John’s story continues:

Accompanying the plunge in company fortunes from a peak to a valley, were people changes. John Dagenhard, our highly successful hot top salesman, no longer had competitive WG products to offer and accepted an offer from PMP, a growing exothermic hot top supplier. John moved to Pittsburgh and later continued his successful career with Foseco. John and I have remained friends until this day. Steve Haw replaced John, calling on steel plants with the mission of developing hot top products we could sell and make.

I championed the notion that we commission Battle Institute in Columbus to develop suitable exothermic hot top mixes for WG. Our board approved $25,000 for the project. Battle assured us they had great background in this technology and the project should be a simple one for them. Battle’s work can be kindly described as ineffective. When hot tops were lined with the Battle compounds and filled with molten steel, the gas generated by the reaction literally boiled the metal. Steel plant acceptance was based on a hot burning exothermic with no evolved gas disturbing the contained metal.

I was embarrassed and sent for patents of successful exothermic companies. We obtained several hundred samples of potential ingredients. Steve Haw, Jim Crowe and I spent many evenings of the next three months in the machine shop. We would make up mixes, about a tablespoon full, then heat the mix with a cutting torch and observe the burn rate, heat generated and gas evolved. (When my wife, Pauline, reviewed the manuscript, she observed, “You took my mixer from the kitchen, promised to replace it and never did!”) When 10 mixes with some promise were discovered, we would form glass size cylinders of the mixes and take them to Massillon Steel Castings and fill them with molten steel. After hundreds of these trials, we selected the most promising and lined some hot tops and took them to Republic Steel for evaluation. This time, we came up with some winners.