Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Climb from the Depths. Chapter 1 Rock Bottom

October 20thBank10
October 23rdBank10

(2005 Postscript to Sunset 1933. The Making House was perhaps my favourite place in these student years, I liked the slight taste of danger; the great iron pots of boiling oils – the huge unwieldy trolleys to hook and drag the pots from the fires at the critical point. Because of the risk of flash fires the Making House was situated well clear of other buildings. The shop had only three sides so in winter our backs froze while our fronts were hot. Oddly enough during my year there I never had a cold and nor did anyone else; it could have been boiling gums – which made us all sneeze.
Lithos. I don’t know why this process was called Lithos. The prolonged “cooking” produced a very thick oil – the medium of 1st. class enamels in Holland. The finished product was called Standoil. A joke in the trade – this oil was so thick that one could stand a stirring paddle in it. Actually we were producing polymerised oil: “Polymerisation is an internal re-arrangement of the structure of the oil, whereby certain molecules linked together forming larger molecules, - with a consequent increase in molecular weight.”

I also enjoyed a slight taste of danger in cleaning out varnish tanks whilst a mate looked down from a ladder in case one fainted. The material used for swabbing was highly volatile, probably Solvent Napha or Xylon. A few years later in the Army I was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis – recorded in my Army Pay book. Maybe the work in those tanks was the cause? Nowadays one may be sure no one goes into the tank; they would be cleaned by the man at the top of the ladder using a pressure hose and masked. However that was how it was then.)


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