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Electro-Analyzer: 1942

Electro-Analyzer: 1942

Chicago, December 1942. "Apparatus used at the laboratory at the Chicago & North Western RR's 40th Street yards for analyzing solutions of metals used in locomotives and the railroad plant in general." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Colorful Solutions

This instrument would not raise too many eyebrows in a lab today, and the photo includes the mandatory beakers of solutions which every photographer asks us to prepare to add color to a shot. We still use the same orange wax pencils to write on glass, though not so much since they crumble a bit and get tracked all over the floor. I notice the large beaker on the shelf is labeled "mucilage." Most of us will remember that from school when it was the only glue we had.


When I look at this photo all I can see are two wide-eyed faces looking out at me.


Back then, the RRs used it to analyze water samples (coolant, boiler, etc.) to determine problems in their engines. Like many fleet operations today that send out oil samples for ananlysis, back in the day, flocks of chemists were on staff to study oil, fuel and water samples.

Looks like a milkshake machine.

Copper, lead and zinc added for flavor.

Ad for Sargent-Slomin Electrolytic Analyzers

The analyzers worked by electrolytically depositing metal on the grid electrode. The electrode was weighed before and after the analysis to determine the amount of metal in the solution. Different metals could be selectively deposited depending on the voltage applied.

The analyzer in the photo above is a precursor to the one in the ad.

(I'm a Ph.D. Chemist)

Old machine, new use

Now it's used for urinalysis drug testing. Looking for a different species of railroad plant.


Ohm's Law was a lot more important in those days.

Analyzing metal solutions - a likely story.

It's obviously an early attempt at an espresso machine.

Your choice

Decaf or regular.

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