Vera and I arrived New Year's eve of 1982 in London a little late and were further delayed by British emigrations while they obtained permission to allow her to stay in the United Kingdom for a month. We could not get a table in the restaurant on New Year's Eve so we had dinner and the first New Year's celebration in our room. She was not very impressed with her first night in the free world.
We flew to Scotland on New Years Day1983. Consarc had an apartment on the third floor above a small department store in the center of Hamilton. The entrance to the apartment was through a small dirty alley and then up dark stairs that had not been painted or cleaned for years. Vera was disappointed with what she had let herself in for by leaving the Soviet Union.
The engineering staff in Scotland had completed the documentation for the carbon project. The estimating department had completed the cost projections and John Wilson was putting the final touches on the written offer. A few days later I flew to Moscow alone to give these documents to the technical staff for their review.
During the review I saw a group of cartoon type documents that showed the process step by step for each of the equipment offered. I also saw technical descriptions of the process and material guarantees. I told them these guarantees would open Pandora's Box, since we had no technology and would offer none. I also gave them a copy of the letter from Roberts that would not allow Consarc to accept material responsibilities. They understood my situation but there was a lot of confusion in their minds about the isopress and gas cleaning system. This was a very short visit so I was not able to contact Alex or Marchin the project leader.
On the 24th of January 1983 we flew to the USA to obtain a green card for Vera and obtain a long term visa for Great Britain. Vera's first visit to America was a disaster. We arrived at Miami airport behind several hundred Latin immigrants. The waiting time was two days because most of the immigrants did not have the proper papers. With luck and skill we only had to wait six hours, this being after a ten-hour flight. That part of the terminal was under construction, our baggage was misplaced due to the wait, and customs took two more hours. The taxi we took to Miami Beach was falling apart. The reserved room had been sold because we arrived after 6 PM. We finally got a room with fresh paint and only a bed as furniture. The beach was covered with petroleum tar.
Stinging fish were in the shore waters. We rented a car to drive north. We passed a small shop with a very good display of women's dresses. Vera wanted to stop and was very angry when she was told it was better to stop in a large shopping plaza. For lunch we stopped at McDonald's. She now hates hamburgers.
We drove to Washington to register her passport with the Soviet Embassy as required by Soviet regulations. While she was waiting I went to the Department of Commerce to check on the law, especially regarding isopress equipment. They were not really interested, since this was to be a British design and shipment.
We continued our drive north to Consarc's head office where reported my sales activities in the Soviet Union to the board of directors. Roberts was not impressed with the clever ideas that Dick had on the isopress. His comment was that the high pressure systems would be much more difficult than we thought and we should seek an outside supplier. Converting my voting Inductotherm shares to non-voting ones was no longer on Rowan's mind. He wanted me to use Inductotherm's solid state power supplies because these would produce more profit for his Inductotherm.
I was very disappointed when John Haubenstein told the board that he was going to resign. We lost our best salesman and he would not tell be why. He only said it was time for him to be the big fish in a small pond.
During this trip Roberts again refused to accept any material guarantee specifications, that had been provided to Tom Dick. My position was that as usual in Soviet specifications they would not supply the proper raw materials and therefore performance specifications of quality were without meaning. Roberts insisted that we stay away from material guarantees. This made the selling task to the buyers more difficult. Dick had already accepted the specifications.
There was no doubt in my mind that they were planning an operation which would use fibers or fabrics of carbon for pitch impregnation to produce high quality high strength carbon or graphite structures. I never attempted to hide this fact. Anyway we didn't know how, it sure would not be pyrolytic graphite that would require a license if designed and supplied from the States. The technology was to come from the Russians. We were the oven builders, they were the cooks. I was in the position to learn the fine points of carbon production for my future plans.
This project seemed to me to be several magnitudes less important to military applications than the two thirty-ton vacuum melting furnaces that were in the process of a very successful start-up in Chelyabinsk. If the Soviets were trying to obtain by stealth, I was very much in control of what they would obtain. I felt a little uneasy about my lack of project leadership ability for the isopress equipment offered and the lack of backup talents. I had shown my knees and they liked them and were proposing marriage. With blind trust in my ability and Dick's clever ideas, I drove on. I knew the words and concepts. Consarc UK trusted me. Dick could design anything requiring seals and heating.
Vera bought two very expensive fur coats using her money. This had been her dream for years. Those coats have been a pain in the neck for her every since. It seems that any time we are in a place cold enough to wear them they are somewhere else. When she does carry them as baggage we wind up where it is too hot to use them. We were stuck in New York waiting for her British visa.
We were caught in a snowstorm before returning to Scotland. We stayed at the Hilton Towers on the forty-second floor in a very expensive room. Vera had her first taste of New York. She traveled alone on the subway to visit her friends in the city. She remembers seeing a young man counting his money at night on the subway car. She thought bandits might rob him at any minute. The major problem we encountered on this trip was getting my expense account approved by the Scots.
The next project in Moscow was just more of the same as far as I was concerned. I had won my right to sell to the Soviets by hard work and learned how to get into back doors so as to cut through the red tape. I met Alex and Marchin at the top floor restaurant of the Rossia Hotel the night before we began our selling task. They had a detailed list of office and drafting room equipment they wanted to buy. They asked me to give this to my salesman so he could find descriptions that would fool the tough buyer I was to meet in the morning.
We started the final work before obtaining an order in late February. Our main salesman was John Wilson, with Tom Dick as the technical back up. The buyer's chief was Nikolai Ivanov. He was a heavyset man of short build and was a likable and humorous person. His methods went back to the days when the Soviets set up the system for foreign purchases. He was strictly by the book, seventy-two years old, school of Lenin.
He had asked and expected that we would arrive with a very clear document including each item with specifications so he could check prices and weights. He then could calculate freight costs to pass through his system. He needed to show that he was saving at least twenty percent. Then he could sign the order without using too much of his staff's time. He had worked his way up through the ministry of Foreign Trade and now was the director of the department whose assignment was to buy electrical gear.
I booked one large suite for myself and Vera that we could use as an office and two single rooms for Wilson and Dick at the Continental Hotel. Armand Hammer built this hotel in combination with the International Trade Center where he rented out offices to companies from all over the world. This facility had everything we needed including a telex for communication. I gave John the list of office equipment and told him to estimate the cost high and to find some descriptive technical term the Soviet auditors could not find in their cost books. I had already given Wilson a copy of the list of descriptions for typewriters and other items that was agreed a few months earlier. Soviet law did not permit import of items that could be produced locally.
Every Soviet contract required the approval of their legal department. To assist the buyers they have many prearranged pages that they can slip into the prearranged format they use. Their import estimators must approve the price of the contract, so it was necessary to name some things so they could not find prices in their books.
I arranged from the start of the project that all legal and contract documents would be in English only. This method saves a lot of confusion later and works in the seller's favor. Wilson was taught the key lesson of taking control of the English typing and Xerox copying. The Russians still used carbon copies and manual typewriters for most of their work, and this could take forever. It is easy to let them think that they have won when they force you to do the typing work. The buyers are also short of office space. Offices were arranged at the US-USSR Trade Council. It was a slow time for trade for American companies, so Consarc had a place to work and copy documents. There was also Telex and other needed facilities to carry out the complex contract.
The furnaces were easy because the scope and technical details were holding up. Wilson and the buyer were actually becoming friends as they fought together to maintain control of the technical people. The isopress was in major trouble because it was the blind leading the blind.
The Russians did not have a system to transport liquid gases, and transportation of gas in containers was very expensive. They wanted us to clean and recycle the argon gas they were planning to use. They wanted us to supply a gas cleaning system that would allow them to use only one standard bottle of gas per cycle. Our offer was in major trouble because the price we had given to the buyers was at least one hundred times too low.
The customer was not satisfied with our forged isopress design, so we changed our offer to multi-layer to satisfy their requirements. It appeared for a moment that they would drop the requirement for the isopress and buy it from ASEA.
Weekly meetings had been arranged between me and Marchin to cover points that would bog down the progress of the contract. These discussions would have been impossible in front of Ivanov. Meetings were held Saturday evening because this was the only day Alex could get away from his job. Marchin said he needed Alex as a translator but this was a ruse. Marchin was a card carrying communist but he was a businessman subject to being bribed and the State would not allow him to meet me in private during contract negotiations. This was an absolute rule established by Lenin when the Trade offices were established. Alex was the watchdog as required by the Soviet State but at least he was neutral and allowed the buyer and seller to exchange idea's freely. Many of the buying bureaucrats and especially Ivanov would not allow selling to take place in front of them. Everything had to be in writing or on drawings.
I told Marchin that we had no experience whatsoever with isopress equipment and did not know how to produce the equipment. We would have to buy it from a sub-supplier and did not yet have a good quotation. I did not know and they did not tell me that ASEA, the normal supplier of isopress equipment to the Soviet Union, had agreed with the CoCom nations to stop selling this type equipment.
We decided that Dick should return to Scotland to find the necessary technical answers and estimate the costs. Our company rules would not allow us to price equipment if we did not have good estimates.
Vera accompanied me to Chelyabinsk for a short visit so she could tell her friends there about her adventures in the West and show off her fur coat. There were some minor details to work out with the project that was to be completed soon.
Dick sent a long telex with specifications for a new gas system. He used the Telex to send a very clever drawing of the system using dashes, x's and o's to make lines for the drawing. Wilson did not trust the design or the coded cost numbers in that Telex. I convinced him that Consarc should drive on. The best news in the Telex was that he had located an isopress supplier in France who would supply the isopress chamber as a multi-layer construction at a very low price.
My selling method changed based upon reduced costs of the isopress equipment. Why not sell two isopresses rather than one cold chamber and one hot chamber? The translator who was part of the buying team saw this solution as a miracle method to solve their internal pricing problems. After the scope of supply was settled, only the price and final words on the warranty remained. The guarantee was sold on the basis that acceptance was in the USSR, to their parameters. If their process harmed the equipment parameters we would supply materials and supervision to modify the equipment.
We agreed to build a test furnace in Scotland and allow them to process their product at our plant so they could be sure that all was well. It was pointed out that they did not have to sign the release documents until they were satisfied. It is normal to accept some process warranties with a contract. The seller normally sets the parameters that control the input material so strictly meeting the parameters is very easy if his equipment is correct. Consarc would guarantee the financial and technical performance of the Scottish group.
Wilson exchanged his copies of contract terms with the ones the buyers were using. He was able to do this because he was in control of the Xerox. The buyer said, under his breath, "Who in the hell approved these?" He was told later in the day how it was done, but only after the best terms the buyer could offer was on the table.
My services were again required in Chelyabinsk for a major problem. Our staff had solved the problem before I arrived. When I returned to Moscow the price was the only matter that remained. Ivanov had found the price of a simple tool that was way out of line. Marchin told me that Ivanov was going to use this example of price gouging to beat or offer down. Wilson was able to get hold of the contract document and switch that page so that it was the same price Ivanov had in his price book. Ivanov's position and long speech about overpricing was wasted. We asked for his copy of the documents and pointed out the contract price. No wonder Ivanov thought I was the sharpest operator he had ever met.
Price is not emotional for people like Ivanov because they are not buying for their own use, so normal selling methods do not work. I stiffened my back and became unemotional. We don't need the damned equipment. We need only your money. I began to sing a little song by Kenny Rogers. "Never count your money while sitting at the table, there will be time enough for counting when the dealing is done." The translator wrote the words down for her future use.
Ivanov called the hotel room with his much improved and his final offer. We looked at the numbers showing the percentage of profit on Wilson's calculator. We both agreed in silence that the "deal was done."
Vera booked a large table at the best restaurant in Moscow for dinner and entertainment for all those that had worked on the project. The Soviet system sent a security person, probably KGB, to look after the Soviet people at the dinner. Vera hired a Gypsy group for a very nice show. The whole thing cost about $1,500. Alex did not attend. His services were no longer needed since the system allows full freedom of contact between the buyers and sellers when the money part is behind them.
We a little luck Vera obtained a visa for France and we returned to Scotland via France. The isopress supplier we met did not have multi-layer technology and did not seem enthusiastic about our request for a firm quote. We were in trouble and I had no idea at that time just how much effort would be required to complete a contract that looked simple.
Roberts wanted me to report on this business to the US board of directors because it was a large order. Much more important for me the trip was to allow Vera to use an expense paid trip to the States to obtain her Social Security card for income tax purposes. Before the board meeting I met with Roy Ruble to discuss where to build to induction power supplies for this order. Ruble and I had a long standing agreement that all induction business between our companies would be agreed between us before orders were placed. I had sold the new solid state power supplies and wanted them to be built in Rancocas.
The state of the art for Induction power supplies was almost exclusively electronic by 1983. Rowan began to purchase power supplies from IPE in 1972, just about the time I was off to Moscow to begin this oddity. I was totally out of the loop in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk when Rowan started to manufacture the IPE design in Rancocas.
I was out of the induction heating business and at Consarc, when Rowan selected John Mortimer from Melbourne, Australia to replace him as the chief engineer of Inductotherm. The electronic possibilities at Inductotherm improved and the electronic power supplies improved to the point that I was sure that the units that I was selling to the Soviets would not cause me problems.
Ruble called Mortimer into the meeting so he could hear the details. I defined the load resistance for the induction system to allow them to calculate the proper number of electrical turns for the induction coil.
Inductotherm was technically stung with a miniseptor on a project at General Electric. Mortimer and Raufer had been to the GE factory a couple weeks earlier in an attempt to straighten out a mismatch between one of the old type power supplies and an induction coil with a miniseptor heating element. Lona had sold this system to another GE division years earlier for another application. The power supply came from another division. GE may have used this equipment for final processing of nose cones that were partially produced at FMI.
Mortimer wanted to avoid a serious mistake and asked me to define the load for the large reaction zone. I told him that if the weight was as specified and filled that volume, it must then be a large thin-walled cylinder or cone that would be too thin for interference with the susceptor.
The word cone set off alarm bells. Rowan asked me eyeball to eyeball, "Do you know something that is not written in the contract? Is this equipment for nose cones?" I told Rowan that the size of the carbon part was a twenty-inch cube for the isopress or a round the size of the cube twenty inches square. If it was for rocket parts the Soviets would have never told me. I told Rowan that I was not sure but carbon had a million uses.
We discussed the fact that the literature shows that carbon is used for reentry tips and burns unless it's coated. We also discussed the use of carbon as a friction material. I told the board that the Soviets had shortages of quality carbon/graphite that has thousands of uses. The board gave me the go-ahead. I asked Ruble and Mortimer for a meeting to fix the parameters so it could not be used for pyrolytic graphite. This was the only furnace type that was listed in the Commerce regulations.
The board discussed this contract at great length before the meeting was in a formal status. The damned thing was signed, and we were not breaking any laws or the intent of any written law, so I could not see what the fuss was about. The following enclosed minutes were taken of that meeting:
After the board meeting I sat down with Ruble and Mortimer to set up a contract between Consarc UK and Inductotherm UK for the necessary induction equipment. Consarc had no choice in its supplier of induction equipment and Inductotherm. We were given a ten percent discount from book prices. At times he would give other customers up to twenty percent if the competition required it to close an order. Sales to "Jimmy" were easy and profitable, but that was the price that had to be paid to belong to Inductotherm. The contract with the Soviets specified that 750 volts would be used for full power of 600 kilowatts. This would not permit the high temperatures in vacuum that would have allowed this equipment to produce pyrolytic graphite. Mortimer assured me this could be accomplished and the written document signed that day confirmed that fact.
The equipment later furnished to Scotland when used with a modified susceptor (heating element) was able to draw full power at 600 volts. This caused problems with the regulations so I had to change things that could be accomplished with the equipment.
During a meeting with Mortimer in 1999 he was upset that this fact was recorded in my document posted on the web. He accused me of causing the engineers in England to change his design. He said I would go to prison. When the new regulations were issued before the project was stopped the requirement for pyrolitic graphite was removed from the regulations. No harm no foul!
The technical data law at that time was so inclusive that Inductotherm may have broken the law each time they sent certain technical data to their foreign subsidiaries. John Mortimer was considered a foreigner by law and Inductotherm broke the law every time they gave him access to technical data. Consarc broke no law with this contract because the only data they were sending out was my new and untried idea. At that point in my career I had never seen an isopress. In fact, even after we tried to build one I can still say I have never seen a usable isopress.
All the directors present on April 15,1983 knew that the Reagan administration was sending mixed signals. The regulators were attempting to control the exports of high technology items that included computers and electronic chips. Inductotherm and Consarc might have been state of the art, but they were not high technology. The use of any industrial furnace can and does improve the infrastructure of a country and therefore can be considered strategic. The end use of the items produced by equipment was a concern to the Pentagon, but they were not able to convince the Commerce Department to put Consarc furnaces on the control list.
Rowan tells it different and in a mischievous way in his book. This book is not a novel because it uses real names and real words between quotation marks. There are many errors, and yes, little lies in this book.
"Call it suspicion or call it or call it a premonition, Roy Ruble had given orders that any time Inductotherm Europe received an inquiry from Consarc Engineering Ltd., he wanted to know about it immediately. In early 1983 Roy got word that the subsidiary in Scotland needed a power system for nine vacuum furnaces and two isostatic presses for a plant in Russia."
The board of directors including Rowan discussed this and other pending business with the Soviets in early 1983. It was always an agreement between me and Ruble that all contract matters were between the two of us.
"Though the presses were specified well within the allowed limits, Roy immediately contacted the Defense Department to advise them of the Russians' interest, then summoned Metcalf to Rancocas. Metcalf arrived on April 14 to explain to the board of directors what the power systems, furnaces and the isostatic presses were to be used for. There was he insisted, no problem.
"The presses are well within legal limits, Hank, No need to worry."
Ruble did not contact the Pentagon to my knowledge. He did not summons me to Rancocas. Vera had to get her Social Security card.
"Have you checked with the Pentagon to see if any of the equipment is on their 'embargoed' list"? I asked him.
"Shucks I can check with them, Hank, but those ol' boys won't tell us notin'."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because the embargoed products list itself is secret."
"Secret?" My eyebrows shot up. "That doesn't make sense, Jimmy. What's the point of an embargo, if the people don't know what's embargoed?"
Ray Roberts spoke up. "it may sound crazy, Hank, but what Jimmy says is true. There is a Military Critical Technologies list but the Pentagon won't release it. We've asked for it a dozen times." Ray's integrity and loyalty was without question; he never shot from the hip, speaking without facts or personal knowledge. His opinions always carried a lot of weight with me."
We did not know that the Militarily Critical Technologies List existed until newspaper accounts late in 1984 told us it existed and had been secret. This part of the book is a fib or poor communications with his writer. A conversation with Rowan took place in October 1987 when the press was after the story when Rowan first realized that there had been a secret list.
"Metcalf spoke up again. "Hank, I just don't see what the big fuss is all about. Consarc isn't doing anything illegal; we've already contacted the British Ministry of Trade, and they've told us we don't even require a licenses to ship this material. I've even gone down to the United States Department of Commerce and told 'em all about it; they acted like I was wastin' their time. This ain't the first equipment we've sold to the Russians. Every deal has been on the up and up."
I wasn't moved by his argument. "This is more than a question of a $11 million sale, Jimmy. This seems to be leading us into a gray area, where there are too many unanswered questions for my liking. I'm sorry; I know you have worked hard on this deal, but I don't see how we can permit Consarc to proceed with this sale."
Metcalf looked crestfallen and Ray Roberts spoke up again. "Hank, I appreciate your feelings on this matter, but we can't just drop a job we've agreed to do. We have signed a legally binding contract.
I looked at Roy, who hadn't been saying much, just listening. Now, what the former Naval commander had to say surprised Metcalf as much as it did me. "Hank, this time, I have to agree with Ray and Jimmy. As long as we proceed carefully, making sure to notify the British and American authorities of our every step, I think this sale will reflect creditably on Consarc and Inductotherm."
But that wasn't all Roy had to say. "It's imperative that we be covered against every contingency; just because a product isn't embargoed today doesn't mean it won't be embargoed tomorrow. Is there any kind of insurance available against such contingencies?"
"There is in England," said Jimmy. "The British government offers it to encourage foreign trade."
"Then let's take it and move forward." said Roy. "According to the contract, the Russians don't have to pay until the equipment has been shipped and installed. A lot could happen before everything is up and operating.
I want it understood that we're going by the book on this job, dotting our i's and crossing our t's, with no shortcuts."
Metcalf looked elated and swore to proceed as Roy dictated."
My version of the events is accurate and Rowan's book is fiction. Most of his facts were taken from Newsday. The following story gave Rowan's writer the information to make me a hillbilly.
I did not take an oath and Ruble would not attempt to dictate to me.
When I returned to Scotland I read the insurance policy offered by the insurers and came to the conclusion it was useless. There was a clause that said they would not pay a claim if a firm controlled by the USA were stopped by US law. Britain rarely stopped exports except in wars, which was another reason not to pay the claim. I questioned the insurance salesman and he told me that partial shipments would be covered at ninety-five percent of the invoice value, regardless of the point of shipment if there was an embargo. I asked him to put that in writing and withdrew my objection.
From that moment onwards all my plans to get partial shipments with invoiced values into Russia. With the changing political times an embargo was sure to come.
Even before going to Rancocas in April 1983 for a board meeting I started several actions in Scotland. All sales drawings and documents made for the Soviet job were destroyed. Copies of the technical and scope of supply portions of the contract became the work order for the staff. I did not want any technology mentioned or put into service documents for technical data reasons. We had no technology to give so there was no reason to confuse the customer or the regulators.
After we returned from Rancocas I started the management on a clean-up and fix-up program. The offices were reasonable, but the factory was an overgrown blacksmith shop with very old machine tools. They had a steady order from a local steel mill that filled most of the shop. This nationalized steel mill was in the nearby town of Motherwell, and was in the middle of the changing politics of Britain as Thatcher was moving ownership of industry into the private sector.
The coal miners of Scotland and Wales were under the control of a union that was politically left of the already left Labor party that was controlled by labor unions. The nationalized coal industry in Britain was costing the central government a fortune. Thatcher wanted to close some of them and a vicious strike was dragging the whole economy down. The Motherwell steel plant needed a steady supply of coal in order to keep their three stack furnaces operating. A stack furnace used coal as the fuel and chemical reagent to convert iron ore into pig iron. They can be banked for short periods, but if shut down they require expensive rebuilding. If the Motherwell stacks went down the steel mill was doomed. There was an uneasy peace between the steel unions and miners union and the coal kept coming.
I wanted to shut down the contract that kept most of our labor force working. The labor laws of Scotland were formulated in a way that made it very expensive to make labor "redundant". I needed the shop floor and had enough work to keep everybody busy. I wanted out of the blacksmith business and old habits were hard to break.
My most difficult task for the moment was learning how to speak and understand the Glasgow dialect. The people needed me and used their school taught "mothers tongue" English in their communications with me. There are some sixty thousand words that differ in meaning between American and British. I had to start watching the BBC television and read the local press to pick up the meaning of words that I would need.
The sizes of the induction coil had been fixed during my meeting with Inductotherm. For non-technical readers, an induction coil is a heavy walled copper tube wound round to make a cylinder. To support the tubes, small bolts are welded around the outside and wooden two-by-fours are used to keep the coils apart. Water flows through the copper tubes to keep them from overheating during use. The induction coil is one winding of a transformer and the susceptor is the secondary winding.
We completed the size layout of the metal chambers in which the induction coil is mounted to fix the bill of material for the welders. With these items fixed we were boxed in. Designers need to be boxed in to keep costs under control. When the boss boxes it wrong the job is in trouble. My job has always been to define the box and sometimes I was correct.
It was necessary to correct the weak points of my patented susceptor that was used on the Aerojet job in 1971. That system depended on precision machining of the tapered locking pins at each joint to make a full ring. If a joint overheated the full ring shorted out. This ring was the heating element just like you see in a toaster.
The first full scale model of the susceptor was made and was too frail for the job. The second model was short arch shapes cut with a band saw with interlocking flat points to make a full circle. All I needed was carbon cement on the flat joints and a binding around the joints to keep them strong. For this we needed some high strength carbon fiber and the technology to use it.
My brief look at the carbon process at Aerojet and the knowledge that aircraft friction brakes were made from resin and cloth was all I needed to know that my little task was simple. It would cost me a fortune to have this job done at the factories in the US that had the technology and they were all related to the military. I did not look in that direction.
In early May 1983 with layouts in hand the chief draftsman and I departed for Moscow. We met their full technical group for the first time. Not one of them had any practical experience but they all were young and energetic. The construction and back-up specialists were typical for the Soviet bureaucracy.
The Soviet buyers had messed up again. The building plans that we were given with the contract were reversed and the main door location allowed us one bay less space. Consarc's chief draftsman, with his fantastic layout skills and my stage act allowed us to get a new layout approved. They did not want to dig a pit for the isopress and had not selected the final location. The technologist for the isopress was a pain in the neck. He also had never seen an isopress.
They brought in a consultant that was experienced in the use of isopress equipment and he saw through my faked drawings right away. He told me that the project engineer would face a major scandal and was cheating the Soviet system by buying this type of equipment from a supplier without know-how. The layout change, and our visa running out, allowed me to dodge any real questions on the isopress.
I took two of the graphite segments that we were going to use for a show and tell presentation to the customer. I told them that I was going to use modern technology to make the joints stronger than the rest of the circle. I gave the problem to Alex with an offer to sign a contract with a Russian company to cement about two hundred of these rings together using technology that I knew must be in the Soviet Union. I was to find out in 1991 that a factory in the Ukraine could have done this job blindfolded. The Soviets were well ahead of the West in productive capacity for carbon structures that used fibers as the base. Furnaces larger than the scrapped furnace Cragmet built for Aerojet for the Mars project had been on line for several years.
There was no way the paranoia system of the Soviet Union was going to allow their technology to leak out to an American. We would have to do this little task ourselves. The purchasing groups in Rancocas and Scotland started looking for carbon cloth and thread that would have high enough strength for our purposes and low enough strength so it could be exported.
We needed a furnace to turn the resin used to bind the joints into carbon. In simple terms, the material used to bind the threads needed to be heated slowly to about 1000 degrees centigrade. If you overcook your biscuits in the oven they turn to carbon. By the same process wood is turned to charcoal. I asked Dick to buy a standard metal element oven for this task. I felt safe with the Scottish group completing the carbon equipment contract.
Dick had everything under control so it was time for me to do more sales work. Scotvac had a good customer in Scotland that was owned by Cameron Iron in Texas. They were potentially large customers for Consarc USA. They were about to buy a furnace from the Germans based upon their parent company's recommendation. To counter the competition it was necessary for me to formulate a new process that I named "gas shroud." I had learned some metallurgy from the Russians in 1977 and wanted to test it in the West. Dick arranged for an experiment with his customer. The test worked fine and we applied for a patent. The parent company heard about the process and asked me to visit them in Texas. Cameron's Scottish management arranged for me to visit Texas to sell our furnace.
The primary purpose was to visit Cameron Iron in Texas. After a good meeting with the plant director and his staff they arranged for two of their engineers to take us to dinner. Vera was the star of the dinner, since the Texans wanted to have a firsthand conversation with a real Russian. This quick trip won us the right to obtain the order. Consarc USA had to obtain a license to ship the computer that controlled the process.
The design team in Scotland moved right along with the layout of the carbon processing furnaces, including foundation drawings based upon the parameters I set for them. The isopress layout was faked in every way, since we had not concluded a contract with our supplier. Dick released a complex heat exchanger that we needed to cool the furnaces down quickly after each process run. This device was very expensive to build and the engineering people disagreed but lost to their dictator boss. I decided to promote him upstairs to Chairman and take away all direct control he had over the people. He was a good salesman with sound reasoning and creative ability.
Dick did not understand that profit was king. Rowan understood this, but was throwing away his hard earned profits by buying companies that were losers. The driving motive was to dispose of the cash to avoid paying a dividend, as required by tax law, if too much cash accumulated.
I was an overseas employee at the time with a tax advantage so I protected my gains by selling almost all my Consarc stock. Taxes on capital gains were low at the time, and the tax averaging rules allowed me to further reduce the tax burden. I did this before any decision was made to allow other Consarc employees to sell their stock, and allow a dividend of $11 million to be paid to Rowan. This was in-house and was not directly taxable for Rowan. The agreement that Roberts worked out with Rowan to buy back stock at a reduced price per share at a latter date would not have passed the IRS rules.
We were falling behind on the isopress design and the necessary factory modifications needed to accomplish the job. It was time to go on the offensive and build the carbon business. FMI knocked on our door to get an order for carbon insulation. They did not have the sizes and shapes I wanted, but I could piece together their smaller sizes and make my plans work. They were my back-up if the planned production of carbon failed. I gave them the details so they could provide us with a quotation for the carbon items we would need. I introduced the idea of a joint venture that would use their know-how and our Scottish factory, with financial assistance from the Scottish Development Agency, to produce carbon insulation. They applied to the same agency for grants to set up a warehouse for their materials. This really made me angry.
The idea for the carbon business was fixed in my mind. It was time to set up the largest manufacturer of rigid carbon insulation in the world. The staff in Scotland was sold the idea that we should use the opportunity of this contract that required carbon insulation to go into the business. We had already decided to buy an extra induction furnace for tests.
We had a meeting with the Scottish Development Agency to find out how much they could give us in grants if we set up a new business in Scotland. The formulas were complex but the bottom line was that we could receive about forty percent of the equipment cost. If we were using equipment that we sold in the market place we could use the selling price. It took a few seconds for that news to settle into my brain. The Soviet contract had prices for each piece of equipment. These prices included about thirty percent for design costs and twenty percent for service and warranty costs. Building a duplicate of the equipment we had sold the Soviets for our use would cost about thirty percent of the selling price. In other words they would pay us more than the cost. In addition we could write off all the investment the first year. This situation was to become my "devils playground" for the next year or so.
I was ready to move ahead right away, but bureaucrats need paperwork. We could go ahead before approval, but in order to obtain money we had to show them that without their help we would not open up the new business in Scotland. That was the law.
A young chemist was hired to get the job started. She was a relative of Dick, and this fact caused major problems due to jealousy in the staff. The die was cast. Now we could design the susceptor following new untried ideas, using sizes and shapes of rigid carbon insulation not yet produced in the world. A very risky step, but I was betting it all to win big.
I was worried about the carbon contract but a salesman had to keep looking for new business. In June Vera and I began a planned round-the-world trip (with a business stop in Moscow) to India, Japan, Hawaii, the West Coast, New Orleans, Miami and New York. For some strange reason the trip was a safari in the minds of my colleagues. The first part of the trip was to meet with the Russian customer in Moscow.
We departed Moscow after a few days on a flight to India using Aeroflot. Vera did not need a visa for India, with her Russian passport. After a short delay they gave me a seven-day entry permit without a formal visa. Vera remained in Delhi during my short visit to Hyderabad for a business meeting. Consarc's agent in India gave her a tour of New Delhi. Her main observation was that even though the people were very poor, they had a larger selection of things in the shops than her native country.
Vera went shopping in the hotel's arcade to look at the attractive bracelets and necklaces that are produced in India. When the young boy looking after the shop found she was Russian, he knew she would not spend very much money, and if she did it would be cash and not require any documents. He arranged to give her some nice jewelry for a very good price. When the clerk saw my credit cards he realized she was married to an American. He could not accept credit cards for the prices he had offered, so we had to arrange the cash so she could have her bargain.
We took a guided tour of the Taj Mahal. It was very interesting for Vera, but the measured temperature was one hundred twenty degrees in the air above the white marble, and that took the fun out of the trip. When we reached Bangkok we both were sick to our stomachs due to the food in India.
After a short rest we traveled to Tokyo. My Japanese visa had expired, so we were limited to a three day pass in Japan. I searched the Japanese market for carbon insulation and some high strength carbon sheets, or a form to make the isopress heater. I was surprised to learn that Japan had become the overwhelming supplier of high strength fiber.
Vera was still feeling sick when we arrived in Hawaii, so she was not impressed with the place, even though I had a deluxe room at the Sheraton on the beach. We cut the visit short and returned to the mainland.
On this trip contacts were made with various carbon insulation producers. I met with two suppliers in Japan and attempted to meet the insulation producers in California, but very little was accomplished until we reached New Jersey. Marino found a supplier of carbon cloth in Pennsylvania which would supply non-licensable material at a good price.
In the US Consarc was asked to buy some high strength fibers for the bandage on the new susceptor. We also needed this material to make the roof of the reaction zones and Isopress heaters. They bought some high strength fibers at Union Carbide but discovered that the material required a license so it was returned. The Rancocas group continued the search for some commercial materials that did not require a license.
On our way to New York we stopped at a rest stop on the turnpike. We decided to have our lunch at the outside tables. Vera left her handbag on the table. When we arrived in New York she remembered. In that bag was the jewelry she had purchased in India plus a thousand dollars in cash. We called the restaurant and the waitress saw it through the window. She hung up, and we were never able to find the person we talked with.
Roberts wrote the following letter to our employees bragging about our abilities. It is no wonder the Pentagon wanted all our equipment regulated!
DATE: June 30, 1983
TO: All Employees
SUBJECT: Air force Association Aerospace Industry Award
Consarc's equipment is used extensively to manufacture materials for our nation's Aerospace Program.
Parts made from materials produced in our furnaces include:
Rocket Motor Casings for Space Shuttle Solid Fuel Boosters.
Superalloy used in various parts of Rocket Engines and aircraft Engines.
Landing Gear for Aircraft and the Space Shuttle.
Magnetic Alloys for electrical and electronic components
Heat Resistant Tiles for Space Shuttle Skin
There are many other applications too numerous to list.
It is no exaggeration to say that without the reliable, high performance materials produced in our equipment, our Space Program would be nothing more than a dream!
I am pleased to advise that Consarc's contribution to the Aerospace Program has been recognized by the New Jersey Air Force Association, which has given Consarc its 1983 Aerospace Industry Award.
The Award is given to corporations who have made a significant contribution to Aerospace. This is the only such Award made by the New Jersey Air Force Association in the last three years, so being given this Award is a great honor.
A plaque commemorating this Award was recently presented to our sales engineer, who represented Consarc at the Award Ceremony. This plaque is now displayed in our lobby.
We can all be proud of our contributions to the Aerospace Program, as evidenced by this Award.
Roberts was not talking about carbon uses in rockets, and the space shuttle heat shields may have been made with our equipment in Texas, but we were not sure of the materials or process. We did produce some reasonable production furnaces but the idea of the space program only being a dream without Consarc was a real stretch.
Reagan finally won over Thatcher and the CoCom agreement was being worked out before a scheduled meeting in Williamsburg of the G7. The regulators changed the law to forbid any company that was selling pipeline equipment to Russia to do business in the USA. The next day they reversed the order. Reagan won on the CoCom controls, but he gave up part of our country's rights. After an item was put on the list it could not be changed unless all nations of CoCom agreed.
In this complicated time Reagan announced that the US was going to build a lazier satellite system that would knock out any missile the Soviet could shoot at us. He must have enjoyed the Star Trek television series with Nancy during the evening. The spacemen and their hand held "fazers" were fairy tale stuff. I thought, "Oh well, just maybe the world passed me by while in Kramatorsk. And besides, Reagan could not tell us a fib." The Russians believed that American money could do anything and began to think up ways to keep up. The answer was simple, "Build more warheads."
We returned to Scotland by way of Dublin, Ireland in July 1983. The susceptor was made but could not be handled. The design was too fragile. I was getting into serious trouble and needed to move fast to produce the rigid carbon board and find a way to make the joints for the susceptor.
Roberts saw that I was lost in my efforts to produce carbon insulating material that summer. He wrote me suggesting a review of the literature. Dick's niece began to collect the technical facts. Before she finished the pile was at least two feet thick. In a successful effort to obtain Scottish grants was mention of space age components including nose tips that we would produce.
In that pile of documents was an unclassified document published in 1971 by the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge. The title of this detailed paper was "Fabrication of Discontinuous, High-Fiber-Content, Isotropic Carbon-Carbon." Perhaps Dick's niece read this technical document but was not technically competent to understand what she was reading. This document was the foundation study for the carbon insulation we had to produce to fulfill our contract with the Russians and establish the new carbon company. In addition this document gave almost all the clues we would need for the design of the isopress process. I was too busy to read the technical material.
Vera found some Russian friends at the university in Glasgow. The local train stopped near our front door, so she could go downtown when she wanted. The weather was good and she agreed to cope with our foul-smelling apartment a little while. Dick's wife died unexpectedly from cancer. Vera and I attended the simple Scottish funeral.
We again visited Moscow on my birthday in August. We were still bluffing the isopress and in deep trouble on the susceptor for the furnaces. Russians take their summer holidays seriously, so the key people to question us were not present. The main reason for the trip was to attempt the sale of another large project to Autopromimport. The Soviets were burned a little when the American government attempted to embargo the pipeline to Germany. They were in the market to buy a factory and the know-how to build their own compressors and gas turbines for future projects. Two projects were found at Metallurgimport. One of these projects turned into a very good order that was produced and shipped after the embargo of the carbon process equipment.
Consarc located a supplier of carbon cloth in the states that we could use to try a new roof. We purchased about fifty pounds of this material to make the roof for the susceptor. This material did not require a license but a close examination might find that it did.
Dick found a new resistance heated oven with a heated zone eight foot in diameter by eight foot high. It was called a "bell furnace" and was lifted off the load being heated with an overhead crane when the load cooled down. All carbon burns when heated in air, so we designed a stainless steel retort 7.5 ft in diameter by 7.5 ft high with dish shape top with a water cooled sealing flange at the bottom. From the top of the dish shape head was a two inch pipe about three feet long to allow the bad gases from this curing process to escape and burn. We were ready to finish the furnace hot zone.
The French supplier of isopress equipment finally arrived at our factory in Bellshill, Scotland in September. They did not have their final price or delivery ready for the purchase. They also told us that the government required a license for this type equipment.
I telephoned Autoclave Engineers to ask them if they would like an isopress order. I had worked with this company two years earlier in Moscow in a losing effort to obtain an order for compacting tool steel powder using the isostatic method. The company did not want to waste time and money in another losing cause. They felt that ASEA of Sweden would win the order and that pending changes in regulations would stop the sale of any equipment to be used in the carbon process.
Autoclave Engineers told me that the process of cooking pitch under pressure was an autoclave process and that existing technical data laws already covered the technology of this process. The equipment I was proposing was an autoclave because it was simply a process to convert the pitch to carbon at high pressure to increase the yield of carbon. The simple pressure cooker mama used to cook beans quickly was an autoclave. An autoclave becomes an isopress when a mold such as a rubber bag or metal container is used to contain loose material that is compacted in all directions equally with the pressure in the press.
Metallurgimport asked me to bid on an isopress during the last visit to Moscow. I told them I could not do it on a technical basis and suggested ASEA. They told me the Swedish government would not allow export of this equipment, based upon an agreement with the American government. I thought, "wow!"
We would have to build the isopress equipment ourselves based upon a British design. Dick introduced me to a colorful gentleman from Stansted Fluid Power. He seemed to be a brilliant engineer with substantial experience in high pressure applications. During our evening dinner meeting it became apparent he desperately needed a good order, and more importantly an advance on the job. I asked Dick to draw up the specifications for the isopress and clear this gentleman and his business with the staff. His offer was proper but Cooke did not trust him. We needed experience, so I agreed with Dick to give him the order for the high pressure pumps and a consulting job on the isopress chamber and yoke.
Dick worked with Stansted to come up with the design for the basic forging of the isopress. In simple terms, it was two large steel tubes forged from simple steel. These tubes were machined so that the outer one expanded by warming and the inner one shrunk by chilling. The inner one then would be placed inside the outer one so when the temperature equalized it became thicker multi-layered, tube. This is not what the customer thought he was buying, but it was the best we could do.
The other problem was the yoke. This is the part that holds the plugs in each end of the pipe when the pressure is increased.. I found some two-inch thick plates of the correct width in stock in Belgium. It was a simple matter to burn out the center, like a door frame, and stack them together like a deck of cards. The design was plenty strong enough if the pipe was dead center. Our consultant demonstrated what happens when you bend a deck of cards and they fly all over the floor. I welded a steel belt around them so they could not fly apart. This design was cheap and fit the grant scheme we were planning for the insulating product.
I knew we were in real trouble with the delivery schedule, so I moved into attack mode. Why not use the Scottish grant scheme to buy an isopress for Calcarb that we could have in Scotland for tests while the construction was going on in Russia. The price for the forging was dead cheap compared to the selling price of the isopress and therefore would produce a profit from the grants. It would also allow the customer to have confidence to accept the shipment if we had one for our own use. We ordered the third forging and applied for grants. Several other simple and cheap items were required to complete something that looked like an isopress to satisfy the customer.
Dick and I visited the Department of Trade in London to discuss the possibility of exporting superalloy casting equipment for gas turbines. Dick located a precision casting company that wanted to sell hollow blade technology if the government allowed. I was disturbed, this was going too far. The British said present law would allow it. They told us that CoCom was studying the whole matter of Consarc's exports and our large vacuum melting furnaces. Each time we asked them a question they would look through documents they had in file folders. I asked for a copy of the documents they were reading but they refused. I now realize they were reading from Perle's secret list being studied by CoCom at that time.
The main reason I went to London this time was to find out what was going on with isopress regulations. I asked specifically if isopress equipment was also being considered and their answer was "not at this time". I was fully aware that it was not the time to mess with another written approval for isopress equipment. We had our approval and the verbal information was enough for me.
I was almost ready to buy all the rigid carbon insulation for this contract from FMI before Marino found a supplier of cheaper rigid carbon insulation in Knoxville, Tennessee. I called the management and found they were a small private company with limited productive capability, but would also sell their technology for a price.
In October 1983 I traveled to Knoxville to meet with the owner and Dan Hensley who were the officers of Carbon Technologies Inc. I looked over their small operation and decided this was the know-how we needed to get started. They offered to sell the know-how and training for ninety thousand dollars. The Scots took their time to arrange a contract. They did not want to be caught going ahead with the carbon operation before the grants were approved. I knew that we were going to need to change the final delivery date, because I was committed completely to the materials the new carbon company would produce. Rules were getting in the way of progress but there was nothing I could do about it.
In October 1983 Vera and I made a short trip to Moscow to deliver the final drawings for their construction stage. I reported our planned production of insulation and the fact that we had placed orders with the forgers for the isopress equipment.
By this time it was apparent that the new carbon company, along with the Russian contract being delayed, would mean a long stay, so we bought a house. I arranged a subsidy from the company of $10,000 for the down payment and $25,000 for the furnishings. Vera was a strict shopper and slowed me down on the furnishings purchases. She was not told that the company was paying for the furniture. The company bought an apartment in the same complex in downtown Motherwell for the inspectors' residence in Scotland.
A letter arrived in late November 1983 that should have sent signals to Consarc of things to come. The British government had found the Chelyabinsk factory to be against the security of the country. A regulation on the export of computer controls was at the root of the denial. I was too busy to read the letter.
Department of Trade and Industry
Overseas Trade Division
Date 24 November 1983
Attention: JG Wilson,
VACUUM ARC REMELTING FURNACES TO CHELYABINSK METALLURGICAL PLANT
I refer to your application for a license to export vacuum arc melting (VAR) furnaces with computer TM 990 control systems to the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant in the USSR.
After carefully considering all aspects of this application I regret to inform you that your application for an export license is denied. HMG considers that in this instance the export of your equipment to this end user poses a significant strategic risk. Member governments of the International Committee have been informed of this denial and asked to refuse licenses for the export of comparable western equipment.
On the first of December Vera and I departed Prestwick, Scotland for a trip to the States. A board meeting was held at Consarc. We drove to Washington in our white Cadillac. "BEPA" was its tag number, which is "Vera" in Russian. A visit to Commerce did nothing to help me understand the new laws as they applied to Consarc. The lady at Commerce had no real information except possible pending changes on vacuum induction melting equipment. She had a Ph.D. on her name badge and others called her "Doctor".
We drove to Knoxville to be sure our Scottish engineers were learning how to produce bonded carbon fiber. We also needed to buy enough material to get started. It was clear that this small operation could not heat-treat enough material to meet our delivery requirements.
I arranged to buy the material in the unfired form and use the test furnace in Scotland for its heat treatment. The Scots were learning what we needed. If the carbon company in Knoxville did not obtain a license, they broke the law, except most of the information was in open literature. Reagan's laws would have extended to the Scots who showed the Russians how to make the product.
We spent most of our time with our long-time friend Bob Klingerman of Savage Saw, a company in Knoxville, owned by Inductotherm. He arranged for Vera to visit a chiropractor for her back pain that was giving her migraine headaches.
We took a cruise to Nassau on Christmas Eve. Vera was uncomfortable with the ride. The captain selected us to be at his table for Christmas dinner. We spent most of the day trying to find a proper dinner dress for Vera. In the end she modified a sundress that was very attractive. The captain was Cuban immigrant and had no idea that he had selected a Russian to sit at his table.
We flew back to Scotland at the end of December. Customs had my name listed for an inspection. Vera had her two fur coats, and they wanted to collect about three thousand dollars in duty. After a long argument they agreed to let her in without duty.
The company was behind on every part of the contract, but this did not stop the local management from closing for a week at the New Year. In hindsight, I should have stayed on the job with whips cracking during that period. I was very angry when I saw that the new crane purchased two months earlier was still on the ground. This crane was absolutely needed to keep the carbon project moving.
The space required for the carbon operation was rented at a very low price to a friend of the Scottish management. No real effort had been made to move him out. The feud between middle management and their director Dick delayed the installation of the retort handling equipment. I could not see any way to solve all the technical problems ahead of us within the time allowed.
Dick was asked to contact London regarding equipment we wished to sell to Chelyabinsk. There were signals that Metallurgimport was buying the equipment from the Germans, or were building it in their shops. In any case, I wanted one more shot at it, and the American regulators had ruled it was OK. If a computer was normally involved in the control of the equipment, that would be allowed also. If the British would not allow it I would attempt to obtain the order for the States.
The welding and machining of steel parts were moving right along at the Scottish factory. Items such as water pumps, vacuum pumps and other parts had been ordered and were on site. The mechanical and electrical portion of the test induction furnace was ready.
A trial lot of rigid insulation purchased from Fiber Materials to build the first heating assembly was in the storage room. We cut this material into the correct size circle brick to build a cylinder inside the coil that was four inches thick. Thirteen carbon rings that we had just processed in the retort furnace were stacked inside the cylinder. These rings were separated with six-inch high carbon posts to become the susceptor heating element. A roof for the hot zone was constructed by sewing carbon felt insulation between carbon cloth layers using carbon threads. This roof was secured using carbon pins stuck into the top bricks of the insulation. The whole heating assembly looked very professional as a Consarc first class product.
I used the vacuum pumps to remove all the air from the chamber and crossed my fingers when I pushed the "on" button. The power system started with a sweet hum of 300 cycles as I slowly increased the power. Everything was working perfect as I watched the inside of the furnace began to glow red through a sight glass peep hole. I twisted the knob to give the electronic power supply a bump to take the zone up to bright red heat. Soon white smoke started to come from the exhaust of the vacuum pumps and the dreaded smell of burnt epoxy insulation started to fill the air. I thought for a moment that it was resin from the rings that had not been completely cured. I kicked the power up higher and watched in dismay as that super strong carbon-carbon roof started to rip. Two red lamps illuminated the alarm panel and the system automatically shut down. The cooling water in the coil was almost boiling hot and getting hotter. The other alarm was the one that I dreaded most, because it told me the coil was grounded.
I tried not to show my disappointment as I invited the crew to join me at the pub for a shot and beer in celebration of the startup. I told Vera when I got home that my lovely Calcarb was not going to work.
I was the only person to know that the carbon fiberboard became the heating element and got hot enough to burn the electrical insulation on the induction coil. I experienced this problem in 1970 while testing the first miniseptor using graphite felt wrapped in a cylinder. This 1970 test caused me to roll the insulation in jelly rolls to get around the problem. I had just forgotten. The whole foundation of my proposed design and the reason to set up the carbon insulation business went up in smoke.
I told the Scots that Inductotherm UK had made a poor coil and it arced over. I told them to remove the element, clean up the system and repair the insulation on the coil and we would do it again.
I went straight to the drawing office early the next morning. I arrive two hours before the staff to study the possibilities. We were in the carbon business on paper, so I decided to make seven foot round slabs that were four inches thick of our new product to be used as the roof. From these seven foot circles we could cut seven foot rings that were two inches thick and four inches high. These short cylinders or rigid carbon could be used as spacers between the susceptor rings. The material remaining after this large doughnut was taken off could be stock size material for the market place. The susceptor joints would not have to be so strong because they would be fully supported. I did not need high strength carbon or the technology to use it and the tricky path to produce this product was no longer needed. The void between this composite cylinder was scrap fiberboard ground in our new "Wiley" mill we had just received from the states as equipment we required for the carbon company. These solutions came to me during the night before while I was sleeping very little. I needed to look at the drawings a few minutes to solidify the new plans.
It was time for me to stop being the peddler and world traveler and become the engineer and leader to get the job done. I did not know how to calculate things like resistance, frequency, voltage, power factor, and all the other things that Mortimer had in his computer, but I had become a very savvy "approximator". The number of electrical turns on this coil and the wide range of the power supply meant that the system would deliver full power at less than half the rated voltage. This posed a little problem because if the susceptor was sealed it would be pyrolitic graphite capable and require a license. I just would have to do something to prevent this and for sure the customer did not want a pyrolitic graphite system.
All these changes and the supporting detail drawings were in hard copy before Dick invited me in for morning tea. I did not explain our failure beyond the current problem of the damaged insulation on the coil and told him we had everything under control. There was no reason to keep people like Rowan and Roberts informed of these small problems. They had problems of their own. I had always been an optimist and never once thought we would not solve these problems. Never mind that we did not yet have the equipment to make the sizes on the drawings. I knew we could produce it because it had been done, and because it was on my engineering drawings. We had to produce it. "Necessity is the mother of invention."
The first project was to make a roof as it was shown on the new drawing. It would not be a single piece, so it was necessary to cement the small pieces together using an epoxy resin. The retort furnace was large enough to bake the resins for the roof of a susceptor was already up and running. The machine shop was busy cutting the FMI material before noon.
The coil showed very little damage. One small dime size piece of insulation had flaked off. This was repaired for an empty voltage test late that evening. We worked all night to cut segments from the remaining rigid fiberboard to make segments to simulate the doughnut cylinders shown on the drawing. The retort was loaded early in the morning to carbonize the epoxy cement in the roof. I went to the pub for lunch and a couple hours later took a taxi home because I was not able to drive.
The following morning I arrived by taxi almost an hour before the factory staff came in. Three of the local policemen were in our little canteen having their morning coffee. The factory was located in an area just behind Main Street in Bellshill. The local cops had keys to our place and in return for a place to hang out provided security service for free. When the shop staff arrived we began to assemble the new heating zone inside the coil. Handling carbon is black work and it took three of us to construct the cylinder before tea time.
We ground up scrap rigid insulation that did not work to fill in between the cylinder and induction coil as insulation. We had a good product for the marketplace that I named "Jimmy's fluffy stuff". The retort was opened and the new roof was still hot to the touch when we placed it on the top of the cylinder. The assembly again looked like a quality Consarc product. I asked the crew to work a few more hours to clean up all the mess around the furnace.
When I arrived home Vera was disgusted with the black soot that covered my clothing from head to toe. She made me undress down to my shorts before she would let me in the door. She led me to the shower and with a stiff sponge she bought in Moscow and scrubbed me until my skin was red. I told her just before I fell asleep that Calcarb was going to be fantastic. She believed me because I was sure that night everything would come up roses. During the three days of hard work the Scottish lads had put their heart and soul behind an effort that had resulted in a better mousetrap.
I realized that when we were able to make full cylinders they could be assembled to make the susceptor. I did not dare to inform the customer because the miniseptor was the foundation of my sales effort that had won the business.
I arrived the next morning in a new suit that a local tailor had made for me from Scottish wool Vera bought in Moscow. The electrician made a quick inspection and I pushed the button. In about twenty minutes the peek hole showed me a white-hot zone. It looked like we would be ready for the customer who was scheduled to arrive tomorrow.