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This article was written on 30 Jul 2014, and is filled under Rayburn History, Stanley History.

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Waterford Castings: good looks more than skin deep

I have been introduced to an exclusive material from Waterford Stanley‘s archives which give a fascinating insight into the manufacturing process. The articles date from the time when Rayburn cookers were still made in the Waterford Stanley factory. The photographs accompanying the description of the various processes draw a unique picture of the people behind the success of the company. Things have changed a lot since these were taken but still a skillful craftsmanship is required for the manufacturing of the stoves and the individual responsibility of each employee is key to maintaining the high standards of production.

I have transcribed parts of the text which will allow you to learn more about the tradition behind the brand and the history of the art of casting iron:

Sleek… streamlines… gleaming in enamel… the modern cooker is a pleasure to the eye and an ornament to the home. But its good looks are more than skin deep; they are the outward and visible symbol of quality that goes right to the heart of every casting. To link quality with quantity is no easy task. At Waterford, it has been achieved by installing the latest and most efficient mechanised units… here seen producing doors for the ever-popular ‘Rayburn’ cooker.

The planning behind the lines

The long chain of operations by which a modern appliance is produced, reaches its climax on the assembly lines – where, for the first time, all its multitude of component parts are brought together into a finished article. But ‘behind the lines’, there has at every stage been a long process of supervision and technical control, to ensure that each component is exactly right for its appointed purpose. Materials tests in the metallurgical laboratory, constant checks of dimensions, fits, tolerances… these, together, make possible the combination of speed in assembly and accuracy in the result.

From the Ladle the hot metal is poured into moulds made of sand. As it cools and hardens, it takes up the form of the mould itself; when cold, it has become an article of cast iron…. is ready for finishing, and then for use. Put thus, it sounds simple enough… but there are complexities in the ironfounder’s craft which call for years of experience before a man can tackle the finest work. To take one simple example, the cooling metal contracts within the mould; unless allowance were made for this, the finished article would certainly be smaller than required, and probably distorted into the bargain! So the patternmaker and the moulder must know the varying habits of molten iron, and carry out their preliminary work accordingly. Even the making of so simple a thing as the traditional round cooking pot is a blend of technical knowledge and manual craftsmanship, at every stage. Such hand-moulding is the root from which all foundry practice sprang. There is no complete shot cut to producing a perfect casting… though there are many mechanical devices by which the craftsman can be aided and the process of production speeded up.

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