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STEP BACK is about winder history. It's about the people that shaped our industry and the equipment and changes that resulted from their efforts. Nothing dramatic or earth shaking like the discovery of The Theory of Relativity or invention of the telephone. Just small increments of progress, the same incremental progress that is occurring right now on a daily basis by people in our industry. This is my personal recollections of how some things happened in our corner of the paper industry. Because my recollections go back over 40 years, there may be times that my recall is a little vague. If you can refresh my memory, make a clarification or addition, please do not hesitate to do so. Every once in awhile we'll take a STEP BACK and discuss a little winding history.
If you're interested-stay tuned. Before we get started, a little background.
LIFE WITHOUT LUIGI
For those of you that have read my bio you may have a sense of who I am and where I've been. In the years I have been in winder engineering and then a winder peddler, my wife threatened many times to write a book titled, "Life Without Luigi". Of course it was her nice way of saying, you're traveling to much. This was her take-off of the old "Life With Luigi" television series about an Italian immigrant named Luigi that had some peculiar ways and ideas. Sometimes it seemed to fit.
I moved out of engineering and into winder sales in 1961 for the Beloit Iron Works out of Downingtown PA. Being a peddler and like peddlers before me, life was on the road. I spent a lot of time on the road. My away time was much greater than my stay home time. My first sales territory, believe it or not, was the New England States plus NY and PA, the Midwest-states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan and the west coast from British Columbia to California. In addition there were always special sales assignments like ducking up to Canada or out to Beloit, WI to support a paper machine effort. I had a great side kick named Dick Ahn. Back then you would find yourself hopping around the country in a Douglas DC 3, 6 and 7. We still took an occasional train ride in bad weather. It was the time of the Lockheed Electra. The first Boeing jet, the 707, was recently put into service and of course it revolutionized our way of traveling. All this traveling didn't leave a whole lot of time for cavorting with the kiddies but at least I was out from under foot.
OUR FIRST STEP BACK
BROWSING THROUGH HISTORY. When I worked at Black Clawson, Watertown NY in the late 50's, engineering people occasionally were allowed to go in the drawing vaults and get their own reference drawings. At that time Blacks had just taken over the old Bagley, Sewall Company. Many of the old Bagley drawings could be correctly described as "artwork'. Beautiful drawings in black and red ink on real vellum some going back to the turn of the century. Parts were designated on the drawings as "thus" and "opposite." It wasn't always easy to determine which was thus and which was opposite. As the saying goes, mistakes were made. As some of you may know, back in those early days most machine parts were castings, castings with beautiful, graceful curves, the machines usually painted in black enamel with hand painted pin stripping. Going through those drawings, I developed an interest in the early days of paper making. Cylinder machines, stacked dryers, presses that used weights and pulleys for loading, machines with in-line cutters instead of reels, and drives that were a conglomeration of lineshafts, belts and pulleys. I probably spent a lot more time in the vault than I should have.
MY TRIP TO ST. LAWRENCE PAPER COMPANY - 1958.
The Manager of Engineering at Blacks was Larry Moore. The chief engineer was Art Post. Head of the winder group was Bill Sizoo and my immediate boss for most of my time at Blacks was a fine guy named Jim Grill, head of the checking department. One day I was called in for special a assignment. The old St. Lawrence Paper Company in northern New York State had been shut down for some time. I was instructed to go to the mill and survey the machine for Abe Cooper, a used machinery dealer that had a client somewhere in the South Pacific.
I gathered up the drawings from the vault and was on my merry way, a big shot with an expense account and car allowance. I don't recall all the machine specs now but the St. Lawrence Machine I was sent to survey was a 160" fourdrinier newsprint machine trimming at 148" designed for between 400 to 600 FPM speed. When it was built, the St. Lawrence machine was reported to be the widest and fastest paper machine ever built. Part of my assignment was to make a proposal to rebuild the paper machine for 1000 FPM.
TALK ABOUT A STEP BACK! A paper machine made mostly of cast iron. The castings had all the curves and pin stripping that I saw on the vault drawings when I was being nosy. The presses were designed with weight and lever loading. There were no anti-friction bearings. Rolls were supported and rotated in bronze bushings The reel was a three spindle upright affair looking similar to those on the vault drawings. The three spindles (called mandrels) were supported from a large curvy one piece casting that doubled as a winder unwind stand.. The spindles were about 30" diameter with wood slats for a body. The paper was reeled from the paper machine onto one spindle while being wound off into the winder from another spindle. The sheet transfer from the paper machine used any spindle that was free. Braking control was manual. Each spindle position on the reel had a large handwheel for tension control to the winder. The handwheel adjusted a friction brake at the back side of the reel. Click here to see a photo of a 3 spindle reel.
The winder was similar to this image made using VRML. A winder similar to this can be viwed in 3D in the VRML 3D PM Gallery on this site. The winder had a large cast iron base that supported the slitter section and winder drums. The lead-in roll, slitters and slitter rolls and frame ways were mounted on the upper casting. The slitters were huge, mounted horizontal, with handwheels to set up the slitters on three axis. The winder had a low profile. There was no rider roll. The winder shaft was about 5" diameter of solid steel to provide a nip on the drums at the start of winding and was raised and lowered with a long handled lever pivoted from the main frame. The winder drums couldn't have been over 18" diameter. The winder, like the rest of the machine used bronze bearings. Click here to see the BIW version.
The drive was an interesting part of the machine. The machine sections were driven from overhead lineshaft each section using cone pulleys for speed matching. You could see "lagging" added to some of the pulleys in an attempt to adjust the speed range. The section speeds were controlled using hand operated belt shifters that moved a belt across the cone pulley horizontal axis. The dryers were cast iron, 36" diameter and had large open gears about the same diameter as the dryers.
The big surprise was the dryer gears. The gears were made with a cast iron hoop and WOODEN gear teeth. The dryer gears were not spur gears as one might expect. If the gears were laid flat on a bench, the gear teeth would face up and be parallel with the bench surface. The wooden gear teeth and the spacers between the teeth were mortised and wedged in place radially about the gear hub. The wood gear teeth were made from carefully selected oak and precision fit. There was a big supply of gear rings and wood mortise gear teeth in the shop in various phases of rebuild that confirmed, as might be expected, the gears were a high maintenance item. Sounds primitive now? Not so then.
Below are a pair of 3D illustrations of wood mortise gears as used in a Grist Mill located in Broadsheadville, PA. Click here too read the story of the discovery and documentation of the The Mills of Brodheadsville by Lou Robertella. His experience in Pennsylvania parallels that of the St Lawrence Mill exploration.
Between the drawings in the Black's vault and my visit to The St. Lawrence Paper Company I was well on my way to being a paper machine history junky, always keeping my eye out for the past, taking a STEP BACK in time.
I don't know what ever happened to the St. Lawrence Paper Machine. I made my recommendations and that's the last I heard of it. I like to think it went to some South Sea island and is operated by sun tanned snowbirds that left the snow and cold of the St. Lawrence River Valley to bask in the sun and take loving care of their once biggest paper machine in the world. They may even have figured out a way to make gear teeth out of coconuts.
This article authored by Luigi Bagnato - October 1997
This section added to the original article November 8, 2007 by Luigi Bagnato.
Listing for the St Lawrence Paper Co. (Jefferson Power Company) located in Jefferson County, NY, a short distance from Watertown, NY as it appeared in Lockwoods Directory: 1905 edition., Page 77.
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