I reported on the new business in the Soviet Union on my next trip to the States. I translated handwritten specifications from the Soviet client, noting those items we would not quote because current regulations would not allow their shipment.
DATE: May 10th, 1982
SUBJECT: Potential Business - Soviet Union
The attached are preliminary specifications for a cold isostatic press for 15,000 PSI, a carbonizing furnace for 1600 C and a graphitizing furnace for 2950 C from some clients in the chemical industry in the Soviet Union.
This inquiry came as a direct result of the seminar which we put on a year and a half ago.
The Soviet Trade organization will not formalize this inquiry unless they have reasonable understanding that, if we are able to conclude a contract, we can in fact ship it.
This equipment is not on the embargo list as presently written. I suggest that we have our Scotvac group pursue this order due to the ECGD insurance coverage available to them. The value of the contract will be between three and ten million dollars.
If you desire to go ahead, it will be necessary for either you or John to write a letter for me to hand carry to the Ministry of Foreign Trade expressing our desire to fulfill contracts on the above listed equipment.
I will arrange for Scottish sales personnel to meet with the buyers in Moscow or Chelyabinsk to discuss the details. I will attend these meetings.
You may wish to put the matter before the Board due to the current political situation.
James F Metcalf
Political times had changed. We were now trading with the "evil empire."
Roberts wanted to make sure we told the Russians that we were not in the carbon business and did not understand it. The following letter was delivered to Machinoimport on my return to Moscow.
RANCOCAS NEW JERSEY
May 13, 1982
Ministry of Foreign Trade
Consarc's Vice President, James Metcalf, has received a preliminary inquiry and specification for equipment to produce graphite by means of high pressure pitch impregnation, carbonization and graphitization. This letter is to confirm that Consarc is very interested in supplying such equipment to you.
For reasons of geographic proximity, we would prefer to handle this inquiry through our subsidiary in the United Kingdom, Consarc Engineering, under managing Director, Thomas Dick. Jim Metcalf will be available to assist Dick and his team in this work.
I want to advise you, that while Consarc has considerable experience in equipment for the production of graphite, we do not have direct experience with the process of high pressure pitch impregnation and carbonization in the manner you propose. However, we believe we have sufficient experience to be able to design and manufacture this equipment. We will be able to guarantee equipment performance, such as pressure levels, heating rates, cooling rates, and other items, but we will not be able to provide guarantees of overall production rates or product quality.
We look forward to working with you on this project.
Roberts agreed with me that this would be good business for our struggling Scottish company. He sent the following memo to the director of Consarc Ltd. in Bellshill Scotland.
TO: TR Dick
SUBJECT: Potential Business in Soviet Union
May 14, 1982
1. Preliminary specifications received by Jim Metcalf from the USSR covering a line of equipment for production of high density graphite by high pressure pitch impregnation of a preform, followed by heating to produce carbonization, followed by high temperature heating to produce graphite. It's anticipated that the first two steps of this sequence will be repeated as many times as necessary to obtain graphite of the required density.
- A cover memorandum dated May 10, 1982 to me from Jim Metcalf.
- 3. A letter from me to the USSR Ministry of Trade advising them that we will wish this inquiry to be handled through Scotvac. This letter has been hand carried to Moscow by Jim Metcalf.
Jim Metcalf feels that this is a bona fide inquiry having the potential to become an order in the $3 - $10,000,000 range depending on just how much equipment the USSR wishes to buy. We have checked the Commodity Control List and it is our interpretation that this equipment is presently exportable to the Soviet Union without a specific export license, this means, it is exportable under a GDEST type general license. However, it is also my understanding that the NATO governments are presently reviewing the list of items for which a specific export license will be required and there is the possibility that the classification of the equipment may be changed. It's my understanding that if Consarc Engineering were to receive an order for this equipment and start construction and should Consarc Engineering then be prevented from shipping this equipment to the USSR by a subsequent change in the license regulations, then Consarc Engineering could recover all, or virtually all, of its costs under an ECGD cover. However, I would like to get verification of this fact. We must also face the possibility that in the event this turns into a larger order, the Soviets may want five year credit and we should investigate what credit might be available for them in Great Britain.
Roberts and I understood what we were selling sufficiently to understand that the US government could decide to put this type of equipment on the export control list. We both agreed that the business would be done in Scotland if we got the order. It was not discussed, but generally understood, that I would move to Scotland if we got the job.
On June 23, 1982 in London I gave Tom Dick the specifications for the equipment he should bid after obtaining approval to export from the UK. Our technical discussions on this matter lasted less than two hours. Dick already understood the furnaces and said he would get up to speed on the isopresses.
Department of Trade
12 August 1982
We have recently received an invitation to tender to the USSR for equipment as follows:
- Six - Vacuum Chamber Induction furnaces for carbonizing, with a maximum temperature of 1600 C, the size of charge being 500 millimeter cube - six per charge.
- Two - Vacuum Chamber Induction Furnaces for graphitization with a maximum temperature or 3000 C, with a charge size of 500 millimeter cube - six per charge.
- One - Isostatic Hot Press, working pressure 300 Kilogram per square centimeter, maximum temperature 600 C for the impregnation of carbon with pitch.
- One - Vacuum Induction Laboratory furnace 1600 C, charge size 500 millimeter cube - one off per charge for carbonization.
- One - Vacuum Induction Laboratory furnace 3000 C, charge size 500 millimeter cube - one off per charge for graphitization.
With regard to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1981, items 1, 2, 4 and 5 are outwith this control order therefore should not require any Export license. However item 3, the Hot Isostatic Press is mentioned in Group 30, on page 32, item 3B but since we are less than 351 Kilogram per square centimeter in pressure, we assume that we are outwith the umbrella of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1981.
In the contractual documents we have received from the USSR, we are obliged to seek approval from your Department before a contract can be concluded.
The wording on this is "The seller to furnish Export license or letter that license is not required, within thirty days of signing of the contract. The contract will come into force when this document has been furnished.
We would like your confirmation that such a letter would be forthcoming should we be successful in obtaining this very important export order.
We look forward to receiving your early reply.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the British counterpart to the Commerce Department, approved the proposed contract on October 4,1982.
From: Department of Trade
To: Consarc Engineering
October 4, 1982
Your letter of 13 August 1982 refers.
I confirm that the equipment listed below is not subject to embargo restrictions and does not require export licensing.
6 - Vacuum chamber induction furnace for carbonization with maximum temperature 1600 C size of charge being 500 millimeter cube - six per charge.
2 - vacuum chamber induction furnace for graphitization with a maximum temperature of 3000 C with a charge size of 500 millimeter cube - size per charge.
1 - isostatic hot press working pressure 300 kilogram per square centimeter maximum temperature 600 C for the impregnation of carbon with pitch.7013
One - vacuum induction laboratory furnace 1600 C charge size 500 millimeter cube - one off per charge for carbonization.
1- vacuum induction laboratory furnace 3000 C, charge size 500 millimeter cube- one off charge for graphitization.
The people at the Department of Trade were not dummies. They knew exactly what they were approving. They took their time in answering the request.
Before the order was finalized I traveled to Washington to check on the regulations. From my Chronologies:
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.
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.