History of Electric Induction Heating

This Chapter

Induction Heating
  1. Early work to Salesman
  2. Salesman to entrepreneur
  3. Vacuum furnaces
  4. Henry Rowan, Mars Rocket
  5. Cheston, Cragmet, IRS
  6. Visit Russia, Meet Vera
  7. Around the world, Meet the president
  8. Kramatorsk
  9. Consarc
  10. Consarc UK
  11. Carbon contract
  12. Russians in Scotland
  13. The Embargo is Coming
  14. Embargo and Aftermath
  15. BEPA
  16. After BEPA
  17. Fiber Materials Appeal
  18. Consarc Officials Deny Wrongdoing in Sales to Soviets
  19. Memos from Henry Rowan to Metcalf
  20. Rowland motor patent 1868
  21. Rowland reviews the bids for Niagara Falls power station
  22. Metcalf's father's poem, and Metcalf genealogy
  23. The Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  24. Problems of Russia's Policy With Respect to China and Japan
  25. History of Ajax Magnethermic
  26. The most important event for Inductotherm
  27. Fright Flight
  28. Black art of carbon production
  29. Polaris Missile
  30. Nuclear Airplane
  31. Nuclear Engine
  32. Molten metal eats through and explodes
  33. Cannon Muskegon Corporation
  34. Metcalf at General Motors Research from April 1955 to Oct 1955
  35. Metcalf pouring superalloy at GE from Oct 1955 to June 1956
  36. Metcalf at Waimet (later Howmet) from June 1956 to July 1957
  37. Black art of carbon production
  38. Project to test NASA hot hydrogen engine
  39. Special Metals Number 9
  40. Metcalf joins Inductotherm group
  41. Device to load materials into a furnace for melting
  42. Bank reneged on a commitment to finance a job in Russia
  43. Inductotherm private airport
  44. NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) and all I know about carbon
  45. NERVA Engine Control Rods
  46. same as 383-Nuke.html
  47. Development of Polaris missle
  48. Ajax NASA
  49. Production of carbon fabrics and threads made from rayon
  50. George Houghton, Aerojet Inspector gives Metcalf Rocket history
  51. Rayon to carbon to graphite
  52. Metcalf buys the control division of the Pelton Water Wheel Company
  53. Rowan's account of firing Consarc President
  54. Kama Purchasing Commission, Ukraine
  55. Role of chromium in vacuum melters
  56. ASEA wins contract for isopress
  57. Induction heating to re-refile tank cannon
  58. Hoover-Ugine Company
  59. Letter to Henry Rowan at Inductotherm
  60. John Mortimer in Rancocas
  61. Consarc Board of Directors Meeting
  62. Consarc Board of Directors Meeting
  63. Hillbilly
  64. How to produce Calcarb
  65. Newsday, late 1987
  66. Embargo Regulations
  67. Seizure of Goods
  68. Minutes of Dept of Trade, London
  69. Minutes of ECGD Meeting
  70. Rowan Interview
  71. Bombshell looks like dud
  72. Letter to Hank Rowan
  73. Consarc Board Meeting
  74. Minutes of DTI Meeting, London
  75. Stansted Fluid Power
  76. Minutes of DTI Meeting, 3 Oct 85
  77. Letter to IHI Master Metals

Induction Heating

By James Farol Metcalf

Nuclear Airplane

In August 1960 the start up management team consisting of Norm Pinto, John Mesas and Archie Epstien moved to other jobs a new team was assigned to run the operation. The new general manager and chief engineer took away my freedom to act alone and set up strict quality control and purchasing rules.

Just after they arrived a new requirement again turned loose the team of Lona and Metcalf.

Everything produced at the Hazleton plant of Beryllium Corporation was secret so I do not know what we were building for the following project.

I was told that the Atomic Energy Commission had been funded to build a nuclear assist engine for the Air Force that would allow the new fleet of bombers to stay aloft for extended periods.

We had to produce a plate of beryllium 24 inches wide, 60 inches long and 10 inches thick. The distance between the tie rods on the hydraulic presses was 80 inches so the only thing that would fit would be a rectangular vacuum chamber. My solution was an elliptical chamber with an elliptical coil and an elliptical graphite die to press this rectangular part.

At first Joe Lona scratched his head because he forgot how to draw an ellipse let alone calculate the stress. Our chamber supplier had no trouble building the thing to written specifications so we turned him loose.

National Carbon had a slab of graphite 48 inches wide, 40 inches thick and 110 inches long in stock and Harold Weaver, our graphite machining man, had a contact with Allis Chalmers in York, PA that had a contour milling set up.

Ajax Magnethermic declined to bid the special coil so I called Hank Rowan at Inductotherm. His offer was $50,000 if we wanted a guarantee and $20,000 for his best effort. We took the cheaper price.

This was a single acting press and the chamber had a flat bottom. To keep it from buckling when a vacuum was applied we used 30 inches of firebrick in the bottom. The dry out run worked like a charm.

Workers poured the beryllium powder into the strange die and loaded it into the chamber. Everything was set for a normal run late on a Friday evening. I gave the go ahead and arranged to arrive early Saturday morning to observe the critical stage just before the material reached 100% density.

I received an urgent call a couple of hours before my scheduled arrival. The workers were hearing a clicking sound.

When I arrived the clicks were louder and it was clear that the chamber flange was moving in. The whole thing was about to implode due to the outside pressure pushing the chamber wall in the direction of the vacuum. We quickly increased the pressure with argon and closed down the power.

I called Lona and he knew that the chamber was doing what he feared during the design stage. We did not call management over the weekend but Lona called his college professor to come to Hazleton as a consultant.

His quick analysis was that it was almost good enough and without a lot of calculations we needed to increase the flange strength. Lona was able to add strength to the lid and cause it to support the flange at the critical point.

The beryllium part was completed and management knew nothing about the near implosion that could have causes major damage or even death.

Shortly after this project I left the company to become a salesman of induction equipment.


Archie Epstien continued to work at Beryllium's factory at Reading and was my first customer as a salesman for Ajax Magnethermic. The project was to convert a compound of beryllium to another form. We designed an induction heating system that used a 40-inch graphite cylinder with tongue and groove sections of silicon carbide to keep the carbon from reacting. I would foolishly use this idea on the next NASA job. The mechanical and electrical design worked finebut the heat transfer to the center of the powder product was awful. Archie solved the problem by installing a 4 million BTU gas heater to provide the heat. I think this was the only gas fired induction heater ever built.

Sometime around 1970 I met Archie again in Hazleton where he wanted to construct a small vacuum melting facility for an alloy the Navy wanted for experiments. He wanted to use the elliptical chamber and pumps because it was the only item they could not sell on the used machinery market. I warned him that he would have to beef up the bottom of the chamber.

John Wambold, Hazleton's process engineer was still on the job doing research for the Navy using a pyrolitic graphite furnace and a 36 inch hot isopress press Lona installed before joining me at Cragmet in 1967.

In 1979 I met Archie for the last time when a project I sold him at Consarc would not work. This facility was designed to recover the "zillions" of tungsten carbide projectiles made obsolete by the US Army and NATO. The process was heating these five-pound bullets with zinc to cause the cobalt binder to become liquid. Lona helped me find a large quartz tube for this special little job. In the end it was another of my follies.