in full, glorious, innocence of another era:
Copyright 1955, UNITED CHROMIUM DIVISION of METAL & THERMIT CORPORATION,
100 East 42nd Street, New York 17, N. Y.
Reprinted by permission of Atotech U.S.A.
Special thanks to V.E. Guernsey for providing a hard copy of the original booklet
Twelve poems and sketches for your enjoyment and education.
Maybe you know
About Cyanide Joe,
A plater of forty years' practice,
Who lives in the land
By the Rio Grande
Where rattlesnakes lurk in the cactus.
He was walking one day
When he stopped in dismay
At the startling sound of a rattle!
Not three feet away
On the hard blue clay
Was a rattlesnake coiled for battle!
The snake shot its venom
Through Joe's blue denim --
But Joe was loaded with cyanide.
The snake had convulsions,
And gave a shuddering sigh and died.
But Joe felt okay,
As he went on his way;
And if you plate copper, he'll write you
That the only excuse
For cyanide's use
Is to kill any snakes that may bite you.
We sent them designs
In blue-printed lines
For chromium plating equipment
To do their own plating
On rolls without waiting
For making a back-and-forth shipment.
They wrote right away,
"Your designs are okay,
But the plating tank is enormous.
It seems too wide
For the rolls inside.
If you made a mistake, please inform us."
We checked each dimension
And found no dissension.
Our chief engineer then replied
That the tank recommended
Was strictly intended
For plating the rolls specified.
They wrote, "We advise
That the tank's oversize,
Just as we told you before.
We could tip it and turn it,
But that tank, gol dern it,
Is too big to get through the door!"
Barney the buffer,
A finicky duffer,
Was proud of the work from his buff.
It glistened and gleamed,
But to Barney it seemed
That it never was quite bright enough.
While coloring zinc,
He happened to think
Of a notion that looked like a winner;
He wiped from each piece
The last film of grease
With cloths dipped in clear lacquer thinner.
The brilliance was snappy,
And Barney was happy.
But the lacquer department had trouble.
The lacquer kept peeling --
The Boss hit the ceiling --
And called in our man on the double.
His study revealed
That the pieces had peeled
Before they got to the packer --
Because of the stuff
That came off Barney's buff
In the thinner they mixed with the lacquer!
From the first rack plated,
They all were elated
With the copper solution called Unichrome.
But the plate, clear and sleeky,
Turned patchy and streaky,
And the foreman was fit for the loony home.
To our engineer
The trouble was clear:
There was oil in the plating solution.
They talked platers' jargon
And filtered with carbon
Until it was free from pollution.
Next day the men
Found oil once again.
No one knew where it had come from.
To clean out the oil
Took a whole day of toil--
This carbon filtration was humdrum.
Early next morning,
Our man, without warning,
Started an investigation.
Their maintenance man
Stood near the fan
Which blew air for the bath agitation.
"The platers ain't in yet."
He moved toward the inlet.
"This baby rattles like heck!
I worked out a diet.
Just hear it get quiet
When I pour this oil down its neck!"
Chrome platers confess
They were fit for the state sanitarium.
If the ratio was high,
Some sulfate they'd try;
And if it was low, they'd add barium.
Back several years,
One of our engineers
Was calling on chrome plating plants.
He got past the doorman
And saw the day foreman,
Who whispered with quick sideways glance:
"When the foreman at night
Has gone out of sight,
I put sulfate in without waitin'.
I keep him agoin'
Without him aknowin'--
He's not so good at chrome platin'."
After getting a bite,
He went back that night,
For some reason inconsequential.
The night foreman spied him,
Came over beside him,
And murmured in tones confidential:
"When the foreman by day
Has gone on his way,
The first thing I do is add barium.
When it comes to chrome,
He's weak in the dome--
It's a good thing he's got me to carry 'im!"
The time was propitious,
And Ben was ambitious
To start up his own plating shop.
He had nothing to fear,
For our engineer
Would keep it from being a flop.
One night he decided,
Without being guided,
To make up his dip with sulfuric.
He poured in the acid,
Went home feeling placid,
And dreamed of his profits futuric.
Next day with a smile
He walked down the aisle.
At his dip he came to a fast halt!
It had turned black as jet,
It was not even wet,
And it felt as solid as asphalt!
He had used instead
Of a tank lined with lead,
A pitch-lined tank by mistake.
The heat fused the coating,
And soon it was floating.
Then it hardened like ice on a lake.
To the chrome plating shop,
Took his paintbrush to make a few passes.
It worried him some
To see a big drum
Full of lacquer as thick as molasses.
"They left it uncovered!
Before it's discovered,
I'll stir in plenty of thinner.
With no advertiser
No one will be wiser--
They'll never find out who's the sinner."
When the workman came back
To coat his next rack,
He howled from falsetto to basso!
On his plastisol coating
Big lumps were floating
Like hulks on the Sea of Sargasso.
The thinner had wrecked it.
They had to reject it.
And now Pop knows what is meant
By plastisol mixtures
For coating rack fixtures
With solids one hundred percent.
A long time ago,
We were called in to show
How to chromium plate copper rolls.
But it soon came to pass
That the finish like glass
Became rough as unshaven jowls.
Each point was reviewed
And we had to conclude
That the water contained some impurity.
But after we tried
Water shipped from outside,
The trouble was still in obscurity.
If it wasn't stupidity,
It must be the humidity,
Or the smoke from the Boss's Havanas;
Or maybe the fumes
From the cloth coating rooms
That made the air smell like bananas.
The idea seemed absurd;
But our chemist averred
That the cause of the plate like sandpaper
Could be in the air.
Tests proved it was there --
The banana oil fumes and vapor.
Chrome tanks obsolete
Were lined with glass sheet;
|And that's what this story's about.
It also makes clear
What was meant by Shakespeare
When he said that murder will out.
When their bath was new,
The chrome that came through
Was the best they had ever inspected.
Then it went in reverse--
Every day it got worse--
Until every piece was rejected.
As shown by analysis,
The cause of paralysis
Was organic contamination.
There were no missing boots,
Or lunches, or suits;
And they didn't use wood insulation.
Then a workman admitted,
When the lining was fitted,
The glass had not reached to the top.
Concealed on the bottom
Where no one would spot 'em,
He had used strips of wood for a prop.
Barricading Ferrous Oxidation
A salesman named Bob
Took on a new job
Selling maintenance coatings organic.
He worked in the lab
And acquired from their gab
A knowledge of terms lexiphanic.
Organosols and films nonhygroscopic;
And plastisolic mixtures thixotropic.
On his sales' initiation
He gave an explanation
How coatings of continuous formation,
With low rate of percolation
And inhibiting pigmentation,
Barricaded ferrous oxidation.
His prospect looked sore
And showed him the door --
And then he exclaimed in disgust,
"Why in the hell
Don't you fellows sell
Some kind of paint that stops rust?"
When plate was rejected,
The parts were collected,
And Sam the Stripper would handle 'em
In the acid and fume
Of the old stripping room --
They said he had lungs made of tantalum.
Then Sam was drafted,
And to Boot Camp was wafted,
Where his training included crass tasks.
They all had to pass
Through a shed of war gas
Both with and without their gas masks.
With their gas masks off,
They all had to cough,
And they choked as they ran for the door.
Sam didn't come out.
They heard someone shout,
"Sam has passed out on the floor!"
Inside Sam was found
Slowly walking around
And breathing the gas and the fume.
"I like it in here,"
Said Sam with a tear,
"It's just like my old stripping room!"
When we came to our plant,
The door was aslant.
On the floor we saw a dried trickle.
Tho tanks looked forsaken--
Burglars had taken
Our anodes of copper and nickel!
We decided to buy
An electronic eye.
If the thieves again came to plunder,
A siren would scream
When they walked through the beam,
Which was low so they couldn't crawl under.
One night the alarm
Went off like a charm.
Police came in three minutes flat.
They looked all around,
But all that they found
Was Tony, the night watchman's cat.
Since the beam of black light
Was at eighteen-inch height,
They decided the cat could not work it.
From his head to the floor
Was ten inches, no more.
Yet nothing was wrong with the circuit.
The police were dumbfounded;
But our chemist expounded
That when there was nothing to flinch at,
The cat held his tail
Like a mast for a sail,
And thus made an eighteen-inch cat!