Cannon Muskegon Corporation
Cannon Muskegon was the prime competitor of Waimet. I was to learn later that Waindle had been a partner in this business before joining the group in Detroit. They needed my experience from GE and welcomed hiring from the competition. The agreed pay was $12,000.The Cannon boys built their companies using the money and business power base their father had accumulated in his lifetime. Father Cannon and I got along very well, and in his final years he was a good teacher. He built the first foundry in Muskegon with his partners, Campbell and Wyatt. His foundry was the first major supplier to Ford Motor Company for the new mass-produced Model T.FJ Stokes built the vacuum chamber that held the furnace. Their main product was pill making machines and freeze drying equipment. They had a robust mechanical vacuum pump to produce the rough vacuum and a workable oil ejector pump to produce the high vacuum. The induction equipment at Cannon was from TOCCO.
The whole company got behind my efforts as we increased the output of their vacuum furnace six-fold in less than three months. It was unfortunate that the effort was wasted because the metallurgist of General Electric, the buyer of the metal, had the wrong mix. Most the metal we produced during that period was scrapped. From time to time an ingot would not crack. Boron it the refractory wash used for patching was the positive contamination needed to stop the cracking during forging. I was not aware but Special Metals was also having trouble making Waspaloy from virgin raw materials because lack of boron.
Henry Rowan came to our lobby one day in the summer of 1957. He told me that his firm had an excellent reputation in furnaces and coils for vacuum melting. I needed a furnace that was two times larger and was attempting to accomplish that at minimum costs. The engineer, Rowan was just what I needed.The new furnace I build from Rowan's suggestions was too heavy for the mechanical items for pouring the metal and handling the heavier molds. I did not call Stokes for the solution. I beefed up the devices using some cheap and crude designs. They were still installed on the equipment, to my amusement, more than twenty years later.
The vacuum system was now too small and I needed a bigger one, fast. I read in a trade magazine that the Germans were selling a blower booster pump. I was the first person in the USA to use this blower combination for a vacuum melting furnace. It is in widespread use today. I drove to Cleveland with a purchase order in hand, and put that four hundred pound pump in the trunk for the drive back to the factory. The mechanics installed it the next morning and it did the trick.
Father Cannon helped me design and produce a gating system to pour two-inch rods using heavy wall steel pipe. Six pipes were placed around one in the center making a seven pack that was held together by band strapping. This method was much cheaper than graphite or cast iron book molds. This method was modified and improved in many vacuum melting shops throughout the world.
There was no way for me to be a top technical man without further education. The business side looked more profitable, but this side of the business would not be open for me at Cannon Muskegon. Working for the Cannons was very easy, and my job put me in the position to become their top production man with a good lifetime job, but trapped by golden handcuffs.
Ken Iverson and Marv Pohlman left the company and later became the driving force behind the successful mini-steel company named Nucor.