In the early spring of 1937, Jim Abshire who was the Chief Engineer of the Eddy Paper Company Plants, offered me a job operating engines, in the “Old Mill” (Mill #1). Naturally I took it. The pay was 75 cents an hour and it was just what I wanted. By the way: five or six years later, I was in Cincinnati, Ohio training Jim to be an Insurance Inspector, in Power Plants. This bears out the old adage of Journeymen Linemen. “Be kind to your Grunt, some day he may be your General Foreman”.
Earl Abrams, Orlie Fish and Pete Newport were the operators and the mill was operating seven days a week, which made a pretty rough grind for three men, with no relief. It was for that reason that another operator was required. My first day on the job, I relieved Orlie and he showed me, very hastily, how to oil a Corliss Engine Valve Gear, when in motion. He had lined up six or eight oil cans, on the work bench, and told me that I would probably need most of them before Earl relieved me, at four o’clock. I later found that Orlie was a practical joker and he was pulling my leg, a little bit. However, he was not completely wrong, either. I did loose a couple of the cans, but I didn’t let him find out about it.
You see, the problem is that all of the valve mechanism is oscillating at 100 strokes per minute in various directions and each joint has a hole in which you need to get the spout of the oil can to give it a squirt of oil, every hour. Some of the holes are quite deep and only slightly larger than the spout of the oil can, so if your aim and timing are not just right, the spout could stick, in the hole, and the can could be snatched from your hand and thrown clear across the Engine Room. As I say, I lost a couple of cans, but in a day or two I got so that I could oil the gear each hour without loosing the can or squirting oil on my feet.
There is another section devoted specifically to the Corliss Engine, but for the time being, let us just say that the short time that I spent in that old Engine Room and my association with those three experienced engine men, helped to provide me with a wealth of knowledge that proved to be priceless in my future.