Some Farnsworth team humor to offset the hard love

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Richard Hull
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Some Farnsworth team humor to offset the hard love

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:27 pm

Once the ITT team in Fort Wayne started using tritium with deuterium they had to start testing the employees.

The AEC licensing for Tritium demanded at least monthly urine testing for all employees invovled with the material in and around the device into which the tritium was introduced.

The infirmary at the Pontiac Street location would issue appointments to each fusion team member in turn. If they did not respond then security would come and forcibly escort the person down to be tested.

The large Universal Voltronics 100kv supply experienced a burnout at some point in the mid 60's. Universal sent down a crew to fix it on site as this was in their contract. Part of the standard routine was to pre-ship two large 30 gallon drums of the special insulating oil down along with two empties to return the old, fouled oil they would remove. The crew came and drained the HV transformer's sealed, 55 gallon drum of oil so that a new transformer could be installed. Once installed, they placed the new oil, on hand, into the repaired larger drum and used a new lid gasket seal to finish the job.

The four drums were placed just outside the secret, "NO ENTRANCE" doorway of the "cave" and "pit" labs in the common corridor of the building. Placed against the wall, the two drums marked "waste" were highly visible.

The drums sat there for about 4 weeks as the repair was done and no one was very proactive in returning the drums.

Apparently, someone, probably a nosey dept. head who was not on good terms with the secret fusion group, went to purchasing and wanted to know what the drums contained and what they were doing in the common hall corridor outside of the no admittance areas. He was referred to Gene Meeks who glibbly told him they contained the collected, tritiated urine and fecal specimens of the team members and would go out for analysis very soon. Gene's impish humor was unleashed again.

The rumors spread rapidly from here and the hall traffic by the labs dropped off considerably until the drums were sent back to Universal Voltronics.

According to Steve Blaising, at least one employee in a nearby office armed himself with a perpetually turned on geiger counter to keep himself prepared for anything those "nutballs" did down the hall. Once, just for fun, Steve drifted by this fellows desk with a radium excited vacuum gauge tube in his pocket. The GM counter went nuts and so did the guy.

The secrecy that the Admiral dropped over the whole project made the group all the more isolated, mysterious and suspect. They were admonished not to discuss their work with anyone at the facility.

Steve told me that one day he was in a barber shop near the plant having his hair cut during lunch and one of the patrons talking to the barber proclaimed that Farnsworth up on Pontiac Street was involved in an ITT time machine project!

Rumors flew fast and furious around this effort.

Jargon: history

Blaising and others often refer to the inter-plant EOPD and AOD areas. the acronyms stand for.

Electron Optic Product Division -sometimes referred to as the "tube labs"

Aerospace Optical Division - the finished product division.

There was also the Federal division of ITT there. Federal built a lot of radios for the military and was a major manufacturer of standard vacuum receiving tubes with the Federal brand name.

During the korean war and just after, a number of radios made for the military actually bore the Farnsworth Electronics label, as did many of the IR sniper scopes.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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