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Monomelt - No need for pigs

Started by Dave Hughes, March 01, 2008, 01:47:05 AM

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Dave Hughes

I recently came across this picture on Flickr of an Intertype that was being offered for sale in the NYC area:

There was a comment underneath that it was equipped with a Monomelt - no need for pigs.

That was a new one on me. Anyone else come across the system?

I can see the device above the pot (fortunately the picture was taken from the left) is the black box with the white label also part of the device?

How did it work, is it some kind of motorised hopper that you fill with old slugs?
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I came across a Monomelt in Itasca, Texas about ten months ago. I picked up a couple little books about it on my friend eBay. Here is a description from one of them:

"Monomelt offers a convenient, efficient system of handling type-casting metal with a single melting process. This compact, handy unit, which feeds molten metal to the melting pot of a type-casting machine, is more than an auxiliary pot. It represents an entirely new, modern method of supplying cleaned, refined metal at exactly correct temperatures for casting sharp, solid type.

"Fundamentally, Monomelt is an electric or gas heated crucible which melts, and cleans metal, then feeds it automatically to the regular pot of the type-casting machine.

"However, its sphere of operation takes in the entire shop. The Monomelt System takes complete charge of the metal from kill-out to freshly cast slug. It abolishes the melting furnace with its metal pigging process, and spells savings in time and labor for the entire composing room. It improves production and quality of type, and reduces dross loss and metal inventories.

"How the Monomelt Works

"Dead metal, trimmings and type are emptied directly into the Monomelt hopper. As the metal melts, sensitive heat governors maintain constant temperatures in both the upper and lower pots. A graduated indicator allows a setting for any desired temperature, and one set, it never varies. The Monomelt feed valve with float control supplies metal at the ideal casting temperature through the bottom of the Monomelt crucible into the machine pot. A constant metal level is maintained regardless of the size of the slug cast or the rapidity of casting."

It goes on and on, but that's most of the first page.
Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas


Here is a picture, not from the best angle, of the Monomelt on the Itasca Intertype:

Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas


Monomelt was great in theory, and in small shops with one or two machines, they were the answer to a maidens prayer. However, the constant recycling of type metal without rejuvenation can soon lead to typeface problems. In many small job shops this didn't matter because their work was not quality, but quick and cheap. Type metal, a combination of lead, tin and antimony, was formulated to do three things produce a metal slug which was a quality reproduction of the type face, hard enough to stand up to a long press run and have a low melting point. Unfortunately, the tin and antimony are lighter than lead and tend to rise to the surface and mix with, and are scooped off with the dross. I must admit however, that most shops that I serviced, who had Monomelts were very happy with them.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Dave Hughes

Well thanks for that Robert and George, I'm certainly learning all the time!
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Dave Hughes

The guy who's trying to sell the Intertype has posted another pic, this time of the Monomelt:

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Pat Leary

In 1953-54-55 I ran a Model C Intertype equipped with a Monomelt (made in nearby Minneapolis, Minn.) Along with the device mounted atop the pot, the shop had several open ended metal "drawers" which compositors filled with dead slugs when they were killing down pages. The drawers with dead slugs were kept underneath the bank where we "dumped" our newly set type. One of the few objections to the Monomelt was that the pot and pot roller had to carry that extra weight. We had a house rule that when we night shift operators quit we had to open the vise, bring the mold wheel forward and expose everything in the casting mechanism, because one night the Monomelt float stuck and the pot completely overflowed, literally welding the vise and mold disk into one piece. (A welder with a blow torch got everything "unstuck.") A drawer full of dead slugs dumped into the Monomelt pot was good for a galley to two galleys of newspaper straight matter before you had to add more.

Pat Leary

The "black box with the white label" referred to in the initial description is a Star Parts electric quadder, I'm sure. They were quite positive in action, and relatively trouble-free. Saved a lot of time in advertising and display composition.

Bill Nairn

The Monomelt system was rare on New Zealand linecasters - I came across only one in a small Auckland print-shop in the 1960s.  It was not favoured because of the increased weight and resulting strain on the pot cams, etc.

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