Elbert C. Kirkham - News Article 1949

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Elbert C. Kirkham - News Article 1949 - By W. W.' Rhea, Salt Lake Prospecting-The Easy...
By W. W.' Rhea, Salt Lake Prospecting-The Easy Way He Had to Throw it in the Sink Before It Ever Would Click TF YOU harbor a secret envy of *• the traditional old prospector who roams the hills in search of the earth's hidden treasures, your day of realization has come. Just hustle out and buy yourself a mule, some beans and sourdough, and a handy test kit which has been prepared by Elbert C. Kirkham, 25 S street, curator of the college of mines and mineral industries and the Utah experiment station, University of Utah. This chemical spot test kit is a compact unit containing eleven glass bottles, several dozen small glasa rods, a white porcelain spot plate, and the chemicals for performing a number of analysis. tests. The tests are comparatively easy. Anyone can perform them by following simple printed directions. Mr. Kirkham's business career started at the age of eight when he sold papers for the Salt Lake Tribune in Lehi. Today, international interest has been aroused In the new type of chemical analysis developed by him. I T ALL started during the war when Mr. Kirkham was storekeeper in charge of the Remington Arms steel warehouse at Redwood rd. Despite color codes for identification, the stocks of expensive alloy steels kept getting mixed because various manufacturers used different color code systems. In those days of urgent war contracts, a rush order was often delayed four days while identification of the necessary alloys was checked with a costly steel analysis at a chemistry laboratory. Mr. Kirkham observed that a quick but positive method of identification would save the government and tn"e war effort money and precious time. An old interest in chemistry was revived and Mr. Kirkham enrolled in a night class at the University of Utah where from the beginning he was encouraged by Dr. John R. Lewis of the metallurgical department 9 vfTHER scientists throughout the world had long been at work on the problem of devising speedy but adequate spot tests for identification of metals, minerals, and raw ores. An Austrian chemist had been successful on one test; two U. S. navy men had originated another. • M By Corma tee Smifhson Mr. Kirkham collected all the information available on tests already devised and conceived the idea of assembling all the chemicals needed for the various tests into a compact and portable working kit. In 1945 he received a cash award from the Sacramento district, corps of engineers for a paper titled "Chemical Spot Test Kit for Alloy Steels" which he had submitted in an "Ideas for Victory" contest. Mr. Kirkham carried on his research after he became metallurgist for the army corps of engineers. His employers actively supported him and eventually sent him and Clinton S, Reeder of 2634 7th East, shop superintendent, on a tour of such plants as the Caterpillar Tractor Co., Allss-Chalmers Mfg. Co., and many others to study their analytical and shop management methods. For months Mr. Kirkham worked on a test for manganese in steel. One day, after he had unsuccessfully e x p e r i mented with a mixture, he threw it into the sink. There, the reddish-purple permanganate color reaction he had been seeking appeared instantly when the temperature of the solution was lowered by contact with the cold water in the sink, This started him on the right track toward the solutions he had been seeking. When the test finally worked, his enthusiasm was so intensive that thereafter his associates dubbed him "the mad scientist." In October, 1947, a report concerning Mr. Kirkham's spot tests was published by International Nichol Company in their trade journal "Nichol Topics." As a result of that, Mr. Kirkham has received several hundred letters from major steel manufacturers and foundries, automobile manufacturers, and other national firms requesting further information. Other requests have come from, corporations in Alaska, Panama, Brazil, Argentina and Canada. F EATURED in the current issue of The American Machine magazine is a detailed article explaining the various tests and the use of the chemical spot test kit. Elbert Kirkham is no stranger to Salt Lakers. After a year at Brigham Young high school, he and his twin brother enrolled at East high. There he played center on the basketball team from 1922 to 1925. At the time, his six feet four inches made him the tallest basketball player in the Salt Lake City schools. Later, he attended the University of Utah for three years where he was interested in engineering and was a member of the University pep band, His wife Emma, who comes from an old Florida "cracker" (pioneer) family, teaches textile painting and makes ceramics. The couple have three children. To round out a busy life, the Kirkhams have a private business of making drapes and slip covers. No wasted energy in this family! I ITH this problem solved, Mr. Kirkham devoted himself to other tests. He has been responsible for adapting some already known tests and has devised a system for semi-quantitative as well as qualitative analysis. The nickel test will give an indication when as little • as seventeen one-hundredths of one percent is present in steel, These tests have been proved consistent by verification with analysis run by experts using the usual methods and by the spectrograph. The speed with which they can be carried out is almost incredible. Sixteen tests can be made simultaneous. ly and completed in ten minutes. Enough equipment is contained in the spot test kit to :mak« dozens of tests without stopping. HOPE to establish a permanent business in assembling and selling the chemical spot test kits," explains Mr. Kirkham. "I'm just now getting started in it commercially. The demand is great because the kits can be utilized by machinists, foundry men, welders, blacksmiths, prospectors, students, and traveling sales representatives of manufacturing companies. In addition to other uses, the economical spot test system will make it possible to salvage additional quantities of previously unidentified but much needed metals from junk yards. Possibilities for the hopeful prospector are obvious. The compact spot test kit for certain minerals can be carried along in the field and tests can be made at the site for identification of •ome ore bodies. This isn't a collection of cod liver oil bottles. It's the latest tiling in prospector's kits and it was assembled by Elbert O. Kirkham, U. S. Bureau of Mines Photo curator of the college of mines and mineral Industries at the University of Utah. He got the idea from throwing it in the sink. This chemical spot test kit assembled by Mr. Kirkliam contains 11 bottles of testing solutions, tAvo porcelain spot plates and several dozen glass rods. That's all you will need to go proepecfcing now. A small (jnantity of powdered ore from the chunk at the left is placed in depressions of the spot, plate. Drops of dissolving acids are added. The resulting reactions identify the metal being: tested. THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE i 1

Clipped from
  1. The Salt Lake Tribune,
  2. 13 Feb 1949, Sun,
  3. Page 63

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  • Elbert C. Kirkham - News Article 1949

    lividawn – 15 Sep 2013

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