This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
There are many good machines on the market, most of which are of the same general type, and differ only in mechanical details. They may be divided into two classes: those with vertical and those with horizontal face. In the former the face plate stands vertically, and the block is simply lifted from the machine on its base plate as soon as tamped. In the other type the face plate forms the bottom of the mold; the cores are withdrawn horizontally, and by the motion of a lever the block with its face plate is tipped up into a vertical position for removal. In case it is desired to put a facing on the blocks, machines of the horizontal-face type are considered the more convenient, though a facing may easily be put on with the vertical-face machine by the use of a parting plate.
As already stated, concrete made too dry is practically worthless, and an excess of water is better than a deficiency. The above-described machine process, in which blocks are tamped from damp concrete and at once removed, gives blocks of admirable hardness and quality if the maximum of water is used. A method of making blocks from very wet concrete, by the use of a large number of separable molds of sheet steel, into which the wet concrete is poured and in which the blocks are left to harden for 24 hours or longer, has come into considerable use. By this method blocks of excellent hardening and resistance to water are certainly obtained. Whether the process is the equal of the ordinary machine method in respect of economy and beauty of product must be left to the decision of those who have had actual experience with it.
The well-known cast-stone process consists in pouring liquid concrete mixture into a sand mold made from a pattern in a manner similar to that in which molds for iron castings are produced. The sand absorbs the surplus water from the liquid mixture, and the casting is left in the mold for 24 hours or longer until thoroughly set. This process necessitates the making of a new sand mold for every casting, and is necessarily much less rapid than the machine method. It is less extensively used for building blocks than for special ornamental architectural work, sills, lintels, columns, capitals, etc., and for purposes of this kind it turns out products of the highest quality and beauty.