Author Topic: Black Powder Explosions  (Read 2009 times)

Offline David R. Pennington

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2019, 12:40:33 AM »
Thanks for the education. The chemical plants around here used to use similar construction with “blow out” walls.
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Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2019, 05:50:52 AM »
Thanks for the education. The chemical plants around here used to use similar construction with “blow out” walls.

At the Brandywine works they used 3 very heavy stone walls and then one blow out wall to direct the explosion away from other buildings.  If there was an explosion in the building it would blow the roof off and the wall out.  In warmer weather they removed the blow out wall for ventilation.  The wheel mill buildings were close to the creek but above the creek.  They simply blew out over the Brandywine Creek.  Where the door way went into the mill building they would put a 90 degree angle turn with very thick rock walls.  That kept the explosion from blowing back over the water channels supplying water to the turbines at each wheel mill.  The mills originally used water wheels but after the middle of the 1800s they converted over to tub turbines.

When they got into their early semi-smokless the wheel mill building has rock walls roughly twice the thickness of the black powder wheel mills.  And that wheel mill building was spaced well away from the black powder mills.

Bill K.

Offline Flint62Smoothie

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2019, 04:00:24 PM »
Fascinating - thank you!

And MANY thanks and appreciation for your efforts of preserving this info so it too doesn’t get ‘lost’!
All of my muzzleloaders will shoot into a ragged ~1/2" hole ALL DAY LONG ... it's just the 2nd or 3rd or other shots that tend to open up my groups ... !

Offline Craig Wilcox

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2019, 05:35:29 PM »
Back in 1973, at the age of 28, I started college under using the GI Bill.  I had done a lot of different things by that time.  My first courses were General, then Organic Chem.
Having played with it a lot, I looked into making black powder - the processes were so dangerous that I decided instead to make gun cotton, Cellulose Nitrate.  Much safe process, and the product was much more effective than black powder.
The two ounces that I made worked wonders in blowing the doors off of old refrigerators - 1/4 oz at a time.  Frightening stuff to think of today, for sure.
I do not envy the workers of the DuPont factory, or any other manufacturer of black powder - and am grateful for their efforts.  No complaints from me about the cost!
Craig Wilcox
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Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2019, 07:11:19 PM »
Back in 1973, at the age of 28, I started college under using the GI Bill.  I had done a lot of different things by that time.  My first courses were General, then Organic Chem.
Having played with it a lot, I looked into making black powder - the processes were so dangerous that I decided instead to make gun cotton, Cellulose Nitrate.  Much safe process, and the product was much more effective than black powder.
The two ounces that I made worked wonders in blowing the doors off of old refrigerators - 1/4 oz at a time.  Frightening stuff to think of today, for sure.
I do not envy the workers of the DuPont factory, or any other manufacturer of black powder - and am grateful for their efforts.  No complaints from me about the cost!

In the book on the life of Lammot Du Pont there is a section where he was touring powder plans in Europe.  When he visited the German Spandau complex they told him that they had not had an explosion or fatality in 45 years.

My industrial background includes 30 years in a PVC resin manufacturing plant.  I still get nightmares of what I saw in that facility in the way of worker deaths.

When you look at the history of the old GOEX plant at Moosic, PA you see a number of explosions and fatalities in the 80s and 90s.  The place ignored a lot of common safety rules and the place was very poorly maintained.  They ignored the common rules for X proof electrical wiring.  Light bulbs in the corning and sifting house were simply spliced into common romex wiring.  Junction boxes on electric motors with no covers.  The then parent company was simply milking the profit out of the powder plant and not putting anything back into it.

That is the good thing with Hodgdon taking over GOEX.  Those people take safety very seriously. 

Bill K.

Offline mark esterly

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2019, 01:17:58 AM »
this is really good stuff.  thank you
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Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2019, 04:07:19 PM »
Powder mills.  Sounds like a single men ; orphans preferred , kind of job !   

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2019, 02:45:39 AM »
According to Captain Phil Sharpe there were after an explosion,people lined up to get
the jobs left by the fatalities.Reference The Complete Guide to Hand Loading By Phil Sharpe.
Green River rifle works opened a powder mill but it blew up with fatal results.
Maybe the Mad Monk can enlighten us on this one.

Bob Roller

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2019, 03:55:11 AM »
According to Captain Phil Sharpe there were after an explosion,people lined up to get
the jobs left by the fatalities.Reference The Complete Guide to Hand Loading By Phil Sharpe.
Green River rifle works opened a powder mill but it blew up with fatal results.
Maybe the Mad Monk can enlighten us on this one.

Bob Roller

Bob,

You ought to have heard those who visited that Green River rifle works attempt at a powder mill.  One guy I know looked at the place and there was a guy standing in the wheel mill pan shoveling out the powder with a steel garden shovel.  He set a new record for beating feet away from the place.

Du Pont never had any trouble getting powder plant workers.  With Du Pont if you were killed on the job they took care of your widow and children.  Insuring the widow and children had roofs over their heads and food on the table.  In the old Du Pont works there were jobs for the women and children.  Du Pont grew a lot of white willow for use in the plant.  They would pollard the trees which then gave wood "rods" used for charcoal.  When they were cut in the Spring when the sap rose in the trees the families of the workers would earn a little extra stripping the bark off the rods.  Du Pont also had a school for the children.  They didn't work people into the ground but everybody was kept busy with some sort of work that contributed to the functioning of the plant.
There was a long period of time when it was run as its own little nearly self-sufficient community.  When you look at those times you were looking at cities such as Wilmington with very high crime rates.  Remember.  That is when all of those little pocket pistols were all the rage for safety on the city streets.  That black powder plant was a lot safer than the average East Coast city at that time.

Some times read what the work-related injuries and deaths were in the anthracite coal mines to the North of me.  Or those rates with our Reading Railroad.  Read up on why air brakes were developed for the railroads and what the lives of brakeman were before the air brakes.  Those old black powder plants had lower death rates that the steel, railroads or Eastern coal mines did.  We look at it from our point in time and not from that point in time.  Big difference in understanding the times.

Bill K.


Offline Mike from OK

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Re: Black Powder Explosions
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2019, 07:37:19 AM »
According to Captain Phil Sharpe there were after an explosion,people lined up to get
the jobs left by the fatalities.Reference The Complete Guide to Hand Loading By Phil Sharpe.
Green River rifle works opened a powder mill but it blew up with fatal results.
Maybe the Mad Monk can enlighten us on this one.

Bob Roller

Bob,

You ought to have heard those who visited that Green River rifle works attempt at a powder mill.  One guy I know looked at the place and there was a guy standing in the wheel mill pan shoveling out the powder with a steel garden shovel.  He set a new record for beating feet away from the place.

Du Pont never had any trouble getting powder plant workers.  With Du Pont if you were killed on the job they took care of your widow and children.  Insuring the widow and children had roofs over their heads and food on the table.  In the old Du Pont works there were jobs for the women and children.  Du Pont grew a lot of white willow for use in the plant.  They would pollard the trees which then gave wood "rods" used for charcoal.  When they were cut in the Spring when the sap rose in the trees the families of the workers would earn a little extra stripping the bark off the rods.  Du Pont also had a school for the children.  They didn't work people into the ground but everybody was kept busy with some sort of work that contributed to the functioning of the plant.
There was a long period of time when it was run as its own little nearly self-sufficient community.  When you look at those times you were looking at cities such as Wilmington with very high crime rates.  Remember.  That is when all of those little pocket pistols were all the rage for safety on the city streets.  That black powder plant was a lot safer than the average East Coast city at that time.

Some times read what the work-related injuries and deaths were in the anthracite coal mines to the North of me.  Or those rates with our Reading Railroad.  Read up on why air brakes were developed for the railroads and what the lives of brakeman were before the air brakes.  Those old black powder plants had lower death rates that the steel, railroads or Eastern coal mines did.  We look at it from our point in time and not from that point in time.  Big difference in understanding the times.

Bill K.

Bill I remember reading about railroad brakemen when I was a kid. Before the invention of the knuckle-style coupler used on modern rolling stock, the brakemen had to guide two coupling hoops together by hand and drop a pin in to couple the cars... Loss of digits was inevitable. It was even said that when a brakemen applied for a job they would look at his hands... Anyone with all 10 fingers would be passed over for not having enough experience.

I'm an electrician by trade. During the early years electrical workers had a 50% mortality rate... For every two men who started in the trade, on average one would die on the job.

Life used to be a lot tougher.

Anyway, I'm drifting off topic. Fascinating information about powder production. Thank you for sharing.

Mike