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British Industrial History

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Joseph Piper

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Joseph Piper (c1806-1882)

1883 Obituary [1]

Mr. JOSEPH PIPER, who died at Kidderminster on the 26th December last, was the eldest son of the late Mr. Moses Piper, who was among the first to manufacture wood screws by patented machinery.

Mr. Joseph Piper was educated at a grammar school in Kidderminster, and afterwards went into the Cookley Iron and Tin Plate Works, where his father was then manager. On the resignation of his father in 1854, Mr. Piper was appointed manager of the works in his place, and he continued to fill that position until a short time before his death.

In 1860 he patented an improvement in the finishing of tin-plate, which has been of some value to the trade. Up to that time the iron plates, after dipping in tin and brushing, were allowed to drain and set, the tin running down and forming a list on the lower edge, which had to be removed in a listing pot, thus melting the burr off.

This was a crude method, and one very uncertain in its action, besides which there was no way of regulating the amount of tin put on each plate, and at the best a streaky and rough-looking plate was the result. The improvement introduced by Mr. Piper commenced with the treatment of the plate after it was brushed, by slipping it into a bath of melted palm-oil and tallow, and dropping it into a cradle, by means of which it is raised so as to come up between two rolls running under the surface of the oil; these roll off the surplus tin, and the plate comes out a superior article in every way to that obtainable by the old process. It was found afterwards that the speed of the rolls regulated the amount of tin put on each plate.

This process brought down the cost of tinning considerably. A box or hundredweight of 14" x 10" plates, 437 surface feet, required 6 to 7 lbs. to cover them by the old method, whereas as little as 3 lbs. can now be made to show a better surface.

Mr. Piper, who had attained the ripe age of seventy-six at the time of his death, was one of the original members of the Institute. He was, however, of a retiring disposition, and never took any part in its proceedings.

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