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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2005
red the foundry man was facing a critical time in his life. His Cupola after many years of active life was in very bad health and was diagnosed to have no future. WHY FRED MADE THE CHANGE If you know anything about cupolas, you know they are pretty simple. Pig iron and scrap, coke and limestone go in the top, turn on the blower and iron comes out the bottom. We had been using the old faithful cupola for 45 years with absolutely no problems, but old Charlie and Burt who kept it going were about to retire. The apprentice said he would leave if we put him on it and nobody else wanted to know about it. Our Cupola had no friends left. On advice from experts in the industry we decided to replace the Cupola with a 'lectric Induction furnace, and this was our experience (see Figures 1A-1D) THE ARGUMENT FOR THE 'LECTRIC INDUCTION FURNACE The induction furnace was second hand when we originally bought it 10 years ago from a foundry who was replacing it with a new one. The manager said it could trip out two or three times a week, but it's nothing to worry about, it's what induction furnaces do. He also warned about 'elephant's foot' but we decided it probably wasn't important and ignored it. He also said something about our electricity bill going up a bit (see Figure 2), but it's nothing to worry about. Anyhow, it will be better than the cupola we use now, he said in all confidence, and we won't have to buy coke, limestone or Pig Iron anymore. No more cleaning up the 'bottom drop', chipping out and patching the melt zone and remaking the bed every day. We really warmed up to the 'lectric furnace idea. Most other foundries had either changed over to induction melting or were thinking about it. The sales rep from the induction furnace company was spending so much time at our place we nearly gave him a Bundy card. After much discussion, the rep did most of the talking, we decided a brand new furnace (see Figure 3) was out of the question, price wise, so the rep mentioned a foundry who wanted to sell a second hand unit. We decided to deal direct, because after all this talk we reckoned we knew enough about furnaces to handle any deal ourselves. An agreement was reached by a hand shake, and then the fun started. FINANCES -- HOW TO RAISE CAPITAL FOR IMPORTANT PROJECTS It's amazing how much it costs to modernise a foundry these days. We were convinced the decision to go 'lectric induction was a real smart way to go, but we didn't have the ready cash to sign up, so we spoke to our bank. The bank was terrific. They already had mortgages on our houses, so they also took a mortgage on the holiday place we had, gave us new credit cards with increased limit and set up an overdraft facility in addition to the loan. During discussion, the bank guy also asked if we had any other assets which would help our application, so we mentioned the 10 metre boat we had moored at the holiday place. He told us the boat was an unnecessary asset to the business and suggested we sell it and put the money into the bank, which would earn no interest but would operate as an 'off set' deposit to the interest on our loan. The bank also transferred our super to their super scheme, it didn't earn quite as much as our scheme (see Figure 4), but he said we are best to have everything 'under the one roof '. TECHNICAL FEATURE Nev Murray From Cupola to 'Lectric Induction Furnace A Foundryman's Experience F Old reliable Cupola 1D 1C 1A 1B 74 www.metals.rala.com.au