Friday, November 5, 2010

The Mystery is Solved

Well we had a few guesses at what the mystery industrial fixture was.
The three themes were: A Brewery Tower; A Smokestack and a Grain Silo.
At first glance it appears like an old smokestack, and to be honest I had passed it for years barely looking at it and assuming it was a smokestack from some old demolished factory. If I thought about it, it was usually along the lines of: “isn’t the sunset shining beautifully on those lovely old bricks”.
Then a while ago I looked a bit closer and noticed (which I guess those of you who said brewery tower also noticed) that there are windows at several layers all the way up.
A smokestack with windows? That didn’t make sense.
Then I noticed something which increased my puzzlement . Right on top of what I had thought was a smokestack is a chimney. A chimney on a smokestack? Surely that really doesn’t make any kind of sense
So I hit the internet and quickly solved the puzzle. This rather tall piece of gear is a shot tower.
I have actually posted pictures of another old shot tower in Melbourne here.Interestingly, this larger tower was built by the same company that built the tower that eventually became a fixture in a modern CBD shopping centre. Now a quick apology, Sharon asked in her comment back then what was a shot tower? Somehow I missed that comment and never posted an answer, so sorry Sharon.

In answer to your question a shot tower was where shot for muzzle loading guns and shot-guns was made in the old days. If you drop molten lead through a sieve and let it fall far enough it forms into near perfect spheres. If it is allowed to continue falling far enough it solidifies as it cools. So a shot tower had many floors at different levels so shot of varying sizes could be made. The chimney at the top was to carry away the smoke from the stove that was used to melt the lead. Lead has such a low melting point that it will melt on an ordinary kitchen stove.
So there you go that is the mystery solved.


Susan Fields said...

Very informative post! I had no idea what a shot tower was, either. It was pretty inventive of someone to figure out how to get the lead to form into spheres like that.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thanks, Al! Very informative and creative way to make spheres...

Have a great weekend!

Christine said...

Fascinating! I'd never heard of shot towers.

Now I'm wondering who made that discovery about dropping molten lead from a height, through a sieve to produce perfect spheres.

Old Kitty said...

I much prefer a brewery tower...!!!LOL!

:-) Take care

Vicki Rocho said...

I had never heard of a shot tower before. That's fascinating! I never would have come up with that one my own. I would've said smokestack too...

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

omg, that is ridiculously fascinating. I am SO TOTALLY going to use a shot tower in my current WIP. For real, it will fit nicely.

Hart Johnson said...

Very cool! Must be much bigger around than it looks (probably due to distance), but fun to find the actual function!

KarenG said...

Do you ever leave home without your camera LOL? I got your book this week-- lovely! Can't wait to read it.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

That's fascinating!

Al said...

Hi Susan,
It was pretty inventive. I reckon it was probably a plumber who discovered the principle. If you drop molten solder quite small distances into water it forms tear drop shapes. It would guess someone noticed that and thought “I wonder what happens if you drop it further?”

Hi Sharon,
You’re welcome and I’m sorry it took so long to answer your question.

Hi Christine,
Of course in the old days there were plenty in England, and I know there is still one in Chester.
Hmm, more research might be in order.

Hi Jennifer,
LOL! you might, but I am sorry it isn’t!

Hi Vicki,
It is pretty interesting isn’t it? It certainly looks like a smokestack unless you look closely.

Hi Sarah,
Shot towers and Steampunk , I think they go hand in hand :-)
I can imagine someone trying to throw your protagonist off the top!

Hi Hart,
It is fairly big. It was fun finding out, I just had to know!

Hi Karen,
No, I guess I hardly ever leave home with out it :-)
Great, I’ll look forward to hearing what you think!

Hi Rayna,
It is! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Verrrry Interesting! Thanks! :)