Los Alamitos—A Crackerjack Sugar Mill.

An infinity of noises smiting upon the ear. ceaseless, never-ending, repetitive; the hum of myriads of wheels, whirling with spokes indistinguishable; the sung of belts gliding endlessly aloft, swinging from wheel to wheel; ibe noise of the beets, as churning and splashing through the water, they are inevitably drawn into the endless belt to be taken aloft and sliced; the rattle and whirr of a forest of machinery, and over and above all the dull, monotonous chug-chug of the hot-water pumps, resounding throughout the factory; an occasional signal steam whistle, and signal toll never ending from one part of this hive (if industrial activity to another—such are the sights and such the impressions one feels instinctively as he steps into the big Alamiitos sugar factory, which has been for six weeks turning out sugar at the rate of about forty tons per day, almost at our very doors.

As one enters be sees, displayed prominently neer the main entrance, in large black letters, the admonition, “Positively no admittance;” Not being armed with a permit, from Superintendent Dyer, we boldly enter, staring the sign out of countenance.

A stroll through the factory shows, at first sight, the dissimilarity of the works as compared with the mill at Chino—there are not so many men employed and the machinery seems to be less complex, more simple. There is a semblance of newness everywhere. And when it comes to the making of sugar, the superiority of the new factory is abundantly shown; the sugar is finer than that made at Chino, and full forty tons of it are being turned out daily. The number of men engaged at the factory, on both the day and night shifts, is about seventy five. The hours are from 6 A. M. to 6 P. M., each shift coming on morning and night; and once a fortnight the day and night shifts exchange places by the former continuing on duty for eighteen hours, and being succeeded by the next shift for the same length of time. At noon a half hour is taken for lunch. The factory is from 300 to 400 tons capacity; the highest run was 408 tons; yet next year t he capacity will be doubled. At many points in the factory one sees where places have been made by the constructor of the building for the enlargement next year. Beets from 3500 acres are being used; next year the area will be increased to probably 7000 to 8000 aeres. Already about 12,000 tons of beets have been used, and there remain in the fields probably 18,000 tons. The total tonnage to be used amounts to 30,000 tons, and about 300 pounds of sugar is extracted from a ton. In the neighborhood of 9,000,000 pounds of sugar will be made.

In company of Superintendent Dyer we start at the beetsheds, where the beets are brought In by the farmers and dumped in the. bins; and we follow the course of the raw product until it issues at the other end of the factory refined sugar ready to be sacked, weighed and wheeled Into the warehouse for export. The bins are 42×200 feet. The tilting dump is used and the beets are dumped from the wagon, either on one side or the other of the bins upon an inclined floor, at the base of which runs a swift current of water in a conduit connecting the sheds with the factory. Beets are dumped into the bins in such quantities that they become ologged with hundreds upon hundreds of tons and men are kept busy with rakes assisting them into the conduit, whence they dance along in the current to be taken into the factory.

Once they reach the factory the beets are taken up by a large wheel fitted with pans on the interior of the rim and closed on the further side, which revolves slowly at the end of the conduit, and into which the beets are carried; as these pans reach the apex, during the revolution of the wheel, they are precipitated into a bath, in which revolving spokes, scattering the beets indiscriminately in the water, give them their first real introduction to the treatment they are to be accorded on their journey through the factory. The bath is fitted with an apparatus that erupts the washed beets periodically into a hopper to be borne aloft in an endless revolving device to the slicer. The beets toss and tumble over one anotherin the water; they fall back into the bath, seemingly in abhorrence of contact with the belt that moves unerringly with them to the slicer overhead. They recede into the bath, only to be brought to the surface again by the ever-recurring eruption; some of the more recalcitrant tumble out upon the floor, only to be thrown back again by the attendant. At last a particularly large fellow which we have watched as he fought savagely against the fate awaiting him, falling back into the bath again and again, then bounding out petulantly upon the floor, only to be returned to his doom, disappears at last in the endless belt through the upper roof. I’erbaps we shall have him to sweeten our coffee for breakfast this morning.

The beets are next seen in the hopper upon the third floor. Here they are sliced witti peculiarly made knives that have to he sharpened constantly. From the hopper they are precipitated into the diffusion battery, where they come in contact with their first heat since leaving the bins. The sliced beets are next seen, as we descend to the second floor, moving down from the upper floor in a flaky mass, gliding down the elevators slowly, and anon so choking up the way that men use a long rake to assist them on their journey.

In the diffusion battery they are subjected to boiling, and after undergoing the usual process, the juice is conducted to the series of four large evaporators, called the quadruple, effect, which Mr. Dyer points out as one of the features of the factory. When the juice reaches the first of the four evaporators it contains about. 10 per cent, of sugar; when it leaves the fourth it contains 50 per cent. The first evaporator is heated with steam from the engine’s exhaust pipe—literally waste steam.

The process is the invention of M. Rillieux, an American, and in the manufacture of the machinery by the Dyer Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio, the evaporator idea has been improved upon and elaborated to a marked degree.

From the first evaporator the steam engendered is forced by vacuum pressure into the second evaporator, where the juice is kept boiling at an intense heat. Here again the steam arising from the evaporation is conducted to the third evaporator, and the steam engendered by the boiling is in turn conducted to the fourth evaporator. Thus the entire work of this extraordinary quadruple effect is engendered by waste steam that comes originally from the engine. Immense steam pipes connect each evaporator with the other, and the juice is conducted from one to the other with pipes running on the other side underneath. One may see through a glass, which is placed in a position corresponding to a glass placed upon the other side, the boiling mass of beet as in a seething cauldron. As we near the evaporators we encounter Mike Reagan, the head carpenter at the works, encasing the last of the. giant boilers with a covering of polished ash.

After leaving the evaporators, the liquid is conducted to tanks upon the upper floor, where it is treated with sulphurous acid. Thence it is run through mechanical Alters, and is taken up to the vacuum pans and boiled into sugar. Here the liquid changes its name, and is known as melada, and consists of 75 per cent, sugar and 25 per cent, syrup.

Later the melada is dropped into the mixer, and is kept stirred to prevent its solidifying. Here it has the consistency and color of light molasses; Mr. Dyer draws from the mixer a quantity and places it upon a small piece of glass used for the purpose of holding the melada up to the light in order to discern the crystallizing- process. We see the crystals already formed. The mass runs lazily over the glass which held up to the light shows the crystallizing process. Mr. Dyer informs us the crystals may be made large or small, as desired.

Here an incident occurs which illustrates how an unusual sound might attract the attention of one used to the clatter and roar of the factory, when the noises are such as to be well-nigh deafening to a stranger. As we walk from the mixer, Mr. Dyer turns suddenly, his attention being attracted to something on the floor below. It is only Carpenter Reagan hauling a carpenter’s ‘• horse ” across the floor, down near the evaporators, but the unusual sound is quickly caught by the alert ear trained to know that the factory is working all right with its quota of noise, yet knowing that anything unusual in the noise also means possibly a break in some part of the machinery.

Mr. Dyer’s eye catches the object of the noise, and as he turns with a smile toward the scribe, observes that for an instant he thought something had gone wrong.

From the mixer the melada is drawn off into the centrifugals, in charges of 500 pounds each. Here the sugar takes on its first appearance of whiteness. When the melada is drawn off into the centrifugals, it has the consistency of thick molasses. The centrifugals separate the sugar from the molasses. They revolve with great rapidity, the sugar being moistened occasionally with cold water. Soon the molasses color begins to disappear, and the sugar, clinging to the inner sides of the swift-revolving centrifugals, grows gradually whiter, until the molasses has all been precipitated, when each centrifugal is stopped, and the moistened sugar (for it is now sugar) is dropped through the elevator to the drier. Here the last vestige of moisture is removed, and further along it issues from an elevator ready to be received into the open sacks waiting for it.

The molasses separated from the sugar in the centrifugals goes back to the tanks to be reboiled. With careful treatment and constant attention it is soon ready for the centrifugals again and is made into sugar.

The dry granulated sugar is placed in sacks, each weighing exactly 100 pounds, and tive sacks are placed upon the dray and again weighed, as a check on the first weighing. It is then wheeled into the warehouse, a spacious structure 50×150 feet, and held awaiting orders for shipment.

The main factory building is 66×260 feet, three stories high; the annex, boiler and kiln rooms, 72×146; the seed warehouse 30×60, and the machine shop. 25×50.

four artesian wells supply the factory with an abundance of water, and the ponderous machinery is driven by a massive 200 horse-power engine.

We have now traversed the factory from one end to the other, and we descend into the engine room just at the hour of noon. The engineer’s boy, a bright little fellow of perhaps ten, pulls the whistle cord, and the factory whistle sends a resonant blast throughout the building. The machinery stops, and a pall of stillness seems to hover about the factory, accentuated as it was by the lapse of the noises whence, it seems we have but just emerged.

We go over and meet Mr. J. Ross Clark, the resident manager, whom we find in the office, a very gentlemanly and obliging man. Mr. Clark has collected many a sugar periodical. East and West, containing extracts from this journal referring to the beet sugar industry, and in the comment of the Chicago Post upon our recent references to the price paid for beets, has grounds—were he so disposed—to find fault with the Chicago editor’s utterances. The price, paid for beets, Mr. Clark informs us, is $3.25 per ton for 12 per cent, beets, and 25 cents per ton for each percentage over 12. The average price paid for beets during the month of August was $4.07—averaging a percentage of sugar between 17 and 18. Mr. Clark has good reason for feeling content with his lot—to feel satisfied with himself and all the rest of mankind—for his sugar factory is a crackerjack: and if we were possessed of the temerity to guess its probable net profits per day, should be tempted to place them not far below $1800.

The factory has cost $400,000—a vast amount of money—and the additions to be put in before the next season’s operations will cost a fortune more.

In the office we meet A. W. Jones, the head book-keeper, and our young friend, tiny Strodthoff. his assistant.

In the office we see specimens-of preserved fruit and jelly in glasses made with sugar manufactured at the factory. Nothing finer could be conceived, and the samples effectually disprove what has so often been said of other beet sugar—that it is worthless for preserving fruit. Certainly n» more perfect specimens of preserved fruit or jelly could be produced.

The owners of the factory are J. Ross Clark, W. A. Clark, of Butte Mont.; J. R. Clark and E. F. Dyer. T. P. Miller is the secretary of the corporation.

After luncheon we pay another visit to the factory and go over the three lloors of the establishment again. A number of visitors are present, among them Jos. Backs and daughters. Miss Blckel and A. M. Williams.

Four graphic charts are hung suspended in the factory upon the second floor, each giving diagrams of the progress of the manufacture of the sugar running through the mill. The first shows the proportions of pulp and pulp water in the beets, the second the proportion of carbonic acid gas. the fourth the alkalinity of the juice, during the first, and another during the second carbonation. Tests of the beet juice are taken every fifteen minutes, and marked upon the charts, which are in plain view of all, the diagram resembling the weather charts, showing the high and low dips of the temperature. The superintendent can tell at a glance at these charts how the work in the factory is progressing.

The following is a list of the principal employees ot the factory: Superintendent, E. F. Dyer; chief engineer, G. M. Broderick; night engineers, A. W. Merrill and A. S. Wade; day foreman. J. M. Ingalls; night foreman, George Bixby; sugar boilers. II. Hensley and R. Shephard; evaporators, K. E. Miller and Oval Koush; carbonators, Kay Smith and C. Crawford; diffusion batteries, J. Past and F. Graham; mechanical filters. R. Berry and A. Stinert; sulphur tanks, C. Sanders and II. Stephens; retained carpenters. Henry Conkefair C. Pierson and M. F. Reagan.

G. S. Dyer is the head chemist of the factory. There are good grounds for the report that he will next year be the superintendent of the factory.

Ground was broken for the erection of the factory October 20. 1896. and exactly nine months thereafter the manufacture of sugar began—on July 20.

There is an air of cleanliness throughout, and the Alamitos sugar factory must be pronounced a big thing for Orange county, and its builders and projectors public benefactors.—Anaheim Gazette.

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