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 Post subject: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 1998 6:58 am 

A few years ago, I saw an exhibit sign on one of the steam locomotives at the Nevada State RR Museum (in Carson City) that mentioned "Russia Iron." The boiler jacket of this locomotive was made of this material and had the stamp imprint of the artisan's name in Cyrillic letters. It seems this was a iron process specialty of Russians, many of whom immigrated to America and elsewhere. Anyone know more about this? I think Russia iron gave the metal a green color, if I recall.<br> <br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 1998 4:46 pm 

You have stumbled across yet another of the esoteric crafts kept alive by Chris DeWitt, the genius who keeps Nevada going. He has a great affinity for doing things the original way, whether it is difficult or not. He also blues his own iron for jackets through alchemy. <p>He would probably welcome an inquiry as to the techniques used.<p>Dave<br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 1998 6:50 pm 

Just what color does the "Russia Iron" process render the metal? Green? Blue?<br>Is it strictly cosmetic?<br>I'm suffering memory loss on this one.<br>Good to learn about a living master of such a process...<p><br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 1998 5:42 am 

Well, both sheens have been noted, although I believe the blue is the more common. You can't say 'color', as the finish is a bit irridecent (spelling???) and changes as the light hits it. CSRM developed a paint formula to immitate it, mostly a silver metalic with a little blue added. However, I've been told that there is a green hued version too. Maybe someone can get Chris to post about it. It was common for boiler jackets for a short time, as the finish could take the heat and didn't chip off. <br>S'<br>David D.<br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 1998 2:49 am 

I guess a metal finish or sheen is a better description for Russia Iron than to say it's a color. I wonder if anyone knows how to work iron like that today...<br>I saw a learned dissertation on Toledo steel (or was it Damascus steel?) some years ago. The scientist could analyze it metallurgically, but not say for sure how it was made. Wonder if the technique for Russia Iron is a similar case.<br>I really learned a lot at the Nevada State RR Museum about 19th century and early 20th century railroading----more so than any other museum.<p><br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 1998 5:55 pm 

Russia Iron (is) was made by taking iron sheet of a particular quality and layering it with burning coke between the layers, setting the sandwich in a noxious chemical bath primarily made of ureic acid, then beating the pile of iron sheets.<p>The employees were primarily young children, and exposure to the chemicals shortened their lives, significantly.<p>The result was an oxide coating, primarily dark gray, with blue or green tones. All samples I have seen have been primarily dark gray... any colors are secondary to the gray color. It may have reflected its surroundings and as a result was seen as blue, as it reflected the blue of the sky. It has a particular texture, much like enameled metal, from the beating. There was a similar material made in the US by rolling instead of hammering the material, it was called "American Iron." It lacks the hammered texture.<p>It was used as a roofing material, and as trim on various machines, including steam engine boiler jackets, smoke stacks on ships, including French battleships.<p>For restorations, a good metallic dark gray seems to come as close as anything.<p>I have a sample sitting on my desk. It is unique in my experience in that it seems to change color to a very great extent, based on its surroundings. In bright light it is medium grey. In indoor, subdued light it is very dark, bordering on charcoal.<br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 1998 4:29 pm 

So, I gotta ask, does anyone know if the 4-4-0 sitting in the Centennial exhibit at the Smithsonian is the real article, or is teh jacket an incredibly well done paint job? I think they might get cheesed if I tried to take a pen knife to it!<br>

 Post subject: Re: Russia Iron
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 1998 11:36 am 

I can't remember about the Smithsonian engine, but I believe it was heavily restored recently, and I suspect its jacket is painted. All I know about Russia iron is from a Model Railroader magazine of many years ago, when they printed that the stuff used for steam-engine jackets had not been rolled for many years, and that it was sometimes called "planished iron," probably after the pre-industrial hand-hammering process alluded to above. The only engines I have ever seen with real Russia iron jackets are three or four of the engines in the Henry Ford Museum, although there are others. Perhaps the material was still available in 1929 when they were restored, or Henry Ford ordered up a special run of the stuff. These jackets are a blue-grey color and are a real work of art, especially the 4-4-2 with a brass-beaded hole over every tell-tale hole! I recently looked at a builder's photo of a Pere Marquette 1920-era 4-6-2, and it appeared to have had a Russia iron jacket, the newest engine I have ever seen pictured with one.<p>Aarne H. Frobom<br>Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, Inc.<br>

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