Chapter 13



How a Blacksmith Got Rich—The Story of Pullman—The Story of the Columbia Bicycle—A Recipe for a Fortune—A Mica Secret—How to Make Marble—Another Great Secret Given Away—Rubber as Good as Goodyear’s—A Way to Smash the Trusts—Wanted—A New Railroad Car—Sidney Smith’s “Wooden Pavement.”

Vast profits accrue from manufactures, but the best returns for investments in this line are realized when the manufacturer is able to make a new article, or to make an old article by improved means. David Maydole, a village blacksmith, was requested to make for a carpenter a hammer as good as he could make it. He made a better hammer than had ever before been seen, and the carpenter’s mates all wanted one. The village storekeeper ordered two dozen. A hardware dealer, passing through the place to sell his wares, left an order for all the blacksmith could make. The hammer-maker built a large factory, and this was the humble origin of the celebrated Maydole hammer, and the foundation of a great fortune. Another fascinating chapter on manufacture is the “Story of Pullman,” which reads like a fairy tale, but is all strictly true. Mr. Pullman began in a small way to build parlor cars, making one or two as an experiment. The traveling public were quick to appreciate the luxury, and Mr. P. had to enlarge his works again and again. He built the town of Pullman, which is now valued at $30,000,000, and the capital stock which now has a market value of $60,000,000, has paid dividends with the regularity of a government loan.

  1. Bicycle Factories.—These have proved veritable bonanzas during the past few years. In 1878, Col. Albert A. Pike began the manufacture of bicycles, making fifty that year. To-day he has a phenomenal business, employing a capital of $5,000,000 utilizing four factories in Hartford, Conn., and making 600 bicycles a day.
  2. Double Profit Furs.—Here is a way to make a double profit from the skins of animals: Soak the furs in limewater till the hair is loosened, then wash and hang it up to dry. Lay it on a board with the hair side up and apply a solution of glue, care being taken not to disturb the natural position of the hairs. When the glue is dry and hard, hold the hairs so firmly as to allow the natural skin to be peeled off. Now you can apply the artificial skin by pouring over the hairs liquid India-rubber, boiled drying-oils, or other waterproof substances, which on drying will form a continuous membrane supporting the hairs. The glue is then removed by steeping the fur in warm water. This plan has the double advantage that the fur so prepared is moth-proof, and the old skin can be used for the manufacture of leather.
  3. Mica Sheets.—Large sheets of mica command a great price. There are only a few places where the mineral can be mined in sheets of one foot square or larger, but the vast heaps of waste mica can be utilized by building up the sheets artificially. This can be done by treating it with shellac. There are fortunes in waste mica quarries for those who know how to utilize the countless tons of fragments. The field is especially promising in North Carolina and Georgia, where immense quarries abound.
  4. Artificial Marble.—There is room for profitable investment in the manufacture of any article which is procured from nature at great expense. This is the case with marble. It is scarce at best; the quarries are remote from the centers of population, and the mining and transportation make it a very costly article. Marble can be manufactured by imitating nature’s processes—the percolating of water through chalk. The popular verde antique can be made by an application of an oxide of copper. The slices of marble are then placed in another bath, where they are hardened and crystallized, coming out exactly like the real article. In Italy, a fine black marble is made from common white sandstone. The manufacture is carried on by the owners of the local gasworks, who thus reap a double, profit from their plant. Here is a hint for American manufacturers.
  5. Artificial Whalebone.—Whalebone is in great demand. It is worth from $3 to $4 per pound. No artificial substance has as yet been found to take its place, but we are surely on the eve of that discovery. No one substance is at the same time so hard and so elastic, but experimenters will yet find a combination which will answer the purpose. One has already been found which draws the surplus demand when the genuine article cannot be obtained. The inventor who can advance another step and produce an exact imitation will have the whalebone market in his hands. This field is rich with possibilities.

P. S.—Since writing the above we have the secret. Here it is: Treat the rawhide with sulphide of sodium, remove the hair, immerse the hide twenty-six to thirty-four hours in a weak solution of double sulphate of potassa, and stretch it upon a frame or table, in order that it may not contract in drying. The desiccation is allowed to proceed in broad daylight, and the hide is then exposed to a temperature of fifty to sixty degrees. The influence of the light, combined with the action of the double sulphate of potassa absorbed by the skin, renders the gelatine insoluble in water, and prevents putrefaction, the moisture being completely expelled. Thus prepared, the skin is submitted to a strong pressure, which gives to it almost the hardness and elasticity which characterize the genuine whalebone, with the advantage that before or after the process of desiccation any color desired may be imparted to it by means of a dye bath.

  1. Artificial India Rubber.—A man while experimenting recently with cottonseed oil for the production of a varnish, obtained to his surprise, not a varnish, but a rubber. By its use, with fifteen per cent. of genuine rubber, an article can be produced so exactly like the real as to defy detection. The process is so simple that a patent is not obtainable. So, manufacturers, the field is open. Rubber is high and in great demand.
  2. Artificial Camphor.—Here is another trade secret. The genuine camphor is scarce. The artificial is made in England, shipped to Hamburg, and then re-shipped to England as the real article. Here is the way it is made: Pass a current of dry hydrochloric acid gas through spirits of turpentine cooled by a freezing mixture. The liquid deposits crystals, which are dissolved in alcohol and precipitated by water. The separated crystals are drained and dried. They are perfectly colorless, with an odor like camphor. At the ordinary temperature, its vapor tension is sufficient to cause it to sublime like ordinary camphor in small brilliant crystals in the bottles in which it is preserved. It is insoluble in water, and gyrates when on the surface of that liquid like true camphor.
  3. Car Building.—Some day another Pullman will arise, but with developments in car building in a totally different direction. We quote from a recent magazine article: “The time is sure to come when a new railroad genius will arise and make an end of the game of brag between American general passenger agents. This reformer will probably substitute light and easily cleaned bamboo seats for those now in use; he will save a good deal of the money now spent in useless ornamentation, and spend it in better ventilation and lighting; and he is likely to design frames and trucks much lighter, and at least as strong and durable, as those which carry the average day car of the present time. It is possible, too, that he may accomplish a good result by lowering the center of gravity of the prevailing type of passenger car, thus preventing it from rolling at high rates of speed, and obviating the supposed necessity of placing two or three tons of old rails in the floor to keep it steady.” It is perhaps needless to say that such a man as Mr. Pullman or Mr. Wagner will become a multi-millionaire through this much-needed reform.
  4. The Transverse Wooden, Pavement.—One day the celebrated wit, Sidney Smith, was talking with some vestrymen of the church of which he was a member about laying a wooden pavement around the sacred edifice. “Well,” said the famous jester, “we have but to lay our heads together and the thing is done.” But here is a pavement which some capitalists will one day lay their heads (funds) together to produce, and it will be no joke. It has been ascertained that the most durable pavement is made from blocks of wood sawed transversely about twelve inches in thickness. The larger and smaller blocks are fitted together, the smaller interstices being filled with wooden wedges. Here is a chance for some enterprising firm.

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