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Re: Meteors and Swords/Fwd

Poster: JHrisoulas <JHrisoulas@aol.com>

Hello all:

I was forwarded the below posting via an associate and I hope no one minds if
I respond,  as I have a small ammount of learning in the field of metallurgy
and metallography...and the fact that I have probably made more meteoric iron
blades than anyone alive today....

In a message dated 98-04-20 11:02:07 EDT, you write:
 Poster: Jeanette Gugler <jgugler@mindspring.com>
 At 15:42 04/15/98 -0400, Gene Bonar <gbonar@auspex.com> wrote:
 >At 02:12 PM 4/15/98 -0400, Terry wrote:
 >>I don't think speculation is out of line as long as the speculation and the
 >>facts are kept in orderly piles. 
 >>Actually, few are pure iron although they're closer to pure iron than would
 >>be found on earth naturally. Most are a combination of iron and nickel with
 >>some carbon common. Does anyone know how well iron-nickel does in a

I assume that one is speaking of the more common Fe/Ni meteorite, not the
Moldavite, or Olivine meteorites?? If so, I can answer this question. (I
detest entering in the middle of a discussion, and if I am in error, could
some on bring me up to speed??).

There are various differences between the meteoric iron and the iron produced
here on this planet.. these are chemical and crystalline differences.. The
double Octahedrite pattern of the material plays hell on trying to forge this
material..A considerable ammount of "refinement" is needed and you must emply
a good quality of  terrestrial iron in order to hold the Fe/Ni material
together. The Fe/Ni meteoric material does tend to fracture along the
crystalline structure when sufficient pressure or impact is applied....This is
commonly known as "red short" by blacksmiths...

By employing the iron with the meteorite, you can "hold together" the material
being worked and then refine it by the same basicv method of drawing and
welding as employed with traditional bloom in the process of manufacturing of
wrought iron...
 >Well this is what I get for pontificating outside of my specialty. <wry
 >grin>  Rather than pure iron I should have said elemental iron, I guess.
 >The point being that meteors don't fall into the atmosphere an amorphous
 >blob of diverse elements, heat up and land a chuck of steel.  I think
 >Stephan's question was if a chuck of steel form and landed on earth or more
 >to the point Southern England it could ....>>

I would speculate that the "historical" "Excalibur" was probably made from
iron produced in Sweden..Iron ores from that region have a small ammount of W
that occurs within them naturally....The W would enhance the material,
especially if  a form of "blister steel"...was obtained. The resulting
marteral would be "superior" to the "nativer" material produced...especially
if it was made by someone who undertood the process and could obtain
repeatable results...

 >>Being a geologist, I have no idea how much iron it takes to make a sword.
 >>But one of my astronomy professors had a meteorite he was using as a door
 >>stop that was a good 45#. Would that be enough? 
 >45# would be enough to make several swords.  I've seen and touched
 >meteorites, several large ones (none 45# though) that would be of
 >sufficient size to make a sword. >>

45# of material, when "refined" by "traditional" techniques employed in
England at that time, would yield between 20 and 35 lbs of usable, "refined"
iron...The repeated forging/cut/weld techniques does make for a considerable
material loss, and the ammount of loss involved would depend upon the ammount
of working the '"raw" material undergoes prior to it's incorporation into a
blade... Now also, one must realize that there were numerous ways that sword
blades were made during this time in history and the use of classic pattern
welding techniques would "extend" the number of swords that could be made from
a given ammount of material.

 None of them happened to be steel.  For
 >the postulate to hold it would have to be steel, not an iron/nickel/carbon
 >blob.  Those happen to be the elements (amongst others) that go into making
 >steel, but I'm asking can the alloy be formed in the manner put forth, and
 >if so is there ANY empirical data showing that such a chuck fell in
 >Southern England or anywhere else.>>

You must alsa realize that as a raw material, the Fe/Ni metoerite would be
more or less a better "quality" than the rough bloom iron produced by charcoal
smelting.  The English did not have the means to render Fe to full
liquidus...They were in fact "lucky" to get a bloom...If you have ever tried
to smelt Fe using a charcoal fired heat source you would realize how labour
intensive it is to produce even a small ammout of usable material...

< Meteors are a combination of iron and nickel and carbon (or so says one who
 has studied such).  How are the proportions different from more mundane
 iron ores easily mined in the Middle Ages?  From neither the ground nor the
 meteors would elemental iron be found. Making steel is a process of
 removing unwanted 'impurities' (or some of them) and adding needed ones.
 The various impurities and their proportions have a lot to do with the
 final properties of the steel -- brittleness, flexibility, how well it
 holds an edge, etc.  >>

The rendering of Fe from ore is a very long and hot process..One has to get
not only enough heat but also induce enough CO to reduce the ore into
iron....even then, given the state of the art in England at that time, the
resulting mass would still be a sponge iron, full of slags and other
impurities...These would be in essence "hammered" out during the following
forging refinements, resulting in what is commonly known as wrought
iron....This wrought iron, if worked further, and properly, using techniques
in "common" usage could be further refined into a blister steel...

Now by employing a Fe/Ni meteorite, one could, in theory, circumvent the slag
and other impurities problems and start out with a material, while red short,
that was more or less free of the usual problems...And again, in theory, one
could produce a higher quality material....(You do not get steel by simply
smelting Fe from ore...It is a drawn out process, and a very trying one using
techniques thta were available at the time...And the results were quite often
less than what was desired...)

Now wrought iron can also be somewhat red short, so this charcteristic would
not be "unusual" to the smiths of the time...But the crystalkline differences
and the problems that lie therein could of raised a bit of a problem, unless
the smith was either experienced or lucky and decided to "sheath" the meteroic
material in a iron matrix while the said Fe/Ni was being "refined"...
 <<So using the processes common in Roman England (we were in the iron age by
 then) or, more to our interests, in 12th century England, how would two
 swords made one from meteoric iron and one from common iron compare?>>

I can find too many variables to even start a fair evaluation between the the
two materials... Are the blades made from all of one material?? Are they
homogenous forged or pattern welded?? Blade geometry also comes into play, as
does proper thermal treatment... To as such a question you will have to narrow
down the parameters of the blades and give them more or less an even "playing
field" as it were.

In closing I hope no one minds my intrusion...But I have spent the last 30
years studying this and well....I think I may be on the way to finally
figuring it out.

I am not on this list so any replies, please send them direct.

Thank you for your time..

Dr JP Hrisoulas
Las Vegas, NV
Bladesmith, Metallographer, Author:
"The Complete Bladesmith"
"The Master Bladesmith"
"The Pattern Welded Blade"



Atar, Baron Bakhtar, OL

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