How Do You Make That Hose?

 

http://hbd-ther.knowledge4you.ca/wp-content/uploads/industrial-hose_product-image.pngYou likely use things made with the help of my maternal grandfather’s patent every day. From cars to jet airliners, from garden hoses to welding torches, reinforced hose is used. You need an inner layer that stands up to whatever flows through the hose, you need a reinforcing layer to keep the hose from bulging and bursting under pressure, and you need an outer coating to protect the hose from the external environment. So, how do you make that? Therein lies a tale.

F. Merrill Galloway was my maternal grandfather. Born in 1908, he went home at 95. He worked his entire adult life until the Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) or mini-strokes ended his ability to work in his late 80s. He worked with both his hands and his mind, from his garden, to clocks, to rebuilding a violin from broken pieces in a cigar box. Then there was the work that paid the bills and in which he took enormous pride.

https://cdn.sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-product-image/1955-thermoid-rubber-fire-hose-vintage-print-ad-86-t849350-500.jpgHe worked in the rubber industry his entire adult life. He was hired after college by Quaker Rubber, which was eventually bought by H.K Porter, which is now part of HBD Industries. He was moved to Ohio to establish a continuous hose production plant. The manufacturing plants in which he worked made hoses and belts, of the sort found in a car’s engine compartment, for instance. These are now organized under one of the venerable brand names: Thermoid. Into the plant came raw materials, and out the other end went finished products on pallets.

Rubber, whether natural or synthetic, is only useful when combined with certain additives and heated. The heating process is called vulcanization, or “curing.” Curing chemically fixes the additives in among the rubber molecules so that the product does not sag into a puddle in the summer or crumble into pieces in the winter. American Innovations offers a creative telling of Charles Goodyear’s lengthy trial and error discovery of vulcanization. A Royal Society of Chemistry podcast on rubber chemistry offers a more technical, but accessible, explanation.

Vulcanisation crosslinks rubber by creating sulfur bridges between chains, which generally vary in length between one and eight sulfur atoms. Short crosslinks produce a more heat resistant rubber, whereas longer crosslinks produce a more elastic material. The amount of crosslinking also affects the mechanical properties – the higher the degree of crosslinking, the stiffer the rubber. For example, rubber bands have a much lower crosslink density than car tyres. On its own, sulfur is a slow, inefficient crosslinker, so accelerating agents are added to catalyse the process, and other additives are added to stop the reaction and stabilise the final product.

The flexibility and ability to hold air, water, and other liquids or gasses make hoses superior to metal tubes or pipes, in many applications. Yet, you do not want a hose to bulge, like a party balloon. So, you can add lateral or sidewall strength by wrapping the hose in thread, applied in a crosswise manner by several bobbins rotating in opposite directions as the hose passes between them.

Before the reinforcement step, the raw materials, following a recipe for the particular desired product, are combined and heated into a near liquid mass. That mass is then extruded with the desired cross-section interior and exterior diameters. Another rubber company gives this explanation of the rubber extrusion process:

The rubber extrusion process begins with the soft, unvulcanized rubber compound being fed into the extruder.

Next, the flutes of the revolving screw will begin to carry the rubber forward into the die, with an increase in pressure and temperature occurring as the material gets closer to the die itself.

Once it reaches the die, the built-up pressure forces the material through the openings, where it will consequently swell in various degrees based on the material compound and hardness. Because of this tendency toward swelling, many extruded parts require plus or minus tolerances on their cross sections. During the vulcanization, the extruded rubber will well or shrink in both its cross section and its length, depending on the type of rubber compound used.

With the extruded, but not vulcanized, hose wrapped with reinforcing material, repeat the extrusion process with the same or different materials to create the outer layer. Now we need to get the whole thing to set with the characteristics we desire for use. Time to bring the heat.

One way to vulcanize hose is to make a desired length and heat it all at once. Obviously, this limits the speed of production, and the length, depending on the heating system. What we really want is a continuous system, a sort of assembly line. Yet, the length of time you need to apply heat suggests the assembly line could get quite long, just to keep the moving hose in the heating system long enough for vulcanization.

Ah, but what if we had a system of pulley wheels at two ends and at point through a shorter heating system? Now the hose could be passed back and forth several times through the heating system. Here is where my grandfather enters the picture.

He was involved in the patented invention and improvement of the most efficient system for curing “elasticized polymer” or “rubber” in a continuous moving production line. A bed of glass beads, as small as fine sand, but smooth, is both heated and suspended in air by forces hot air from below. It looks like a bubbling liquid, and the hose dips down in and passes through the liquid-like glass bead bath. The roller or pulley system is adjustable, to maintain the right tension or slack on the moving hose, preventing distortion.

The U.S. Patent Office has the drawing in PDF format, part of the pre-digital application archive. Google offers both the drawing and the text for the patent. Justia Patents offers the last improvement credited to my grandfather in 1979:

This invention constitutes an improvement upon the existing practice of manufacturing reinforced automotive heater hose and the like in a continuous operation which comprises continuously extruding an elastomeric tube, continuously applying to the outer surface of the tube an appropriate reinforcing layer of textile yarns or the like, continuously extruding over the reinforcing layer an elastomeric covering layer, and continuously curing the elastomeric components in an elongated chamber containing heat exchange elements the improvement residing in the provision of a method and means for elongating within certain limits the uncured or partially cured hose during the curing process whereby reduction of pressure and temperature within the extruding units and other advantages in production of reinforced automotive heater hose and the like may be realized.

As I and my oldest sister, who worked several summers at the plant, recall, there were three of these lines, so three different types of hose could be produced at once. There were workers posted near the initial mixing station, to ensure the extruder was properly fed, and near the reinforcing material bobbin systems to ensure they were feeding correctly and reloaded as needed. Towards the end, hose was cut at specified lengths, and could be finished with various fittings. Each lot had a small sample cut for quality control testing by the in house lab.

How do you ensure the product is being produced within specifications? Well, that takes some measurement devices, and a quick search shows my grandfather, around 80 years old, inventing and patenting two such tools. This exemplifies the man, who was still going to work in the R&D department of the plant. It was a family joke that “work will be the death of Daddy.” My uncles joked “oh, the shame, I’ll retire before him!” He taught his children and grandchildren that if you put in the time to weed your garden, consistently, it would eventually be easy. As soon at the Farmers’ Almanac said it was safe, he was putting into his garden the young plants he had started in the basement under fluorescent grow lamps. His hands and mind were always turning to sustaining or improving something.

Grandpa Galloway spent most of his working life in the same Ohio town, yet his expertise made him part of the company team flying to Europe and Asia when foreign companies inquired about licensing the continuous manufacture of reinforced hose process. I’m not sure of the outcome of those trips, although I recall Grandpa’s comment that the Chinese would likely just steal the process. That was surely a safe assessment, one which no Congress or president has effectively addressed until, perhaps, President Trump.

There are 19 comments.

  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    It’s not a cigar, although rolling is involved, nor a lemon meringue pie, although you must combine ingredients in order and apply heat.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the February 2019 Theme Writing: How Do You Make That? There are plenty of dates still available. Tell us about anything from knitting a sweater to building a mega-structure. Share your proudest success or most memorable failure (how not to make that). Do you agree with Arahants’ General Theory of Creativity? “Mostly it was knowing a few techniques, having the right tools, and having a love for building and creating whatever it was.” Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    I will post March’s theme mid month.

    • #1
    • February 19, 2019, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Hank Rhody, on the blockchain Contributor

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Looking at that heating element, how do you get it set up in the first place? Cool it down, thread new hose through it, start it back up. Going to be a long maintenance cycle any time your line breaks.

    What do you do with the glass beads when you have to turn the blowers off? Do you have nozzles so fine the beads won’t slide through? Can you put enough pressure to float your glass through those nozzles?

    Pretty cool system; it’s just that when I see a thing like this I wonder about the practical challenges of dealing with it day-to-day.

    • #2
    • February 19, 2019, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Hank Rhody, on the blockchain Contributor

    I should also say I like the continuous method of production. A long hose can be segmented into short ones. The longer you make it, the more useful it can be. Ideally you’d have hose in different area codes.

    • #3
    • February 19, 2019, at 5:48 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Clifford A. Brown: I’m not sure of the outcome of those trips, although I recall Grandpa’s comment that the Chinese would likely just steal the process. That was surely a safe assessment, one which no Congress or president has effectively addressed until, perhaps, President Trump.

    Trump makes everything better.

    • #4
    • February 19, 2019, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Vectorman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I will post March’s theme mid month.

    Mid month was at midnight on Valentine’s day. (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

    The March Quote of the Day signup sheet will be up tomorrow.

    • #5
    • February 19, 2019, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. The Reticulator Member

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    I should also say I like the continuous method of production. A long hose can be segmented into short ones. The longer you make it, the more useful it can be. Ideally you’d have hose in different area codes.

    I’ve long been mildly interested in the transition from batch to continuous modes of production for things like starch, paper, and roasted coffee. It makes for some interesting industrial history.

    I got interested about the time a bicycle ride near Richmond, Indiana inspired me to write this blog article: The House That Starch Built? But I see that I wrote mostly about the effect of government regulation on 19th century starch production in England, France, Ireland, and the United States, and didn’t write anything about the transition to continuous processes. Maybe to write about it, it would help to know something about it.

    I’m glad to now know something about the continuous production of hoses.

    Question: Some old Russian movies make a big deal about the production of metal cylinders, and in at least one groundbreaking film, about the political battles and personal risk it took to innovate. (The film itself was an innovation, you could say.) I wonder if any of the skills needed to innovate in that industry had any applicability to rubber hoses, and vice versa. The film I’m thinking of (whose name I can’t recall at the moment) was rather squishy on the technological details.

    • #6
    • February 19, 2019, at 8:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Spin Inactive

    Pretty dope.

    • #7
    • February 19, 2019, at 8:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Looking at that heating element, how do you get it set up in the first place? Cool it down, thread new hose through it, start it back up. Going to be a long maintenance cycle any time your line breaks.

    What do you do with the glass beads when you have to turn the blowers off? Do you have nozzles so fine the beads won’t slide through? Can you put enough pressure to float your glass through those nozzles?

    Pretty cool system; it’s just that when I see a thing like this I wonder about the practical challenges of dealing with it day-to-day.

    I don’t recall, from the decades back that I walked the line. However, it ran three shifts a day as I recall. As I recall, there was talk of rivals looking at microwave instead of direct heat, and the capitalized equipment plus energy bill was calculated to be significantly higher.

    • #8
    • February 19, 2019, at 9:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    I should also say I like the continuous method of production. A long hose can be segmented into short ones. The longer you make it, the more useful it can be. Ideally you’d have hose in different area codes.

    I’ve long been mildly interested in the transition from batch to continuous modes of production for things like starch, paper, and roasted coffee. It makes for some interesting industrial history.

    Question: Some old Russian movies make a big deal about the production of metal cylinders, and in at least one groundbreaking film, about the political battles and personal risk it took to innovate. (The film itself was an innovation, you could say.) I wonder if any of the skills needed to innovate in that industry had any applicability to rubber hoses, and vice versa. The film I’m thinking of (whose name I can’t recall at the moment) was rather squishy on the technological details.

    I enjoyed your post on starch, including the farm country photographs. I have no knowledge on the metal cylinder question…jump ball anyone?

    • #9
    • February 19, 2019, at 10:47 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Douglas Pratt Member

    That was lovely. Thank you for posting it.

    I should work up something similar about my grandfather, William A. Smith, who invented chunky applesauce. He also built the house I am blessed to live in, and planted the 45 acre arboretum that surrounds it.

    • #10
    • February 20, 2019, at 4:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Pony Convertible Member

    The company I work for uses braided tubing to make medical devices. Angioplasty balloon inflation, used to deploy stents, would be impossible without it. 

    • #11
    • February 20, 2019, at 5:06 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. OkieSailor Member

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    That was lovely. Thank you for posting it.

    I should work up something similar about my grandfather, William A. Smith, who invented chunky applesauce. He also built the house I am blessed to live in, and planted the 45 acre arboretum that surrounds it.

    I’m sure Mrs. OS. Would enjoy visiting Robin Hill . One question, see there labels on the trees/ plants? Being an avid Gardener she is constantly looking to expand her knowledge of plants .

    • #12
    • February 20, 2019, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor

    These technical posts don’t have a great appeal to me, @cliffordbrown, but your grandfather was awesome. Just needed to say that. Thanks for telling us about him!

    • #13
    • February 20, 2019, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Hank Rhody, on the blockchain Contributor

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Question: Some old Russian movies make a big deal about the production of metal cylinders, and in at least one groundbreaking film, about the political battles and personal risk it took to innovate. (The film itself was an innovation, you could say.) I wonder if any of the skills needed to innovate in that industry had any applicability to rubber hoses, and vice versa. The film I’m thinking of (whose name I can’t recall at the moment) was rather squishy on the technological details.

    I enjoyed your post on starch, including the farm country photographs. I have no knowledge on the metal cylinder question…jump ball anyone?

    Near as I can tell a lot of metal casting is done by extrusion much like the rubber hose; only at higher temperatures and pressures. I’m sorry but that exhausts my knowledge on the subject.

    • #14
    • February 20, 2019, at 8:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Douglas Pratt Member

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    That was lovely. Thank you for posting it.

    I should work up something similar about my grandfather, William A. Smith, who invented chunky applesauce. He also built the house I am blessed to live in, and planted the 45 acre arboretum that surrounds it.

    I’m sure Mrs. OS. Would enjoy visiting Robin Hill . One question, see there labels on the trees/ plants? Being an avid Gardener she is constantly looking to expand her knowledge of plants .

    That’s an ongoing project. I’ve been working with the University of Buffalo to identify the plantings. We have records of about 350 interesting trees and shrubs that Granddad planted and have located around 130. I need some grad students to do it for credit.

    I’d love to show you around any time, although I am no gardener and would undoubtedly learn from your wife.

    • #15
    • February 20, 2019, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Duane Oyen Member

    That sort of hose process is exactly the reason that the patent system exists. Not phony “innovations” like “One click” business methods, or de-genericizing an old drug by patenting a dose counter and making that the only version available.

    • #16
    • February 20, 2019, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

     

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    That was lovely. Thank you for posting it.

    I should work up something similar about my grandfather, William A. Smith, who invented chunky applesauce. He also built the house I am blessed to live in, and planted the 45 acre arboretum that surrounds it.

    Please do! We have plenty of days left this month to tell how he made that! 

    • #17
    • February 20, 2019, at 1:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. TempTime Member

    Great post, Clifford. I love learning the hows and whys of things. Thank you.

    • #18
    • February 20, 2019, at 9:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Superb post, thank you!

    • #19
    • February 23, 2019, at 8:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like