John Young and Robert Boyle, Brick machine makers, Ayrshire.

1845 – John Young from Newton on Ayr, in collaboration with Robert Boyle produced a machine called the ‘Ayrshire Double Acting Patent Tile Machine’. This was adapted from an earlier machine patented by the Marquis of Tweeddale. The device was capable of producing 20,000 drain tiles per day. – Unknown source.

08/10/1845 – Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Highland and Agricultural Society show at Dumfries … Also exhibited was The Ayrshire Double Acting Tile Machine of very ingenious construction. It was exhibited in operation …

09/10/1845 – Perthshire Advertiser – Double acting tile machine  – An important improvement in the manufacture of tiles has been affected by the patent machine above named, invented by Mr Young, engineer, Newton Ayr, and Mr Boyle, potter, Ayr; and is admitted, by competent judges, and, amongst the rest, very recently by  Dr. Sheirs, Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, Aberdeen, to the most perfect hitherto known. The machine does away with all the difficulties which have been found to attend pipe tile machines, and Mr White’s invention. The tiles come from the Ayrshire Double Acting Machine without any curvature, and without any straining; and the cutting the tiles into equal length is admirably performed, without any cessation of the machinery, or any interruption whatever, as it is quite separate from, and acts independently of, the first moving power. It can make all sizes of tiles, from two inches to six inches in the bore, and can be changed from one kind to another in very short time with facility. With two men and five boys, properly qualified, 20,000 tiles can be produced in one day, which, at one foot long, would drain about ten acres of land at 20 feet apart.

11/10/1845 – Glasgow Citizen – Highland and Agricultural Society show at Dumfries – Amongst the implements and machinery which seemed to engage particular attention, we may particularise the following, which we range promiscuously:—Messrs. John Young A Robert Boyle’s (Ayr) double-acting patent tile machine, by which two men and four boys can produce 20,000 tiles, 40.000 soles in one day. All perfectly formed.

14/10/1845 – Fife Herald – Highland and Agricultural Society show at Dumfries – For approved patented articles not coming within the range of any of the foregoing articles – To Robert Boyle, Ayr for his patent tile machine, the medium gold medal or 5 sovereigns.

1853  –  On the properties of clay most suitable for making draining tiles and pipes by Mr Robert Boyle, tile manufacturer, Ayr.

[Premium—The Gold Medal.]
At the present time, when draining materials are of so much importance, and their application so essentially necessary as a preparatory step to all good farming, the manufacture of them should be gone about in a regular and systematic manner, which, when practised, its effects may produce a permanent character.

The selection and the preparation of clays for the manufacture of draining materials have hitherto been altogether overlooked, or spoken of so disparagingly by many, as to lead to the supposition that they are not of the slightest consequence. But unless the component parts of clays are thoroughly known, and the preparation it requires, before being made into a tile or pipe, be carefully attended to, the articles made from it will not withstand the induration necessary in the kiln, so as to insure their permanency. It cannot, therefore, be too much impressed upon the minds of those who are immediately concerned in this most important matter, that this preparatory step should never be neglected amidst the almost overwhelming mass of incongruities connected with the subsequent parts of the process. Thus premised, I will endeavour to point out in a plain and distinct manner what is requisite in the selection of a clay-field, and the modes of preparation necessary to produce a useful and durable article from clay.

In the first place, then. before the erection of tileworks, it is of the utmost importance that landowners should have their estates inspected by a competent judge, so that the best field of clay may
be selected as the site of the proposed manufactory. Much inconvenience, and sometimes great loss, have arisen from sites having been chosen hurriedly, and without duly ascertaining the quantity and quality of the raw clay.

I have known vast sums expended in the erection of tile establishments on the casual report of persons employed in the common operations of husbandry, who have concluded from the appear-
ance of the soil, after being turned up, that abundance of the necessary material lay embedded below; whilst it ultimately turned out that the substratum, a few inches farther down, was entirely useless for the purpose. On the other hand, good fields of clay have been entirely overlooked from the appearance which the actual soil presented. I, therefore, repeat that an experienced individual should be employed to investigate thoroughly the whole extent of land intended to be occupied by the future operations.

It has been much practised, I understand, in many localities, when searching for clay, to use only the boring—rod, and to have the operation conducted by parties who have no practical know-
ledge of the business whatever; but this in no case should be resorted to, as the spiral motion given to the auger will to a certain extent so amalgamate the different strata which are pierced,
that even an experienced eye cannot distinguish which clay is suitable, and which not. In all cases where such a narrow inspection is so essentially requisite, digging trenches with spades should be
the only method resorted to. A staff of stout labourers, provided with spade and mattock, should accompany a person thoroughly versant with all the constituent parts of a good tile clay. Holes
should be opened at regular intervals, and so wide at the top as to allow the men to go down with facility from 12 to 20 feet, by which the inspector thoroughly ascertains the quantity of available material, and tests the quality of every trench separately as they proceed downward.

When a good seam of clay is obtained in one part of a field, operations must not be therefore suspended, and it taken for granted that the whole will be of the same character throughout,
as I have sometimes seen one hole dug in a field, and a good depth of excellent clay obtained, which did not extend to more than eighteen feet square, and beyond that space, the substratum was devoid of even the semblance of clay. I may mention a circumstance which I believe is not generally known by tilemakers, that all alluvial clays have been deposited into basin-shaped hollows, deep in their centre, and gradually becoming shallow to the extremities. I am at present working two fields of clay, which at the bottom of the basin is 20 feet deep, but which gradually become shallower as they extend outwards, to only a few inches of depth.

I am also working other fields of clay, where a great many trapdykes intervene, which are in general many feet broad at the bottom of the seam of clay, but gradually taper to a point as they approach the surface of the ground. I merely mention this, that those in pursuit of clay may not rest satisfied with a superficial mode of exploring such a hidden treasure as clay, which, when brought to light, amply repays all the trouble bestowed on its search.

Strong, retentive clays, which are embedded not far below the surface, at the depth of, say, from three to six feet, are generally the best adapted for pipe and tile making, being soft and unctuous
to the touch, readily absorbing and easily parting with moisture. A very fine clay is sometimes found lying a good way below the surface, in horizontal strata, with alternate layers of fine sand—so
fine indeed, that it has a muddy appearance. This clay is generally soft in its bed, and if immediately subjected to the influence of the pug-mill, will get softer as the process goes on; and if moulded in this state, will long retain the natural moisture, shrink very much in drying, and consequently make a very inferior article. But if this kind of clay be taken from the pit, where it naturally lay embedded and exposed for a length of time to the action of the air, fissures will appear through it, and all the natural moisture escape from it; and although again saturated with water, it will not imbibe more than is necessary to bring it into a proper consistency; and when moulded into a tile or pipe, will shrink little in drying, and have great solidity after being burnt.

The best clays are those which are solid in their bed, which take a good deal of water to mollify them, have a tendency to stiffen in the preparation, and require no foreign ingredient to be incorporated with them. Tiles and pipes manufactured from this description of clay have great density, shrink little, and maintain their superiority throughout. Clays requiring any foreign ingredient can never be so intimately united with it as in the natural state; consequently, the article manufactured from them will not possess that durability so essentially requisite.

Good clays are found of all colours. The alluvial or carse clays are generally very free of stones, and they are frequently of a bluish tint, though sometimes rather weak in their nature. Clays of a higher formation are more or less interspersed with stones, are generally of a reddish-brown, but strong and durable. All clays to be manufactured into articles to withstand the action of the air, should contain the oxide of iron, the ingredient which gives to clay a reddish colour when burnt, and the slight vitrification of which makes the material close in the texture, so that the manufactured article will not readily absorb moisture, and of course will retain its purity in all climates. Clays much devoid of the oxide of iron appear white after undergoing the process of burning, and are therefore only calculated to withstand an intense heat. These clays cannot be made fusible with any degree of heat that can be applied, consequently, articles made from them can only be made available for building the inside of air or blast furnaces; and bricks, tiles, or pipes, when manufactured from this description of clay, will not withstand the action of the air. By their porosity, they readily imbibe moisture, and expand With frost, and consequently crumble down to pieces.

When clay of a suitable quality is found on an estate, that can be made into tiles or pipes, its quantity should be carefully ascertained to warrant the proprietor in fitting up the necessary erections for their manufacture. Bv making the following simple calculation, such a mistake will be easily avoided:— An acre of clay, at one foot deep, will make one million of common-sized draining-tiles, three inches wide and twelve inches long; and taking the average distance at which drains are cut apart at twenty-four feet, there will be consumed 2281 tiles per Scotch acre, or 1815 per imperial acre; hence an acre of clay, one foot deep, will drain 438 Scotch acres, or 550 acres imperial. Thus we see that a field of clay of considerable extent, and the quality good, is of great pecuniary value to a landowner.

Many estates throughout the kingdom are, however, destitute of such clays; and, in cases of this kind, tiles or pipes have either to be carted a considerable distance, or draining materials used not so well suited to the purpose.

In all districts where no fine clays can be found, but where plenty of very coarse stony or sandy clay can be got, it should be narrowly examined, to ascertain whether the expense of removing the stones, etc., would be warranted in a pecuniary point of view. There can be no doubt that many clays may be made available for pipes and tiles that are considered wholly unfit for the purpose. But before entering upon the process, an estimate should be made whether the pipes can be produced economically in the circumstances.

Similar articles