CIE Visit to William Lane Foundry
William Lane Foundry was founded in 1862 originally in Stockton, moving to the current Middlesbrough site in 1890. The business is 152 years old, 2 years older than the CIE. The current site was in the heartland of the Iron & Steel making district of north Middlesbrough, and many of these nearby businesses were customers for what was described as a ‘breakdown & jobbing foundry’. At one time there were about 140 Businesses in the Middlesbrough district described as Foundries, William Lane is the only one still operating today.
The fundamental process remains largely as it was, however there has been significant investment in recent years. They have installed 2 new electric induction furnaces to replace former coke fired ones, and bought new cranes, shot-blasting and sand mixing equipment. The CIE visited on the 14th and 21st May 2014, and were shown the whole process. Casting moulds are made from Si sand, using “patterns” of the final product.
The photograph on the left shows the “pattern” being lifted from one half of the mould, with the other half in the background.The finished moulds are injected with CO2 that hardens the sand. The mould is then painted with Carbonal in a flammable solvent, prior to firing in the picture above. The two halves of the mould are then pinned together ready for the molten metal to be poured in. The Foundry cast in Iron, Brass, Bronze, Gunmetal, and Aluminium. The visitors saw two casts, one in Brass, and a second in grey iron.
The foundry specialise in casting small numbers of individual pieces for customers, and one of their groups of customers is the Heritage Railway sector. Other products include cast iron seat ends, house nameplates, trophies, impellers, wall plaques, railings and bells!