(Didn't bother taking photos...probably should've, oh well.)
05-18-2003, got out the cupola and burned with some fresh, quality charcoal. Started off ramming the usual sand bed, put in the bod right away (probably a fatal mistake) then filling with coke and lighting it. When it was burning good I put on a layer of about 4 ingots worth of aluminum and capped it with some coke (the cupola isn't tall enough to allow more than one layer of metal inside at a time). The metal started melting in about five minutes, and a few minutes later steam was visible at the tap hole, indicating that metal was reaching it (the bod is moist so that's moisture burning out, competely normal). I put in two or three loads of metal in total, and when I decided to tap it, I turned off the blast and something curious happened, the tuyere piping started getting hot... um there's not much hot gas to do that... I don't *think* I put in quite that much metal.. but... And also, carving out the bod I find a solid chunk of metal, damnit...(likely my mistake was bodding it right away, without heating up the bottom section first.)
I remove the tuyere pipes and find they're full of aluminum. $#!%. At least it froze short of the blower.
As for all that metal. Well, when I removed the tuyeres a little spilled out, then I thought I'd tip the cupola over to try draining any metal through that tuyere. Got a little. As for all that solid stuff, we (yes Mark was over again.. he was really bored so he didn't help with much, ironic though that sounds) tried dropping it. This consists of moving the cupola to the edge of its carriage and scraping the molding sand off the bottom to expose the metal. Since there's yet again a big plug of solid metal in this thing, I grabbed the angle iron and once again smashed on it a while. And, um, it's not moving... Thus comes the grim finality, the decision to get the sledge. Mark and I took turns on it, with my full-swing blow doing it in, snapping the outer casing open (ducting with snap-together seam) and exposing the many hot chunks of refractory thus broken. The hot plug of metal (with ample charcoal embedded in it) I took over to the patio to bash on a little to get crucible-sized chunks of metal. At least I got some anger-management therapy out of this all.
Ends lead to new beginnings. I'm already thinking of another one, a little bigger naturally :), definetly taller. Maybe 5 or 6" bore, with 3" refractory (real refractory if possible). We'll see what other kind of ducting Ace has.. ;)