May 17, 2016

The count down is on here with the Nomads!!

These final few days are going to be so busy trying to fit in dinners with friends, Gary and Sherry and John and Penny, a day on Lake Martin with Marty and Debra, lunch with our son, Stephen, final dentist appointments, heading to the storage unit to pick up our Polaris Razor and bikes, also put my little car, Tweetie, back into storage. It sure has been fun having a little car again to run around in!!

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Tweetie the day we bought it

The hardest part is having to give those final kisses and hugs to our grandkids and kids!! They don’t really understand this lifestyle that we have chosen and why we can’t be here for all the baseball and soccer games.

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The winning team..go Helena

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And every boys dream climbing on the rocks!!

The hardest day was while  we were in Arizona and face timing our 6 year old grandson, he shows us his special wallet he had gotten from his dad, in it was $40.00 he had gotten from the tooth fairy. He looks at me with those big dark brown eyes and says “I will give it to you Nonna if you come home”.

Talk about heart break!!

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Mallori and Craig

We are very excited about heading back to our little Camp Alexander in Blue Ridge, Ga and spending a couple of weeks there to finish up a few projects. Jo Linda will be heading home to surprise her mom, and attend a family reunion. When she gets back we will be heading out to Decatur, Indiana for some paint work. While we have been here a mower shot a large piece of metal about 20 yards thru the parking lot and hit our coach. Yuck!!! Scared LaciLou and I so much we were shaking. It’s all covered under the city of Hoover’s Ins. They have already sent the powers that be out here to get the quotes going. Now to make the appointment for fixing and painting. Its always something.

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Blue Ridge, GA

One of the fun adventures we went did was to tour the Sloss Furnaces, which is a National Historic Landmark. After touring  Vulcan Park and learning about the iron ore and how it was so beneficial to Birmingham, we decided to check out the Furnaces.

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Sloss Furnaces Vistor Center was built in 2004 and houses exhibits, a theater which shows a 15 min  movie on the growth of Birmingham  and the Sloss furnaces.

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The raw materials for making iron, are limestone, coal and iron ore, are in abundance in the Birmingham area and for ninety years men turned these into pig iron at Sloss Furnace.

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Why you ask is it called Pig Iron?

No, its not after those cute little pink pigs!!

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Before 1927, Sloss used a method called Floor Casting, workers would dig a mold through the foundry sand on the floor of the shed for the iron to flow. This was called the mold of long trenchers, or sows and the smaller trenches dug off of the sow were called “piglets”. The mold pattern looked like piglets suckling from the mother sow – hence, Pig Iron.

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Blast Furnace

There were a pair of large blast furnaces at Sloss furnace, a furnace is a cylindrical steel vessel lined with heat resistant brick. The iron ore, limestone and coke (coal) are put into the top of the furnace where super hot air is blasted upward from the bottom of the furnace. This turns it all into Molten iron which collects at the bottom of the furnace where it can be drawn off. (This is my short version, there is lots more that happens but to technical for me).

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Boilers

The boilers were used to boil the water that generated steam which was essential for suppling the power for the engines and turbo-blowers that supplied the air blast to the furnace. The steam drove the generator that produced electricity to the plant. The boilers were built in the 1900’s.

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Hot blast Stoves

Hot blast stoves heat the air pumped by the steam engines or turbo-blowers. The stoves consist of steel shells lined with heat resistant bricks, which can heat the air to 1400F.

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blower building

The blower building is the oldest building on the site, built in the early 1900’s. The green turbo blowers are centrifugal compressors driven by turbines. Installed in the 1950’s, they did the work of 8 steam engines.

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Centrifugal Compressors

The machinery in the blower building stands more than 30’ tall, the machinery were used to turn the flywheels, that were 20’ in diameter.

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wrench used to turn the flywheels

Built in 1922, the Power house generated electricity for the plant, steam from the boilers spun a turbine that powered a generator to produce current.

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Spray pond

Sloss furnace used 5 million gallons of water per furnace everyday to cool the furnaces, create steam, power machinery and cool the molten iron and slag. The hot water was piped to the spray ponds where the water was cooled and then recycled through the plant.

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Blast furnace

The  furnace was built in 1882 and replaced in 1927. The furnace was where liquid iron was trapped. Limestone, iron ore, coke and hot air were continuously fed into the furnace, molten iron and slag continuously accumulated in the bottom. Iron and slag were withdrawn through two holes called notches. The slag is similar to the lava from a volcano, the fiery, molten slag was flushed from the furnace every 2-4 hours. The slag was then run thru the slag granulator, sprayed with water to cool it, then crushed.

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Guy wondering how he could get one of those for Camp Alexander!!

All this information is my short version!! There is so much more to the making of pig iron but I sure didn’t want to bore you to bad!!

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Inquisitive minds want to know!!

We really learned alot on our self guided tour. We all were very glad we made the effort to read about how things worked at the furnace and the history of Birmingham. Consider your self lucky as I took over 150 pictures so this is just a small sample!

The Sloss Furnace area is now used for many activities, school tours, weddings, concerts and company functions. Our son-in-laws company is holding a crawfish boil with a band there on May 20, for over 600 people. We all have decided that 600 people is way to many for us to handle!!

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Thanks for hanging with The Nomads, come on back and check out all the Fur we see on our next adventure!! Y’all have a very Blessed week.

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I’ll leave you with just a little something they made at the furnace!! There are a group of young men who still work at the furnace making small projects, this is one of them.