It's the hottest job on the island. That's the focus of this trip "Inside the Gates" of the Rock Island Arsenal. There's been a foundry on Arsenal Island for well over a century. While it's changed locations over time, it's still there today. One thing that hasn't changed, it takes a lot of heat to melt metal.
It's the U.S. Army's only active foundry.
"That means we're unique. They call upon us and we get it done," says Jim Knapp, Supervisor of the Molten Metals Branch.
The sight is mesmerizing. Men in silver suits working with melting metal. "We load the furnace; we put the scrap steel in. We work with the metallurgists on the chemistry," says Brian Swisher, a Melter at the foundry.
It's more complicated than it looks. "We don't pour one type of metal. We can go from steel to brass to aluminum to armor," Knapp says.
Waiting nearby are specially designed molds, in this case they're making something for a Navy ship. Knapp says, "It's a part that goes around the front of the ship for their sonar system."
But moving a ladle, loaded with 6–thousand pounds of liquid metal requires help from above.A crane operator is a critical part of the team. "Looking down and trying to control something that heavy can be quite difficult and then plus I can see things that the other people can't see so I can signal them if we do have a safety issue," says Crane Operator Nick Sallach.
"You just gotta be aware of your surroundings. Safety first. Can't be afraid of the metal. It is dangerous, but you can't be afraid of it," says Jeremy Schaack, a Melter at the foundry.
When it's time to pour the molten metal into the molds, there's little margin for error. "It's a 2 inch opening and the top of the runner cups probably 8 inches," Swisher tells us.
The parts will have to cool for 8 hours before they can be taken out of the molds. Swisher says, "You know the metal itself is say 3–thousand degrees. You get 3 to 4 feet away from it, it's gotta be like 4, 500 degrees. It's kind of like opening an oven and sticking your face in there." An age old occupation that requires a little fire in the belly and a passion for pouring metal.
In the early days of the Arsenal the foundry melted down Civil War cannon balls to make railings, fences, and other accessories for Quarters One and the Stone Shops.
By Roland Glembine / firstname.lastname@example.org you can help make a difference in a quad city senior's life this holiday season it's called the: 'be a santa to a senior program', and it's as simple as stoppingMore >>
You can help make a difference in a quad city senior's life this holiday season.More >>
By Natalie Zarowny email@example.com Saturday was the last day for families to sign up for Toys for Tots. Registration was down last week, but organizers said they have almost caught up. At theMore >>
Saturday was the last day for families to sign up for Toys for Tots.More >>
By Natalie Zarowny firstname.lastname@example.org A local barber has made his own tribute to Nelson Mandela. This past spring we showed you the story of Miguel Rosas, owner of The New Style Barber Shop in Moline. ThursdayMore >>
A local barber has made his own tribute to Nelson Mandela.
By CBS 4 Newsroom email@example.com Quad Citians got into the holiday mood in Rock Island's district Friday night. People from all over supported local artists during the holiday gallery hop. TheMore >>
Quad Citians got into the holiday mood in Rock Island's district Friday night.
By: Christine Souders firstname.lastname@example.org Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer. You could breathe in this poisonous gas by just using your furnace. Heating contractors said sometimes an oldMore >>
You could breathe in this poisonous gas by just using your furnace.More >>