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CHAPTER XXIV. TRIP-HAMMERS.
Trip-hammers employed in forging bear a close analogy to, and were no doubt first suggested by, hand-hammers. Being the oldest of power-forging machines, and extensively employed, it will be proper to notice trip-hammers before steam-hammers.

As remarked in the case of other machines treated of, there is no use of describing the mechanism of trip-hammers; it is presumed that every engineer apprentice has seen trip-hammers, or can do so; and the plan here is to deal especially with what he cannot see, and would not be likely to learn by casual observation.

One of the peculiarities of trip-hammers as machines is the mechanical difficulties in connecting them with the driving power, especially in cases where there are a number of hammers to be driven from one shaft.

The sudden and varied resistance to line shafts tends to loosen couplings, destroy gearing, and produce sudden strains that are unknown in other cases; and shafting arranged with the usual proportions for transmitting power will soon fail if applied to driving trip-hammers. Rigid connections or metal attachments ace impracticable, and a slipping belt arranged so as to have the tension varied at will is the usual and almost the only successful means of transmitting power to hammers. The motion of trip-hammers is a curious problem; a head and die weighing, together with the irons for attaching them, one hundred pounds, will, with a helve eight feet long, strike from two to three hundred blows a minute. This speed exceeds anything that could be attained by a direct reciprocal motion given to the hammer-head by a crank, and far exceeds any rate of speed that would be assumed from theoretical inference. The hammer-helve being of wood, is elastic, and acts like a vibrating spring, its vibrations keeping in unison with the speed of the tripping points. The whole machine, in fact, must be constructed upon a principle of elasticity throughout, and in this regard stands as an exception to almost every other known machine. The framing for supporting the trunnions, which one without experience would suppose should be very rigid and solid, is found to answer best when composed of timber, and still better when this timber is laid up in a manner that allows the structure to spring and [107] yield. Starting at the dies, and following back through the details of a trip-hammer to the driving power, the apprentice may note how many parts contribute to this principle of elasticity: First—the wooden helve, both in front of and behind the trunnion; next—the trunnion bar, which is usually a flat section mounted on pivot points; third—the elasticity of the framing called the 'husk,' and finally the frictional belt. This will convey an idea of the elasticity required in connecting the hammer-head with the driving power, a matter to be borne in mind, as it will be again referred to.

Another peculiar feature in trip-hammers is the rapidity with which crystallisation takes place in the attachments for holding the die blocks to the helves, where no elastic medium can be interposed to break the concussion of the dies. Bolts to pass through the helve, although made from the most fibrous Swedish iron, will on some kinds of work not last for more than ten days' use, and often break in a single day. The safest mode of attaching die blocks, and the one most common, is to forge them solid, with an eye or a band to surround the end of the helve.

At the risk of laying down a proposition not warranted by science, I will mention, in connection with this matter of crystallisation, that metal when disposed in the form of a ring, for some strange reason seems to evade the influences which produce crystalline change. A hand-hammer, for example, may be worn away and remain fibrous; the links of chains and the tires of waggon wheels do not become crystallised; even the tires on locomotive wheels seem to withstand this influence, although the conditions of their use are such as to promote crystallisation.

Among exceptions to the ordinary plans of constructing trip-hammers, may be mentioned those employed in the American Armoury at Springfield, U.S., where small hammers with rigid frames and helves, the latter thirty inches long, forged from Lowmoor iron, are run at a speed of 'six hundred blows a minute.' As an example, however, they prove the necessity for elasticity, because the helves and other parts have to be often renewed, although the duty performed is very light, such as making small screws.

(1.) What limits the speed at which the reciprocating parts of machines may act?—(2.) What is the nature of reciprocal motion produced by cranks?—(3.) Can reciprocating movement be uniform in such [108] machines as power-hammers, saws, or pumps?—(4.) What effect as to the rate of movement is produced by the elastic connections of a trip-hammer?



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