Hence it is not surprising to find the stock-room not only a museum, but a sample-room of nature, as well as a supply department. To a casual visitor the first view of this heterogeneous collection is quite bewildering, but on more mature examination it resolves itself into a natural classification--as, for instance, objects pertaining to various animals, birds, and fishes, such as skins, hides, hair, fur, feathers, wool, quills, down, bristles, teeth, bones, hoofs, horns, tusks, shells; natural products, such as woods, barks, roots, leaves, nuts, seeds, herbs, gums, grains, flours, meals, bran; also minerals in great assortment; mineral and vegetable oils, clay, mica, ozokerite, etc. In the line of textiles, cotton and silk threads in great variety, with woven goods of all kinds from cheese-cloth to silk plush. As for paper, there is everything in white and colored, from thinnest tissue up to the heaviest asbestos, even a few newspapers being always on hand. Twines of all sizes, inks, waxes, cork, tar, resin, pitch, turpentine, asphalt, plumbago, glass in sheets and tubes; and a host of miscellaneous articles revealed on looking around the shelves, as well as an interminable col- lection of chemicals, including acids, alkalies, salts, reagents, every conceivable essential oil and all the thinkable extracts. It may be remarked that this collection includes the eighteen hundred or more fluorescent salts made by Edison during his experimental search for the best material for a fluoroscope in the initial X-ray period. All known metals in form of sheet, rod and tube, and of great variety in thickness, are here found also, together with a most complete assortment of tools and accessories for machine shop and laboratory work.
The list is confined to the merest general mention of the scope of this remarkable and interesting collection, as specific details would stretch out into a catalogue of no small proportions. When it is stated, however, that a stock clerk is kept exceedingly busy all day answering the numerous and various demands upon him, the reader will appreciate that this comprehensive assortment is not merely a fad of Edison's, but stands rather as a substantial tribute to his wide-angled view of possible requirements as his various investigations take him far afield. It has no counterpart in the world!
Beyond the stock-room, and occupying about half the building on the same floor, lie a machine shop, engine-room, and boiler-room. This machine shop is well equipped, and in it is constantly employed a large force of mechanics whose time is occupied in constructing the heavier class of models and mechanical devices called for by the varied experiments and inventions always going on.
Immediately above, on the second floor, is found another machine shop in which is maintained a corps of expert mechanics who are called upon to do work of greater precision and fineness, in the construction of tools and experimental models. This is the realm presided over lovingly by John F. Ott, who has been Edison's designer of mechanical devices for over forty years. He still continues to ply his craft with unabated skill and oversees the work of the mechanics as his productions are wrought into concrete shape.
In one of the many experimental-rooms lining the sides of the second floor may usually be seen his younger brother, Fred Ott, whose skill as a dexterous manipulator and ingenious mechanic has found ample scope for exercise during the thirty-two years of his service with Edison, not only at the regular laboratories, but also at that connected with the inventor's winter home in Florida. Still another of the Ott family, the son of John F., for some years past has been on the experimental staff of the Orange laboratory. Although possessing in no small degree the mechanical and manipulative skill of the family, he has chosen chemistry as his special domain, and may be found with the other chemists in one of the chemical-rooms.
On this same floor is the vacuum-pump room with a glass-blowers' room adjoining, both of them historic by reason of the strenuous work done on incandescent lamps and X-ray tubes within their walls. The tools and appliances are kept intact, for Edison calls occasionally for their use in some of his later experiments, and there is a suspicion among the laboratory staff that some day he may resume work on incandescent lamps. Adjacent to these rooms are several others devoted to physical and mechanical experiments, together with a draughting-room.
Last to be mentioned, but the first in order as one leaves the head of the stairs leading up to this floor, is No. 12, Edison's favorite room, where he will frequently be found. Plain of aspect, being merely a space boarded off with tongued-and-grooved planks--as all the other rooms are--without ornament or floor covering, and containing only a few articles of cheap furniture, this room seems to exercise a nameless charm for him. The door is always open, and often he can be seen seated at a plain table in the centre of the room, deeply intent on some of the numerous problems in which he is interested. The table is usually pretty well filled with specimens or data of experimental results which have been put there for his examination. At the time of this writing these specimens consist largely of sections of positive elements of the storage battery, together with many samples of nickel hydrate, to which Edison devotes deep study. Close at hand is a microscope which is in frequent use by him in these investigations. Around the room, on shelves, are hundreds of bottles each containing a small quantity of nickel hydrate made in as many different ways, each labelled correspondingly. Always at hand will be found one or two of the laboratory note-books, with frequent entries or comments in the handwriting which once seen is never forgotten.
No. 12 is at times a chemical, a physical, or a mechanical room--occasionally a combination of all, while sometimes it might be called a consultation- room or clinic--for often Edison may be seen there in animated conference with a group of his assistants; but its chief distinction lies in its being one of his favorite haunts, and in the fact that within its walls have been settled many of the perplexing problems and momentous questions that have brought about great changes in electrical and engineering arts during the twenty-odd years that have elapsed since the Orange laboratory was built.
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