This section is from the book "Safe Building", by Louis De Coppet Berg. Also available from Amazon: Code Check: An Illustrated Guide to Building a Safe House.
Since writing the foregoing chapter a claim has been made by J. W. Bookwalter, an iron manufacturer of Springfield, Ohio, to have perfected a new process which will revolutionize the manufacture of iron and steel. He uses what he calls a Robert converter, which is the same in principle as the Bessemer, excepting that the air is blown in horizontally.
The claims made are: That he can produce any quality of iron or steel from the same furnace; that the impurities can be gathered and floated off on the surface; that the silicon can be controlled and burned out separately, ahead of, and without affecting the carbon, which can afterwards be reduced to any desired quantity, thus leaving the mass to be poured from the converter either pure wrougbt-iron, or steel of any grade, as may be desired; and that the control of the silicon and carbon is perfect.
Similar claims have been made before, but were never substantiated. Should, however, these claims prove to be genuine, it would at once mean a large saving in the cost of manufacture of all grade- of iron and steel. It will be readily seen that not only is the cost of handling the iron several times and the cost of puddling (by hand) done away with (for if this invention does all that is claimed for it, the pig-iron could be melted and run directly to the final rolls), but the cost of furnaces, etc., will be greatly reduced, as one and the same converter will make any quality of iron or steel desired.
Then, too, it would solve the problem of strong, cheap castings, as these could now be made of a high grade of steel at about the cost at present of ordinary cast-iron ; this, of course, would mean a casting with the forging, welding and other properties of wrought-iron.
It is also claimed that the blast need not be nearly so strong as in the Bessemer converter, and hence the cost of this new converter is not only very much less, but its tuyeres and lining will outlive many times those of a Bessemer converter.
It is further claimed that not only is the reduction in cost of steel very great, but that the cost of rolled-iron is reduced to the same level as the cost of steel.