The New York Times, August 4, 1867, p.6:|
A CANNON KING.Description of Krupp's Great Foundry for Steel Cannon--
Steel Guns--Steel Bombs--Steel Shells.
Correspondence of the Boston Post.
BERLIN, June, 1867.
Having heard lately so much about the military greatness and the enlargement of Prussia, it seems but natural that we should look somewhat closely into their causes...
We ought certainly not to overlook the cannon King Krupp, of Essen--notwithstanding that the eight thousand and odd hundred iron and steel men of his Cyclopean forge work for all the world beside, even for the Japanese.
These world-reknowned works are most favorably situated--three great railroad lines of Western Germany crossing ezch other in their immediate vicinity, at about two hours' distance from Cologne, in the direction of Berlin. Here at Essen, ALFRED KRUPP, when a boy of about 14 years, inherited a small shop for the manufacture of cutlery. By genius, enterprise, dexterity, energy, and fortuitous circumstances, he gradually extended his little workshop to such a degree as to be able, in 1865, by means of 165 steam engines, 39 steam hammers and 400 furnaces (for roasting, melting and cementing,) to turn out no less than a million hundred weight of cast-steel, one-third of it in cannon and the remainder of it in mighty bars for engines, axles, wheels, boilers and other steel manufactures of various descriptions.
KRUPP'S first steel cannon were cast in the year 1849, and offered to the principal Governments of Germany, but by them rejected, the invention appearing to them both too new and too expensive. Strange to say, the Viceroy of Egypt was the first potentate that ordered steel cannon. Since then nearly all the great Powers of the civilized world have purchased KRUPP'S steel cannon, and in part introduced them into their system of artillery.
Russia was the first to determine on a complete conversion of her cannon into steel guns of the Krupp pattern, which are now being made at the factory of ALEKANDROFFSKY. Prussia is changing her former cast-iron and bronze cannon only gradually for KRUPP'S steel cannon, which are cast at Essen, and rifled at Spandau; but she has besides adopted a peculiar system of breech-loading, which is not to be confounded with that of KRUPP'S own invention. Belgium and some of the States have adopted the Krupp patent, or partly, at least, use the Prussian gun. The Austrian and Dutch navy have been partially provided with KRUPP'S steel cannon. The Italians have commenced by buying some 6-inch breech-loading cannon of KRUPP.
His best customers have recently been the Turks, who bought no less than 200 six-pounders, and the Japanese, who made their interesting tour of Europe two years ago, ordered of him immediately sixty 6-inch cannon, thirty of which were delivered to them last Fall (1865). Up to the autumn of 1866 the workshops of KRUPP had turned out no less than 2,500 cast-steel cannon, for the most part rifled breech-loaders, and of these about 400 were of 8-inch, the remainder of 3-inch up to 4½-inch calibre.
KRUPP'S works now cover upward of 500 acres, consume daily 15,000 cwt. coal, and the steam generated in 120 boilers, are lighted by 7,000 gaslights and employ, as already mentioned, upward of 8,000 men and boys, who draw an annual pay of 2,500,000 thalers and besides enjoy many other advantages.
We ought to mention here that in order to stimulate well-drilled workmen for their own benefit, a fund has been created to which each workman has to contribute 1-60th to 1-30th of his pay, from which fund he obtains relief in case of sickness and a decent pension in his old age. Mr. KRUPP himself contributes to this fund a sum equal to one-half that paid in by the workmen.
From this fund each workman, after serving 25 years, receives a decent pension--a species of benevolence and justice of which but too many employers have hardly a conception, and which even with us is confined to Government service only. Workmen who are injured while at their work receive full pay during the whole time of their disability--and if otherwise taken sick, are suitably provided with medicines and comforts; and, lastly, this fund also furnishes the funeral expenses.
Besides the above mentioned, KRUPP'S workmen enjoy many other advantages. In order to supply them regularly with good and cheap bread, Mr. KRUPP caused special bakeries to be erected, for which he buys the flour in large quantities from Russia. Similar arrangements have been made to keep them supplied with good and cheap potatoes, and for furnishing meat in a like manner the necessary steps are taken. This paternal and economical plan works most beneficially for both master and workman--a fact duly appreciated in England for some time past, and introduced more and more in the large manufacturing establishments.
The working hours are divided into two parts--day work from 6 A. M. to 7 P. M.; night work from 7 P. M. till morning.
The iron ore for this enormous demand is taken partly from KRUPP'S own mines in Nassau, near Coblenz, partly purchased. These mines yield the well-known specular iron. The conversion of iron into steel is accomplished by the usual process of puddling, and bar iron only is obtained by means of the Bessemer process. The specular iron contains much of the noxious manganese, but is almost entirely freed from it by puddling, so much so as to contain nearly ninety-eight per cent. pure iron--the remaining two per cent. consisting of carbon, flint, cobalt, nickel, copper, and an insignificant quantity of phosphorus.
We must abstain here from a description of the puddling process, and for the benefit of the uninitiated will merely mention that it consists chiefly of a thorough stirring of the melted iron--the hottest and most fatiguing part of the gigantic labor. That part of the metal which is to be used for cannon must be softer than common steel, in order to obtain a certain elasticity to resist the sudden concussion at firing. This softness is obtained by the admixture of a portion of bar iron. Iron and steel are cut up into small bars of about six inches long, then put into black lead crucibles holding from thirty to sixty pounds.
These crucibles of KRUPP'S have long been a precious secret, but at present those of RUEL, in London, and the Patent Crucible Company, of Baltimore, are esteemed almost equal to them.
The foundry is an enormous building, with furnaces enough to melt, at one time, in 1,200 crucibles, all the iron and steel required for casts of the largest size. In each furnace there is room for nearly ten crucibles, which rest on movable iron bars that can easily be taken out.
The heat in these furnaces rises to such a degree that the best Scotch firebrick, with which they are lined, and, in fact, the very crucibles themselves, often melt; the latter, therefore, are never used more than once.
In order to get the contents of the different crucibles into one reservoir, and thence to fill the mould placed under the same, the workmen are divided into squads and obey orders given with military precision. At the right moment the commanding engineer, stationed at the reservoir, gives the order, which is at once and loudly repeated by the foremen of the several divisions.
Immediately some of the workmen begin to draw the loose iron bars from the furnaces, others knock off the cinders clinging to the crucibles. The "puller-out" then thrusts down his iron tongs with which which to grasp the crucible, and by the assistance of others lifts it to the floor; then two other men seize it with a double-lift and carry it over to the nearest trough, into which they pour the molten metal, which done they drop the crucible through an aperture into a space below the foundry, the crucible now being useless, and foundry itself not to be encumbered by unneccessary accumulations of any kind.
The commanding engineer then gives the order for the next divisions, which empty their crucibles in like manner by means of the troughs into the reservoir, whence the metal flows into the mold underneath. In this way he proceeds until all the crucibles are emptied.
The cast is then given a sufficient time to become solid and to cool off sufficiently as to be taken from the mold. It is then surrounded with hot ashes and kept in a red-hot glow until ready for forging. As this can only be done in cool weather, the largest pieces often remain two or three months in their hot beds, whose coverings, the hot ashes, being constantly renewed, preserve the necessary temperature...
The castings appear first as blocks of greater or lesser size, round or square, and are only after awhile forged, hammered and turned into the requisite shapes. By the regularity and nicety of the cast, a metal both even and free from flaws is obtained; the steam hammer afterward gives to the red-hot mass its proper density, strength and elasticity, and usually increases its ordinary density by a large percentage, the power of resistance frequently rising from 760 to 1,320 cwt. to a square inch. The best metal for cannon is comparatively soft, and has a resistive power of about 800 to 900 cwt.
The smaller cannon consist of a single solid piece; those measuring over 8-inch in calibre are in several pieces, and strengthened by bands. The largest steel cannon turned out so far--of 11 inch calibre--was cast in a cylinder-shaped piece, weighing 750 cwt., then forged, and finally strengthed by riveted rings of cast steel and a number of bands.
Two such monstrous giants, each weighing 540 cwt., and costing about 14,000 thalers, have been made for the Russian Government. They are breech-loaders, throwing a ball of 540 pounds with a charge of 50 pounds of powder, and are intended for the defence of Gronstadt.
A still larger colossus, of 15-inch calibre, also intended for the Russian Government, and throwing a 900 pound ball, is exhibited at the great Paris Exposition.
One of the chief attractions in KRUPP'S machine shop are the steam hammers, weighing from 1 cwt. up to 1,000 cwt. The largest one has a fall of ten feet, and cost 700,000 thalers, two-thirds of which sum have been expended on its foundation (bed) alone, which, indeed, has been made so solid that it, although this hammer has thundered and shaken the earth around it for five years, both day and night, shows no sign whatever of having sunk in the slightest degree. One might be inclined to think that nothing could resist the power of these blows, but the enormous masses of red hot steel which this hammer has to bend into shape receive the blows with so much resistance that it is only by long perseverance and often renewed heating that they can be moulded and made to yield at all.
For this reason Mr. KRUPP has determined to belabor his stubborn steel with a force three times as large, and to forge a hammer of 2,400 cwt., with a range of 13 feet, the cost of which is estimated at upwards of 1,300,000 thalers.
Until lately the steel cannon were the great wonders of KRUPP'S works; at the present day he also furnishes the balls and bombs for them, first and foremost for the Russian Government, for whom he has made many thousands of elongated 8 and 9 inch bombs, all of the finest steel. The smaller kind of these contains 8 pounds of powder, and is capable of crushing iron plates of 4½ inches in thickness... but every one of these pills costs over a hundred thalers, they being all hammered and forged. Similar bombs, of a slightly smaller calibre, have been made for the Italian Government and partially delivered to them.
The English, who for some years past have worked and labored at an immense expense in this branch, have brought to great perfection their manufacture of monstrous implements of destruction, of which the recent target-practice near Shoeburyness at the mouth of the Thames is reported to have given abundant proof. At this place they have for years simulated a war of competition between bombs and artificial iron-plating, making the former constantly larger and more destructive, and the latter thicker and more impenetrable, until the plating at last has reached a thickness which can no longer be increased, if similarly-constructed ships are at all intended to float.
But the Whitworth guns and their balls finally penetrated the thickest iron plating. The greatest triumph was at last achieved by the balls of Major PALISER'S invention, of cooled iron, meaning balls, which, when red hot, had been quickly dropped in water a few moments. They pierced the very thickest iron plates; exploding only afterwards--which late explosion in former tests had been only the exception. They are, moreover, and this is an essential point, much cheaper than other shells, and require much less powder.
Now that the thickness and strength of ship-plating can no longer be increased, nor the same resist the Paliser shells, the British begin to feel easier, hoping that in a coming war on the ocean they may yet assert their old superiority.
What meanwhile may emanate from the machine shop of KRUPP--or from the over-fertile head of the needle-gun hearo of Soemmerda--it is of course impossible to predict. At all events, England will be a good while coming up to the production of either.
Between the two demi-gods of military inventions, KRUPP and DRYSE, there appears to be a strange contrast--the latter trying evidently to "lighten" the work of destruction en masse to both infantry and artillery, while the former is bent upon increasing the calibre of both cannon and balls to monstrous size. Both are at work, even now that peace has been made, with undiminished power of steam and brain, to bring the dreadful implements of destructive war to greater perfection, and have stimulated all their competitors throughout the civilized world, and all the Great Powers to so feverish an activity and productiveness that alas! we cannot count upon a permanency of peace, yet, but rather tremble, lest the next war exceed all former wars in terror and grandeur of destructiveness.
The only consolation we feel in this regard is that the arbiters of war and peace, full conscious of all the misery they can inflict, more than ever will use all the means at their command to make sacrifices for the sake of peace, rather than immolate the flower of their people, and the noble work of art and culture, on the alter of the God of battle.
Thyssen AG and Fried. Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp merged in 1999 to form Thyssen Krupp AG, the fifth largest company in Germany. One of their five divisions, Thyssen Krupp Steel, is the fifth largest steelmaker in the world.
Funding Universe: Thyssen Krupp AG Company History
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