Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

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History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.





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A Presentation from Ralph Law

Text, transcription and page formatting John Doxey

The handbook on the right was handed to Ralph Law on the 9th March 1966 at Silverwood. It is  a British Standards Manual concerning the correct methods for certain aspects of Ralph's, or any Blacksmiths work at the colliery. It will be noted that blacksmiths were also referred to as mechanics of the mine, this may have been because they were often called upon to repair mechanical breakdowns throughout the mine, and not because they were mechanics as such by trade.

The sections from the book on the following  web pages are placed here for those of you interested in the technical side of a blacksmiths work, and also gives a little more insight into just how knowledgeable and versatile are the men we know as blacksmiths.

On the Ralph Law page are photos of Ralph and his colleagues capping with molten white metal, and the section from the manual below shows the correct procedure for that particular job.


Please note that the following extracts are from a manual 40 years out of date at time of writing [ 2006 ] and it is recommended to obtain an updated British Standards Manual before attempting the following work. The extract from the 1966 manual is shown here merely as an example of the skills required by a blacksmith.


Cont'd from pg 1



Cut the rope at X by any suitable method which does not disturb the wires. With percussive or shearing methods special care is required to avoid any disturbance to the seizing or to the construction of the rope. Oxy-acetylene cutting should not be employed, owing to risk of damage to the wire and lubrication.

After cutting the rope remove the temporary clamp at C , and thread the new socket over the end of the rope, pushing it along the seizing as far as the marker clamp. Apply another clamp over the seizing at F so that the length XF is equel to the length of the basket less about 2d.

The value of about 2d is recommended so the sufficient length of rope will be inserted into the mouth of the socket to ensure the point at which the wires begin to separate to form the brush will be well embedded in white metal, rather than being in hard contact with the small end of the conical bore of the socket. In view of the existing wide variation in socket design, it is recommended that the length of internal parallel portion at the mouth of the socket should be measured to ensure that about 2d is sufficient  to achieve the object stated above.




Remove that part of the long seizing between X and F. With large locked-coil ropes care should be taken with this operation, as the rope wires will tend to open with some force, and a clamp at F is essential to ensure that the rope does not loosen at this point. Open the rope at point XF.

Separate all the wires but do not straighten them and take great  to avoid bending or twisting any wire to sharply at F, otherwise deformed wires may break in fatigue during service. If there is a fibre core it must be cut at F and removed. To ensure secure grip of the white metal on the wires thoroughly clean each wire of all traces of lubricant or dirt employing water soluble degreasing agents, or whatever means are found necessary. Paraffin is not recommended. Take care that the solvent or degreasing fluid does not enter the unopened part of the rope as this may affect its internal lubricant. All the wires should be in a  clean, dry condition and remain so until the metal is poured.




By means of a single turn of seizing wire placed around the brush near its top end or in the case of a large rope, two or three single or double turn seizings spaced along the length of the brush where required, draw the cleaned wires of the brush slightly together, but only sufficiently to prevent appreciable lengths of the outermost wires from bearing against the wall of the socket, when the socket is pulled onto the brush. This will ensure that the wires are effectively embedded in the white metal.

The extreme ends of the brush wires should not be formed into hooks.




The temporary clamp at F can now be removed, and the socket pulled onto the brush so that the ends of the wires are approximately level with the top of the socket basket at S- a length of about 2d of the seizing at F being contained within the mouth of the socket. It is permissible however, to leave about in. of the wire ends of the brush protruding above the top of the basket [ and therefore above the white metal ] so that any movement of the wires relative to the white metal during service may be noted; but care must be taken that the wire ends do not foul the mating unit which will be subsequently connected to the pin in the socket.

Before the socket is pulled into position it should be rotated on the rope until oriented similarly to the marker clamp at D. At this stage, set up the rope-end arrangement in a true vertical position-supported by a vice, angle plate, or other suitable means-with the rope below the socket in a straight line with the socket axis for a length of at least 36d. Unless this is done the brush of wires will be offset from the rope axis, thus causing uneven loading of the wires in the socket during service.

To ensure that the rope within the mouth of the socket is central with the bore of the socket and that the rope is in its correct vertical position, a specially designed rope-centring clamp should be used. A particular feature of this clamp is that the lower portion of its bore fits tightly on to the seized rope and the upper portion fits tightly over the nose of the socket

 [ see fig. 48 ]

The rope centring clamp- which must be sealed top and bottom with asbestos string-incorporates an escape hole through which the poured molten metal [ after entering the clamp through the narrow end of the socket ] will escape until it runs clean and the hole is stopped. Such a rope- centring clamp should always be used in the case of large ropes; in any event, it is necessary to fit some form of holding clamp over the seizing, as close as possible to the socket mouth, in order to prevent any slackening of the seizing which becomes heated during the pouring operation.

back to Pg 1





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