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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Metal Manufactures

Metal Manufactures.

At a recent gathering in the Provincial Government Buildings, the President of the Philosophical Institute mentioned the fact that he was present when the first ploughshare was cast in the Canterbury foundry. Since page 14 that time the metal manufactures have progressed enormously; and at the Industrial Exhibition some of the visitors have steadfastly adhered to the opinion that some of the productions were "not really" made here. Despite their pardonable disbelief, the very exhibits which most tested the credulity of the public are genuine specimens of New Zealand manufacture. We are not as yet using our iron ores or sands to any appreciable extent, although, as will be shown later on, we are working most successfully, and somewhat largely, with ores of the precious metals. Of our iron work generally, it may with the utmost confidence be claimed that it compares favourably with English products, and that there are instances in which the wonderful finish of American appliances is being rivalled.

In the various castings shown by Mr R. Buchanan, there is not only solidity and good workmanship apparent, but there is also a most commendable attention evinced in the choice of suitable designs. As a specimen of most artistic conception, mention may be made of the pair of circular castings intended to serve as ventilator panels. The pattern consists almost entirely of conventionally treated foliage; and one of the pair has been decorated by bronzing in various shades, the metallic green imparting a rich effect. The palisades, rails, &c, are equally good of their kind. Messrs Reid and Gray have done good service by exhibiting a series of castings just in the condition in which they were lifted from the sand moulds. The cog-wheels, for example, though as yet unconnected, and of course free from any dressing, are so clean and sharp as to be almost fit for immediate use. The exhibit is valuable from an educational point of view, as indicating some of the detail work of the foundry; and it is valuable also as an illustration of the skilled workmanship which the Colony possesses. It has been claimed that there are items which rival in finish the world-renowned products of American factories. In support of this one has only to refer to the double and single furrow ploughs shown by Messrs P. and D. Duncan. The reputation of this firm is not of yesterday; but they have on the present occasion fairly exceeded themselves, and their implements have been one of the most admired exhibits in the building. It need scarcely be said that the makers have been particularly careful (not to sacrifice the working value of their ploughs in securing this perfection of finish. A careful examination shows that easy draught for the horses and easy control for the ploughman have been successfully studied. The leading exhibitors of ranges are the Messrs Scott Bros., Manchester street. The ranges have been fitted up as if placed ready for use, and this in situ idea is an admirable way of enabling the public to form a fair estimate of the general appearance of each range, and of its practical value. The attractiveness of the group of six ranges was due partly to the size of the largest one, intended for use in hotels, clubs, &c., partly to the taste shown in the general details, and partly to the household convenience promised by certain minor arrangements. The larger undertakings of the firm were represented by a series of drawings, showing amongst other things the improved turbine recently constructed. Out-side the building, Messrs Scott Bros, had erected one of their now well-known windmill pumps, and near it they showed one of their prize grass seed strippers. This machine, by the way, deserves more than passing mention, if only for the reason that it has recently been brought into general use on the Peninsula and elsewhere. One of its commendable features is that the comb which catches the heads of the rye grass is composed of a series of small castings, precisely alike, and that in case of accident a given section of the comb can be easily replaced. Breakage, however, is not likely to be of common occurrence, for the tines are made very much in the sectional shape of a bayonet blade, and have thus all the strength of a T shaped girder. Another special feature is the clever contrivance for throwing the beaters—which cut or knock away the heads of the grass—out of gear instantaneously. The precaution is rendered the more necessary from the fact that the strong blast which carries the seed back into the body of the machine is due to the speed at which the beaters are rotated by multiplying gear from one of the driving wheels. Mr T. Crompton, of Armagh street, is another large exhibitor, his specialities being somewhat varied. The boilers fitted into Mr Crompton's ranges are made of boiler plate, and as they are cut and moulded into shape by specially contrived hydraulic machinery, they are as economical in their first cost as the ordinary castings. The advantage of such boilers is obvious. The housewife runs no risk of hearing the ominous bang which tells her that the boiler is cracked and useless. The "Colonial oven" may be said to be Mr Crompton's exclusive production. He manufactures them in almost page 15 incredible numbers, and they are now in use in every part of New Zealand. One other important branch of the Armagh street factory is the manufacture of zinc spouting, ridging, &c., and any visitor to the works is certain to be deeply interested by the labour-saving appliances which he will see in use. All the cutting, bending and blocking can be managed by lads, and in this way such goods can be produced here, to the exclusion of importations of similar fittings. The portable washing boilers shown by Mr Crompton are strong and well finished; the boilers being produced in copper, galvanised iron, or enamel. Mr J. Piper, of the Canterbury Sheet Iron Works, makes a highly creditable show. One of his items is a 60-gallon cheese tub, with curd-cutter combined, and there are some well made grain-samplers, brasstubed and tipped with steel. Mr Piper's best items, however, are those in japanned tinware, and he may be highly complimented upon the quiet taste of the set which is finished in shades of French grey. A sample can, painted in sections, serves to show the various combinations of pretty neutral colours which are used in the enamelling process. The floral decorations on some of the articles are not painted by hand. That would be too costly a mode for ordinary purchasers. Instead of this, a transfer process is resorted to, and the film of gelatine, printed in durable oil colours, is subsequently protected either by the varnishing or enamelling of the entire article. Candle moulds, stable lanterns, and other articles in tin, are also shown by Mr Piper. A range, a register grate, a washing furnace, a wringing and mangling machine, and some castings, form the exhibit of Mr T. Atkinson, who appears to be studying the problem how to produce useful appliances at the lowest possible cost. It may be remarked that the mode of hanging the door of the cooking range so as to convert it into a shelf when desired is a good one; and that generally speaking, the workmanship is neat. In one instance the coating of black varnish has been put on much too thickly, and has in consequence spoiled the appearance of the exhibit. Mr J. Hern is another exhibitor of ranges, &c., his most interesting item being a portable washing boiler, fitted with a double jacket, and pierced with circular holes round the inner circumference, at the top of the boiler. The apparatus was shown in action. So soon as the water reaches the boiling point, the circular holes are discharging scalding streams of soapy water on to the clothes, and it is claimed—probably with the utmost truth—that by this means the need for hand rubbing is almost entirely obviated. Messrs Deane Bros., of Cashel street, gained great attention for their stand, on account of the fact that they exhibited specimens of "japanning" or enamelling, prepared in their own workshop. They claim to be the introducers of this process in Christchurch, and a hip bath shown by them is extremely well finished, its inner surface being very white, smooth and hard. Perhaps it may not be generally known that there is a vast difference between such a surface and a carefully painted one, although the two may to an ordinary observer appear alike. After a coating of enamel has been applied, the article has to be placed in a furnace, and subjected to such a degree of heat as will fuse the silica of the enamelling preparation, and convert it into an imperishable glaze. Messrs Deane Bros, also show a Venetian ashpan, with polished metal laths or flat bars—a really well finished article. They also show a cinder sifter, on the rocking principle, fitted with a dust-tight cover for indoor use; and a large brass urn, fitted up for the immediate end continuous supply of hot water, coffee, end beer—a somewhat curious trio. It may be explained that the general body of the urn contains the hot water, and that beer, for instance, may be poured into a funnel at the top, whence it flows through a serpentine pipe to one of the taps, having been sufficiently heated en route by the body of boiling water.

The manufacture of articles in copper, brass and lead, is splendidly illustrated by Messrs A. and T. Burt, of Dunedin. Visitors looked at the splendid gasaliers suspended above their heads, and refused to believe in them as "Colonial" productions; they looked at the coils of lead and composite piping, and denied the existence of such a manufacture in the Colony, and they were more than ever sceptical when they examined some of the force pumps made of burnished copper and brass. "Years ago," said the President in his inaugural address, "The term 'Colonial' meant something rough and ready, but it is not so now." There are members of the Committee of Management who have had the opportunity of inspecting the manufacturing premises of the Messrs Burt, and who can therefore vouch for the fact that in the very large and really magnificent collection of articles, there is not one which is page 16 not a genuine specimen of New Zealand production, from casting to finish. The designs of the gasaliers, it may be mentioned, are quite equal to London and Birmingham patterns, some of which are based upon modellings obtained from Vienna and Paris; and in point of finish Messrs Burt have left nothing to be desired. They show a large case filled with steam fittings, and another which is for the most part taken up by hydrants and water-service connections There are also various styles of force and lifting pumps; and the corking and bottling machine included in the collection is as ingeniously contrived as it is well finished. The lead piping shown ranges in internal d ameter from three-eighths of an inch to two inches, and the composite piping from a quarter of an inch to an inch and a quarter. There are also specimens of lead piping, one and a half to five inches diameter, intended for carrying away waste water, &c., from dwelling-houses. Bearing in mind the fact that Messrs Burt secure for themselves a first-class means of advertising by their present display, they are still deserving of the thanks of the community for having been the means of exemplifying, in so complete a manner, the standard of excellence which has been reached in this Colony.

Works in gold and silver, &c., will be more conveniently referred to under another heading.