Robert Gordon


Examples of the early US production of puddled, pneumatic, and open hearth steel show variable and uncertain quality due to inadequate control of carbon, phosphorus, and non-metallic inclusions. An inhomogeneous product and difficulties with process control led to the early demise of puddled steel manufacture. Analyses for nitrogen and silicon distinguish between pneumatic and open hearth steel. Makers of open hearth steel had reduced phosphorus to acceptable levels by 1873 but needed longer to gain control of carbon content. Good quality pneumatic steel was made after 1880. John and Washington Roebling, engineers with experience of metallurgy, successfully managed the transition from wrought iron to steel while building the Brooklyn Bridge. The Springfield Armory, operating within a military-government complex, used various kinds of pneumatic and open hearth steels over a decade before reverting back to iron for its rifle barrels.


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How to Cite
Gordon, R. (2021). Issues in the introduction of tonnage steel in the United States, 1867–1883. Historical Metallurgy, 45(1), 42–51. Retrieved from