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Fiske Brick Plant

                                           Fiske Brick Plant
Fiske Brick Plant.jpg
The Fiske Brick Making System
From History of Dover, New Hampshire. vol. 1. : Containing historical, genealogical and industrial data of its early settlers, their struggles and triumphs by John Scales, c. 1923.

In 1902 the Fiske Brick Making System was established in a large plant that was located on the ground north of Sandy Point. This was a large and elaborate construction of machinery so arranged that the clay and sand, the raw materials, entered on a railway at the south end of the building and was dumped into the mixer, and from that the material proceeded systematically through the various processes of molding, stacking placing in the kiln, and removing from that to the storage room without being touched by the human hands, thus saving a large amount of manual labor.

At the clay beds, on Back River, the clay was cut out by machinery and loaded on box cars, and brought to the factory, where cars were drawn up an inclined trestle and the material, five cubic yards in each car, was dumped into a hopper at the disintegrator or pug mill and was forced into a brick machine. This machine was standard and no part of the Fiske system. Mr. Fiske’s patents covered only the handling. It was called an augur machine, which forced the column of clay, prepared by machinery, through a die. After leaving the die the column of clay passed through and automatic reel where the wires sliced up the bar of clay into bricks which were taken away on a horizontal or off-heaving belt. At this point the special handling machinery began its work. The bricks were handled in masses instead of one by one. As they issued from the molding machine they were placed by hand on setting-up stands, one of which was permanently located on each side of the off-heaving belt. They were placed on these stands in such relative positions that they could be dried, burned, and delivered on the sorting table without re-arrangement, the entire stack of 1500 bricks being lifted as a unit, transported and deposited by suitable machinery, first in the dryer, then in the kiln, and finally in the stock yard. When the first stack was completed the stackers commenced putting bricks on the opposite one so there was no waiting and the brick machine was permitted to run without interruption.

The first stack was removed by the handling machinery which consisted of an overhead electric traveling crane and a special carrier called a brick lift. The crane traveled on tracks supported on an elevated runway near the eaves of the main building and spanned the building completely and traveled its entire length. The crane was driven along the overhead tracks by an electric motor called the “travel motor” and the hoisting and lowering of the load was effected by the hoist motor located on top. Each motor was controlled independently by a lever in the cage of the operator who had at all times an uninterrupted view of the whole floor.

This operator, with one helper, could handle as many bricks as 15 or 20 men with wheel barrows.  

The brick lift consisted of two lifted beams braced together to form a girder. To this girder was attached 104 lifting fingers. To transport a load of bricks the lift was brought by the crane in front of the setting-up stand, lowered, and the fingers run into the proper spaces and the entire load was raised by the hoisting motor and carried by the crane to the dryer which was accurately spaced to receive them. The dryer was of brick and steel and fireproof. There were four chambers, each with a cover which could be lifted by the fingers of the brick lift. Each chamber held 18,000 brick. The covers dropped into channels of sand which sealed the chambers. Hot air was forced through the bricks by a powerful fan driven by an electric motor, the air being heated by a Brown Heat Generator. The hot air was forced into a circular tunnel running lengthwise the building and under the floor.

The bricks were carried from the drier to the kiln by the crane and brick lift and there deposited, each chamber having a removable crown so as to leave the entire top open. The crowns were made of fire clay blocks and iron. When a chamber was filled the crown was lowered and sealed around the edge with soft bricks and sand. The fires were fed with coal through holes in the crown. The draft for burning was produced by an exhaust fan driven by an electric motor.

The coal was brought by the crane and brick lift from the storage bin in long iron boxes and deposited near the feed holes. The ashes were taken out in the same way after the bricks were removed. The bricks after burning, were removed by the brick lift to an assorting stand at the end of the kiln.

This plant did good work for several years and the brick from it were used, to a large extent, in construction of the High School House and the Public Library building in Hale Park. Unfortunately this plant was destroyed by fire 28 Dec., 1906, and has not been rebuilt. Debris of the foundations is all that remains to make the spot where it stood.

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