The first paper towel papermachine shutting down after 75 years

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
My former employer in Northern NH had a lot of firsts in the periods between WW1 and WW2. At some point one of the products they made was unbleached creped wrapping paper for auto tires. It was strong and cheap to make and very absorbent. A mill manager whose last name was Corbin noticed that the mechanics and operators would use the scrap for wiping oil off their hands. They started selling it for this use in the 1920s made on other papermachine at the site. This was pre WW2 but soon after WW2, they built a state of the art at the time papermachine designed especially for making brown towel. It went on line in 1946. If you have ever seen the rectangular box with the slot in the bottom that allows you to pull out a single brown towel out at a time that was company innovation. You may have heard of the towels as they were named Nibroc towels (Corbin spelled backwards) and the old dispensers were pretty much standard in restrooms for decades. The papermachine was named Mr Nibroc. It was long ago surpassed by other larger and faster papermachines but it kept running. The mill its installed in has been through a succession of owners and a couple of bankruptcies but Mr Nibroc kept running. After a recent bankruptcy, a new owner bought what was left of the mill and announced they were shutting the machine down for good after about 75 years. Its pretty rare for any industrial machine to be competitive for that long. The prior owners had skimped on maintenance and repairs as they went out of buisness and there is major component that needs replacing. Even when I left the place 15 years ago, the building needed plenty of repairs in addition to the machine so I expect the new owners have done the math and decided to spend their money on a far newer machine that is left in the mill.

In the old days, these machines would be sold offshore but in recent years most owners scrap them. Lots of cast iron and steel in a machine 20 to 30 feet high by a couple hundred feet long.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,593
WI, Leroy
Many years ago I worked for Beloit Corp. Paper machinery- yep we made the kind units that you are talking about and everything else as well in the paper industry for production. Down in the catacombs of the main building ( assembly and engineering) were all the Drawings going back into the mists of time . In The 70's we were slowly converting all that to Micro film. Sadly many years ago P&H bought Beloit Corp sucked it dry and it is no more.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
I know Beloit well. My first papermill job was in Menasha Wisconsin. American Tissue had the worlds fastest tissue machine for about 6 months. This was in early to mid eighties. It was a S wrap twin wire 230" Beloit machine that ran 6300 feet per minute with a 19 foot Beloit Waumsley Yankee (from England). When the mill lost power it took 20 minutes for the Yankee to stop turning. I have a nice belt buckle somewhere commemorating the record. I think the record went from our place down to a GP mill in Florida. Back then every mill was basically printing money so the mill managers would play high stakes games building new and faster papermachines. Within 10 years the market for that type of equipment took a dive and never came back in the US. I think the industry makes consumer tissue these days with a different kind of machine called an air laid machine. The industrial and commercial mills still use the old style machines to supply reginal markets as towel and tissue are expensive to ship. The remaining machine at the papermill with Mr Nibroc is an Italian machine. I think its 7000 fpm. Old Beloit machines were built to run "forever" and be upgraded many times, my guess is the Italian machine is designed cheap and built cheap but that is the market these days. P&H bought Beloit for the spare parts sales but I think they didnt realize that many of the machines just got scrapped. The European companies like Metso took over the new worldwide market for machines.

I also managed a project to install a GL&V(who bought Beloit Stock Prep) thick stock screening system at my last mill I worked for. It was state of the art installed by our own crews inside an old building that we stripped out but only ran 18 months before the owners shut the entire pulp mill down and scrapped it. Sad to say much of my best work from then all went to the scrappers.

Beloit was always handing out sales goodies at shows. I have Wisconsin specific Beloit rubber dice cup and set of dice. (In northeast Wisconsin many local bars let the customers roll dice for drinks)

Folks dont realize that the pulp and paper industry was right up there with the steel industry for biggest US manufacturing industry. Pulp and Paper went down as hard as steel did but the mills were in rural areas so the news didnt cover it. There is new book on the collapse of the industry in Maine coming out soon, I have one on order.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,623
Downeast Maine
I know Beloit well. My first papermill job was in Menasha Wisconsin. American Tissue had the worlds fastest tissue machine for about 6 months. It was a S wrap twin wire 230" Beloit machine that ran 6300 feet per minute with a 19 foot Beloit Waumsley Yankee (from England). When the mill lost power it took 20 minutes for the Yankee to stop turning. I have a nice belt buckle somewhere commemorating the record. I think the record went from our place down to a GP mill in Florida. Back then every mill was basically printing money so the mill managers would play high stakes games building new and faster papermachines. Within 10 years the market for that type of equipment took a dive and never came back in the US. I think the industry makes consumer tissue these days with a different kind of machine called an air laid machine. The industrial and commercial mills still use the old style machines to supply reginal markets as towel and tissue are expensive to ship. The remaining machine at the papermill with Mr Nibroc is an Italian machine. I think its 7000 fpm. Old Beloit machines were built to run "forever" and be upgraded many times, my guess is the Italian machine is designed cheap and built cheap but that is the market these days.

I also managed a project to install a GL&V(who bought Beloit Stock Prep) thick stock screening system at my last mill I worked for. It was state of the art installed by our own crews inside an old building that we stripped out but only ran 18 months before the owners shut the entire pulp mill down and scrapped it. Sad to say much of my best work from then all went to the scrappers.

Beloit was always handing out sales goodies at shows. I have Wisconsin specific Beloit rubber dice cup and set of dice. (In northeast Wisconsin many local bars let the customers roll dice for drinks)

Folks dont realize that the pulp and paper industry was right up there with the steel industry for biggest US manufacturing industry. Pulp and Paper went down as hard as steel did but the mills were in rural areas so the news didnt cover it. There is new book on the collapse of the industry in Maine coming out soon, I have one on order.
I would read that book.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
It should be here Thursday. I decided to buy the printed book instead of the Kindle download;). Odds are its printed in China out of the ultralight weight opaque that isnt so opaque. Might take me a bit to read.

Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine's Mighty Paper Industry: Hillard, Michael G.: 9781501753152: Amazon.com: Books

I was up at the former Great Northern Paper mill near the last gasp of their operations and one of the long term managers was talking bout the good old days. They would take orders for the entire mills output of groundwood newsprint from one customer, a large newspaper in New York. The order was for a years run from the biggest machines at both mills. Both sides knew they would end up renewing the yearly contract but it was expected that the clients would get "entertained". They would go to one of the GNP lodges out in the woods and bring in lots of expensive food liquor and "entertainment" (hookers) brought in from the city for the clients. After couple of days of hard drinking, "entertainment" and maybe occasional fishing the contract would be signed and the New Yorkers would go home until next year. " Apparently the expense reports for this annual event were reviewed by one member of upper management who was expected to keep it quiet.

I did see the #10 coated SCA machine (built by a European company)with on machine coating at the Millinocket mill . The former was 3 to 4 stories high, they had a set of captive railroad tracks on the tending side and flatbed railcar to move the rolls for grinding. The paper rolls were wrapped and rolled and then sent directly into a railcar. That machine was easily 1000 feet long. Last thing I knew it went to China.
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,508
Northern Maine
It should be here Thursday. I decided to buy the printed book instead of the Kindle download;). Odds are its printed in China out of the ultralight weight opaque that isnt so opaque. Might take me a bit to read.

Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine's Mighty Paper Industry: Hillard, Michael G.: 9781501753152: Amazon.com: Books

I was up at the former Great Northern Paper mill near the last gasp of their operations and one of the long term managers was talking bout the good old days. They would take orders for the entire mills output of groundwood newsprint from one customer, a large newspaper in New York. The order was for a years run from the biggest machines at both mills. Both sides knew they would end up renewing the yearly contract but it was expected that the clients would get "entertained". They would go to one of the GNP lodges out in the woods and bring in lots of expensive food liquor and "entertainment" (hookers) brought in from the city for the clients. After couple of days of hard drinking, "entertainment" and maybe occasional fishing the contract would be signed and the New Yorkers would go home until next year. " Apparently the expense reports for this annual event were reviewed by one member of upper management who was expected to keep it quiet.

I did see the #10 coated SCA machine (built by a European company)with on machine coating at the Millinocket mill . The former was 3 to 4 stories high, they had a set of captive railroad tracks on the tending side and flatbed railcar to move the rolls for grinding. The paper rolls were wrapped and rolled and then sent directly into a railcar. That machine was easily 1000 feet long. Last thing I knew it went to China.
Thanks for the link on that book.

We stomp all over the area from the Golden Road fishing, hunting, road sodas, moose looking/watching, River Driver's Restaurant, Ripogenus Dam with McKay Station that supplied power to GNP, The Trains, Chesuncook Lake House among other treasures well off the beaten trails.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
Maybe you know where GNP wined and dined their clients? I have heard that Brookfield employees have access to several camps spread around the dam lands and think the Nature Conservancy has a few for rent but I always wondered where the big "camp" would be?. Brown Company's old Parmacheenee camp still exists but finding out any info on who owns it is a dead end. No doubt GNP would have had a fancier one than the upstart Browns over to the west:). No doubt when the Browns got President Eisenhower to visit Parmacheenee for for a few days, the managers at GNP were upset.

I did spend a night at the GNP company managers house in Millinocket which I think has since been sold. it was definitely a bit faded in its glory but the attached banquet room was totally trimmed out in Birdseye Maple. I only went in through the backdoor at the main office building at the end of the main street but expect it had some pretty fancy offices and meeting rooms on the upper floors.

Lots of history up there without a lot to replace it.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,593
WI, Leroy
Beloit corp - Black Hawk plant in South Beloit- R&D unit. Any machine built was first built as a working model. I left the co. about 79. At that time we were just starting the actual construction of the largest Tissue unit ever made, I do not remember the numbers anymore. and I do not remember who ordered it. The Granite rolls took 3 flat cars to transport, by train down from Maine- 6-month trip. Had to be specially routed, so no curves were too sharp as the rolls were mounted to 2 of the cars one in the middle just hooked them together. Longer and larger lathes & larger overhead cranes installed. To get the rolls in to the machining bay required knocking out a wall. Someone read a drawing wrong or the drawing was wrong . The bearing cap mounting boltholes for those rolls were off by 1/2" . Cast In our own Foundry . I could not put my arms around the dia. of the bolts ( maybe about 1/3) and I am 6ft. If you have ever seen a picture of someone standing next to one of the main backup valves for the Hoover Dam that is about the same scale. ( those valves are still sitting out in the desert- haven't need them yet). There is nothing left of the plant down In Beloit now. There is parking lot about where the foundry was now.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,508
Northern Maine
Maybe you know where GNP wined and dined their clients? I have heard that Brookfield employees have access to several camps spread around the dam lands and think the Nature Conservancy has a few for rent but I always wondered where the big "camp" would be?. Brown Company's old Parmacheenee camp still exists but finding out any info on who owns it is a dead end. No doubt GNP would have had a fancier one than the upstart Browns over to the west:). No doubt when the Browns got President Eisenhower to visit Parmacheenee for for a few days, the managers at GNP were upset.

I did spend a night at the GNP company managers house in Millinocket which I think has since been sold. it was definitely a bit faded in its glory but the attached banquet room was totally trimmed out in Birdseye Maple. I only went in through the backdoor at the main office building at the end of the main street but expect it had some pretty fancy offices and meeting rooms on the upper floors.

Lots of history up there without a lot to replace it.
So many of the old school massive buildings used for hotels and what nots have long been gone. Fire mostly took them down and some like the Kineo Hotel on Moosehead Lake burnt to the ground more than once. Even the old farm grounds where the men were fed and the livestock taken care of are only cellar holes and overgrown fields now.
Some of the old lumber barons’ homes still remain today. In Greenville there is the Blair Hill Inn and the Greenville Inn. Both of these are absolutely stunning in the quality of the woodwork. We dine at BHI annually for our anniversary.
We are life members of the Moosehead Historical Society. That building is not as large as the others but again it is a gem of days long gone by and the history and attention to detail is amazing.

I should dig a little deeper in the Millinocket area but from what I’ve seen it was mostly employees housing but the big bosses at GNP had to have lived somewhere.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,508
Northern Maine
Here is a print of the Kineo Hotel. Sorry it’s not a close up and hopefully it blows up OK. It's #8/110. The original was pieced together and these prints were sold.

11232229-EF72-4CD1-A76E-A6FC55433096.jpeg
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
Thanks, my guess was the actual owners and directors of the operation would be in Bangor or Veazie with a resident manager hired to live in town. If you have ever seen Stephen Kings house in Bangor, odds are that house and the houses in that neighborhood were timber baron homes. The building in the center of the shot with the big driveway to the left of the "Millinocket" tag was the mill managers home. The company also had a large boarding house for resident professionals like engineers and short term workers. I knew a couple of summer chemical engineering interns who stayed at the company house, there was a cook and a housekeeper assigned to the house so they lived the life of luxury while they were on site. The mill paid to educate locals for some professional positions but generally the approach at these mills was to hire the management staff from outside the mill and outside the region. In most mill towns, the locals were regarded as the "help" and in a union contract situation the management did not want locals in management to side with the union. I think Millinocket and East Millinocket was mostly staffed with franco americans but also think there were also italian americans, usually if someone had a foreign sounding surname they were not in management.

I grabbed the bottom photo from streetview of the house. It was nice inside but definitely dated with formal parlors living rooms and lots of private baths which were not typical of that era. No doubt someone probably bought it for a B&B.

People dont realize GNP owned all the land originally and did all the subdivision layouts. They put in the utilities and then sold the lots to the employees. They didnt want competing businesses in town so they only sold land to businesses that supported the mill. If someone got in bad graces with the mill they might as well move out of town as they and their families were marked. The local girls in high school either got great grades to get into college or would marry a local. Seniority in the union was based on hire date. There was a tradition at the local high school that all the boys would show up at graduation in running shoes. When the ceremony was all over they ran to the mill employment office and they were hired based on the order they showed up. For the rest of their career in the mill that guided their seniority. Once they were in the mill for few years they could go to the woods department and pick out a spot for a camp on a undeveloped lake or river. They didnt own the land but paid a minimal lease. With the change in ownership after the collapse of the mill many of these lease camps come up for sale with option to buy the land underneath and usually the option to buy the land is well above the cost of the camp.
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,126
Northern NH
I found a couple podcasts that the Shredding Paper author had participated in

The first one is about nasty strike at Fraser Papers mill in Madawaska in 1971 . It runs long in spots but when they get to the actual battle it picks right up. I was in junior high school at the time and do not remember even seeing anything about it but the Portland papers treated Northern Maine news like it was a remote foreign country.
Listen: The Story of the Strike at Fraser Paper | Maine Public

The second one is the how the SD Warren mill in Westbrook was run like a family
Remembering Mother Warren by jessica lockhart on PRX

I am only part way into the book but its obvious that the same sources and interviews are used for both the book and podcasts.

So far the book is bit more academic in tone that I expected, it reads on occasion like required reading for a college course. There is a lot of interesting parts that pop up and it confirms some family history as my grandfather died there in a big industrial accent about 100 years ago.