copper smelter

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by nachoman, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I am looking to build a model of a copper smelter, circa 1910-1930. I know the real ones are huge, so considerable selective compression is in order. I just want to make something that looks believable. If anyone has any info on how buildings would typically be layed out, how the raw materials came into the smelter, and how the final products were shipped out, I would be very appreciative. Does anyone have thoughts on where to begin?

  2. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    There's many options. I myself, along with my dad, have a strong interest in the smelting and mining of copper in Upper MI. Smelters were Very common there.

    Here's a shot of the Ripley MI smelter, from across the shipping canal (Houghton MI).

    Raw copper enters from the trestle to the right, after being pressed out of the rock in a stamp mill (of course, when modeling AZ copper mining the stamp mill is replaced with a chemical bath). The trestle continues through the whole smelting complex, and out the other side:

    Here's a few more pictures (these were taken with a video camera, so they're all blurry). Gallery
    The gallery might not work right away, they have to moderate it, so if you cannot see it, check back later.

    I'm not very sure on the inner workings of the smelter, however, my dad worked in this exact complex when he was very young. I usually talk to him on Mondays, so I'll ask him some questions and try to remember all he says.
  3. Uintah Dave

    Uintah Dave Member

  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Hey, this is good info! I forgot about the nevada northern. There were mills here in AZ, usually called "concentrators" I think the process that was used varied depending on the type of raw mineral and the concentration of the raw mineral in the bulk rock. What did the material that came out of the mill look like, and what was it shipped in? Was it powdered or was it more like sand?

  5. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    In Upper MI they used "Ingots":

    However, they might use blocks, wires, sheets, or coils.

    I discussed it with my dad, he says the inner workings work just the same as any steel mill. A blast furnace, some heating source (he used natural gas, at 2500 degree's Fahrenheit, dropping from 3000 at the initial melting). Silica sand was injected to get the impurities out (making slag).

    So lets see, you need a blast furnace of some sort, silica sand delivery, a heat source (maybe coal, or even gas delivered by rail car?), and the raw copper, and maybe some scrap copper too.

    Copper in AZ is currently extracted with an acid leaching process, it'd be neat to see that partially modeled too, if you're up to that!
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think here in arizona, they use an electrical process to precipitate the dissolved copper onto anodes. I am not sure when that process was developed, but I do notice that most historic smelter photos show a nearby "powerhouse". I am guessing that they may have used oil or gas for a heat source here, that because most of the locomotives that worked the lines that hauled the copper burned oil. I think the chemical leaching process is more modern than I am interested in, but from my experiecne looking at the copper pits around here, it looks like an environmental nightmare!

  7. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Cool, Well I cannot wait to see what you come up with!
  8. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Copper smelter

    I'm working on one for our club in Clarksville Tn. absouloute freelancing here, kitbashing from what is @ hand with minimal real information or knowledge.

    It's not done I have another 2 or three smoke stacks, and need to build the ore trestle for the narrow gauge, and will probably enclose it in a largish scratchbuilt structure, and then add conveyors. all that would be on the back side of the building as seen, the loading dock will face the standard gauge sidding

    This is @ the bottom of the narrow gauge, which serves a copper mine. Carl built the narrow gauge; doesn't want a smelter, wants to transfer the ore to the standard gauge, So I'm naming the smelter after him,

    Bill Nelson, ( see logging east Tn on the DG CC & W, and the related C & S thread. Tom and I are both members of this club.

    Attached Files:

  9. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    That is a great model!!!!! It will look great on the club layout. Love the lettering on the Smoke Stack. I think Carl will be moved by the overall look and feel of this model. To me it looks a lot like the prototype pictures posted above. Good work!!!
    Doc Tom:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  10. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Glad you like it!

    Tom I'm glad you like it, your assistance will be needed later when It comes to ground cover, and the vines that will be growing on the parts of the building that don't get too hot. This is going to be fun!
    Bill Nelson
  11. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Glad to help..........Doc Tom:wave:
  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Try Googling Anaconda Copper Co. They had a huge operation in Anaconda, MT in the 1900-1960 period. All that remains is the smokestack and lots of polluted ground.
    As an aside, there is a tourist railroad that operates between Anaconda and Butte during the summer. (a plug for Montana tourism)

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