Interview with Albert Rider "Slick" Ely, 1988 December 6 [audio]

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  • Working as a plant manager; Working for the Hercules Powder Company in Kenvil, New Jersey; Working in sales; The Ballistics laboratory at Kenvil, New Jersey; Description of lab equipment
    Partial Transcript: "Well, I have always used A.R. because I have always detested the name of Albert."
    Synopsis: Ely talks about working in the sales department at the Hercules Powder Company. He says he was not very good at this job, but that it was important for him to understand how sales work. He describes the ballistics lab at Hercules Kenvil, New Jersey plant. He talks about how working in the lab was his first job. He describes what work in the lab was like, and says that most of the work at that particular lab focused on smokeless gunpowder. He describes the operation of a ballistics pendulum and how he used one to test the strength of different kinds of gunpowder.
    Keywords: Ballistics; Ballistics pendulums; Dynamite; Hercules Powder Company; Kenvil, New Jersey; Sales; Salesmanship; Smokeless gunpowder; Wilmington, Del.
  • Creation of Hercules Powder Company; Using a testing mortar at Kenvil, New Jersey
    Partial Transcript: "When this dissolution decree came through, Hercules was given access to any technical information that DuPont had and had access to any technical DuPont services..." "A mortar, according to my recollection was a dead ringer..."
    Synopsis: Ely talks about the dissolution of DuPont and working at Hercules. He says that when he started his job in 1914, he wasn't sure if he worked for DuPont or Hercules because they still used a lot of DuPont technical equipment and forms. He details some of Hercules' founding leaders. He talks about the qualities of different testing mortars and says that the one held by the Hagley Museum and Library is one of the better examples of that type of equipment he knows of. He explains the use and function of a mortar and describes operating conditions at the Hercules plant in Kenvil, New Jersey. He describes the use of a pendulum friction machine.
    Keywords: Ballistics pendulums; Du Pont, T. Coleman (Thomas Coleman), 1863-1930; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.; Gunpowder; Hercules Powder Company; Mortars; Pendulum friction machines; Testing
  • Description of a ballistic pendulum's workings; Description of using a mortar to test powder
    Partial Transcript: "As I recall it was a pencil in a holder... on the swinging part."
    Synopsis: Ely describes, in great detail, the operation and appearance of a ballistics testing pendulum. He talks about mortars with a similar level of detail.
    Keywords: Ballistics pendulums; Blasting Machines; Mortars; Safety; Testing
  • Lathe and miner's jack in Ely's basement
    Partial Transcript: "One of the salesman in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania territory was visiting here in Wilmington and had found one of these in one of the field magazine offices, and mentioned it.. oh, he sent several of them in." "When I was manager at Kenvil... I ran across this lathe..."
    Synopsis: Ely talks about a papier-mâ ché miner's jack in his basement. Ely talks about finding his lathe at the Hercules plant in Kenvil and taking it with him. Ely describes the lathe and how he uses it.
    Keywords: Hercules Powder Company; Kenvil, New Jersey; Lathes; Miner's jacks; papier-mâ ché ; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Ballistics pendulum used at a mine in Pennsylvania; Testing powder's blasting strength; A continuum with blasting powder at one side and nitroglycerin at the other
    Partial Transcript: "Well this one tests permissible explosives... they had volumes and volumes of stuff..."
    Synopsis: Ely talks about a ballistic pendulum used to test explosives at a mine in Pennsylvania. He talks about the arrangement which used two mortars facing each other, one large and one small. Ely talks about investigating the blasting strength of powder and dynamite and explains how the mortar was not always used for quality control purposes.
    Keywords: Ballistic pendulums; Blasting powder; Dynamite; Explosives; Kieselguhr; Mines; Mortars; Nitroglycerin; Prennsylvania; Quality Control; Testing