Obsessed with the metalcasting life.
When I was about 8, at Christmas I got a kit to make "tin" soldiers. There was a permanent metal mold in halves with a clamp to hold them together, a metal crucible and some lead ingots. We had a coal-fired furnace in the basement, so my father and I melted the lead over the coals and poured it into the molds. I had a lot of fun playing with the soldiers. If one got bent in too active a battle, I only had to melt him down and re-cast him.
When I was 15, my high school science class toured a local "metal works." The tour was conducted by a classmate's father, who was the general manager and a metallurgical engineer. After chatting with him a couple of times about it, I decided that's what I wanted to be.
I went on to Drexel (now University, then Institute of Technology) majoring in MetEng and recall reading one account of a college lecture on Material Science. The professor obviously was not a metalcaster. A student asked him about a casting, and the professor said a casting was a gas-hole, surrounded by slag and a little bit of metal held together by dross inclusions. He said castings were medieval and not worth talking about, much less pursuing as a career, believing that parts fabricated from (his idea of perfect) steel, were the only way to advance civilization.
Drexel had a mandatory cooperative education program. During a five-year course of study, engineers worked in an industry related to their major at a school-assigned job for a total of 18 months in three- or six-month increments. I was assigned to the research & development department of an iron pipe foundry in 1964, followed by terms in quality control, maintenance and engineering. After college, I went back to work for the same company full time and have been there ever since.
I've made a living at something I enjoy doing. I've learned a lot along the way, most of which is not taught in schools anywhere. With the present-day thinking that it is necessary to change jobs (if not careers) every five years, people look at me like I have three heads when I say I've been doing this for more than 40 years.
And with all of this time in a foundry, I still don't get tired seeing molten iron run. I guess it just gets in your blood. I never thought of it that way before, but I guess this kind of means I've been a metalcaster since I was 8.
G. A. Craft
Sales Engineer--Special Products Dept.
U. S. Pipe and Foundry Company Inc.
Union City, Calif.
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|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2005|
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