Page 24 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology
P. 24

continued from page 22
         ing room to grow (Washburn 147). This
         was Philip Moen’s first partnership to
         be involved with, which was supervised
         by Henry and Charles Washburn. The
         partnership at this location dissolved
         on January 12, 1849, however soon af-
         terwards Philip became a full partner
         with  Ichabod Washburn  at the  North
         Works facility.
           Ichabod’s  son  Charles  F.  Washburn
         was the oldest son of Charles Wash-
         burn, Ichabod Washburn’s twin brother.
         Due to illness he did not attend college
         but this allowed him to become well-
         traveled and thanks to his ambition for
         knowledge became a self-educated man
         by reading countless books. He would
         become a director and officer of the firm
         from its inception until his 1893 death.
           By mid-century, Ichabod Washburn   By 1865, Washburn was proprietor of the world’s largest wire mill, making piano, crinoline and
                                            fence wire, and hoop for women’s skirts. He had always dreamed of setting up a vocational
         invested into a new the technology of   school for mechanics, and so he proposed a fully equipped machine shop where indigent and
         steel wire. It was brought to him by a   deserving young men would be trained as mechanics. This led to the establishment of the
         piano maker interested in the creation   Washburn Machine Shop where students spent many hours learning the tools of the mechanics’
         of steel wire for his pianos. Until this   trade. Posing here are students and employees in the 1880’s. Photo courtesy of WPI Archives &
         time steel wire had only been produced   Special Collections, George C. Gordon Library, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA
         in  Webster  England for  about eighty   impurities. To attest to the strength of   ufactured  at the Quinsigamond  facili-
         years prior. Not only was there need for   the wire,  experiments conducted that   ties. To produce the low grade iron bil-
         the steel wire created by the music in-  the wire could withstand weights con-  lets scrap iron was sheared into pieces
         dustry, but the textile industry needed   sisting of at least two thousand pounds   8" square and stacked 18" tall.
         it for crinoline, which was being incor-  without breaking.             The stack was then heated in a fur-
         porated into the fashion at the time.   Ichabod Washburn also developed an   nace until it was of sufficient tempera-
           Crinoline  first  began  production  in   improved annealing process early on in   ture to weld the pieces of scrap togeth-
         1859 and lasted until 1870 when the   his dealings with wire production. His   er. Upon removal the stack of heated
         fashion became less popular. Ichabod   method involved placing the coils of   iron plates was passed through a series
         Washburn actually declared his manu-  iron to be annealed in double air tight   of  rollers  until  the  profile  measured
         facturing of steel crinoline was the   iron  pots and then applying the heat   1.125” square, at which point the ends
         greatest success in his career. To put   of annealing, while this added time to   were trimmed away. A second round of
         into perspective how much of a success   the annealing process, it also gave the   heating was applied; the iron was then
         manufacturing crinoline was, an order   iron  coils  a  very  even  heat  treatment   rolled to meet No.  4 wire  dimensions
         to  be  processed  for  the  production  of   and prevented the accelerated oxida-  and coiled into bundles, weighing 20 to
         skirts called for the Washburn facili-  tion of iron that occurs at elevated tem-  30 lbs each.
         ties to produce sixty thousand pounds of   peratures this made his wire a superior   The operations were the height of the
         steel wire, which was over half of what   product compared to the competition.   production of piano wire, and the piano
         was being produced in the country.   The year 1865 marked the first year of   wire  produced in  Worcester  was  re-
           Crinoline  was  produced  from  cheap   the continuous hardening and temper-  garded to be of the greatest quality. As
         cast steel that was continuously tem-  ing process, allowing for faster and less   one historian noted in his book on the
         pered  and  hardened  to  give  it  high   expensive production of wire. In 1860   subject, “most of the piano wire used in
         toughness and elasticity. During the   Ichabod introduced continuous anneal-  America is (was) made in Worcester.”
         prime of crinoline, consumption reached   ing, cleaning and galvanizing processes,   Neither of the two donors – Ichabod
         1,500 tons annually, the largest single   greatly  increasing  the  capacity  of  pro-  Washburn  and John  Boynton – in-
         consumption of cast steel in the country   duction for telegraph wire. By 1863 the   volved in the establishment of a tech-
         for any company at the time. In Ichabod   demand for cotton coatings for crinoline   nical institute in Worcester would live
         Washburn’s autobiography, he makes a   grew so large that Washburn & Moen   to see  Washburn’s  dream realized.
         note  that  three  thousand  tons  of  steel   constructed their own cotton-mill which   Though  Ichabod Washburn  accom-
         wire is required to produce the elegance   fulfilled  their  needs  until  1873  when   plished enough for a number of life-
         of a lady’s dress.                 crinoline production slowed.       times, in February, 1868, he suffered a
           The  reason  Washburn’s  wire  was   The fall of 1869 marked a landmark   paralyzing stroke.
         successful  was  because  he  patented a   development in wire production when   Mr. Washburn gave much of his
         method for  tempering the  steel  wire   the first continuous mill in America was   wealth to worthy causes during his
         that made its strength large and very   erected at the Grove  St. facilities.  As   lifetime and bequeathed some of his
         durable. The patent called for the wire   early as 1867, Washburn & Moen Com-  estate to help the poor and needy. He
         to be passed along a heated tube un-  pany was  involved in  recycling scrap   had, for some years before John Boyn-
         til it became red hot (Cheever 50). The   iron into their low grade wire product.   ton’s offer of money for an endowment
         heated wire then gets treated through   Billets measured 1.125" square and 8   and  support  for  a  school,  hoped  to
         a dip in a cold acid bath to get rid of any   to 12 ft in length, low grade were man-  continued on page 73

         24     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2018
   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29