Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Night XVI: "Miracle of the Can"

American Can Co., San Jose

When I've been searching for pre-1910 information on canneries, I see a lot of comments about the hassle that is can-making. There's the random can-makers that pop up and disappear. There's the stories of trying to hire - and retain expert solderers to keep your cannery running. There's the hot solder. There's the battles over patents. Before mass production, cans were produced by skilled craftsman who could pretty much name their own price. However, by about 1905, can making machinery was perfected, and all the craftsmanship was a lost art.

I never knew how cans were made by hand, but luckily this video from the American Can Company shows how cans were made in the good old days (from 10:30 to 12:30). Watch real Hollywood actors use the period jigs and soldering pots to produce 600 cans a day. And after that's all over, the American Can Company will give you a look - in extremely gory detail - on how cans were mass-produced. If you've ever been curious what was going on at the American Can Plant on Martha Street, now you'll know. If you wanted to know how the sides were formed and crimped, you'll know. If you were curious about the gaskets for can bottoms, where extra metal is cut away, pressure-testing, flanging, the size of metal blanks, or how many of the machines could take your finger off just like that if you weren't careful - well, whether you want to know that or not, you're going to find out.

(If video is cut off on the sides, watch it here.)

[Video via Internet Archive, preserved by the Prelinger Archives.]

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