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  • Unusual glass drilling problem

    A short look into the archives gives a lot of advice as to how to drill a hole in glass.

    This situation is a bit different. And I'm going to be very easily swayed into it being a no, no.

    What I have is set of six glass "fire grenades". The kind filled with Carbon tetrachloride. They are in a nice carrying case and might fit in with someones collection of fire fighting equipment.

    They are dangerous to have around like they are and I don't think they would ship very well like they are. I would assume it to be pretty much illegal.

    So here's my plan. Wrap the grenade in a heavy towel leaving only its little neck exposed. make a clay damn, fill with water, and have at it with a small diamond drill. I will probably make two holes so that they will drain.

    I would do this outdoors wearing a pair of goggles and a face shield. I would also wear some rubber gloves. I don't think they are under any pressure, but I don't know that for sure.

    Any thoughts?
    Gene

  • #2
    I see them for sale for good bucks at antique shows and shops, so you may be ahead to shop them around a bit locally before ruining the value.

    But, if you want another method to put a hole in thin glass, here is how I punctured light bulbs. Just heat a piece of tig filler rod (I used .020" stainless steel) to red heat, then just stick it right through the glass. Never had one break. A heavy needle would probably work fine.

    Dennis

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    • #3
      Drill at the center of the bottom of the bulb. That way there is the least chance of the glass breaking as the stresses will be equally distributed around the hole. You should only need one hole. The vapor pressure of Carbon tet at room temperature is about 100mm hg (1.5 psi) and by warming the bulb with your hands it will increase to about 200mm. That should be enough to expel the contents in a controlled manner.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #4
        make a clay damn, fill with water

        instead of water fill it with methylated spirits it will work better.Alistair
        Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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        • #5
          If the "grenades" are intended to be sold or resold, think twice before drilling. From here:

          While some collectors are “drilling” out a hole in the cement-ended grenades and emptying the contents (“NOT RECOMMENDED!” said Seigal), one auctioneer who specializes in fire memorabilia said drilling and emptying a grenade renders it worth “half” the amount it would normally bring from a collector, as they want them intact. (do a search on eBay for Glass Fire Grenades, and you’ll see what we mean).
          They're worth a veritable fortune up here (in Alaska) as the use of carbon tet was largely phased out long before any significant settlement came along, so they're very, very rare.

          Doc.
          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

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          • #6
            After Carbon tetrachloride was banned for use by the government, the US Navy had me cleaning rifles with it. That was back in th 1970's and I have not died yet but I am sure it will kill me some time in the next 50 years. Gary P. Hansen
            In memory of Marine Engineer Paul Miller who gave his life for his country 7-19-2010 Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Freedom is not free, it is paid for with blood.

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            • #7
              I had a nice set of six of those in a well kept red metal "lunchbox"-like container. After buying it at a local auction for $25 bucks, it sat around for a couple of years. Well, the town museum has a nice display of old fire fighting equipment (including a hand pumper wagon ) so I simply donated it and now it is displayed along with all the other apparatuses.
              Last edited by Deja Vu; 06-05-2008, 04:39 PM.
              John M...your (un)usual basement dweller

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              • #8
                Thanks for the replies.

                I am going to show this to the owner of the grenades and let them decide what to do.

                It's one of those yes it can be done, but should it? questions.
                Gene

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                • #9
                  I've never heard of a "fire grenade" can someone please explain their purpose?
                  Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

                  Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
                  Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
                  Monarch 10EE 1942

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Peter.
                    I've never heard of a "fire grenade" can someone please explain their purpose?
                    All glass, about the size of a softball, with a bit of an incandescent light bulb shape to them.

                    They were intended as fire extinguishers used just like hand grenades, minus pulling a pin. You would simply throw them into a small fire.

                    I collect (though not actively) antique fire memorbilia. I have a still charged brass carbon-tet extinguisher. These carbon-tet grenades were set up in various ways as a means of fire supression. The fire department I belong to has a couple of "grenades" as well as a carbon-tet "sprinkler". It is really a bottle that operates the same way a sprinkler does. A fusible link melts at a certain temperature, dumping the contents. This link shows the carbon-tet "sprinkler". It is the bottle in the picture.

                    http://www.taftvillefire.org/History.html
                    Last edited by ERBenoit; 06-05-2008, 07:32 PM.
                    Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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                    • #11
                      Were they effective? If so why are they not used today?
                      Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

                      Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
                      Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
                      Monarch 10EE 1942

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Peter.
                        Were they effective? If so why are they not used today?
                        I do not know how effective they actually were. Small fire, maybe effective. Large fire probably not.

                        Not used today because cabon-tet has significant adverse health effects. Though it is still used in very limited certain applications. A fire extinguishing agent is not one of them.

                        Basically it is bad for you and the environment.

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tetrachloride

                        http://msds.chem.ox.ac.uk/CA/carbon_tetrachloride.html
                        Last edited by ERBenoit; 06-05-2008, 07:36 PM.
                        Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Peter.
                          Were they effective? If so why are they not used today?
                          Several reasons.

                          One, they were pretty small. Even a "big" one only held about a quart of suppressant. A quart of water was all but useless on anything but a tiny fire, and a quart of C-tet wasn't much better.

                          Two, they were by design pretty fragile. If not stored or handled well, they'd often get broken accidentally, which meant they weren't around when you actually needed one.

                          And three, while the use of carbon tetrachloride made even the small ones at least marginally effective (the fluid vaporized in the heat, making a much larger cloud of nonflammable gas) it was itself a toxic and harmful substance., causing at least liver damage, if not neurological damage.

                          And a bonus fourth, they were a product from before cheap and reliable pressurized tanks. Other fire extinguishers of the day were at best, a tank of unpressurized water, that when inverted, a vial of... an acid, or something, I'm not sure... mixed with the water to form carbon dioxide, baking-soda-and-vinegar style.

                          This was about the only way to have a long term pressurized cannister, since most of them were simply rolled and soldered, or even riveted, rather than today's seamless drawn cylinders.

                          But since today's extinguishers can now hold a charge for years or even decades, and one reasonably sized tank can cover far more fire than even a handful of carbon tet grenades, they went the way of the buggy whip.

                          Doc.
                          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doc Nickel
                            Several reasons.

                            One, they were pretty small. Even a "big" one only held about a quart of suppressant. A quart of water was all but useless on anything but a tiny fire, and a quart of C-tet wasn't much better.

                            Two, they were by design pretty fragile. If not stored or handled well, they'd often get broken accidentally, which meant they weren't around when you actually needed one.

                            And three, while the use of carbon tetrachloride made even the small ones at least marginally effective (the fluid vaporized in the heat, making a much larger cloud of nonflammable gas) it was itself a toxic and harmful substance., causing at least liver damage, if not neurological damage.

                            And a bonus fourth, they were a product from before cheap and reliable pressurized tanks. Other fire extinguishers of the day were at best, a tank of unpressurized water, that when inverted, a vial of... an acid, or something, I'm not sure... mixed with the water to form carbon dioxide, baking-soda-and-vinegar style.

                            This was about the only way to have a long term pressurized cannister, since most of them were simply rolled and soldered, or even riveted, rather than today's seamless drawn cylinders.

                            But since today's extinguishers can now hold a charge for years or even decades, and one reasonably sized tank can cover far more fire than even a handful of carbon tet grenades, they went the way of the buggy whip.

                            Doc.
                            You went into more detail than I did. It is all accurate. As far as the old soda / acid extinguishers, Inverting them would mix sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sulfuric acid, thus pressurizing the tank.
                            Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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                            • #15
                              Here's a site where a "sixpack" is displayed in a heavy cardboard or laminated wood case. By clicking on the "next" button you will see other "single" units with wall brackets.
                              http://www.antiquemystique.com/pages/9201_jpg.htm
                              When I did a lot of remodeling of homes, they'd be found hanging still in basement stairwells.
                              John M...your (un)usual basement dweller

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