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would need to be fifteen miles high. In addition, the Standard manufactured nearly six million barrels of naphthas of various grades, millions of barrels of lubricating oils, and millions of pounds of paraffin wax and candles.
One refinery is much like another; they differ only in details of arrangement, of no significance to the layman. Refining has little of the quality of picturesqueness that attends other manufacturing processes. Steel-making and glass-blowing, for instance, have spectacular aspects. The making of a locomotive, or an ax, or even a pin, is carried on before your eyes, and with a fascinating exhibition of ponderous strength and delicate precision.
From the very nature of the material, however (a fluid, constantly impelled to flow, and spread, and seek escape from its captivity), the refining of oil must be carried on, so to say, behind closed doors. At only two points in its course from crude to refined is the oil visible, and each time it is only going from one confinement to another, a captive on parole. So the processes must be viewed with the mind's eye, the observation gaining, perhaps, a little fascination of its own from its very limitation.
Crude petroleum is a mixture of an indefinite number of compounds of hydrogen and carbon, varying in characteristic from the lightest of the naphthas at the top to the heavy coke at the bottom. The process of refining is known as fractional distillation, which depends upon the fact that each of the constituents has a different boiling point, or point at which it passes from a liquid to a gaseous state, as water does when it becomes steam. The petroleum (known in the vernacular of the refinery as "crude"), which has been brought by the pipe line from Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, or Illinois, or far Kansas, to the refinery's storage tanks, is pumped into stills, standing by scores in a row. The stills are great boilers, and a steady fire is kept beneath them, when charged with a fresh supply of " crude," for three days.
As the temperature of the still rises, the lighter oils (the naphthas) are vaporized first. They are condensed again to liquid by passing through long coils of pipe surrounded by cold water. Next come the illuminating oils, heavier and requiring greater heat to vaporize. The residue, left in the still, is called tar; by a further distillation in other stills it is resolved into many grades of lubricating oil, fuel oils, wax, roofing pitch, and a final solid product called coke, useful for making carbon points for electric lights and for burning. The impure products of the first distillation are cleansed by washing in great cylindrical "agitators" with sulphuric acid, caustic soda, litharge, and other chemicals. They are then redistilled for further refinement, to give them the white "color" which in many sections is an almost indispensable quality, and to make them test high enough to meet the requirements of the laws of the different states and countries where they are to be sold.
If the actual processes of refining are invisible, a large refinery carries on many activities that have much of picturesqueness.
The refinery at Bayonne, New Jersey, one of the largest of the nineteen owned by the Standard, covers an area of four hundred acres and employs six thousand men. The mere extent of the works is impressive. In a building near the landing pier three giant pumps with twentyfoot fly-wheels are running smoothly, irresistibly, with hardly more noise than a well-oiled sewing-machine. Each of these monsters is pumping fifteen million gallons of water in every twenty-four hours. Two others, not far away, are adding the same quota to the great flood needed for cooling the distillates in the condensers.
These pumps are of interest not only because their size is impressive, but because they are built by the Standard. A visit to its great pump-works at Oil City shows a manufactory with the most modern and complete equipment, employing five hundred and sixty men. When I visited the works, there were on the floor, in process of erection, a five hundred horse-power triple expansion pump for Marcelline, Missouri, capable of pumping 50,000 barrels a day; two compound pumps of 18,000 barrels' capacity for two points in the Illinois field; a fifteen hundred horsepower compressor, which in a month or so would be pumping ten million cubic feet of natural gas a day from southern Pennsylvania to Pittsburg; a thousand horsepower compressor for pumping gas to Buffalo; a small pump for an oil barge; and several gas engines for oil farms in Illinois and West Virginia.
The Standard believes in buying nothing which it can make as well or better. At Oil City it builds pumps, at Buffalo tank cars, at each refinery it carries on many auxiliary industries. At Bayonne, for instance, the Standard makes its own barrels and re-coopers the old ones returned from the consumer; the oak for the barrels comes from its own forests in South Carolina. It makes the glue used for coating the inside of the barrels, the sulphuric acid used in the "agitators," the wooden cases which hold two five-gallon tin cans, and, most important of all, the cans themselves in which all oil for the Far East and tropical countries must be shipped, to prevent deterioration.
The making of the five-gallon can is a marvel of mechanical ingenuity. Up and down the length of a long room passes on endless belts the can in the making; after the first three or four machines, which stamp from the tin plate top, bottom, and sides, and crimp them together, have been fed by hand, the can is not touched again till it is filled with oil and ready to be lifted into its case. In the process ten seams are soldered; three men serve to tend the soldering machines that turn out sixty thousand cans a day. When the can is filled, and, with a fellow, in its wooden case, the cover is nailed on by a machine, and the case sent off by another endless belt to the shipping-room.
As the tug bore us swiftly down New York Harbor to the refinery at Bayonne, a line of great tank steamers, stretched at anchor along the Staten Island shore, suggested a measure of the growth of the Standard business. Twenty years ago the foremost exporter of his day was exceedingly proud of the achievement of his works when they loaded a ship a day, six ships a week. Those six ships carried perhaps thirty thousand barrels of refined oil. To-day the Bayonne works still load a ship a day, but that one steamer carries twice the week's output of the olden days.
At the dock we found two more tank ships, one halfloaded with refined oil in bulk for Germany, the other having her tanks washed out for her cargo of oil for Calcutta. The jute factories up the Hooghly River in India use large quantities of this "batching" oil in their manufacturing processes.
At the next pier a great square-ended barge, all tanks from bow to stern, was cleaning up after a trip from Baltimore. Soon she would take aboard refined oil for the New England market. Next her the crew of a broad, unwieldy lighter was handily tautening down the tarpaulin covering on a load of hundreds of barrels of wax, destined for one of the tramp freighters in the harbor or for the hold of a trans-Atlantic liner.
At the last pier lay a reminder that the days of the sailing vessel are not quite past. A full-rigged ship was taking on the last of a cargo of a hundred thousand tengallon cases of illuminating oil. Her destination was Australia. A sister ship, at anchor off shore, would take her place presently to load for China. On a spur track at the other side of the refinery grounds, a train of tank cars was taking on refined oil for the distributing stations in New Jersey.
These were' representatives of a fleet of sixty-five steamers and nineteen sailing vessels for foreign service; a fleet of one hundred and five barges, twenty tugs, nine towing steamers, and six launches, and an equipment of nine thousand two hundred tank cars for domestic trade.
The distributing station of the Standard, close by a railway station, with its characteristic tank and neat stable, is a familiar sight. In the domestic service 3326 of these stations are supplied with oil by tank cars and barges. From the stations nearly five thousand tank wagons go out carrying the oil over regular routes to the country stores. The wagons sell not only oil, but lamps and oil heaters, both of simple but exceedingly efficient designs. They are sold at low prices, to stimulate the use of oil.
In the foreign service the Standard has one hundred and sixty-two importing stations, almost five thousand distributing stations, thirty manufacturing plants, and four thousand tank wagons. The Standard has always devoted itself vigorously to the extension of its market throughout the world. In this endeavor it has had to work against the competition of the great oil fields of Russia. How well it has succeeded is indicated by the fact that sixty per cent of the refined oil which it produces is exported.