In the components factory, cathodes are cut, trimmed and shaped and one automatic machine was capable of reeling off 2500 cathodes per hour and when one considers that only one or two are needed per valve, this level of production represents a lot of valves.
At the end of each bench I noticed a squared sheet headed Quality Control Chart where defects can be recorded every fifteen minutes. This scrutiny in the search for the ideal, I found, was the forte of the entire works with 100 people in the factory doing nothing else but inspect the product in its many stages.
One process which proved interesting was the insulation of filament from cathode by coating the spiral tungsten wire with aluminium oxide then a neat gadget gets hold of this much travelled wire and bends it into either an M or V shape. This may seem very complicated but I watched a deaf and dumb boy manipulating one of these machines. He had been taught by a charge-hand purely by demonstration. The wire in this particular machine was cut off at the right length, dropped down into a slot, pushed up into rollers and formed into shape. Then along came a steel hand to hang it on what can best be described as a miniature clothes line.
A partition separated the cathode section from the plant where welding was in operation. Here, anodes were in production with two halves being welded together to form a shape like a miniature fire screen.
While an operator kept a keen eye on all the parts as they moved lifelike, the four slide machine with its many pairs of hands did nine jobs at the same time. The outcome of its activity were a tumbling mass of a minutely shaped things - like a metal snowflake of wonderul design - at the rate of 8000 an hour - beautiful anodes!
Part 7, the final part of this story will be here soon....