AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 45
in erecting the machinery, boilers, and furnaces in the mill. I went diligently to work, keeping my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. In a few weeks I was advanced to the grade of a regular mechanic, and continued in this posi¬ tion until the miU was completed and in operation. I was soon after placed in charge of all the machinery of the plant. This was quite a responsible position, and soon proved to be an onerous one. There were three sets of roUs in the miU, all driven by one engine. This made a number of gear wheels necessary, in order to have the trains properly located and the proper speed for each set of rolls. In order to have the rotation of one set of roUs changed to deUver on the opposite side of the other two, idlers were used. These idlers soon proved to be a source of great trouble, as all idlers do, whether animate or inanimate. It was here that my most serious trouble commenced, and simultaneously my rolUng-mill education commenced.
The cogs in the wheels would break out, and at times would get out of mesh with the wheels in contact; a general smash-up was the result, and the whole plant would come to a standstiU. Then it was work day and night, in the grease, until aU was ready to start again,— a job which sometimes would take a week or more. At times only a cog or so would break out, and we would dovetail and bolt others in their places temporarily, at all times a most dangerous practice, but so expeditious that we would fre¬ quently assume the risk. But the trouble became so serious and costly that the idlers were taken out and re¬ placed by two wheels of proper diameter to gear into each other, thereby entirely dispensing with the idler. This portion of the mill gave but Uttle trouble after the change was made, but the product was deUvered on the wrong side of the roUs, and had to be passed back over them. This caused delay and was to a sniaU extent costly, but the