156 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
one to three heats were all we could get off of one bottom. Frequently they would give out at the first heat, then out would come the metal through the bottom; and having to use much water about the converter, the place under the vessel was at all times wet, and the result was explosions, often very dangerous, as the hot metal was blown in aU directions, frequently infficting serious injuries on the workmen, a calamity greatly dreaded and the cause of the gravest anxiety to those in charge. When an accident occurred anywhere about the works the first question asked would be: ' Is anyone hurt? ' If not, we would go to work at once to repair with that object only in mind. If, on the contrary, some of the workmen were seriously injured, it is impossible to describe the distress of mind that the person in charge had to endure. When the vessel was turned down it sometimes went too far and some of the metal ran out, resulting frequently in a grand pyro¬ technic display of an exceedingly dangerous character.
"The next operation was to get the metal in the ladle, which was generaUy not a very difficult one, but it would frequently burn through the ladle, and then the oifly thing that could be done was to let it run into the pit and order all hands out of the way, for fear of an explosion. As soon as the metal was partially set aU hands commenced to clean the pit, which was no easy task. Here were eight tons of molten steel in the pit, burned fast to ingot moiflds, bottom and sides of the pit, and to everything that would not burn up. If we were so fortunate as to get the ladle over the pit in good shape, our anxiety was not yet at an end. It quite frequently happened that the stopper would pufl off the end of the rod; then we had to use what we caUed a pricker to open the nozzle from the bottom. If the metal happened to be cold, which by that time it was apt to be, the nozzle would freeze up, as we caUed it; then the metal would have