History of Electric Induction Heating

Table of Contents

This Chapter

By James Farol Metcalf

This page was written in late 2003.

December 17, 1903 is the date the Wright brothers flew a powered aircraft and December 17, 2003 is the date a new version of this chronology with a new title was first posted. 'Zero to Eighty' was borrowed from a book written by EH Northrup in the 1930's and copyrighted in 1937. This novel was a fictional story of his life as he lives to the age of eighty. In his real life Northrup lived until 1941. He had celebrated his 74th birthday a couple of months before his death.

Northrup was credited in 1916 with the process of melting and heating metals using electrical energy with no heating elements and no electricity connected directly to the metal. It was called the 'Fireless and Wireless' furnace.

The main theme of Northrup's fiction is using alternating electric current to propel a rocket high enough in the air so rocket fuel could fly his spaceship to the moon and return it to earth. His book had this event occurring in 1961 about eight years before the actual event in 1969. He found a Russian spaceship in orbit around the moon but the people inside it were dead.

In real life in the early 1920's Northrup joined a company in Philadelphia named Ajax Metals that was producing equipment to melt brass by causing current to flow in a metal loop that was the secondary of an electrical transformer. This type equipment is called channel melting. The new company was located in Trenton, NJ and was named Ajax Electrothermic.

Both of these melting processes are quite simple and propelling an object using electricity is commonplace. The fact is that most electrical engineers cannot explain just how this works in simple terms.

A few years after Northrup died a young MIT graduate, Henry M. Rowan, joined Ajax Electrothermic. After training with the equipment he formed a new company in 1953 that he named Inductotherm. At that time I was in Korea where the MIG 15 was out performing the F86 Saber.

After the Army I had several jobs where the companies used induction melting before becoming a salesman for Ajax. In 1967 founded a company named Cragmet and sold stock to Inductotherm.

My main field of work during this time was the production of superalloys used in jet engines. Rowan's early success at Inductotherm was selling equipment to producers of metal and castings for the jet engine. During my time as a salesman for Ajax I was able to capture a large portion of this market. I had been a customer and competitor of Rowan's until we became partners. The next twenty years had many ups and downs as Cragmet captured the market for melting of superalloys in vacuum. The market was either boom or bust so we merged with another of Rowan's companies and became Cheston. In 1978 we split into two parts and merged to become parts of Inductoheat and Consarc.

Recently Inductotherm Industries changed the name to INDEL INC. You can find the above companies by using the INDEL web site.


During my time with Rowan I never gave up my rights to run the company and control my pay. It was the loss of my ability to set my pay in 1985 that led me to resign in 1987. I lived and worked in Scotland from 1983 to 1988 to complete a contract for the USSR to process carbon. In 1984 I established a firm to produce carbon fiber insulation named Calcarb.

Just after retiring in 1987 I purchased a small track of land near the Madison County line in Western North Carolina. This land was purchased for my oldest son, Kenneth, with the understanding that it would be his when he paid enough rent to return the investment. This property was the homestead of my children's great grandparents on their mother's side. I had been divorced from their mother since 1979 and had married a lady from Moscow, Russia.

In 1990 my daughters, Debra, Barbara, and Patricia asked me to purchase the old farmhouse where their great grandparents moved in 1903. This was another portion of the same property purchased for Kenny. Later I purchased some more acreage from the Arrowood family to increase the farm to 14 acres.

In 1993 I became aware that John Calhoun Smith was writing a book for Rowan. During conversations with Smith it became apparent that he was relying on newspaper accounts about me that were published in Newsday. Smith thought he had a best seller in his book but in the end told me he was no more than a hired hand because Rowan would not let him write a good book.

A friend called me in February 1996 with the news that Rowan had published The Fire Within. I was very upset with the way Rowan's book recorded our business with the Soviet Union. The following is a quote from the chapter called Foreign Entanglements where he uses the headlines from a tabloid:

"But in my wildest imaginings, I could never have envisioned a scenario like the one chronicled on the front page of the November 8, 1987, edition of New York Newsday."

"A special casing used on U.S. nuclear warheads makes them more accurate and has given the United States a decided advantage." "But a U.S.-owned firm has sold the Soviets the means to help make the vital material, and experts say the Soviets may have gained five years or more in research and development time."

The next part of Rowan's book from the text of the 1987 Newsday articles.

"The truth was, the entire affair was less reminiscent of James Bond than it was of Inspector Clouseau, with bureaucratic bungling, indecision, flip-flops, and panic on both sides of the Atlantic. And what the press generally overlooked was the fact that it wasn't the CIA or Congress that had tried to stop this sale in the first place, it was Inductotherm."

The real truth was, the entire affair was under my control and was much more akin to the movie 'The Sting'. One paragraph in the book was particularly disturbing:

"It was inevitable, I suppose, that the Russians would want our furnaces, too. Nonetheless, neither Inductotherm nor any of our subsidiaries sought out contracts from behind the Iron Curtain; we might never have dealt with them at all, if we hadn't acquired Cragmet--and Jimmy Metcalf--back in 1967. Thirteen years afterwards, newspapers and magazines on two continents were calling Metcalf a mystery man, a shadowy figure who moved in that gray area between espionage and commerce, but he insisted, "I'm jest plain Jimmy."

Rowan was with me at the dinner in New York on September 14, 1973 when we signed the first order with the Soviets. He ate black caviar and toasted with Russian Vodka. He and his key staff were part of every Russian sale we made because his core company was our main supplier and majority owner. By early 1974 Roy Ruble, Vice President of Inductotherm sales, was in Moscow seeking business. It was Rowan's interview with the local press that made me the mystery man.


The press did not even hint espionage and indeed the cover story in Time reported: "Everything Metcalf did was perfectly legal."

My fax machine stayed busy for a few days transmitting documents to Rowan that contained the facts of the Soviet business. A letter requested he withdraw the book from print until necessary corrections were made.

When I found that the book would not be in libraries or bookstores I decided to leave it alone and write the other side of the story for those that would read his book.

Parts of Rowan's book will have my notes and attachments fitted into his words to correct his errors where he messed things up and even told fibs. I have omitted some parts of the chapter.


If you want to read the whole chapter you can find it in my web page copy. Remember the text is copyrighted.


During telephone conversations with my friends about the errors in Rowan's book I discovered that a company named Fiber Materials Inc. were prosecuted and convicted in March 1995 for exporting carbon-carbon producing equipment to India in 1988. This company was the leading producer of nose cones for rockets.

Boston Globe

Judy Radowsky

April 1, 1995

Two High-Tech Execs Convicted

A federal jury in Boston yesterday convicted executives of two high-tech companies of illegally selling equipment that officials said enhanced India's nuclear missile capability.

Maurice H. Subilia Jr., 48, of Kennebunkport, Maine, and his company, Fiber Materials Inc. of Biddeford, Maine, were on trial along with Walter S. Lachman, 62, of Concord, chief executive officer of Materials International of Acton, on charges of violating US export laws, conspiracy and aiding and abetting.

"The verdict sends a signal that American know-how cannot be exported to the wrong persons or for the wrong reasons," US Attorney Donald K. Stern said yesterday.

The defendants maintained that they did not believe they needed to obtain export licenses for the control panels and hot isostatic presses they sold to India, even though evidence showed that the sizes of those presses were changed at times, in an apparent attempt to avoid license requirements.

The jury was not permitted to know, based on a pretrial ruling by US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, that nuclear missiles would fly farther and strike with more accuracy with the help of the presses.

Another news article told that Fiber Materials had retained Alan Dershowitz, one of OJ Simpson's lawyers, to lead the appeal.

I knew more about the underling law, facts and regulations on this subject than any person on the earth. Our company was not remotely connected with carbon-carbon that was used in missile construction but we had sold equipment to the Soviets that could process carbon. We needed a large quantity of carbon insulation and our company Calcarb produced this product in direct competition with FMI. Our sale to the Soviets was the reason CoCom established the regulations that led to FMI's conviction. The congressional hearing held on the carbon-carbon matter in December 1987 embarrassed the CIA, Pentagon, Customs and the Commerce Department so they were alerted to the next export of this type material or equipment.

I contacted Dershowitz's office in 1996 and began the process of furnishing information to assist in the appeal. There was nothing to appeal because the federal judge did not schedule the sentencing portion of the trial and did not rule on the motion to dismiss. The Federal prosecutors in Boston told me to stop meddling with their case.

In July 2003 Federal Judge Woodlock in Boston ruled that he had been furnished the wrong information by government and dismissed the charges. This may be the record for court delay in a criminal case and "cruel and unusual punishment". The news media was no longer interested in the carbon-carbon story.

Late in October 2004 the Federal Court of Appeals reversed Woodlock's decision.


In his typical manner the Judge delayed action on the matter for about one year. He sentenced the defendants to short house arrests. There was no press coverage and no more appeals. The carbon-carbon saga can now be forgotten.

My anger with Rowan was gone in 1996 after many exchanges of letters and telephone calls we reestablished our uneasy friendship. He knew I was trying to write a book on the history of the work we had done together and the history of the business, and to correct the record he made.


I remembered that he had the Northrup book on his shelf. I asked his secretary if she could loan it to me so I could scan it into the record. She told me Rowan refused because it was copyrighted. Later I found it in a library and in used bookshops. The text of this book is at:


The Northrup fiction and Rowan's real life have many similarities that I will point out in this web site.


I had a front row seat during the cold war and will try to record some of the details as I saw them. My activities and other world events between December 1984 and early 1986 poked a little hole in the Iron Curtain that divided East from West. I will record these events in a way you have ever read.

The Jews were very influential in the establishment and decline of the Soviet Union. I will record some of this history as I saw it.

Another part of this story is the history of alloys for the jet engine (superalloys) and the history of induction melting and heating.

There were many unbelievable events that I observed during my lifetime and if not recorded they will be lost to history.

The year 2003 saw the space shuttle crash across Texas. The reason was a failed carbon-carbon heat shield on the wing's leading edge. The equipment used to heat treat this part was built by my company to heat treat a part for the planned man to Mars project in 1972.

The heating element for the embargoed project was based upon a patent issued in my name along with Robert Klingerman in the 1970's. I was never able to get this idea to work until the Russian job came along. Even then I was able to make it work by replacing the whole thing with a new idea.

President Bush announced in late 2003 that the whole space program was going to be shifted to build a space station on the moon and send man to Mars. NASA also said it was too dangerous to send the shuttle for telescope repairs. This was all caused by the shuttle failure.

My knowledge of things electrical was learned on the job. I had to know a few things about electricity in order to sell and design equipment, but many of the things I thought I knew were wrong. When I started writing this on-line document in 1995 I realized I did not know enough about electricity to write the story so it could be understood. It took more than six years to search the literature and the Internet to find what I believe is the only document in existence that covers most the cast of characters of electricity. This record is contained in: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/004-Battery.htm


I attempted to record some key historical events in future chapters. Chapter 006-Progress is a continuing record starting with Northrup in 1900. This chapter also has the history of electricity in Western NC. This chapter ends with my birth in 1931.

My understanding of the history of mankind with comments is found in the following:




The whole posting of this memoir is large and complex.

There is a table of contents with links to take you to all the parts. The description of the sections is short but should help you find some parts of interests.