The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

THE BOILER X-RAY

Even though I was not, in any way, officially connected with the boiler inspections, there was one occasion that I became very much involved. It took place in the same mill where the piston rings were made. I was at the mill for a routine inspection when I received a call from the Boston Office advising me that arrangements had been made for an X-Ray examination of a suspicious area in one of their boiler drums. The Radium Capsule was due to arrive the next day, but the expert, from the Testing Laboratory, who was supposed to perform the examination, had been in an accident and could not be there, so would I take the X-Ray pictures? Naturally I said that I would if someone would tell me just what it was that I was going to do. They said that all of the instructions would be with the Radium and there would be nothing to it.

The thing that I couldn't understand was, if there was nothing to it, what did they need that expert for? But I got the instructions out and read them very carefully, especially that part about how close and for how long a person could, safely, be exposed to that little capsule that was in that great big lead container.

I went to the hospital and got two sheets of X-Ray film and went right at the job, just as though I knew what I was doing. I put the film on the outside of the drum and the Radium on the inside. I left it for the period of time that the instructions called for, then I took the films back to the hospital and they developed them for me.

No one in the world could have been more surprised than I was to see a very distinct hair line crack between two rivet holes in the lap seam of that boiler drum. The exposure was perfect. I gave one film to the Plant Engineer and sent the other one to Boston. As far as I know, everyone, except me, thought that I knew what I was doing.

I never did ask what steps were taken in the way of correction, because I did not want to get any further involved. Those boilers were serviced from our Spartanburg, South Carolina office so I just wanted to leave well enough alone. This thought did occur to me later. The request for the X-Ray examination must have originated in the Spartanburg office and if so, why didn't Boston call the Boiler Inspector who initiated the action, to perform the test? Oh well.

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