Formidable Form

Throughout the year, visitors from all over the world travel to scenic, historic #Clharleston, SC to enjoy the architectural beauty of this classic coastal city. One of the most charming aspects of this fabled Southern city is its wealth of iron gates and balconies that we see in abundance on my walking tours. What comes as a surprise to many who wander the picturesque streets of the city is that the often delicate-looking shapes of the hand-forged wrought iron gates are actually very strong. Wrought iron has an extremely low carbon content, allowing this material to be shaped easily by heating surfaces and pounding or twisting them with tools into elaborate patterns. The malleability of wrought iron is an indication of its tremendous tensile strength – much stronger than iron cast in a mold, which is nearly 4% carbon and would break if bent or twisted with great force. During the Civil War, cannon defending Charleston were often strengthened by heating a wrought iron ring, or band, expanding the iron to the point where it could be slipped over a cannon barrel breech and cooled to contract on the barrel surface. These strong iron bands allowed gunners to use larger explosive charges in the cannon and fire shells much farther. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Strength of Wrought Iron”

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