.01 | | | 1.8 |
Magnesia | | 2.0 | 2.6 | 0.6 | 0.6 | | | |
Oxyde of iron | 0.3 | 0.5 | 2.6 | 1.6 | 3.8 | 5.74 | 0.4 | | |
- manganese | 0.2 | | 2.6 | | | | 1.0 | | |
- lead | | | | | | 28.2 | 33.38 | 43.5 |
Baryta | | | | | 0.9 | | | | |
No. 1. is a very beautiful white wine glass of Neuwelt in Bohemia.
No. 2. Glass tubes, much more fusible than common wine glasses.
No. 3. Crown glass of Bohemia.
No. 4. Green glass, for medicinal vials and retorts.
No. 5. Flask glass of St. Etienne, for which some heavy spar is used.
No. 6. Glass of Sevres.
No. 7. London glass employed for chemical and physical purposes.
No. 8. English flint glass.
No. 9.Guinand's flint glass.
The manufacture of Glass beads at Murano near Venice, is most ingeniously simple. Tubes of glass of every colour are drawn out to great lengths in a gallery adjoining the glass-house pots, in the same way as the more moderate lengths of thermometer and barometer tubes are drawn in out glass-houses. These tubes are chopped into very small pieces of nearly uniform length on the upright edge of a fixed chisel. These elementary cylinders, being then put in a heap into a mixture of fine sand and wood ashes, are stirred about with an iron spatula till their cavities get filled. This curious mixture is now transferred to an iron pan suspended over a moderate fire and continually stirred about as before, whereby the cylindrical bits assume a smooth rounded form; so that when removed from the fire and cleared out in the bore, they constitute beads, which are packed in casks, and exported in prodigious quantities to almost every country, especially to Africa and Spain.