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By A Secret Process

By A Secret Process image
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The manufacture of shot is an interI esting and instructivo process, and it is safe to Bay that not one of the thouBands who use it, from the sportsman who fires the little leaden pellets to bring down his game, to the thrifty housewife who uses it to clean her bottlea, knows of the ingenious methods employed in turning the pig lead into the shot of commeree. The oldest shot tower in America is in this city, says the . Philadelphia Times, in the vicinity ór Second and I Carpenter streets, it having been opened for business July 4, 1808, and here shot is manufacturad at the rate of fpom twenty-five to thirty millions an hour - from four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand every minute. Entering the low building surrounding the shoUtower one encounters first the weighers, who are putting the shot up into hags of different sizea. It will be interesting to examine one of these bags containing about twenty pounds. The largest size drop shot weighs twenty-two pellets to the ounce. A bag holding twenty pounds would therefore contain ö, 910 pellets, white in a bag of the smallest size shot the number of pelleta would be 1,061,120. Suddenly the guide opens the door leading to the tower proper and there is heard constant rushing noise as of falling water. Into a large tank, in which there is six feet of water, a steady shower of lead is falling, which is being dropped from the heights above. It is impossible to look up to eee whence this shower origlnates, and, after a climb of 150 feet by means of a circular stairway, the secret of shot! making is reveaied. Here a man is standing at a boiler containing the molten lead and which is being1 continually fed by helpers. He is pouring1 the liquid metal into a perforated pan or colander in front of him, and it drops down in arisilvery rain into the tank of water beneath. One thing is essential, however, before the lead is dropped. When the pig lead is thoroughly heated a scum iorms on it, caused by the antimony and arsenic with which the pigs are prepared. This is calld dross and is oarefully skimmed off and preservad. Some of this dross is placed in the pan before the lead is poured into it. The lead makes its way throug-h the dross and escapes through the holes in the pan into space. The procesa looks simple enough from here, but the degrees of heat, the amount of dross, the quantity of lead have all to be carefully considered. An inexperienced hand could do incalculable damage here, simple as the proces3 geems. There are several stories afloat as to the origin of this methodof making. They are both pretty stories, and should be taken cum grano salis. One account saystbe discovery was an accident, as was the discovery of gravitation and the steam engine. Some time during the last century an English mechanic named Watts, who was employed in cutting up lead for the purpose of moulding into shot is said to have imbibed too freely of the cup that cheers and inebriates - got 'shot, in fact. He dreamed of the last thing he would be likely to dream of under the circumstances - namely, water. He saw it rain heavily and suddenly the rain became lead and the ground was covered with shot. Watts awoke with the idea that there was something in his dream, and is said to have proved the correctness of his idea by making an experiment in a neighbcring tower. The great unreconcilable poiat in the Watts story is that no reference is anywhere made to the essential pool of water in which the pellets are dropped to cooL Certainly, if the hot lead feil. upon the hard earth the pellets would be flattened out and ruined. The other account gives the indispeuslble water into which the hot metal must fall if it does very little else. The story goes that in one of the old-time wars, when a host was preparing to storm a castle, and while the besiegers were scaling the walls the defenders poured hot lead over them. l'his lead, broken up into hundreds of pieces by the fall, dropped into the moat. Visitors are very rarely allowed to thoroughly view the procebs of manufacture. He may look at the lead dropping into the water without opposition, but when with pardonaole curiosity ho expresses a wish to see whence this shower originates the guide shakes his head and says: "Oh, it's a powerful big climb up there, and you wouldn't understand it after you get up. " This means that you don't go up even if you think your mind could grasp this intricate problem.