W-MCP4-6.228 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his cousin John Fisher
Sep 8 1836
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Brockport, Monroe County, [New York, U.S.A.]
From: Hamilton, [Ontario]
I have received your last yesterday--We have had some very bad fortune in our business--When I wrote you last we had on hand 4 Horse Power--2 Machines Sold--2 Large Wheels in 2 of the small Machines which Janes sold last year and 10 Large Wheels cast that were not hung--18 in all--The next day after I wrote you 1 of the large Wheels came back broken--in hanging one in its place we broke three more--in a day or two an other large Wheel was brought back broken--and today another--and I do not believe more than 2 Large Wheels out of the Lot is worth a fig. The Wheels looked well, and we never thought but they were good till they were returned.
Two of the Wheels broke standing up in the furnace. They all break in the Eye--and there is no doubt but there is a bad proportion to the Pattern from the fact that 2 Wheels broke standing in the Furnace while cooling--and all those that have broken [judging?] would fly open at once and when the wedges were loosened the broken part did not close but remained asunder so that all agree that there is a hard [sprew?] in the Wheel--Not one of the Wheels that have broken has been sound in the Eye--they all have more or less of the honey Comb at the Eye the rest of the Wheel looks well and Sound.
They were moulded with the [sprew?] leadened into the arm near the [outer?] from the rim to the eye with 2 Rising sprews on the Eye with a [green?] sand [Cave?]--The Iron when turned into the flank lays perfectly still; there has never in one instance been anything like a blow; nor yet doesn't look altogether like a [spinck?] but like a long [comber?]2--We have not made a Wheel of hard Iron--There was but one Wheel broken hanging--What we had on hand when I wrote you before and Harris stated that he made bad iron at the heat when it was made and that of course the wheel would not be good--Wheels made from the Iron you sent are as bad as those we have made from Iron obtained here--We have altered the Pattern for the Large Wheel--made the arms lighter and the Eye heavier since which we have made 2 Wheels--one is hung, the other we will hang tomorrow we think, or rather hope they will hold--if not-- we shall give up making them. The Eye not coming sound we are not able to account for--as the Iron seems to look well--and is poured well--yet something is wrong--The loss of the Wheels is far from small--The influence it has on the character of our Machines is far worse.
Harris when we found the Wheels were bad tried to obtain a Furnace man to come and see if he could detect any bad management in the melting of the Iron but he had not yet been able to obtain one--I do not know what to do--should the Wheel now stand we shall recover from our present embarrassment and I hope be able to sell our machines--but should they continue to break--we had far better never made a machine--I wish you were here--Will you talk with Backus and learn the cause if you can of Castings coming as I have described--Write me the day you receive this all you can learn--We had better not make Iron than to pay $58 per ton--and I think we had better not purchase more at that price, I will try and make good use of the Iron you have sent us--I have bought 10 Tons of iron at Long Point--delivered at the Furnace at $40.00--all to be soft and good. Had you not better countermand your order on [Bush?] and Shepard--and request them to send us no more than 15 instead of 25 Tons.
Mr. Bedell of the Albion Furnace formerly is here buying Wheat--(it is worth 10/and 11/York). He is to be here this afternoon if possible and as we have had so bad luck in our Large Wheel he says he will melt one heat for us--he was in the furnace and saw to the moulding of the large wheel--yesterday--thinks he can draw out of the Cupola Iron that will make a sound wheel. He has examined the broken wheel but does not appear to know any reason of why the Eye does not come sound. He says the Iron in the broken wheels is good--better than they have at Albion. Wheels made from Iron I purchased from the Coulburn furnace, and that you sent from Ogdensburg [sic] as well as that we have used of the Long Point Iron--which has been a very small portion--all looks alike in the Wheel--One is as sound as the other so it is not the quality of the Iron which prevents the [?] [?] [?] sound Mr. Dike thinks the Wheels from the pattern as it now is must stand--time will show. If they do I think we shall be able to sell our machines--It is now two days since I commenced this--I have been on the run day and night.
If we receive 15 Tons of Iron from Ogdensburg [sic] it will answer for this season--Bad fortune makes me feel like doing but better--Fairbanks has forbid Janes making Scales--we have made him 3 sets, the 4 nearly done.
Janes told him as he (Janes) was satisfied that he (Fairbanks) had a right in Canada he would only finish those we were at work at and stop--Janes will lose in that case for some $20.00 or 30 Dollars by this speculation. I shall charge him $80 for the first set--we made $40 for the second--$30--the 3, 25 the 4th. I had 2 machines called for yesterday and 2 the day before--but none to supply but such as have poor wheels--I shall sell no more of them--we have now hung 3 Wheels from the Pat. since it was altered--We still hope--I hardly dare say, think, or feel, confident they will stand.
I should think you had sent over what cash you have in the states to our [?] which for the Yankee speculator one as thick as [?] [?] their cash around the [?] [?]--I have just [?] [?] [?] the teeth of the machine [sent?] us this spring break like glass. I read a letter this Monday to furnish for [me?] pass [on?] sold a wooden cylinder for the teeth broke so that he could have it. Mr. Dike says that it was known at the shop in Brockport that the Iron was poor. Why send us such when they well know the situation in which we are placed. Can you obtain an insurance on the Furnace--if so I can sleep a few hours more each week
[Next page: five lines illegible.]
[P.S.] I do not yet receive the 5 Tons of Coal for which I paid Carrington & Prall when at [?]--will you write and ask them whether they intend or not to send it. I have written them twice but no coal. We shall want 10 Tons more of good Coal if we can purchase it as well at Oswego of Brown & Co. we can receive it sooner--Fall is at the Door--I hope for better success & in great haste.
1 The year of this letter is difficult to read. Its content fits the context of two other letters from September 1836 in which Fisher mentions breaking wheels and other details. See W-MCP4-6.170, and W-MCP4-6.182.
2 The letter is barely legible in this description of the parts of a wheel.
3 John Knox Fisher, Dr. Calvin McQuesten's first cousin and business partner, had difficulty working with the foundry's co-founder Mr. [Joseph] Janes and was often concerned about the man's methods of conducting business. In 1838, Janes ran off, leaving behind his wife and thousands of dollars of debt. See W-MCP4-6.237. For more on Fisher, see W-MCP5-6.240.