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William Brockbank

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William Brockbank F.G.S. (c1830-1896) of Carrick and Brockbank

1866 of 37 Princess Street, Manchester

1871 At a meeting of the Manchester Literary and Scientific Society, William Brockbank presented a Paper "Notes on the Effects of Cold upon the Strength of Iron." 'The severity of the present winter, he said, has brought the question of the effects of low temperatures upon the strength of iron very prominently before the public, and it is a curious circumstance that a subject of so great importance should have escaped the attention of writers on iron to such an extent, as that it is either ignored, or dismissed with a few brief remarks or inconclusive experiments, which leave the subject altogether unsettled. .....

'....Experiments on the transverse strain of cast-iron bars were made at the works of Messrs. P. R. Jackson and Co., of Salford. ..... Messrs. Peel, Williams and Peel had a remarkable example on January 6 (20 deg Fahr.). An hydraulic cylinder had been cast upon a cast-iron hollow core bar 7 in. in diameter and 1 1/4 in. thick, coated with 1 1/2 in. of loam and hay. It was put out in the yard to cool during the severe frost, and when they came to draw the core bar it broke by the mere torsion, and was found to be quite brittle. A portion of this core bar was warmed and it was then found to have recovered 1ts nature, and to be quite strong and tough. The lowest temperature on this date was 19° Fahr., and the casting was exposed to it for many hours. Numerous other examples could be readily furnished if required. There can, therefore, be no doubt whatever that the strength of cast iron is very materially lessened by severe cold.

'For experiments in wrought iron he was indebted to many friends, and the results are of similar import. His first experiments were directed to the method adopted by Mr. Kirkaldy, and he soon found that neither by torsion nor gradual tensile strain could the true result be ascertained, as the bar almost immediately became heated under the strain, and the effects of frost at once disappeared.

'The following experiments, made by Mr. William Johnson, of the Messrs. Johnson's Iron Works, Bradford, near Manchester, will illustrate this conclusively. .... Mr. F. Monks, of the Whitecross Wire Works, Warrington, also tested wire rods for him with precisely similar results. .....

'.... William Bouch, Esq., C.E., engineer of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, made the following experiment, December 29, 1870, the temperature at the time being 26 deg, but it had been as low as 19° over night. A bar of round iron, 1 1/2 in. diameter, of best quality, was taken from the yard, being then coated with ice; it had been exposed to a week's hard frost. It was held over the edge of a smith's anvil, and one blow from a 12 lb. hammer by the striker broke a piece, 4 in. long, short off, the fragment flying 12 yards along the floor of the workshop: The same bar was then put into the mouth of a furnace, but not in contact with any flame, for a short time, to unfreeze it. The heat received into the bar was so moderate that a smith could grasp it with his hand. It was then allowed to lie on the floor for some time, until it had quite cooled down to the temperature of the workshop. It was now placed on the anvil, and the same striker as in the first experiment, with the same hammer, gave fourteen blows w1thout causing the slightest fracture, the bar being merely bent about 2 in. Mr. Bouch adds that has, in his experience, met with many cases nearly as convincing as the above. 2.

'Mr. Robert Peel, of Messrs. Peel, Williams and Peel, Manchester, had kindly made for him the two following experiments with boiler-plate iron, as shown by the samples now on the table, viz., No. 1. A strip of boiler plate, of best best quality was taken from the open yard, where it had lain during several days of severe frost, January 5th, 1871, temperature about 20° Fahr. It was laid across the anvil, and a striker, with a single blow of a 14 lb. hammer, broke off the piece now exhibited. The fracture shows a very "short" crystalline face, without any appearnnce of fibre, and is torn and irregular, in remarkable contrast to sample No. 2, which is from tbe same piece, viz., No. 2. The remainder of the above strip was slightly warmed to dispel the frost, and then allowed to cool to the temperature of the shop. It required several blows from the same hammer, and bent considerably before breaking, being exceedingly tough and fibrous. The fracture shows a good fibrous structure, except on the inner side of the curve, where there 1s a thin crystalline skin. The difference of appearance in these two fractures is very striking and remarkable, and can only be accounted for by the action of extreme cold. ....'.

More examples, and discussion followed. [1]


1896 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM BROCKBANK died on September 18, 1896, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. Eldest son of Mr. W. Brockbank, who executed numerous important engineering works in the Manchester district, he served his apprenticeship with Mr. Thomas Carrick, then a well-known surveyor, with whom, in 1853, he entered into partnership.

The firm of Carrick & Brockbank, of which he was senior partner at the date of his death, had a large practice in surveying for railways and water-works. Mr. Brockbank was a justice of the peace for Cumberland, Fellow of the Geological Society, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1872.


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