History of Electric Induction Heating

Starting Over

By James Farol Metcalf

Starting over in 1991

In late 1989 Rowan was no longer worried about my carbon company. Chris Gee was making progress with Calcarb. The unfinished isopress equipment was collecting dust. The Scots could not scrap it until the terms of the British grant scheme were fulfilled.

Consarc's bid to IMM was in excess of $5 million. This was much more than the directors of Yamaguchi's parent company would allow him to spend. Consarc correctly believed that any order from IMM was more than one year away. My consulting agreement with Yamaguchi was none of their business.

It was a strange time for America. The Cold War was trying to end. The war between Iran and Iraq was over. Gorbachev was preaching a sermon that included the word perestroika. He wanted to revise the whole state structure to make it open and free in order to get out of the economic mess the Cold War had created in the country. He cut off economic support to Cuba, and Castro opened his prisons for those who would join the boat lift to Miami. Gorbachev announced that the countries of East Europe would no longer receive foreign aid from Moscow, but could go their own way. US immigration rules were drastically changed to cut off the pending wave of immigrants who could claim political asylum due to oppression by communistic governments.

We were reading Bush's lips. Reagan's military spending had slowed in his second term, but spending on social programs was increasing under a series of entitlements he allowed to become entrenched in law. Bush did not have the political muscle to cut social spending, and he could not prime the pump with military spending, because we had no enemy.

The trade balance with Japan was boiling in the world of politics. It was a time of Japan bashing, because we needed a new enemy. Japan was put on the hot seat because a division of Toshiba sold a fancy computer-controlled milling machine to the Soviets. The Pentagon released the information that better submarine propellers would make the Soviets' nuclear subs quieter and impossible to detect. The press locked on to this story, and unlike the story about accuracy of rockets that had lasted five minutes on ABC, this one had staying power. Senators made long speeches, and Bush reacted by withdrawing all Toshiba consumer products from PX sales outlets around the world. The popular film, Hunt for Red October took the steam out of the submarine story.

The Japanese used their world trade balance to buy the treasury bonds our Treasury was printing daily. The Minister of Finance in Tokyo announced that the economy of Japan was going to overtake that of America. Prime real estate properties in the United States and Britain were targets for Japan's excess cash. New York's Rockefeller Center received the most publicity in the press. America had found a new enemy. During a heated conversation earlier in the year, Rowan remembered that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was fighting to avoid the loss of business to Jimmy, but I believe, like many other soldiers of the second World War, he did not like the Japanese. The thought went through my mind that I might again be in the press soon, accused of helping our new enemy.

I prepared invoices for Yamaguchi and Donovan in order to have some income for 1989. I had more travel expenses than the projected income, so it was going to be a small loss year. The IRS had strict rules for overseas travel expenses. I had excellent records to support my travel. Vera was useful to the joint carbon venture and was a director of BEPA. Business records supported the necessity of each of her trips to Moscow.

I was completing the design of a chamber to handle explosive hardening of railway switches for Donovan Demolitions in Danvers, Illinois. I selected my old friend Hank Venetta in Warren, Ohio to do the design work. Venetta had done the design work for the furnace I installed in 1966 at Special Metals. Later he established a product line for heating foundry scrap before it was melted in an induction furnace.

This business got too big for him and he sold it to another firm. Soon afterwards Rowan bought that firm. Venetta and Rowan did not fit, so soon afterwards they parted company. I decided Venetta engineering would be the ideal place to design Yamaguchi's chamber for his melting operation.

As the consultant for IMM I had two problems to solve. The first was the layout of the existing equipment in the building the parent company had selected a little south of Kobe. The second was how to do it fast. IMM had customers and could not shut down production for a long period.

My suggestions were simple. The old chamber I had sold them ten years earlier was too small and was going to be expensive to move. The place they were moving to was a shipyard belonging to their parent company where they could build a new chamber on the spot with ease.

Yamaguchi and I were conspiring at the time. The new simple chamber would house the furnace system we were dreaming about.

To: Yamaguchi

From: Metcalf

In response to your fax today, August 19,1989.

A drawing of the chamber in sufficient detail for you to study and a firm calculation of the weight can be completed and in your hands by 12 September. Travel expenses will be about $1000 for my air and hotel in Warren, Ohio. Costs of the engineer and draftsmen will be about $4500. My time will be calculated within this year's retainer and if the fifteen days is exceeded will be at $400 per day.

IMM gave me the go ahead. I started to work with Autocad, the computer aided drawing system. My operator was very fast, but knew nothing about the task he was completing. I was only making straight line plans for approval, with no calculations required. These were sales documents, so no technical data license was required. I set up a system to present the plans on normal size typing paper. We would finish a set of plans during the day and fax them to Japan. Overnight, day in Japan, Yamaguchi would review them and fax back marked up copies with questions and suggestions.

We did eleven changes and variables to the straight line plans before Yamaguchi sent us some excellent isometric drawings. The work had reached a stage that required a face to face meeting. Yamaguchi agreed to come in late December 1989.

I had some free time to consider the joint venture in the Ukraine. The Cold War was ending, but there were still strict laws about carbon-carbon and it's technology. I tormented Commerce until I had fully informed written approval for the actions I was taking at that time.

My new communications software was up and running, so without an office staff I could carry on international communications. I let my future partners in the Ukraine know what I could and would not do.

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/570-UkraineCarbon.html

I bought an Autocad system and some very good freehand software for my New SuperMac. ($21,000) I could now read and make free-hand notes at home. I was tired of driving fifteen hundred miles a week. Modems were slow at that time, but I kept the drawings simple in order to transmit them quickly.

This SuperMac was my workhorse until the battery gave up in 1996. I replaced it with a Mac G3 that supports the Sony graphic monitor that I am looking at now.

Yamaguchi was more than a customer for me. We had already been friends for ten years and had had many private conversations about life. He was Japanese and proud of it, and I was American and proud of it. He was to learn how my mind was working for him at the time. I would study a situation until I came up with two solutions that I thought would work and then let the final decision be his. He sent me a private letter outlining decisions he had to make in life. He noted that I was putting burdens on him to make decisions.


From: BEPA
Date: 21 SEPTEMBER 1989


It may be hard for the people at Consarc to believe, but I had not ruled them out as a supplier. Inductotherm was a sure bet to win the Induction part, I just had to keep them honest.

I arrived in Zaporozhye, Ukraine on October 16,1989. The chief engineer for the carbon and his administrative assistant met me at the airport. They brought a schoolteacher translator who spoke very good American English. We spent the whole day and evening at the dinner table.

The next day we toured the factory in detail. They produced carbon and graphite cloth. The product was not first class but was useful for many applications. They had all the furnace capacity required for insulation production. I saw rigid carbon structures produced by the method I had been dreaming about. These structures were densified carbon cloth and some were more than seven feet in diameter. They had vapor deposition capacity. They also produced friction materials.

I reviewed the technology known to their technologist. My idea was to produce a base insulation product that was theirs with their properties. The foundation of the product was from recycled scrap from the process and scrap carbon fibers from other production. If new fibers were required they would come from scrap rayon from the textile industry. I gave them all the technology that was in the public domain. They knew and could copy the equipment that Consarc shipped them with British approval after the embargo. Roberts wrote me a letter in 1985 that stated Rowan approved the sale.

I learned that this large facility had been put into operation in 1971. They gave me samples as souvenirs. They even gave me a nose cone, but they thought Moscow customs would give me a hard time so they replaced the cone with a cylinder. The lady gatekeeper stopped me to look at the package as required by her rules. She quickly rang for security. All items in this factory were secret to people outside, and an American was taking them out! The problem was resolved, and Moscow customs did not look in my bag.

A CBS news producer was sitting beside me on British airways when we departed Moscow. I tried to tell him the story of the carbon-carbon I had just seen. He read my letter to the editors of the Guardian. He seemed very interested and wrote down my telephone number. He never called because it was old news.

I landed in Heathrow for a change of plane on my way to Boston. This was my first time in England since they kicked me out. I must admit that after the press of 1987 I had begun to feel a little guilty for my sale of carbon-carbon equipment to the Soviets, but his trip completely cleared my mind. The Soviets were well ahead of us on many carbon-carbon items during that period. Royce could not find time to follow this news story.

Vera's long time friend Luda arrived for a three month visit in December. They had a ball shopping and wading through the snow filled streets of Boston.

Yamaguchi and his staff arrived in Warren, Ohio just before Christmas 1989 to review the proposal. We drove to Boston through a major snow storm. He told me the project would be delayed, but they had to move from Tokyo someday. I would be called to work sometime in the future.

The next two trips to Moscow were to sign the paperwork for the joint venture. I would own twenty percent for $100,000. I was a little nervous about inflation in the Soviet Union and began to make plans to avoid the problem.

A new project was about to begin but I did not know it at that time.

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/571-Arrowood.html

Just before departing to Moscow for the summer Vera informed our Ukrainian partners that she had approved the directors meeting as secretary.

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/572-VeraLetter.html

I sent a letter to my new partners on March 15, 1990.

Vera will travel to Moscow in mid April. It now becomes extremely important to locate an office and place of residence in Moscow. Vera can be contacted at 925-2419 for her input on the location of this office.

On April 30, 1990 I packed our things for the move to North Carolina. A letter was sent telling our new partners where to find us.

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/572a-NC.html

The new laws of the Soviet Union allowed Vera to buy property and the new exchange rate would allow us to have a beautiful apartment in Moscow for almost nothing. The problem was there was no regulation or sales office set up to make the transaction. I had made it clear to my new partners that there would be no money from me until this was accomplished. They thought it would be easy.

In the late spring of 1989 I purchased the Arrowood homestead house (constructed in 1903) at the request of my three daughters. (Debra, Barbara, and Patricia) Barbara was having difficulty with her marriage and wanted this old place as her home. Shortly afterwards she found a job she liked at the University of Indiana and in a short time found the man she wanted to marry. I was stuck with this overgrown place and began a clean up job. My weight had increased over time so the 80 pounds of fat did not allow real physical work. The front side of the property bordered on a little more than 1000 of gravel state road. A small creek that flowed beside that road was completely grown over with heavy briars and brush. A collected all the burnable items from the property and threw it on the overgrowth. I ten set a fire on the south end of the branch using gasoline to get it started. I then went to the north end to repeat the process. I had almost completed pouring five gallon before the gasoline vapors were sucked up the creek overgrowth like a chimney and the whole thing blew.

It was fortunate that I was near a cold stream where the water was deep enough for me to cover the burns under water. I splashed water on my face for several minutes before a neighbor arrived to take me to the hospital.

This was the first time in my life to visit a hospital. I stayed for six days and then had physical therapy for several weeks. Vera managed for the first time to understand how to make a plane change in Washington by herself. She stayed with me for three months during the healing process. She returned to Moscow for a brief holiday that fall.

In July 1990 Consarc was in the news again because the State department stopped a shipment of furnaces to Iraq. Consarc had Commerce approval, but they were embargoed. The press remembered Consarc's sale to the Soviets.

Rowan's book tells this story: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/573-Iraq.html

In late summer I was able to work again. With the help of my Son, Kenneth, I began the task of converting the old house into a place where I could live.

The number of legal documents required by my new partners was excessive. I dug in my heels.

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/574-Telex.html

I traveled to Ukraine in November 1990. The joint venture factory to produce rigid insulation was almost ready. The ruble had been devalued and my investment was in golden rubles based upon the exchange rate as of the date of the transaction. This would mean that my investment would be $16,666. Their government was trying to write new rules for the joint venture. They worked out an agreement to give me fifty percent of the $100,000 proposed. I reminded them that I still was waiting for property in Moscow.

It had been more than a year since my last drink. It was no longer fun to attend the long drinking parties. The Ukraine allowed me to travel alone to Kramatorsk to visit my old friends. They met me at the train station after a thirteen hour trip. The hotel did not have new regulations that allowed Americans to stay overnight without proper documents. They let me stay without checking in, for old time's sake. I really enjoyed meeting the people I had known for almost fifteen years. They were very worried that the new system was going to destroy their retirement plans.

On December 1, 1990 my partners informed me that FMI was seeking to sell our product. I told them this was a competitor, and to stop communications with them. At this time FMI was installing equipment for pitch impregnation, pressure carbonizing and graphitizing in Hyderabad, India.

My carbon partners informed me that they had made their first product on December 20, 1990 and the quality was good. They also told me that rules and paperwork for joint ventures would be handled by Kiev. I did not even know what the new Ukrainian currency would be called and what the exchange would be. Only time would tell. My partners had lost all power to help with the purchase of property in Moscow.

Nothing was done on the Japanese project in 1990 except to finalize a contract, so I could be paid. My son, using local part time labor, continued to build the attachment to the old homestead. I hired a local man with a medium sized loader and we began the process of moving mountains. An estimated 50,000 tons of dirt and stone was moved around to change the face of the old homestead.

Vera went to Moscow early this year because it appeared there was another way for us to buy some property in Moscow, a residence and the overseas office for the joint venture.

Yamaguchi was forced by his legal department to put a million things in his contract with me. Actually, he did not have approval to spend money on the new project.

BEPA Corporation

29 March 1991
IHI Master Metals Ltd.

The following is made part of the consultancy contract between IMM and BEPA Corporation.

BEPA Corporation warrants that it will not infringe any patent in the performance of the subject contract.

BEPA Corporation warrants that it is the sole owner of all technical data information and intellectual property rights, except that data in the public domain, furnished under the subject contract.

BEPA Corporation will take full responsibility and will defend at its cost any valid claim or suit of a patent infringement by BEPA Corporation.

James Metcalf
BEPA Corporation

By the end of April 1991 Vera and I moved into the unfinished house.

I bought two more properties that joined the homestead and began the building process. The whole place was an overgrown mess. Kenny used his cousin's tractor with a front loader to start the clean-up.

The joint venture telexed with problems they were having with cracking and burning during the drying process. I could not furnish technology, so I told them to take some home and let their wives solve the problem using their kitchen stoves. They were cooking too hot and too fast at the factory.

We continued to communicate with our proposed partners in the Ukraine. The pending and final breakup of the Soviet Union was not a time for a small enterprise to invest in this region.

On May 9, 1991 I started a trip around the world, with the first stop in Tokyo. IMM agreed to pay for my previous visit and work. They commissioned me to start the next phase of the contract. IMM paid most of the local expenses, except for the hotel in Tokyo.

We made a quick trip to Kobe on the bullet train. Mount Fuji was snowcapped and in full view from the train window that day. Yamaguchi's parent company had a shipbuilding facility in the sleepy little town of Aioi, located about one hour by train from Kobe. This town was built by IHI for the sole purpose of shipbuilding. Japan became too expensive for their customers, and the only work this town had was repair work on small freighters that would fit into their dry docks. The Soviet monopoly fleet was their best customer.

In the hold of a Soviet ship in dry dock was 500 tons of pure niobium being offered as scrap. The barter offered was one ton niobium for one good used car, or about one dollar per pound. I knew it was contraband because the price was too low. I knew the source of this metal, since the only supplier in Moscow had been my customer.

I suggested to Yamaguchi that the situation in Russia at the time was such that the ship's crew could not take this metal home. I offered to buy the metal for cash through a local scrap dealer who could use his import rights to make the transaction legal in Japan. This offer was conditioned, because Yamaguchi had to have his parent company's approval to store and later process the metal into a superior mother alloy of nickel niobium that I would market through IMM to the world market.

When I arrived in Moscow I called the niobium producer. He had been jailed in a scandal. I decided this transaction was too hot for me. I called Yamaguchi and told him to forget my offer.

On May 18 I arrived in Zaporozhye and started to work on the joint venture. The main problem was the exchange rate, and that they wanted to set my ownership at thirty percent. The currency was devalued twice during my three day visit. I was on the wagon so I did not enjoy the after hours dinners. They had completed the production factory for producing carbon insulation, and it was impressive. The attached photograph is the equipment for mixing and molding the carbon fiber product. It looked larger and more impressive that the equipment at Calcarb in Scotland.


I departed the USSR without resolution. I did not want to have any dollars invested in the Soviet banking system until the dollars came from sales.

On May 31, 1991 I called Venetta to request that he send his son with his Autocad to start the Japanese job. On June 8 Venetta and son arrived at my home to start, but my Macintosh would not read the files. I could not solve the software problem in time and I did not want to work in Ohio while my building project was in its expensive stage. I bought an IBM system and charged it to IMM's account.


From: BEPA
Date: 10 July 1991

We are back at home. The week was very productive in finding a way to make the chamber which will be very easy to weld the critical points.

John Venetta is planning to bring my IBM type unit here next Monday. He will work with me here to establish communications links and complete the concept so Venetta can give you a firm quotation.

Should we continue at full speed? Let me know if your Board slows you down. Will you be able to visit me?


After we installed the IBM at my house we found a way to load the files on my Macintosh where I had freehand and other useful software for presentations. We set up a communications system that allowed me to send drawings and data between Venetta and my office. I set up the Mac Plus at my sister's house and installed a fax so she could handle the typing.

Using the approved designs we were cranking out, we started a detailed set of specifications for purchasing. These were more than specifications because they contained "how to do it" words along with the drawing number.

On August 1 Yamaguchi and Venetta arrived at my house. We were almost finished with the basic plan and specifications for his dream furnace. Yamaguchi was going to get his money soon but still did not have the authority to pay me. He was paying Venetta for engineering drawings because he could show them to his accountants. We were completing the removal of trees and brush on the south side of the property during Yamaguchi's visit.

Attached are two photographs shot from the porch of the old farmhouse where my children's great grand parents lived.

The first photo shows the white van that I used as a traveling office since 1988. It also shows the little house where their grandparents lived. (This house was torn down and in its place is an indoor pool with apartments above.) Beyond the brown truck that you can see in both photo's is the area we were clearing to get the dirt to build the pond.


The second photo shows the same brown truck and the edge of the pond near on the right side of the street lights. (The power cables are now buried in the center of the road.)


On the 24th of August 1991 my joint venture partners sent me a happy birthday telegram. (I was sixty years young.) The Ukraine was in the process of breaking away from the Union and inflation was changing the dollar/ruble value. We had no idea how to solve the problem, but they kept trying. They wanted me to sell the product, and they wanted the dollars.

My second son quit his job at Consarc and moved to North Carolina in September 1991. We later surveyed an acre in the corner of the property that I sold him to build his house using the cash from cash his Consarc profit sharing plan. Gregory became the truck driver using an old heavy duty dump truck I bought for the purpose. Using track mounted loaders to fill the dump truck more than one thousand tons of earth and stone were moved. Part of the task before winter was to build the pond in front of the house and line it with creek stone hauled from Ivy Creek. This was a trout stream and the authorities would have fined me heavily if we had been caught.

The staff at IMM were sold on a German design that looked simple and easy to operate. I knew the Leybold furnace could not be sealed enough to make the quality that IMM required. I agreed to go with IMM to Germany to look at this type furnace.

I was able to visit the furnace at the nickel producing company and point out the bad features of the design. Thyssen, a superalloy producer, refused to let me see their furnace. I had lost this equipment business to a German firm in 1982 and thought at first that I had enemies in the management. Later I found out that the German authorities would not give me a security clearance.

Yamaguchi agreed that the German design was not what he wanted. His staff did see enough to agree that a turntable and long launder pouring system would work fine. I had been pushing for this solution for three years. It was not a complete redesign but I had to work overtime to complete the design by the end of 1991.

My joint venture partners informed me that twenty-inch square samples had been sent to me by air. These just might be good enough to start selling the product in the USA. It was three months before a truck delivered the box. It was COD for the air freight. The $666 was the straw that broke the camel's back. I quit and never opened that box.

Early in 1992 Yamaguchi informed me that his sister company would build his furnace from our designs. We prepared all the documents in electronic and hard copy. We packed up an Autocad computer and flew to Japan to transfer the job. All went well and the job was turned over to the manufacturing company in two weeks.


The purchase order for the induction power supply and the furnace had not been placed and I wanted this to be supplied by Inductotherm because they had the best equipment. I sent the attached fax letter to keep him up to date:

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/575-Rowan11Mar92.html

After the exchanges of faxes Ralph Goodwin, Inductotherm salesman, called me to say he was on his way to Japan to try to win the business. He won hands down on the technical presentation, because I had carefully prepared the way. Yamaguchi was overruled because the competitor was in the family. At Consarc I was not allowed to buy from Ajax. Rowan, while disappointed, understood the situation.

Yamaguchi asked me to return to Japan in July 92 to go over the final details and help with the induction problem. His top management was about to order him to buy a unit made in Japan. The meeting lasted two days. Yamaguchi and I lost the induction argument. The group that was building the equipment for IMM had a long term commitment to the Japanese induction supplier.

Yamaguchi and his staff spent one day working on my invoice so it could be paid. My job was done.

After I finished the main design work for Yamaguchi there remained some small instruction book details and we continued to communicate.

To: Yamaguchi

From: Metcalf
Date: 15 July 1992

There are reports in the news media that Mr. Henry Rowan has given one hundred million dollars to a local college in New Jersey to establish the Rowan College of Engineering. I predicted this event several years ago but no one would believe me. It is a good place to end the book he is writing about his life. My contributions to his ability to be able to have this sum of money to give away were considerable. I have not found a way to end my book.

Rowan ended his book with this gift: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/576-Colleges.html

I was building a natural swimming pool near the house. Using hydraulic mining methods, the floor of part of the pool was solid granite. Two large boulders protruded from the bottom. For weeks, after sundown, I hammered away the boulders until the floor was ready. The final touch was to haul in five hundred tons of pure white sand to cover the bottom and make a beach around the pool. Twenty five thousand gallons of fresh well water per day flowed into this pool. Reflections from the sky made it the most beautiful blue in the whole world.

On June 1, 1993 I received a long telegram from the Ukraine notifying me that BEPA was in default of the contract to fund Allcarb.

I was relieved that the matter was closed. I sent them a goodbye Telex.



Date: 2 JUNE 1993






The joint venture had to fail, without most favored nations for the Ukraine and an economical way to transport the product.

I did not tell my partners that it was all a game for me. I was teasing the US government and the press. I would have become useful if they somehow had arranged for Vera to buy cheap property in Moscow, but that door was closed for them.


From: BEPA


16 June 1993

Vera is in Moscow tending to her sister who is completing her life with terminal cancer. I may have to join her in Moscow in the near future.

I assume that your final tests are delayed or that you do not need my services as planned in your last fax.

My schedule is now full until 5 July. I will return to North Carolina on that date.

Let me know the planned schedule and the proposed task.

Best wishes to all


It had been a hard year for Vera. Her sister was informed that she had cancer early that year. The Russian medical people knew they did not have a cure, so they left her to die. They would do the best they could to keep her from suffering, but they did not have the most modern capabilities. A money-hungry doctor from Germany published a paper in Russian offering a miracle cure. Vera's sister wanted to go to Germany for help. We could not refuse the small amount of dollars, so she made the trip. I called the American cancer hot line and they diplomatically confirmed that this doctor was a quack. They suggested a new medicine in Germany that might help. We bought this expensive medicine and smuggled it into Moscow. The medicine did not reduce the suffering. Vera thinks this medicine was what caused her to die, but it was mother nature that took her sister's life.

I continued the building program on the property. Mowing grass now became a time consuming task, because I had a small riding mower and the hills were steep.

Yamaguchi invited me for the dedication of his new facility. He asked me to travel first class. The following speech was presented to invited guests at an opening ceremony of the VIM facility in Aioi Japan on October 13, 1993

See: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/577-SpeechforIMM.html

At the startup celebration I spent most of my time with Jess Cartlidge a long time Inductotherm loyal employee and my trusted friend. He was living in Australia in partial retirement. It was a sad day when I learned that he suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed shortly after we said farewell. Jess was loved and respected all over the world.

Every employee stood at attention outside the factory doors as Yamaguchi gave the farewell speech for me. The staff saluted as I climbed into the car that took me to the airport.

Mount Fuji was in full view as we climbed into the clear sky. She looked like she was saluting. I was sitting alone in the first class section of the Boeing 747, sipping hot sake, as the island of Japan disappeared from view. It was time to retire. I was 62 years old, a self-made millionaire, and Social Security checks were arriving monthly.

It was time for me to assume the role of low level labor on my little estate. My sons did the craft work on the buildings and I did all the grunt work. The physical work returned me to the quiet pleasures of my youth.


This was to be the end of this tale but Rowan published his book and FMI and its officers were convicted of exporting an item to India.

My building program was scheduled to be almost done in the spring of 2004.

My oldest son, Kenneth, is living with a failed liver with no chance of a replacement.