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How Mechanical Rubber Goods Are Made

February 14, 2014 | by

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a new series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “How Mechanical Rubber Goods Are Made,” first published in the Scientific American Supplement on February 13, 1892.

Christian_Krohg-Sovende_mor_med_barn_1883

Christian Krohg, Sleeping Mother with Child, 1883.

While the manufacture of rubber goods is in no sense a secret industry, the majority of buyers and users of such goods have never stepped inside of a rubber mill, and many have very crude ideas as to how the goods are made up. In ordinary garden hose, for instance, the process is as follows: The inner tubing is made of a strip of rubber fifty feet in length, which is laid on a long zinc-covered table and its edges drawn together over a hose pole. The cover, which is of what is called “friction,” that is cloth with rubber forced through its meshes, comes to the hose maker in strips, cut on the bias, which are wound around the outside of the tube and adhere tightly to it. The hose pole is then put in something like a fifty foot lathe, and while the pole revolves slowly, it is tightly wrapped with strips of cloth, in order that it may not get out of shape while undergoing the process of vulcanizing. When a number of these hose poles have been covered in this way they are laid in a pan set on trucks and are then run into a long boiler, shut in, and live steam is turned on. When the goods are cured steam is blown off, the vulcanizer opened and the cloths are removed. The hose is then slipped off the pole by forcing air from a compressor between the rubber and the hose pole. This, of course, is what is known as hose that has a seam in it.

For seamless hose the tube is made in a tubing machine and slipped upon the hose pole by reversing the process that is used in removing hose by air compression. In other words, a knot is tied in one end of the fifty foot tube and the other end is placed against the hose pole and being carefully inflated with air it is slipped on without the least trouble. For various kinds of hose the processes vary, and there are machines for winding with wire and intricate processes for the heavy grades of suction hose, etc. For steam hose, brewers’, and acid hose, special resisting compounds are used, that as a rule are the secrets of the various manufacturers. Cotton hose is woven through machines expressly designed for that purpose, and afterward has a half-cured rubber tube drawn through it. One end is then securely stopped up and the other end forced on a cone through which steam is introduced to the inside of the hose, forcing the rubber against the cotton cover, finishing the cure and fixing it firmly in its place. Read More »

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