THE BRICK WORKS
By Kerryn Offord
May 1631. Head Office, Kelly Construction, Grantville
The door bounced back off the wall as Bob Kelly thrust his way into the office.
Sprawling back on a chair, his feet on the desk, both hands wrapped around a steaming mug,
the plant manager looked up, eyes widening in question.
“So, you found us some new work boss?”
Bob pointedly examined the wall clock before replying. “That the time?”
Carl checked his wristwatch. “About right.”
“Goodo. I‟d sure hate to think we were going to talk business during your coffee
A wide grin on his face, Carl pointed to the coffeepot. “There‟s more in the pot if
As Bob approached the kitchenette facility he looked out the window. Yes, Carl could
have seen him coming with plenty of time to set the scene. He smiled. Pouring from the pot
he caught the fragrance of the brew “So what is it we‟re drinking? It‟s not coffee.”
“Do you really want to know?”
Bob paused, the mug to his lips, remembering some of Carl‟s concoctions from pre
Ring of Fire days. They had been real tasty, until he made the mistake of asking what was in
them. “No, not really.”
Moving to his desk, dropping his briefcase on it, releasing a sigh as he lowered
himself into his chair and copied Carl‟s feet up position, Bob thought back over the meeting
he had just come from.
“They want someone to build permanent housing for the refugees. Apparently they
want as many of them as possible out from under canvas before the winter.”
“Hey, that‟s the business we‟re in. We going to have to tender, or are they offering
“Jeeze, always thinking about the money. Hey Carl, there are other things in life than
“Yea, I know, they‟re called mortgages, and thanks to you and your friends I‟m
feeding one these days.”
“Ok, ok. Cost plus contract. They provide the land we provide the design. Once it‟s
approved we‟re responsible for getting them built.”
“So, what‟s your problem? Cost plus means no risk to us.”
“Do you have any idea what we are going to build something like a thousand units
with? Where are we going to get the bricks, the fittings, the framing, the concrete. Hell, I
could go on forever.” Bob sighed heavily. Just thinking about what the committee wanted
him and his crew to achieve was enough to get him down.
“Tell you what Bob. Let‟s do a rough design as if we had our preferred building
material. We then go out and find out what materials are available, and adjust our design
accordingly. Meanwhile, I suppose we‟re going to have to investigate what skills and tools
the down-timers have to offer.”
Carl knocked and walked into Bob‟s office. Dropping a folder on the desk, he emitted a
heavy sigh as he sank down in the seat facing Bob Kelly.
“Bob, we have a problem.”
Bob looked up at Carl, taking in the worried and fatigued face. “What kind of
“The worst. There are no established brick makers, pipe makers, or tile makers. You
name it. If it‟s fired clay related building materials, then we‟re plumb out of luck. Locally,
they just don‟t use it. It‟s too expensive. Roofs are a choice of thatch, which isn‟t suitable for
any built up area, or roofing slate. The walls are constructed of stone, or something called
„Fachwerk‟, which is basically thick timber framing filled in with whatever they can find, a
bit like wattle and daub. Then we have the wood problem. Boy, is that a problem. There isn‟t
a significant supply of seasoned building timber. So we are faced with using green timber, if
we can find it. Even that is going to be difficult, the people around here have a strict
understanding of conservation of their timber resources. They aren‟t going to be happy to
decimate their future supply of building timber just so Grantville can build some emergency
“Hell, that‟s bad. Is their any way we can get a supply of building materials?”
“Not easily. We can freight in from a wide area, and it‟s going to have to be fairly
wide to supply what we need. That‟ll cost an arm and a leg. The other alternative is start our
own brick works.” Carl paused as he considered whether to talk about the refugee family he
had talked to in Rudolstadt, “There is one possibility. There was a father and son concern.
They are originally from somewhere in Northern Germany, and have been forced south by
the war. They claim they know how to make bricks, but that the local economy couldn‟t
support large scale production, so they‟ve been scraping a living doing bricks for ovens and
the like for the locals. It‟s going to take a lot of investment to get production up to speed,
especially to do it quickly. Any chance you can talk the War Production Board in coming to
our aid? I‟ll talk to the Germans again to see if they‟re interested, and if so what is needed,
then get back.”
“It‟ll depend on what you want and the competition for the resources. Go back, find
out what‟s needed and come back. I‟ll do what I can. However, housing is going to be fairly
important, so if it‟s a matter of supply the resources now, or winter under canvas, I think we
might be able to get something out of the board.” With a pointed look aimed directly at Carl
he continued, “Just don‟t ask for too much.”
Carl entered Bob‟s office, a smile on his face. He grinned to Bob as he lowered
himself into the seat facing Bob.
“What are you looking so happy about?”
“Why Bob, I‟ve just come back from Rudolstadt. I‟ve talked to that father and son.
They‟ve told me a bit about brick making. I‟ve got some numbers here if you‟re interested?”
At Bob‟s nod he passed over a folded piece of paper, then waited for the explosion.
“Six hundred pounds of coal per thousand bricks?” Bob looked up from the piece of
paper to Carl. Taking in the nodding head, he continued to read. “Five tons of clay per
thousand bricks. An internal combustion engine to process clay. What‟s that one about?”
“Clay straight out of the ground isn‟t suitable, it has to be „massaged‟ to the right
texture for molding. What we‟re going to need is a „pug mill‟. I‟ve seen the one Garth
Freeman has. Rico and Walter think they can make something like it out of bits and pieces,
but they really want to reproduce some of the machines in some of the books we‟ve managed
to find. With them we can just about automate the whole process.”
Sighing heavily Bob looked from Carl to the list in front of him. “I‟ll do the best I
can, but don‟t hold your breath. The coal and clay we can probably get, but the engine, that‟s
Back near Rudolstadt, Heinrich Roentgen was sitting down in the lean-to overlooking
the clay field he and his son had leased when they arrived as refugees. As he watched his few
workers shaping bricks and pipes and laying them out for drying, he thought about the
American who had just left. It looked as if he might be able to get back into brick making.
However, the quantities the American had talked about were well in excess of what he was
used to. The American had claimed that they could make machines for many of the tasks.
Pointing out that what they really needed was people with expertise in making bricks to help
design the machines, and to actually manufacture the bricks.
Heinrich remembered his excitement, concealed he hoped, when the American had
pulled the brick out of his bag. A normal rectangular brick, but with hollows pressed into
both top and bottom. The American had asked if he could make bricks like “this”. Heinrich
had just about died with excitement as he handled the solid, well-formed brick. If only...
“Machine molded” the American had said.
Heinrich had asked why it had hollows pressed into the top and bottom. The
American had described how they would “increase the surface area” to hold the mortar,
making a stronger bond between bricks, and how the hollows meant a lighter brick for the
However, Heinrich was visualizing something different; the effect of putting an insert
in the bottom of a mould to form that hollow. Why, that would help force the clay into the
corners. That would mean fewer poor quality bricks, or faster production of good quality
bricks, as less effort would be required.
If that wasn't enough, the American had talked about efficiencies, like kilns that used
half to a quarter of the fuel per firing, and ways of reducing “down time”. Which term he
enjoyed once he understood it wasn't a play on the typical “down-timer” label the Americans
were applying to good Germans. Yes, that time lost crouching in the kiln, carefully stacking
goods for firing, and the wait for the kiln to cool enough for unloading. Down time was a
However, the really exciting concept the American talked of was the use of machines
for making bricks. Imagine. Machines to mine clay and others that could take clay straight
from the clay pit and churn out freshly made bricks within minutes. There would be savings
in labor costs. Smiling, Heinrich imagined the riches that could be within his reach.
Then the man had mentioned Porcelain. Even the jaw of man he had brought along to
help with translations dropped. Everyone had heard of Porcelain. That darling of the rich was
worth its weight in gold. Anybody who could produce real porcelain would be rich beyond
dreams. Apparently he didn't actually know how to make porcelain, but he had books that
gave instructions. Heinrich, not being able to read English, had had to call on his son
Manfred to examine the book the American had shown them.
Heinrich could remember the wide smile on the American's face. There was obviously
a catch in the making of porcelain. The American had revealed them as he understood them.
Firstly, the right kind of clay was required. Even with all the books at his disposal, it would
take trial and error to find that clay. And then there was the firing temperature. Thirteen
hundred degrees Celsius, whatever that was, or fifteen percent hotter than that needed to fire
stoneware. Heinrich had made stoneware. He knew how much fuel it took to get the kiln that
hot, and the American thought it might take up to double the fuel to get to the higher
Firmly hooked, Heinrich and his son had discussed with the American just what they
thought they needed in order to start volume production of fired clay building materials. First
on the list was fuel. The American suggested coal, something Heinrich and Manfred lacked
experience in using, but they were willing to try. Then they talked of something to process
the clay. They had a pug mill worked by a couple of draft animals on a sweep, but the amount
of tempered clay that was producing was very small compared with what the American
required. Finally, there was the need for a kiln. The kilns Heinrich and Manfred were using
were small, ideally suited to the limited volume they were making, but they could never
produce a useful volume of building materials.
The American had promised to go away and see what he could design to cover these
problems. Just as he was leaving, Manfred had voiced one final concern. They didn‟t have a
lot of money, and these machines and kilns would surely be expensive. The American had
just smiled, and said he was sure they could work out something.
The Roentgens planned to visit Grantville soon, to, as the American had suggested,
“scout out” likely sites for a brick works inside the Ring of Fire.
Heinrich brought the clump of clay he had been kneading in his hands to his mouth to
taste it. Passing it to his son to test he rinsed his mouth from the bottle offered by the man
beside him. He looked about him, studying the site of the proposed brick works. The clay was
good. There was little indication of salt in it.  The clay the coal mine was dumping as spoil
was exciting. There was clay that was suitable for firebrick. With the right additives, it should
make an excellent refractory brick for kilns. There was also a lot of ordinary clay suitable for
building supplies. He turned to look at his companion. He was an American, but different
from all the other Americans he had seen. He wasn‟t anywhere near as big for a start. His
skin color was darker, almost a creamed honey color, he had black hair, and as for the eyes.
They seemed to slant.
“Well? What do you think? Is the clay any good?”
“The clay is good. Very good. We can make brick for fires and for building. But. . .”,
sweeping his arms to indicate the space the American was proposing for the new brick works,
“there is not enough flat land.”
“What you mean is „there‟s not enough land for a conventional brick works‟. I‟m not
thinking of building a conventional brick works.” Carl started to lead Heinrich around
pointing out the features as he continued to describe his vision. “Picture it. The clay is
dumped over there. We sort it into different piles. Then, depending on what kind of brick we
are making, we select a pile and shovel clay down a chute into a combined grinding and pug
mill. This tempers the clay and pumps out a continuous block of clay, which we cut to size
using wires, just like a wire through cheese. For that we need a vertical drop, not flat land.”
Heinrich looked at Carl, and then looked at the site. He tried to imagine the equipment
Carl had described. He couldn‟t, it was too different from what he was used to. “You talk a
good machine, but can you build it?”
“Not all at once. We‟ll be using hand molding for a while yet, but the rolling and pug
mills should be possible. I‟ve got a couple of people working on a prototype even as we
“Pro-tow-type. What is Pro-tow-type?”
“It‟s a proof of concept…”.
As he listened Heinrich turned to his son to see if he was following the explanation
any better. “Proof of concept?”
“Look, I‟ll take some pictures of the site, then we‟ll go back to the factory and I‟ll
show you what I mean.”
Heinrich looked at Carl, then his son, he seemed just as lost and confused. „What did
he mean, “take pictures”?
They caught a lift on one of the wagons for the mile and a bit trip from the mine to the
nearest bus stop. From there it was another couple of miles by bus back to Kelly
Construction‟s base in Grantville. In the building intended as a high tech Factory they found a
group of men working on a machine. Carl introduced the workers to Heinrich and his son,
before consulting with their foreman as to their progress.
“Hey Walt, how much have you finished now?”
Patting his hand on the length of four-inch drilling pipe that he and his crew had been
working on, Walter Goodluck replied. “We‟ve just finished correcting a small problem with
the pug machine. We were just about to take it out to test the modification. You interested in
Carl looked to the Roentgens, “Maybe it would be better to demonstrate the whole
“Ok, but it‟s going to be one machine at a time. We haven‟t bothered to set them up
on the scaffold yet. Just follow when you‟re ready.”
As Walter and his crew carried the pug machine outside Carl indicated to the
Roentgens that they should follow. Outside, there was a pile of scaffold pipe and fittings
lying against the building. Ranged in a rough line were a number of “machines” clamped to
jury rigged stands. The major component parts were surplus four-inch drilling pipe, and pits
and pieces from old cars.
“Walter, if you could demonstrate the process for my guests?”
Walter gave a running commentary as his crew demonstrated each machine. “This
first machine, the „Mincer‟ we call it, cause it „minces‟ the clay. We pour raw clay in the top,
and when Rico Abona here turns the handle, an archimedes screw chews off bits of clay and
sends it through this here extruder. Now in the full set up the screw will be turned by a
machine, and rather than catching the extruded clay in a bucket, it will drop straight into the
next machine. The „Wringer‟.”
Angus McMillan, the third member of the crew took the bucket of minced clay from
the Mincer and started to pour it into the top of the Wringer. The Wringer consisted of a
frame holding three pairs of steel rollers made from four-inch drill pipe, arranged one pair
above the other, and turned via recycled motor vehicle gears. Rico, having transferred the
turning handle from the Mincer to the Wringer, started turning the handle.
“The rollers on the Wringer turn inwards, compressing the clay and crushing clods.
Each successive pair of rollers is set just a little closer together than the previous, so the clay
is well broken down. Normally this would drop straight into the pug mill.”
Angus started to collect the rolled clay from beneath the rollers using a shovel and
dumping it into the large opening in the top of the pug mill. Once again Rico attached the
grinding handle and started to grind away while Angus stood at the end of the pug mill with a
board ready to catch the extruded clay.
“Now in the pug mill, we have a number of forged iron blades that cut up the clay and
gently force it down the pug mill. There is another Archimedes screw in the end of the mill
that forces the clay through the end.”
They all watched as the machine extruded a continuous block of clay on to the board
Angus was holding. It was extruded as cylinder of clay with two additional, smaller cylinders
of clay attached, which Walter sliced, revealing the texture of the clay.
“Oh, real cute guys. So that‟s why you only just finished. Congratulations gang,
you‟ve just produced the first machine made „Micky‟ bricks.” Carl said as he clapped each
member of the crew on the back before turning to the Roentgens.
“Well Heinrich, Manfred, what do you think?”
Heinrich and Manfred huddled together quietly discussing what they had just seen.
They picked at the extruded clay and pulled it apart carefully. Manfred looked up at the Carl
and the crew. Waving his hands over the bricks he responded.
“Those bricks would never work. The clay is wrong. It needs to be tempered more.
Also, the clay needs the proper additives. Your machines, they are very impressive, but the
effort required to produce so few bricks. This is progress?”
“Oh Manfred, Heinrich. You are missing the point. The clay isn‟t tempered enough?
Ok.” Turning to face the crew.
“Walter, would you run it through the pug mill a couple more times for our guests.”
As the crew collected the clay and got ready to feed it through the pug mill again Carl
continued to talk to the Roentgens. “Heinrich, Manfred, the thing with this machine is that we
can always add a process. So, one pass through the pug mill isn‟t enough? Ok, we can just
add pug mills until we have enough.”
"Yes, yes, I understand. I am telling you that you need to correct the model. The
prototype you called it? It is cheaper for me to tell you what's wrong now, rather then wait till
you have filled the hillside with machines that don't work right? Yes?"
"Oh," Carl mentally kicked himself. He had just made one of the classic tyro‟s
mistakes when interacting with a foreign culture. He grinned wryly to himself as he imagined
how the training NCO back at Ft. Bragg would have torn into him for underestimating the
capabilities of the „client‟, just because his English was poor. The Roentgens not only
understood what the collection of machines were doing, they also understood what was
needed to do the job properly. "Yes. Sorry. You‟re right. I misunderstood what you were
objecting to. If you'd like to check out the process, any ideas you might have will be
welcomed. Remember, we know how to make machines, we don't know anything about
The Roentgens watched carefully as the crew ran the clay through the pug mill. They
examined the product after each pass until they were satisfied. Meanwhile Carl took Walter
“Congratulations on a fine effort. That extruder was great. How much over budget did
it take you?”
“Thanks Carl. Its good isn‟t it? Once we get it all together it‟ll be great. Don‟t worry
about the budget. So far we‟re running under. We managed to scavenge most of the bits and
pieces. We haven‟t had to do as much cutting or grinding as we expected, and the local
smithy was happy to forge the pug mill‟s cutting blades for a ridiculously low price. I think
he‟s hoping that we‟ll send him more work.”
“Well if they‟re any good, go ahead and send him more work. We‟re going to have to
add a couple of pug mills to make the Roentgens happy. How long before you can get them
“Well, they won‟t have the fancy extruder head, so the hard parts are the axle and the
blades. A week, maybe.”
Returning to the group gathered around the extruder machine Carl could see that the
Roentgens were a little happier with the texture of the clay the machine was producing, but
still questioning the quality of the brick.
“The clay has the wrong texture, adding water would fix this. Also we would add
sand and lime so that the clay would fire properly. These bricks won‟t fire properly. The
„extruding‟ process has pulled on the edges. The clay there won‟t shrink at the same rate.”
Carl listened carefully to Heinrich. This was why he needed them. Their brick making
was almost instinctive. They could pick up a bit of clay, taste it and tell you immediately if it
was any good, and if it needed any additives, what those additives were and how much to
add. It was knowledge that Carl didn‟t have time to learn. As for the actual firing of bricks,
Carl was depending on them to manage that completely. He was quite able to design and
build machines to do the jobs. He just had to know the real constraints and requirements of
“Now you can see why we need your help Heinrich. We know how to make
machines, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we don‟t know anything about clay or
making bricks. We‟ll take those bricks to the school‟s electric kiln and see how they bake.
It‟s not that I question what you say. But we can learn from our mistakes. We think we might
be ready to show you the assembled prototype in just over a week. When will you be able to
come and have a look?”
“I will be busy. We have a batch of firebricks coming out of the kilns shortly. Also
the foundry should start delivering the components for the “shuttle” kiln you designed. I wish
to be there when they start construction of the new kiln. I will send Manfred to observe. He
will monitor the clay and we will see what quality of brick it produces. But those little things
are not going to be any good for building.”
“Those little bricks are just part of the proof of concept. We know how to make them,
and we know we can make them. We‟ll see what problems we have firing them and use the
prototype extruder to iron out the bugs….”
“Bugs? How do you get bugs in a metal machine? And how do you iron them?”
“Oh hell. A bug is . . . a bug is . . . What I mean is, like just as you said. These bricks
won‟t fire properly, so what do we have to do to make bricks that‟ll bake properly. That
problem is what we sometimes call a bug. When we sort out how to cure . . . I mean, deal
with a bug so that it no longer exists, we say we have ironed out the bug. It‟s like using an
iron to flatten out a wrinkle in a shirt . . . “, Carl looked at the Roentgens, it seemed that his
explanations were just adding to their confusion, “Oh hell. Just take my word for it. We‟ll use
the prototype to sort out any problems. Then, when we‟re happy, we‟ll build a full size
They had decided to christen the new brick works Ziegelhuette Schwarza
Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, a grandiose name, but the up-timers and the Roentgens hoped it
would grow into it. Heinrich surveyed the bustling activity. Over there a group of men were
manually tempering clay, it was hard and dirty work, but until the up-timers produced their
machines, it was the best they could do. The two aged draft horses were being worked hard
pulling the sweep of the pug mill. Together, men and beasts were producing enough clay to
keep the teams of molders busy.
Close by, Heinrich could see his new employees pulling newly fired bricks from the
temporary ovens. The performance of these kilns was poor, but it was what he was used to.
With them, he was able to produce some construction brick, pipes, and even some firebrick.
Most of the firebricks were going straight to the contractors working on the new kiln.
Turning to the road, he could see the afternoon water wagon, an innovation of the
up-timers when they realized that the workers were drinking small beer or ale during the
working day. Now, twice a day, wagons delivered several barrels of “Grantville‟s Finest
Treated” drinking water to the brick works. There had been initial resistance to the idea of
drinking water, but by always sharing the same water, the up-timers had eventually persuaded
the crews that Grantville Finest Treated was safe to drink. Since then, they had also
introduced a routine with water boys walking around the crews at scheduled intervals. He had
never seen production so high, nor accident rates so low.
As he walked over to greet his son, who had hitched a ride back from Grantville on
the water wagon, Heinrich passed the “pallets” of bricks, and pipes waiting to be loaded onto
wagons. This was another of the up-timers‟ innovations. Previously wagons had been loaded
and unloaded by hand, a time consuming and backbreaking task. With the pallets, loading
and unloading was much quicker and easier. Wagons no longer spent half their time idle as
they were loaded and unloaded. Now a wagon could be unloaded of one cargo and reloaded
with another in minutes, meaning more time on the road actually transporting goods.
Meanwhile, loading crews could work at a constant pace loading pallets, rather than spending
their time either loafing, or frantically loading wagons. Everyone liked this innovation.
“Well Manfred, what did you learn today?”
Manfred, helping himself to some of Grantville‟s Finest Treated, turned to his father,
his cup to his mouth. “They are working on a new tempering machine. They feel that a full
size one could produce ten or twenty times what the new prototype we are currently running
is capable of.” He paused, obviously thinking before continuing, “they also said that with a
little work, they could produce those same bricks almost straight out of the machine, doing
away with the need to hand mold.”
“Yes, Carl suggested that when he cut the „Mickey‟ bricks that first time. Did you
find out what a „Mickey‟ brick was?”
“It is a reference to a „cartoon character‟. One of the men showed me a „comic‟, a
color picture storybook. One of the characters is a „Mickey Mouse‟. The „Mickey‟ bricks are
remarkably similar to the character‟s head.”
Finishing his drink Manfred looked around brick works. The yard was working at full
capacity as it strove to supply the demand from Grantville. Over by the molding sheds the
Americans had constructed a larger version of their original clay-tempering machine.
Powered by two draft animals pulling a sweep, the machine, still only a prototype they
claimed, was keeping an additional molding team supplied with tempered fire clay.
Over to one side were the gently smoldering “open-top” up-draft kilns. These kilns
were an emergency step, taken as the only way to meet demand for construction bricks. They
had dug into the hillside to give walls to the kiln, the bases were old firebricks salvaged from
Grantville. Everybody was horrified at just how dirty and inefficient they were, but each kiln
was ten-thousand bricks they otherwise would not be firing, even if it was going to be a
couple of weeks before they were ready. The new kiln couldn‟t be ready too soon. Each day
added hundreds of newly molded brick and pipe drying on the ground, waiting to be fired. If
they were caught by bad weather, their loses could be colossal.
Over by the construction site he could see the master mason working on the arches for
the four-chambered kiln. There was going to be trouble when he revealed what Carl had
asked for. Carl had been horrified when he heard that the arches were going to take three to
four weeks to build. Apparently he hadn‟t thought that each brick would have to be
individually shaped by hammer and chisel. Challenged, he had revealed that he had thought
they could order bricks with the correct taper. He had then asked why they couldn‟t shape the
bricks before they dried. Manfred carried with him the drawings and calculations of the shape
and number of bricks required for the arched roofs. He wasn‟t looking forward to telling the
master mason how the client wanted the job done.
That hadn‟t been so bad. Otto Maurer, the Master Mason, had listened politely, and
then looked at the drawings and calculations. Eventually he had called on his journeymen and
apprentices to lay out a model of the arch on the ground exactly as shown in the drawing, but
full sized. The look Otto had given him suggested he was willing to test the client‟s
calculations, but that he was only doing so under sufferance, and to demonstrate that they
wouldn‟t work. Manfred had quietly escaped as they started painstakingly laying bricks
around the arch drawn in the ground.
Over by the road, he could see wagons, each carrying a couple of empty pallets,
making their way down the road. They would return tomorrow with the pallets full of bricks
and pipe from other small time brick makers. Father was buying in construction material
from other producers to fill the shortfall between the demand coming from Grantville and his
own production. There was little profit in this. If it hadn‟t been for the transport savings from
using the pallets he might even have been operating at a loss. Father thought he was putting
one over the Americans, but Manfred wasn‟t so sure. There had been that look in Carl‟s eye,
and that raised eyebrow, when he examined some of the bricks.
The walls of the new kiln were almost finished. Soon Otto‟s crew would be inserting
the last forms for the arches. Progress on the kiln was going to stop there, as Otto had actually
accepted Carl‟s suggestion, and was waiting until the tapered bricks were ready before
starting on the arched roofs. With drying time and firing, that would not be for at least
another two weeks. This would put the kiln several weeks behind schedule, but the Otto
seemed to think that much of this time would be made up laying the ready shaped bricks.
Meanwhile, his crews would be building the drying shed.
Over to the side there was a slowly growing pile of crushed coal. Wagons were
returning from Grantville with cargoes of clay or coal. The clay was being deposited by the
tempering machine while the coal was being dumped near the new kiln. A team of men was
breaking up the lumps of coal into small pebble size lumps with heavy hammers, making it
ready for firing.
Carl had even found someone with experience of coal fired kilns. Mr. Freeman, an
up-timer, had demonstrated his own small kilns to Heinrich and Manfred, showing the
different fuels he could use, and the different firing effects. He had even given Manfred and
his father a token, a small tea set that he had made himself. Flicking the plates gently, there
had been an unmistakable ring. He had laughed a little at Manfred and his father‟s reaction,
telling them that yes he had made and fired them himself, but that he had bought the clay
uptime. Garth, as he preferred to be called, had promised to be available to train the kiln
operators in using coal.
Carl, his associates, and representatives of their principle creditors were with the
Roentgens for this important occasion. The atmosphere was tense as the masons started to
remove the forms from the kiln arches. Just as they had promised, construction of the arches
had progressed quickly using the pre-shaped bricks. However, the added delay and cost of the
specially shaped bricks added to the company‟s financial problems. Sale of bricks fired in the
clamps had held off the creditors, but they were starting to circle again. Ziegelhuette
Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest was currently asset rich, with tens of guilders in unfired
bricks and crushed coal, but cash poor. The company was currently running on credit. An
obvious target for takeover if the creditors‟ confidence should stumble. Heinrich was
desperate to get the new kiln into production so he could stop the unprofitable practice of
buying in bricks to on sell to Grantville. The extra profit could mean the difference between
survival and failure of the company.
Everyone held their breath as the masons carefully removed the first form. Everybody
stood silent, waiting a moment. When the structure remained standing there was a huge
communal sigh of relief, followed by a round of cheers. Otto, the master mason made a
complete examination of the first chamber before ordering his crew to start removing the next
frame. The process took most of the day. As the sun was setting Otto reported his satisfaction
with all four arched roofs.
It was now a matter of fitting out the kiln. The heavy iron framed doors of firebrick
had to be erected and tested. Dampers in the various flue chambers had to be installed, and
the whole structure covered in a clay and straw insulating mix. In all, the kiln should be ready
for first heating in the first week of September, only a couple of weeks behind schedule.
September 1631. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, South of Rudolstadt.
Garth Freeman was moving around the kiln checking the fireboxes. Shortly he would
be starting the fires to dry out the kiln. During the warm up and drying period, lasting several
days, the chambers would be empty but for the shuttles which provided the insulated floor of
the kiln. This would make his inspections of the interior brickwork as it heated up much
easier than if they were loaded with bricks.
Satisfied that all was ready, Garth called to the Roentgens, Carl, Walter, and the crew
of down-timers who were going to manage the kiln. Now was the time. The first thing he did
was light a fire in the chimney. This would form a draft through the kiln. Going to the first
chamber‟s firebox, he signaled to the crewman to start the fire.
Everyone watched as the fire gradually caught. Adjusting the damper, Garth stood
back and waited. When the coals were glowing, he threw in an oily rag creating a small cloud
of smoke. Quietly counting off the seconds, Garth looked to the chimney. Eventually a puff
of oily smoke appeared. Recording the estimated time, he turned to the Roentgens and Carl.
“It‟s looking good. I can‟t say what the rate of draft is going to be when it‟s fill of bricks, but
if your estimate of the inside circumference of the kiln and flues is good, then we might not
need to make many changes for optimal performance when she‟s hot.”
Walking off with Carl, Garth continued talking. “It looks like those books I lent you
did the job.”
“Yes, they were a great help. I wouldn‟t have known how to size the flues and
chimney without them.”
October 1631. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, South of Rudolstadt.
Fall was here, and winter would soon follow, but the new kiln demanded to be fed.
Their stockpile of unfired bricks was rapidly diminishing. They could no longer use manual
labor to temper the clay, as the cold weather made trampling the wet clay with bare or even
booted feet difficult and painful. Their only source of tempered clay now was what they were
getting from the clay-tempering mills. They were producing barely enough clay to keep a
single crew busy. The bad weather had forced them to build shelters for the animals working
the sweeps; otherwise, even that source of clay would have been denied them. That, as well
as the shelters built around the new kiln had added further pressure to the company‟s already
precarious financial state. Even with the premium prices their bricks were getting, the
company could still run into trouble. It just needed something to interrupt that lifeline and the
creditors would swoop.
This brought up the matter to hand. A letter from a Helene Gundelfinger, written in
her persona of trustee with Duke Philipp‟s holding company. It invited Manfred to apply for
the position of manager to the Brick Production Division of a new company called USE
Apparently, the new company, rich with funds from the Duke, wished to produce
steel. To do so they would need a reliable supply of bricks, and they were proposing to start
their own brick works to supply them. Frau Gundelfinger had suggested to the principles that
she approach Manfred on their behalf, as the Roentgens already knew her through her late
The Roentgens had though long and hard over the offer. There were risks, and
possible gains in accepting the offer. Additionally, there was the immediate problem that
Manfred would need to be promoted to Master status before he could run the new division.
Heinrich had no problem with his son‟s promotion, but there might be some local resistance.
They had called on their up-timer partners to see what they thought. They suggested that with
the people behind the steel company, elevating Manfred to master status shouldn‟t prove to
be a problem. So it had boiled down to, could they afford for Manfred not to take up the
offer? There was little doubt that this USE Steel was going to produce bricks. It was just a
question of who was in charge of the Brick Production Division. The group‟s consensus was
that it was better that the person in charge be one of them, Manfred, rather than some outsider
who might not have Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest‟s best interests at
So, on this chilly October morning, Manfred was making his way to the office of
Frederic Swisher, Vice President of USE Steel, to discuss employment with the new brick
“Take a seat, take a seat.” Frederic Swisher told the young man who had just entered
his office. So this was the person his German contacts had recommended for the position of
manager of the soon to be established Brick Products Division. He seemed young to come so
highly recommended, but he was apparently already a brick maker of some repute, currently
working at the family brickworks. Frederic had done some research into Ziegelhuette
Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest of Rudolstadt. Up until the Ring of Fire the Roentgens
had been reduced to producing brick for small jobs, communal ovens and the like. However,
the Ring of Fire had changed all of that. They had grown on Grantville‟s massive demand for
construction materials. Just last month the company had commissioned its first modern
cross-draft multi-chamber kiln.
Manfred offered several major advantages over his competitors for the position.
Firstly, he had already gone through a start-up, building a small family business into the
largest brick works in Thuringia. USE Steel would need that experience. He also had valuable
experience with modern uptime methods, and he had access to people who could design and
build kilns. On top of that, he was one of a very few people here and now, with experience of
firing using coal as a fuel.
They had been talking together for a couple of hours when Frederic realized they had
been talking as if Manfred already had the job. Their discussion had covered how Manfred
proposed to establish the Brick Production Division, and what he would need in the way of
resources to meet USE Steel‟s requirements. “Well Manfred, I can see you have a lot to offer.
In fact, you are the preferred candidate, coming to us with the recommendation of some of
the board. I am authorized by the board to offer you the position of Vice President of the
Brick Production Division of USE Steel, starting whenever you are ready, preferably
immediately. Our contacts in Rudolstadt suggest that there will be little objection to
promoting you to Master Brick Maker when you take the position, as long as your father
supports you.” Frederic looked at Manfred for an answer to the implied question, a vigorous
nod of the head suggested Manfred had his father‟s fullest support. That was good. Picking
up a loose folder, he passed it across the desk to Manfred. “This contains the employment
contract, laying out terms and conditions of your appointment. I want you to go away and
read it, possibly consult a lawyer, consult some of your up-time associates. If it is acceptable
to you, we hope to see you Monday.”
October 1631. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, South of Rudolstadt.
Heinrich wasn‟t sure whether or not he should be happy. The new kiln was up and
running, producing over three thousand bricks a day. There had been some initial resistance
to the twenty-four hour, seven days a week operation, but with judicious use of penalty pays,
and rotational shifts most of the problems had been solved. However, by supplying Manfred
at the USE Steel brickworks, Heinrich was still having to import bricks from elsewhere to
supply Grantville. Almost all of the new production was going across the river to the new
steel works, but the cash flow was welcome.
In fact, the cash flow was essential. Hearing Hienrich‟s complaints about the
problems of breaking down poorly fired bricks for use as grog, Carl had offered to build a
grinding mill. That grinding mill, plus the new tempering mill Carl had convinced him he just
had to have, were putting pressure on the company‟s bottom line.
Late October 1631. Kelly Construction Head Office, Grantville.
There was a council of war going on. Carl, Bob, Walter, Angus, and Rico were
looking over the wooden full size model of the new clay mill. There was little doubt that they
were going to try to build it. The only problem was where were they going to get the parts.
“We can ship the forms to Suhl, I‟m sure they have the capability to cast the heavy
frame,” said Angus.
“Oh they can do the work. The only problem is the transport. It‟s a two-week trip each
way with heavy wagons. This time of year we are going to have to wait for the first big freeze
to be able to send anything by road, so that‟s at least another two weeks, call it a month
before they can even start. At best it‟s going to take over two months to get them from Suhl.”
Looking around the crew, Bob asked, “Any of you know anybody local who can do the job?”
“My Leanna, her younger sister, Paola, she is in school with a girl who is part of the
new sewing machine company. They are getting much work from a foundry in Badenburg”
Bob looked around, waiting just in case someone else wanted to contribute. “Well
Rico, it looks like you‟ve volunteered to be our contact with the foundry. I‟ve heard a bit
about the sewing machine company. If this man in Badenburg can do the work they require,
then he should be able to meet the tolerances we need for our castings. Make arrangements to
meet with whoever it is and see whether they can do the job.” Noticing an upraised arm, “Yes
“What about our local blacksmith? Do we just drop him? Or what?”
“We‟ll need him for most of the forgings, especially the blades. We‟re only
contracting out for the castings of the casing and the gear wheels. Speaking of wheels, who
have we got working on the water wheel? Carl?”
“The wheel is well underway. I managed to get a specialist in the trade and his two
apprentices. Using the tools in the factory we‟ll be prefabricating the structure, and we‟ll ship
the components up to the mine site as soon as the foundations are down.
Late October 1631. USE Steel, the Brick Division.
Manfred had been working hard. His contract required that the Brick Division supply
the parent company with over fifty thousand construction and ten thousand firebricks per
month, starting in October, and these requirements were set to increase over time. It had been
a truly mad scramble to obtain the necessary bricks, but by lubricating palms with the good
Duke‟s money, the October quota would be met. In order to continue to meet the existing
quota, let alone the predicted increases, he was going to have to mechanize the process, and
commission new kilns. One of the new kilns was going to be truly difficult. Nobody he had
talked to really knew how to fire carbon bricks. Actually, nobody seemed to even know how
to make carbon bricks. They were going to be a true product of trial and error.
To construct the new kilns Manfred had called in the people he knew with the most
experience. There was his father; Carl, the up-timer with all the smart ideas; Otto, the master
mason who built father‟s new kiln; and Rico, one of Carl‟s henchmen. They sat around the
table examining the production schedule.
“My first problem is going to be kilns. Can you help me?” Manfred gazed around his
associates. It was the smile and finger brushing a nonexistent moustache that attracted his
attention to Rico. A quick look to Carl produced a typically inscrutable look, a pity about his
and Rico‟s skin color. The white up-timers had a tendency to turn pink, at least around the
ears, when uncomfortable. “You have something Rico?”
“Is a new development we are currently testing, insulating firebrick, much more
efficient than normal firebrick, and only costs a little more.”
Manfred turned to Carl. One thing he was sure of, he was behind this. “And just how
developed are these new „insulating firebricks‟, and why should I use them.”
“Well, we have run tests. On something like our four-chamber design the savings
probably aren‟t as great, but they could halve the cost of firing the kiln to high temperatures.”
“And the catch is . . ?
“Well we need to mix an organic compound into the clay. That requires a sloppier
mixture, so the molding is slower. We really need a mixing machine to produce industrial
“And of course I need industrial quantities? Carl, I know you now. You want the
Duke to pay to develop your new machines.”
“It‟s not a „new‟ machine, more a modification on a theme. Besides, Rico has already
built it. It‟s really not much more than a big cake mixer. Pour in the slop, add the organic
compound, mix well, and then start making bricks. We know the bricks work. We built a new
kiln for Garth, right Otto?”
Observing Otto‟s nodding head, Manfred turned to his father. “Well father, what do
you know of these new bricks? What is „the catch‟?”
“Price. They are a little more expensive to make. However, we are sure that the fuel
savings will be worth it, also the turn around time will be faster, as they cool faster. They
have you know, less mass, so faster to heat, faster to cool. The best of both worlds.”
Manfred looked the people he called family, or friends. He was sure they weren‟t
trying to take advantage of the relationship, at least not too much. “So, how quickly can you
get started on the kilns I need, and how much is it going to cost?”
“Well, that depends on the style. A vertical stack like we‟re building out by the coal
mine. That‟ll cost something over five hundred guilders, giving a ten thousand a day
capacity, but it‟ll only be good for construction brick. Looking at the spreadsheets, they seem
to want a variety, so I say go for a something like we built for Ziegelhuette Schwarza
Refrakteknik und Feuerfest. That has the advantage of being tried, proven, and adaptable.
Two of those will easily meet the needs for construction material, another for firebrick, and a
big single chamber down-draft design for the carbon brick. Say fifteen hundred guilders. Of
course, you are going to need drying sheds and some method of processing all that clay.”
“Fifteen hundred guilders! You have to be joking. More like twelve hundred, and
even then your profits will be enormous.”
Carl looked from Manfred to his father, “You been telling tales Heinrich?”
A wry smile on his face, Heinrich shrugged his shoulders. “What can I say. He is my
son. He managed the books before starting here. He knows our costs to the pfennig.”
“Ok, Otto, how does that sound to you. Three repeats of the four-chamber job and one
single chamber kiln. Can we do it for thirteen hundred?”
“Carl, it will be hard. We will be building in autumn and winter; the men will not like
it. Many things can go wrong. For a rush job like this, not a pfennig less than fourteen
“For fourteen hundred I want those kilns up and running before Christmas. If they are
late I will hit you with penalties. Do you understand me?”
“Manfred, Manfred, my son, there is no need to shout. We understand. You must be
seen to be doing what is best for the company. We are your friends. We wouldn't take
advantage of you. Write your penalty clauses into the contract. We are sure that we can have
them ready in time.”
“That just leaves obtaining the processed clay.”
`Everyone turned to Rico. He had been quiet during most of the discussion. However, he had
a point. What good are the kilns going to be, if there were no bricks to fire?
“You can build another mill perhaps?‟” asked Manfred.
“We have a simple design, just a set of rollers and a box full of blades. We can make it
cheaply, and because it is mainly wood, we can probably deliver within a week . . . ”, Rico
looked to Carl for agreement. Seeing the nodding head he continued, “It will not even be very
expensive. The problem will be supplying power. Do you have a water wheel, or animals to
pull a sweep?”
Manfred watched as his father and his partners departed. They were talking
animatedly between themselves, even the typically dour Otto. Given their reactions, they
were obviously very confident that they could build the kilns before Christmas. He was sure
that they were over charging, but equally sure that nobody else could do the job in the time
available, let alone for less.
Well, they had left him with a problem; where to obtain a power supply; either a
water wheel, a sweep and draft animals, or an up-time engine. After some thought he settled
on using animals and a sweep. Not the most efficient method, but the cheapest and quickest
to implement. Time and money were massive constraints. The sooner the brick division was
up and running, the sooner they could get the steel plant up and running. Getting a better
power supply could wait until they had the luxury of time.
November 1631, Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, Dents Run.
Work on the twin shaft vertical brick kiln up by the coal mine on Dents Run had
slowed as the weather deteriorated. They would be lucky to commission it before the new
year. Over by the river, at the end of a set of old drill pipes that carried water down the hill,
the wheelhouse was being built. Construction of the wheelhouse had taken resources from the
kiln. But the reasoning had been, it‟s no good having extra firing capacity if we can‟t produce
the brick in the first place.
Carl turned to Bob, “We are going to have to do something about our facilities.
There‟s no electricity, and that rail spur should be extended to the brick works.”
Bob looked where Carl was pointing. The railway spur serving the coal mine stopped
just a couple of hundred yards short of where the new brick works was located. His eyes
following the terrain, Bob could see where the spur could be extended for the cost of rail and
sleepers. “It would be nice, but it‟ll be just about impossible to get a claim for the rails and
sleepers through any of the resource committees. There‟s nothing I can do without a
consensus that granting those resources will benefit the community. If I tried, they‟d just
point out the vested interest I have in Kelly Construction.” With that last he gave Carl a very
“Sorry about that, but your name up front got better local recognition, making things a
little easier. The guys would have fought over how to rank their own names, and I felt there
might be a little resistance to „Schockley Construction‟.”
December 1631, USE Steel, The Brick Division.
Tomorrow was Christmas day. The weather had been poor all autumn, but
construction of the four kilns for USE Steel had continued through most weathers. Adjacent
to the kiln site were a number of coke ovens. Their presence had allowed the construction to
continue on even the coldest days. The heat they generated warming the crews, and helping
keep the work site thawed. Ducting now diverted their exhaust to the new kilns. The waste
heat and the combustibles in the fumes should produce some savings in the fuel bill.
Three of the new kilns were similar to the existing kiln at Ziegelhuette Schwarza
Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, the fourth, the Carbon brick kiln, was a large single chamber
design. Manfred had been surprised at just how quickly they went up. Talking to Otto he
found that they had carefully designed the arches so that they could use the same shape
tapered bricks. Apparently they were using only two basic shapes of brick for all of the kilns.
Through such practices they were able to save a lot of time. Still, it had been very much a
mad house, with Otto and his crews working furiously whenever the weather permitted.
Nevertheless, there they stood, ready as promised, before Christmas. It had been a
close run thing. If the wagons had had to travel more than the few hundred yards between
Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest and the construction site they would have
Just beyond the kilns, on the road to Grantville was the set of buildings holding the
new tempering mill and the shelter for the animals pulling the sweep. Manfred had learnt
from experience and ordered the shelters go up at the same time as the sweep and mill
Work crews were moving franticly as they worked around the various heated sheds.
Clay was being moved by “conveyor belt”, yet another of Carl‟s suggestions, from the
tempering mill straight to the hand molders. With the resulting reduction in handling, each
crew was able to produce enough bricks to fill a chamber a day, with a few over. Currently
they were producing over six thousand construction bricks and three thousand fire bricks a
day. The first loads were scheduled to go into the kilns tonight. There had been a few
complaints from those that had drawn the short straws to work the Christmas shifts, but
nobody seriously wanted to delay firing the bricks. Most of the workers were aware of the
precarious state of the company‟s finances, and they were worried about their jobs. It was
hoped that any surplus bricks could be sold to help the cash flow. Manfred could imagine his
father‟s disgust at losing those sales.
January 1, 1632. Kelly Construction Head Office.
Arriving at work the first morning of 1632, Carl was struck by how quiet and somber
everybody was, "Hey guys, what‟s the problem? Why‟s every one so glum?”
It was Walter who responded. “There was a fire up at the „Cess Pit‟ last night. Quite a
few structures burnt down. There was considerable loss of life. Living here, we were among
the first to get to the fire. It wasn‟t a pretty sight, especially the children.”
Mentally Carl pictured the location. It consisted of a block of housing assembled from
whatever the developer could find, plumbed into a common cesspit. Walter and Rico had
been complaining that it was an accident waiting to happen. If one of building caught fire, the
whole place could go up. Apparently it had. “Nasty. Any of our people hurt?”
“Fortunately no. However, most of the down-timers living here knew someone living
in that shantytown around Deborah. They are still trying to identify the dead. It‟s going to be
a while; a lot of them were burnt beyond recognition.”
Carl looked into Walter‟s eyes as he listened. He could see the distress and memories.
Walter had explained why he insisted the buildings they were constructing for the
government were as safe as possible. It had slowed down construction, and maybe if he
hadn‟t been so insistent, some of the dead and injured might not have been living in the fire
trap that had been the „Cess Pit‟. “We‟re doing our best Walter. We‟re doing our best.” Carl
put his hand on Walter‟s shoulder in an offer of comfort, before leading him off to his room,
where he could deal with his demons in private.
In the days following the fire at the Cess Pit, the town called for an investigation to
determine what had happened and how to stop it happening again. At least twenty people,
almost all down-timers, had died in the fire. At least that number again were in hospital
suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. Some of them, mainly the elderly and the very
young, were not expected to survive.
A committee led by Willard Carson, a retired Real Estate agent and assisted by Silas
McIntire, Bob Kelly and Dean Trimble was looking over some of the housing constructed by
Kelly Construction. Bob Kelly was there as part of the committee, but was keeping quiet due
to his obvious association with the company. He introduced the other committee members to
the crew from Kelly Construction.
"Guys, this is Willard, the committee chairman, Silas, and Dean. That's Willard
Carson, Silas McIntire, and Dean Trimble, for anybody here who doesn't already know them.
Willard, Silas, Dean, these guys,” gesturing to the crew, “Carl, Walter, Angus and Rico, are
the force behind Kelly Construction while I‟m otherwise engaged."
Silas looked at the men from Kelly Construction. Sweeping his arm around the
building they were examining, he asked “We notice you have made limited use of bricks in
your structures, using wattle and daub for the walls. Why is this?”
It was Carl who responded, being almost ejected forward by his crew. “The problem
is getting the brick. There is only so much available.”
“How can you say that? Surely there are plenty of down-time brick manufacturers that
would be happy to supply what we need?”
“Well, Mr. McIntire, . . .” Carl started.
“Hey, none of this Mr. McIntire business Carl, it makes me feel old. The name‟s Silas, Mr.
McIntire was my father.”
After a moment to gather his thoughts, Carl started again. “Silas, you have to realize
that brick isn‟t a normal building material in Thuringia. It‟s not a matter of being willing to
supply us. The real problem is, there aren‟t many brick makers in the area. By area, I mean
Thuringia. Yes, those that are around are willing to supply us with bricks. Some are even
happy to take US dollars. The problem is; there just aren‟t enough bricks out there within
economic freight distance to let us use full brick construction. What we‟ve done is
compromised, using the brick for fire walls and chimneys, or as structural supports.”
“Well, can‟t they just make some more?”
“We wish! It‟s just not that easy to ramp up production. The problems are a shortage
of dry wood to fire bricks, and suitable clay.”
“I don‟t see the problem. Let them use coal, we‟ve got plenty. And as for clay, aren‟t
we producing that as a by-product from the coal mine?”
“We are producing sufficient clay and coal. The problem is; they are not used to firing
with coal. The chances of convincing them to even try coal are low. I‟m sure you‟ve met the
type, „my grandfather fired bricks with wood, and if it was good enough for him, it‟s good
enough for me‟”. Carl looked at Silas, a companionable smile on his face inviting him to
share the struggle against the conspiracy of ignorance, “well we‟re meeting that same mindset
with the down-timers. As for clay, yes they can get raw clay from the coal mine, but it is just
that, raw. It needs to be „tempered‟ to the right consistency to make bricks. Normally they
leave it out for the winter, letting the freeze-thaw cycle break it down. Otherwise they would
have to do it by hand. Actually, they still do a lot of the work by hand. The weathering just
makes the work easier.”
Silas turned to look a little suspiciously at Bob, and then the rest of the team from
Kelly Construction, before returning to their spokesman, a slight frown on his face. “Well,
can‟t you do something about it? Surely with all your advantages, coming from an advanced
civilization, there is something you can do? Can‟t you build a machine to „temper‟ the clay?
As for coal firing. With a little effort, I‟m sure you can convince these people to fire bricks
Carl looked to one side, the movement of Bob‟s hand to cover his face attracting his
attention. Inwardly he grinned, if he read that pained and suspicious look on his face
correctly, Bob was following where this conversation was leading. Looking to Walter and the
boys, they too were trying to hide their faces as they watched Silas McIntire take the bait and
run with it. They had all had many opportunities to observe him in action.
Slowly, so as not to scare off his prey, Carl looked at each member of the
investigating committee before scanning over Bob and his crew. A quick, discreet, boot in the
shin stopped Walter before he could utter a sound. Carl watched the committee members as
he let the silence lengthen. Eventually he started to speak.
“Well Silas, we have actually been working on this very problem. We have a design
for a machine that can temper in a day, enough clay for ten thousand bricks. To give you an
idea of what this means, a local brick maker we have been dealing with would, in a good
year, produce about a quarter of a million bricks in the five month season.”
“Five month season?” piped in Dean Trimble, a quiet voice in the background. His
experience at the home center wouldn‟t have prepared him for the problems down-time
producers of construction materials faced.
“Yes, they can only dig and work the clay during late spring, summer and early fall.
The rest of the year, it‟s too cold. The clay freezes, and the freshly made bricks don‟t dry
“So, why, if it‟s so good, haven‟t you started this machine?” queried an interested
“The problem is resources. For a start, it needs cast iron. We can probably get the
parts cast in Badenburg, but then we have to finish them. That is going to require machine
tools and time in the machine shops. Then once we have the machine we need a source of
rotational energy. An engine, a water wheel would suffice. There is an area just up river from
the coal mine where we have been sorting the mine tailings that would be ideal. But we will
need electricity, and more importantly, reliable transport. If you can see that we get the
necessary time in the machine shops, and get they rail spur and power lines extended a couple
of hundred yards. Then not only could we run a 24/7 operation producing suitable clay, but
with the rail link, we could get the processed clay out to various brick makers even in the
worst of weather.”
Bob felt he had to butt in, if only to demonstrate there was some honesty in the
company that bore his name, “So, Carl, what is the minimum you think you need to get brick
production up to the levels required?”
“Well Bob, what we need is secure supply of both coal and clay, without that we can‟t
do anything. We need electricity to let us work 24/7, then there‟s the rail spur. It‟s only a
couple of hundred yards, but the difference it will make to delivering clay to the various brick
works over the mud seasons is incalculable. The final thing we need is some time in the
machine shop and access to some machine tools.”
“And just who is going to pay for all this?” asked Willard Carson.
“Yes, who is going to pay?” asked Silas, “If you think the government is going to
fund your little projects you can think again. We aren‟t made of money!”
“Why Willard, Silas, we are willing to pay a reasonable price for the coal and clay,
the electricity connection, the rail spur, and the machine shop time. All we ask is that we be
given access to the resources. At the moment, without the say-so of one of the various
priority boards, nobody can obtain the machine shop time, electrical wiring, or railway track.
If you will but make the authorization, why, we can have the machine built and delivering
suitable clay in no time at all.”
Bob lagged behind to talk to Carl, Walter and Rico, as the rest of the committee left
with Angus to examine the building site. “So, who fed the script to Silas?”
“Bob, that is a slur on our good characters. We are deeply wounded. Isn‟t that right
“Yes Carl, deeply wounded. Bob, you know what Carl‟s like, how could you possibly
suggest such a thing?”
“It‟s because I know him that I ask. He‟s a bloody opportunist . . .”
“Yes, precisely, an opportunist. You are suggesting that he has planned everything . .
“Yea, well, this is a bit more „entirely fortuitous‟ than normal for my liking. Any idea
why Silas was so interested in brick production?”
“Err, I hear that they want to enlarge the Presbyterian Church,” muttered a
suspiciously nonchalant Carl.
“I see. I can see that Silas, as a Deacon of the Church, would be interested in bricks
for that. I hardly see them using wattle and daub on a Church.” Turning, shifting an accusing
gaze to each of the men, Bob thought about what he had heard. “And just out of idle
curiosity, did any of you have anything to do with Silas‟ appointment to this committee?”
Watching the guilty expressions on their faces Bob paused. They hadn‟t actually done
anything wrong, not even anything unethical. Silas was an honest man; he had a lot to offer
the investigation. The fact that he might be interested in a reliable source of bricks was, Bob
hated to say it, „entirely fortuitous‟. This reminded Bob of that last comment to the
committee. “No time at all?” he asked suspiciously. “How much have you already got
It was Rico who responded. “We have the order for the castings being filled as we
speak. The water wheel, she is almost ready. Electricity, we wait. The wheelhouse, mill,
drying shed, and the new kiln are all wired. They just have to be connected.”
The committee had come up trumps. Carl and Rico stood back and watched as the
machinists at Nat Davis‟ machine shop tidied up the components of the new clay mill. The
real work had been in constructing the Babbit bearings for the various gear wheels, and
making sure everything fitted and worked.
Nat, who had been looking over the machinist‟s shoulder as he fitted the last gear into
place, walked over to Carl and Rico. “A nice piece of work, even if I do say so myself.”
Looking between the two he continued, “It‟s a pretty good bit of design, who was
Carl pointed to Rico, who was starting to look pretty puffed up at the compliments his
design was receiving. “Rico here designed it based on a few pictures in some books and as a
result of a few brain storming sessions. We all contributed ideas, but he was the one who put
it all together.”
“Well if you‟d both like to come over, Sam‟s ready to connect a motor. Who wants to
flip the switch? Rico?”
His face a little flushed, Rico nodded his head before approaching his new machine.
There was the now standard triple roller assembly to feed crushed clay through a hopper
straight into the twin auger pug mill. This machine was the result of hours of discussions with
Garth Freeman and close examination of his pug mill, plus days digging through the collected
wisdom of ceramics magazines and books he and his wife had collected over the years. The
machine was destined to be installed out at the mine site, feeding the appetite of the vertical
stack brick kiln.
Almost the entire workshop gathered around as Rico flipped the switch. As the
electric motor started turning the gears, everybody let out a cheer. It looked good. Nat waved
observers away from the machine as he carefully went over it, listening for problems, feeling
for vibration. Eventually he came back to Carl, both hands forward, thumbs-up.
“It looks good. Those castings were amongst some of the best I have seen. There was
hardly any cleaning work to necessary on the gears, they fitted beautifully. So, when can you
get it out of my workshop? I‟ve got a backlog of work longer than my arm.”
Smiling, Carl looked at the small crowd gathered around Rico and his new machine.
“I‟ll get some pallets delivered soon as. If you‟ll disassemble it into the pallets, then we can
pick them up when you finish loading. Can you load pallets onto wagons, or should we bring
January 1632. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, Dents Run.
It was late January when Rico finally engaged the gears transferring energy from the
waterwheel to the tempering mill for the first time. With a noisy creak, the components in the
recently assembled twin auger pug mill started to turn. Satisfied that everything was as it
should be, Rico shouted up to the men above. “Ok, send down the first lot.”
With that command a couple of workmen started shoveling clay into the machine.
There was the thump of rolled clay falling into the pug mill, to be followed by the slishing of
blades through clay. Looking over the open top of the pug mill, Rico looked to Hans, the man
assigned by Heinrich to manage the clay tempering process. As he looked on, Hans grabbed a
handful of the falling clay, feeling the texture, turning up the water tap just a little. He looked
at Rico, a smile on his face. He lifted his hand up, his fingers forming the “ok” symbol used
by the Americans. Seeing this, Rico walked back to join the rest of the guys from Kelly
Construction where they stood watching their latest project coming to fruition.
“So Carl, when do we finish the vertical stack” asked Walter.
“We‟re still waiting on the screws to lift the wagons for unloading the shafts. Nat‟s
almost finished fine tuning them. I told him to take his time. I‟d rather have them arrive a
little late than have them fail while holding up a few ton of bricks. Meanwhile, they have
almost finished the tops. We need the roof and some walls up there and we‟re ready to light
her up. Then we find out how much we don‟t know about firing bricks in a vertical shaft
Walter gave Carl a sour look. “You really know how to fill a guy with confidence.”
“Hey, If I really knew what I was doing we‟d have had this thing finished weeks ago.
It‟s the little things than pull you up.”
“Like forgetting to put observation holes in?”
“Dirty pool Rico,” Carl said shaking an accusing finger at him.
“Yes, well, we‟re lucky we only had to take out a few feet of fill to install them. It
wouldn‟t have been pretty if we had topped off the beast before Garth asked how you
expected to monitor the fire.”
“Hey Walter, we caught it in time. No need to labor the point. It‟s fixed, let it rest
Heinrich, Garth, and the crew from Kelly Construction had been holding vigil around
the new vertical stack brick kiln since it was lit almost eight hours ago. The first three batches
from the kiln had been pretty bad. Most of them could be re-fired, but too many of them were
crumbling badly. Shortly they would be unloading the fourth batch. They had expected the
early batches to be poor while the kiln was heating up, but what they were seeing was heart
breaking. At four hundred bricks per batch, those three bad batches were money down the
drain. They couldn‟t afford too many more like them. However, as the fire climbed through
the lower layers of bricks into those in the center of the kiln, the kiln should be heating up
sufficiently to properly fire the bricks. The results from the next couple of batches would be a
better indication of how the kiln was working.
The work crew scrambled in the poor light to raise the trolley yet again. With the
trolley lifted into place, taking the weight, they removed the steel pipes supporting the stack
of firing bricks. They then lowered the stack until the next set of specially arranged brick was
visible. Inserting the steel pipes through the arrangement, they then lowered the bricks until
the pipes came to rest on a pair of „I‟ beams that crossed the chamber. With the weight of the
tower of brick once more being supported by the „I‟ beams, they lowered the loaded trolley to
the ground. Winding the lifting screw free, they wheeled the loaded trolley out from the
depths of the kiln, into the open.
Everybody gathered around Heinrich as he carefully lifted the first brick, still warm to
the touch. Hitting it with a light hammer, he listened. Then threw the brick to one side
shaking his head. Carefully he reached for another. Pulling it free, he juggling it a little before
tapping it with the hammer. A smile, a nod of his head. That brick went onto a pallet.
Methodically Heinrich worked his way through the top layer, then the next. Over the next
hour he checked the whole batch. The top two layers were almost all good. For the bottom
two layers, those bricks near the edges were marginal to poor, but most of those in the middle
were deemed acceptable. It looked like they were in business.
Next morning Carl and Walter crawled out of their sleeping bags to examine the
stacks of bricks that had been fired overnight. Another four batches had come out of the
single lit shaft. They carefully examined the bricks that the night crews had loaded onto
pallets. Each pallet was loaded with six layers of thirty-two bricks, and weighed about
three-quarters of a ton. There were now nine loaded pallets, each of one hundred and
ninety-two bricks, ready for collection. A quick bit of calculating on his calculator told Carl
that from eight batches with an expected yield of over thirty-two hundred bricks, they had
just over seventeen hundred suitable for sale, less than fifty percent. However, if the first
three batches were ignored, they had seventeen hundred from a bit more than two thousand, a
more respectable eighty-five percent. Carl showed his calculations to Walter as they walked
away from the pallets of bricks.
“Not as good as I would like. We should be below three percent failure, not around
fifteen percent. However, that may be because the kiln hasn‟t been at working temperature all
the time. The next day‟s production should tell us better. Then we can light the other stack.”
“You really think you can get failures below three percent? For someone who doesn‟t
really know what he‟s doing, you‟re not doing badly.”
“That three percent is what the Chinese and Indian‟s were getting out of their vertical
stacks. We‟re closer to what the Pakistanis were doing. The thing is, we could have used
another design, a Bull‟s Trench, good for twice the production, and a fraction of the cost to
build. The failure rate for that is around twelve percent. The difference doesn‟t sound much,
but work it out over a year, three percent is twelve per batch, twenty-four batches per day,
that‟s over a hundred thousand bricks a year. And that‟s almost half of what Heinrich and his
son were firing a year before we met them.”
“So, why didn‟t you build one of these „Bull‟s Trenches‟?”
“Well, they need relatively flat ground, that‟s something we are short of, but if
anybody else asks, they burn dirty compared to the vertical stack. We are doing our bit for the
environment while ensuring that the economy has the materials it needs to grow.”
“Ok, the vertical stack is clean and green compared to the alternative. I‟m sure I can
remember that.” Walter smiled as he looked at Carl, “But what if we‟d had the flat ground.”
“Seriously?” At Walter‟s nodding head Carl, a little shamefaced, shrugged his
shoulders as he answered, “I didn‟t think of them.”
Within days the twin shafts of the vertical shaft kiln were running at full capacity,
producing almost ten thousand bricks a day. With failures of around three hundred a day they
were close to the three percent failure rate that Carl had wanted. They had four molding
crews working away, six days a week, eight hours a day. Only the kiln and the tempering mill
were being run at night. Wagons were coming continually during the day to collect bricks for
the various construction projects around Grantville and for the steel plant just outside the
Ring of Fire.
Heinrich was smiling as he watched yet another batch leave the kiln. Quickly the crew
unloaded the trolley sorting the bricks into pallets. From his vantage, high above, he could
see most bricks were being loaded, only a few dumped to one side. For now, he was happy.
With the margins they were earning on these bricks he would soon be able to order another
tempering machine for his works. What he needed was a better source of rotational energy.
Butt and Bite, the two horses pulling the existing sweep were reliable, but not only were they
getting bored with walking round and round, they didn‟t produce the force required to get the
most out of the new Twin Auger design. Rico had suggested that they really needed
something over ten horse-power, an electric motor, or an internal combustion engine, maybe
a steam engine, or failing that, a waterwheel.
February 1632. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, Rudolstadt.
A shocked Manfred walked into his father‟s office in mid February. USE Steel, the
company he had been working for over the last few months, had decided that it wanted out of
the brick making business. What had shocked him was that they had asked if he and his father
wanted to buy them out. The proposal was that a new company be formed, Ziegelhuette
Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest would hold half of the company and Manfred would
personally receive another five percent. The parent company and their partners would share
the rest. The new company, tentatively named Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und
Feuerfest Corporation, would have all the assets of the Brick Division, plus the holdings of
his father‟s brick works. It sounded too good to be true. Surely nobody would give away that
much money. So Manfred had come running to his father. They had to make a decision. Did
they want to expand their brick works? Could they afford for someone else to buy the Brick
Divisions assets and operate in competition?
“Father, we are going to have to ask the up-timer‟s what they think.”
Heinrich sat thinking about the news. It sounded too good to be true. Why should the
steel company give away their business like this? There must be a catch, but it was also a
golden opportunity. The up-timers might be able to tell them better whether or not it was a
good idea. Maybe they could even tell him and Manfred why the steel company wanted to
sell off the brick division. “Carl will say „go for it‟. The others, I don‟t know, probably the
same. I do think we are going to have to take over the division. We can‟t afford to let
someone take over our technology, certainly not where they will compete directly with us.”
February 1632. Kelly Construction Head Office, Grantville.
They were all gathered around Angus as he sat at the computer. “Ok, the brick
division has what, four kilns, a cheap tempering mill, an old internal combustion engine
running on producer gas, drying sheds and other facilities . . . The brick works, that‟s the
vertical stack kiln, the original downdraft kiln, drying sheds, land, digging and wood rights,
add the tempering machines.” He pushed back from the computer and swung round on the
chair to look at the people around him. “No matter what I do, it still comes out at less than
what the brick division is worth. We‟re getting over half the company while contributing less
than half the assets, and we are contributing just under forty-seven percent of kiln capacity.
Admittedly, Heinrich and Manfred‟s knowledge has value, and that has been included in the
deal. I say go for it.”
Carl turned to Heinrich and Manfred, “Well, you‟ve heard the expert. It looks good,
but it‟s not a „sweetheart‟ deal. The steel company probably wants out because bricks aren‟t a
„core‟ activity and the division is diverting resources from the production of steel. If the
lawyers like the contract, go for it. As you‟ve said, we don‟t want competition using our
technology on our doorstep.” Angus‟ raised hand attracted Carl‟s attention, “Yes Angus?”
“Just something we are going to have to consider. If you look here,” Angus pointed to
a cell on the displayed spreadsheet, “you can see that the combined company will be
producing something like twenty-five thousand bricks a day, or about seven hundred
thousand a month. That is a massive cash flow. Some of it is going to be in cash. We‟re going
to have to install security.” Looking at the people surrounding him Angus shrugged his
shoulders, “I‟m just telling you how it is folks. That much cash lying around is going to
Carl looked around the faces that were now all looking at him, “Angus is right. We‟re
going to have to do something about security. I don‟t think we‟ll tend to have much cash on
the premises, but we can‟t trust that outsiders will know that. Our first step will be to redesign
the offices and train the office staff. We might want to train them on simple basic
self-defense techniques and firearms. There is almost no chance of getting up-time weapons,
but reliable down-time weapons should be possible. I‟ll ask around. However, we are
probably going to have to have a security force, mainly for site security, but also for payroll
days. You do realize how much money we‟ll have on hand to pay over two hundred
Early in March, 1632, Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest Corporation
came into existence. There was no fan-faire, no fuss. Nobody outside the company would
know that anything had changed. Between one day and the next Heinrich found himself
sharing control of one of the biggest brickworks in the world with his eldest son. However,
with the increase in size came an increase in problems. They now controlled a distributed
collection of facilities making over twenty-five thousand bricks a day, expecting to make
over nine million in a year. For someone who had previously make no more than a quarter of
a million bricks a season, this was a significant increase. For the short term, most of these
bricks would be consumed in the construction taking place in and around Grantville, plus the
new steel works and other new industries. In the long term, he would have to look for new
Both he and Manfred had been surprised when it was Rico who was in charge of
designing their new cash handling system. It had always seemed to be Carl who did things,
but apparently Rico had uptime experience of cash security systems, having, as Carl put it,
“intensely studied security arrangements” when he was employed at a gaming house.
In addition to the handling systems, Carl had arranged for all of the office staff to go
through a self-defense course run at the Grantville High School. He had then followed this up
with a firearms course. None of the office personnel were expected to be great shots, the
intention of the course was to ensure they knew how to load and fire the new weapons he had
June 1632. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, Rudolstadt.
It was a pleasant May afternoon when Rosina led an effervescent Carl into the office.
“Heinrich, Manfred, I‟ve . . .”
“No.” The negative rang out from both father and son.
A slightly pained Carl looked back at them, “Hey, no need to take that attitude, you
don‟t know what you‟ll be missing. As it is . . .”
Heinrich stood up, his hands grasping one of the account books that he and his son
had been working on. “Carl, for as long as we have known you, when you start with „I‟ve . .
.‟ it means you want to spend more of our money. Look at this.” He exclaimed pointing at an
entry in the account book. “You see the color of the ink? It is black. You see the date?” Carl
nodded his head. “It is before the Ring of Fire. Before we heard of you.” Riffling through the
pages Heinrich pointed out other entries. “You see, this? Red ink. We had more outgoing
than incoming that month, and the next. And the next.” Picking up the set of accounts
Manfred had been working on he continued. “You see this? It is our latest accounts. You see
the color of the ink? Yes, it is black. This is the first month since we have known you that we
have used black ink. The answer is NO, we wish to remain in the black for a little longer.”
“But Heinrich, it‟s really cheap, and it should save at least fifty percent on the fuel bill
for all but the vertical stacks, and. . .” Seeing that father and son were now willing to listen,
he continued, “it should extend the life of your kilns by at least another year before you have
to do a reline”.
Heinrich looked to his son. Manfred shrugged his shoulders, a wry grin on his face.
Turning to Carl Heinrich sighed. He looked at his latest accounts, then at the bottle of black
ink they had proudly used to enter the final numbers for the month. He knew he was lost. His
son‟s reaction confirmed what he felt. They should have shut Carl up before he could utter a
word. Now they just had to hear what he had to say. He knew they were going to buy into
whatever Carl was offering, if there was a chance it could deliver what he claimed. “Ok Carl,
“I knew you‟d really like the idea.” Carl looked around a bright smile on his face. The
less than friendly stares of the Roentgens caused his smile to fade a little, “we‟ve developed a
refractory coating that can be applied to the kiln walls. Well, actually it was Garth . . .”. At
the mention of Garth Freeman father and son smiled, they knew and respected the man. If he
was behind the idea, maybe it wasn‟t so outrageous. “He was talking about how a refractory
coating he applied to one of his kilns not only improved fuel efficiency and decreased his
firing time, but also how it helped hold the kiln lining together. So we got some people
working on it, and they came up with a solution we can paint on. It‟ll take a few hours per
chamber to apply, but think of the savings, it‟ll . . .”
“Pay for itself in no time . . .” chimed father and son. “How much?” asked Manfred.
Carl looked at them, an almost wounded look on his face. “Well, it‟s only a guess at the
moment. Until we make more than test quantities we can‟t know for sure, but we think,” Carl
paused, giving them his best smile, “not more than 10 guilders per kiln.”
Heinrich and Manfred looked at each other. For Carl, that was extremely cheap. If this
“refractory coating” could deliver, those fuel savings alone would pay for the coating in a
matter of days. If it could delay relining the kilns for another year, in effect doubling the life
of the kiln lining, the savings could be enormous. Heinrich looked forlornly at the pretty
black ink that marked the first net profit he had earned since July 1631.
June 1632. Kelly Construction Head Office, Grantville.
Both Manfred and Heinrich had responded to the urgent request that they come to see
the latest product from Kelly Construction. Arriving at the company‟s facility in Grantville
they joined the crowd around the new twin auger mill they had ordered. As they approached
they could see that something had been added to the end of the machine. Pushing through the
crowd, which consisted of a number of down-timers as well as the people from Kelly
Construction, they made their way through to Carl and Bob.
“So, it is a new pug machine. We have seen these before. What,” asked Heinrich, “is
so important that you dragged us here at a moments notice, surely not just for this?”
Carl turned to smile at both Roentgens, with his right hand he gestured to the twin
auger mill. “Wait till you see what she can do.” Turning he called to Rico. “Ok Rico, let‟s get
this show on the road.”
Rico flicked a switch activating an electric motor. As he moved round to the front of
the mill, Angus and Walter started shoveling clay into the mill. For a few moments nothing
happened. Then the first blobs of clay came out of the rectangular nozzle onto a slowly
moving canvas belt. Carl moved in and pulled a frame over the extruded clay. It appeared to
be strung with a number of evenly spaced fine wires. Then Carl surprised Heinrich and
Manfred. He pricked up each block and placed them on a molding board. Repeating the
action, within moments he had a laid out twenty well-formed bricks.
“Ok, stop the machine” he called.
Heinrich and Manfred gathered round the finished bricks. Looking from them to the
machine that had made them. Here was something Carl had long talked about. It seemed he
was finally going to deliver. A machine that could make bricks, and not just ordinary bricks,
but ones with hollows in them. The advantages of the hollows were obvious to them. They
used less clay for a given size, and they were less dense, hence they would fire faster,
requiring less fuel. Hopefully the bricklayers would like them as well, as they would be much
lighter than conventional bricks.
“Now was that worth being dragged here to see? asked Carl.
“Yes, it was beautiful to see Carl”, replied Heinrich. “So you finally sorted out your
problems. When can we take delivery?”
“Well we want to do a few more tests, see how these brick fire, try a couple of
different forms . . . ,” the blank looks of the Roentgens caused Carl to stop, “we can change
the size of the extruder. We want to test a nozzle that should make those fancy building
blocks USE Steel wants.”
The light dawned. The construction blocks had been causing them problems. Solid
bricks almost a foot square and half a foot deep, they were proving a pain to fire. They had
tried to mold them with holes from top to bottom, but they were difficult to mold, and the
production rate had dropped considerably. The molders didn‟t like making them either,
considering them too big and heavy at almost fifty pounds each. If the new feature meant
they could make the new bocks by machine, everyone would be happy, if it could make them
with the holes, so much the better.
“Ok Carl, take what time you need to perfect the big block nozzle. However, we need
this machine, how do you say it? Yesterday?”
“Yes, Heinrich, that‟s how you say it. We can‟t do „yesterday‟, but how does
tomorrow week sound?” Carl replied smiling.
July 1632. Grantville
The young militiaman pushed into the office calling excitedly, flourishing a handgun.
"Hey people, there's a group of enemy attacking the school. We've been told to expect there
might be others planning on attacking the town. Everyone is to collect their gun and take up
positions around the town center to repel the enemy." Turning to face Carl he gave him a sour
look. "I guess you had better stick with these two real men."
As the soldier continued on delivering his message, Hayes and Bob looked at each
other, and at Carl, until Hayes broke the silence. "What was that last bit about, do you
"The „real men‟ jibe?” asked Carl. At their nods he continued, “At the Battle of the
Crapper, I didn't join in the carnage. Based on that, some of the guys seem to think that I
don't have what it takes. Personally, I think it‟s an attempt by some of them to get the
government to seize my AR-15. Well, let's do what the man said. Both of you carrying?"
Hayes pulled out his Kimber .45, and checked it. Bob pulled out his Ruger. Both
looked to Carl, who opened the small daypack that these days, was never beyond arms length.
"What the hell's that?" Bob asked as Carl pulled out a large pistol like thing and
started to unfold its shoulder stock.
"This?” asked Carl as he loaded the weapon, “this here is a TC Contender carbine,
single shot, in .357, with a ten inch barrel, the special folding stock, and a two power scope."
"Single shot?" Digging away under his jacket for magazines, Hayes continued, "Hey
Carl, if you like I can lend you a 9 mm semi. You really need to get something like that guy
"Nineteen-ninety Beretta 92 FS, parkerised, guide rod laser, with a custom trigger?"
Carl smiled at Hayes and Bob, both were looking at him a little wide eyed. "I'm surprised he
could walk, the guy who was selling it for me reckoned he could get an arm and a leg."
"You‟re selling it? Why would you do a thing like that?" Asked Bob.
"Because it's surplus to requirements. I've got a P7", he patted the slight bulge under
his jacket, "and pistols really aren't much good. Beyond spitting distance, the average Joe is
doing well to hit a barn door, and they eject their brass out all over the place." Holding up the
assembled carbine he continued, "Meanwhile, with a carbine like this, I can reliably hit out to
over a hundred yards, and I don‟t have to hunt up my brass.”
Hayes looked at Carl and the weapon he was holding, then at the pistol in his own
hands. He knew exactly what he meant. He wasn‟t a bad shot, but he didn‟t expect to be able
to hit much beyond twenty-five yards. Silently he cursed, picturing in his mind all of his long
arms, secure in their cabinet, back at his house in the dead-end draw behind the school.
Carl, his carbine ready, looked to Bob and Hayes, “So, you coming?”
It had been a massacre. The Croats hadn‟t stood a chance in the confined spaces of the
town center. Packed together and shot at from all sides, their casualties had been horrendous,
they had finally broken and run. Carl could see the busload of police slow down to pick up
Dan Frost before charging down the road. At a guess, based on hearsay and the quality of the
driving, Carl thought that it was probably Gretchen Higgins‟ brother who was driving. With
the immediate risk to the town over, many of the men folk were making their way towards
buses to rush to the school. Carl looked to both Bob and Hayes, “I don‟t know about you two,
but I want to get over to head office and check that out, then go on to the brick works. I just
hope the Croats didn‟t attack the school via that route.”
“I thought you had security and guards installed?” queried Bob.
“We did, but that security amounted to arming the office staff and sharing the site
security with the steel works. There are only a dozen or so guns on the site, and they‟re all
single shot flintlocks, more than sufficient against bandits, but not enough for protection
against an army.”
As they entered the street Carl observed some young children, residents of the high
tech factory where Kelly Construction had its head office, waving Bob and Hayes on, he
walked over to a couple and talked to them for a few moments before returning.
“What was that about?” asked Hayes.
“Just seeing that they and their families were alright,” replied Carl at his most
Bob, watching the children Carl had spoken to dispersing, talking to other children,
turned on Carl, “Carl, just what did you tell them?”
Shrugging his shoulders, a grin on his face, Carl looked at Bob‟s and Hayes‟
suspicious faces, “I only suggested that there was bound to be a market for all the spent brass
lying around the place.”
“And how do you hope to profit from that?”
Carl turned to Bob, looking between him and the obviously amused Hayes. “Bob, I
am . . .”
“I know, I know. Wounded, maybe even deeply wounded,” finished Bob. “So how do
you expect to profit? In fact, why aren‟t you out there picking up the brass yourself if you
think there is a profit to be made?”
“Well Bob, surely that‟s obvious. I mean, a grown man scrambling for spent brass
when he could be selflessly defending the community. That would look bad. But a pack of
kids, especially down-time refugees, scrambling for that same brass, that is sociably
acceptable. Besides, nobody is going to try to stop them, whereas an adult . . . well, that‟s a
“You mean you are using the kids for your own ends.” accused Bob.
“No, no, you misunderstand. The kids will get fair market value for the brass.
However, they‟ll give me first refusal. With good brass going to be as rare as hen‟s teeth, any
I can get will be useful. So, what caliber‟s are you two collecting?”
With that, Bob shut up, walking beside an obviously amused Hayes and a smiling,
humorously self-righteous Carl as they walked towards head office. Bob turned off to go to
his home to check that his wife and son were all right. Hayes and Carl continued on, arriving
back at the factory to see residents of the center, some of them with newly acquired
wheel-locks guarding the facility.
Hayes turned to Carl, his gaze drawing a line between the weapons and Carl. “The
brass might find a market?”
“It wasn‟t me. Honest.” The cynically amused smile on Hayes‟ face drew an equally
amused look from Carl. He understood where Hayes was coming from. “No, honestly,
picking up the guns was their own idea. The kids did ask if I thought it was ok. I just told
them to be careful, to treat each weapon as if it was loaded, and to pass them on to their
adults as soon as they could. I mean, looting the bodies of whatever they had is just normal
“So you just told them to get in first before anybody else thought of it?”
“That, and to work in teams so they could protect what they recovered.”
The Croat raid had left the brick works alone. Except for the sounds of battle,
Heinrich and Manfred wouldn‟t have known anything was happening. However, the attack
had brought home to the brick works, the steel works and the villages sprouting up around
them, just how vulnerable they really were. They had met this day, the fourth after the battle
for the school, to discuss site security with representatives from USE Steel. They had decided
that they would share the expense of forming a local militia, buying weapons and hiring
experienced soldiers to train the workforce.
Nobody was happy with the additional expense. However, the sense of security
having a local armed militia offered couldn‟t be ignored. So they had, figuratively, bitten the
bullet. Manfred had put forward a suggestion that all members of the militia buy their own
weapon, but that they buy through the company. This way they could all get similar rifles,
and with the size of the order, get them cheaper, and it wouldn‟t be an added expense for the
August 1632. Ziegelhuette Schwarza Refrakteknik und Feuerfest, Rudolstadt.
“Manfred. I have received a letter from your Mother‟s brother Franz in Magdeburg.
He says there is massive rebuilding, and suggests that we might be interested in expanding
our operations in that direction. I want you to go to Magdeburg and find out what you can.”
Manfred looked at his father, then outside at the bustling brick works. “Father, surely
I am needed here, you cannot manage everything yourself.”
“It is but a short visit I am asking of you. To go and find out what you can. If there is
an opportunity for us in the rebuilding of Magdeburg we must take it. Meanwhile, I will write
your brother Georg, telling him to cut short his journeyman‟s tour and come straight home. It
is time he learned the new techniques.”
 For those that want to know what‟s so special about the salt content….
“Common salt is nearly always present in minute quantities in clay. Salt melts readily and
glazes the outside of the brick, and the heat cannot be raised or maintained sufficiently long
to burn them to the core, or into good hard brick: as a consequence they are soft, and from the
presence of the decomposed salts of magnesia and soda, are always damp, owing to the
tendency of these salts to absorb moisture from the atmosphere. Rare minerals containing
such metals as cobalt, copper, zinc, and such salts as phosphate of iron, are met in clays, but
are exceptions and are of no importance in practical work.”
(From Davis, C.T. (1895). A practical treatise on the manufacture of brick, tiles, and
terra-cotta. (3rd Ed). Henry Carey Baird & co, Philadelphia