Refractory chequers or checkers

Found Manuel Works, Whitecross

J G Stein product.

  • Stein, Castlecary Fireclay Works, Castlecary, Stirlingshire.
  • Stein, Manuel Firebrick and Refractory Works, Whitecross, Stirlingshire.
  • Stein & Co, Anchor Brickworks, Denny, Stirlingshire.
  • Milnquarter Fireclay & Gannister Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire.

Refractory blocks through which air is blown and heated prior to being used in the blast furnace.

Info from John Bramall –  Each Hot Blast Stove will have about 300,000 chequer bricks in it.  In the old-style open hearth (OH) furnaces and in glass tanks (and others) there were several regenerative heaters that were filled with firebricks (and other higher qualities)  – they were usually standard shapes e.g. 9 x 4.5 x 3 inches and other sizes – thousands of them are built up in a chequer work style of crisscrossing with apertures. But OHs disappeared and in other furnaces, purpose-made chequers bricks came into use. The heaters and HBS are heated, the heat is held in the bricks, then air is blasted through and the heat in the bricks is blown into the furnace. There are usually several heaters (with their burners) and as one is blasting, one is coming to the top of its heat and another is starting to heat. There are usually 3 or 4 HBS per Blast Furnace, heating on a 20-minute cycle or 4 HBS on a 15-minute cycle. A Freyn checker or chequer is a patented design used in blast furnace stoves for preheating the blast furnace air Most refractory makers in the north of England and Scotland made these in various qualities ranging from 36% Al2O3 to 80% Al2O3 used depending on there position in the stove.

In the metallurgical industry, the preheating of air for blast furnaces is conventionally carried out in adjacent regenerative heaters known as hot blast stoves. These stoves generally consist, for a stove with an internal combustion chamber, of a cylindrical refractory wall and an internal vertical partition wall partitioning the stove into a combustion chamber and a checker chamber containing checker bricks or, for a stove with an external combustion chamber, of two cylindrical refractory lined chambers with a connection dome. Air and fuel is introduced through one or two openings into a so-called ceramic burner or metallic burner in the combustion chamber for burning and the resultant combustion gasses flow upwardly from the combustion chamber over to the combustion chamber downwardly through the checker work chamber until they are finally exhausted at the base of that chamber. As the combustion gasses pass through the checker work chamber containing a plurality of checker bricks, heat from the combustion gasses is transferred to the checker bricks and retained therein. Once the checker bricks have reached a sufficiently high temperature, the direction of fluid flow in the stove is reversed. A cold blast is introduced at the base of the checker work chamber and is fed through the checker work chamber, where the cold blast absorbs heat from the checker bricks and passes over the partition wall and through the combustion chamber, where it leaves the stove through a hot blast outlet in the shell of the stove to be fed to the blast furnace.

Below – Freyn checkers found at the Stein Manuel Works and believed to have been manufactured there.

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Below – Nettle C – Square holed checker which is known as a McKee checker.

Below – This example is not marked but it was donated by Harley Marshall and he states it is definitely a Thistle checker – Mckee design. He obtained it from the Stein Castelcary Works.

Thistle checker - Mckee design

Below – This example is not marked but it was donated by Harley Marshall and he states it is definitely a Thistle checker – Freyn design. He obtained it from the Stein Castelcary Works

Thistle checker - Freyn design.

Below – This is a Foster 4D checker. It is of English origins. Hotspur Brickworks in Backworth near Newcastle were opened in 1877 by H Foster & Co.

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