By Luigi Bagnato, May 1988

Click here for update - Photo of Puget Sound Pulp and Paper mill.  (Added November 16, 2007)


On a trip to the Westcoast in 1961, I called on a paper mill right on Puget Sound. I seem to recall the name was Puget Sound Paper Company but that could be wrong. The gentleman that greeted me said he pulled the first tail across the new machine and asked if I would like to see it. Much to my surprise the "new" machine was a 1936 vintage machine and an older machine was opposite hand in the next aisle. This visit was a trip into the past!


Vintage Finishing LineThe machine room appeared just like it did in 1936 when the "new" machine was installed. I was told that due to an effluent problem in Puget Sound, there was a moratorium on making equipment changes until a solution was found. I don't recall to many of the machine details except most of the machinery was cast iron, painted in black enamel with decorative pin stripping. I have a vague recollection of cylinder vats as opposed to a fourdrinier. The press section used weight and lever loading. The dryer sections were constructed of very gracefully curved cast iron frames and open gearing. I attempted to illustrate them here but the design was to much for my artistic talent and drawing program. On the finishing end I seem to recall a single "A" frame calender, a rotating type reel and a winder with a slitter section higher that the roll being wound on the drums. The line probably appeared pretty much like the composite shown here.


Aldrich Automatic Reel

I few years ago I found a photo of a reel that looks similar to that of the Puget Sound machine. I'm told this is called The Aldrich Reel named after one of the founders of the old Beloit Iron Works back in 1885. The reel is basically a 6 arm turret, each spindle driven from a large bull gear at the back side of the reel. The spindle had an individual brake on the front side controlled by a handwheel. This type of reel was possible as machines operated at much lower speeds and the winder made single sets as opposed to winding from large jumbos as we are familiar with today.


Vintage Winder

I found another photo that appeared to resemble the Puget machine winder. This winder in addition to it's unique frame had a dual slitter section. The slitters that are part of the slitter table were score type slitters, the large bottom slitter roll being an anvil roll. The handwheel was to engage the slitters. The core shaft was raised and lowered by large compound gear trains and chains not shown here. The winder did not use a rider roll. Large solid steel winder shafts were used to generate a starting nip. An additional set of score slitters are located where the conventional rider roll would be expected to be. This set of slitters was used to make counter rolls. The counter rolls were generally in the 9" diameter range and 15 to 18" wide. The core shaft and paper core acted as the anvil roll for the rider roll slitters. Six sets of slitters were shown in each position in the photo.


Counter Roll Paper DispenserFor those of you that may not be familiar with counter rolls, this sketch is a VRML model made from memory. When I was growing up in the 1930s, there were no supermarkets as we know them now. Our local A & P was on the corner of Quail Street & Washington Avenue in Albany, NY. When you walked into the store there were a bank of boxes of assorted cookies. You could go along and say, give me one of those, one of those, etc. My favorites were the oatmeal cookies. If you had a nickel, you could get a days supply of cookies. From the standpoint of the paper industry, the feature I remember the most was the counter roll dispenser bolted to the counter. If you purchased meat or dairy products Mr. Hummer, the store clerk, payed out the wrapper stock, pulled it up against the anvil bar to cut the paper and wrapped your purchase. About the only counter roll dispensers you might see today are the light duty ones used in the gift wrap sections of department stores.


3 Drum Upright Reel



In my travels, one of the reels I saw was a three position upright reel. This reel used large mandrels made from wood slats mounted on cast iron spiders as opposed to reel spools. The mandrels were geared together on the back side driven from a single in-drive point. There were individual brakes on the front side for each position controlled by a large handwheel. I suspect this may have pre-dated the spool type Aldrich reel.



While researching the Puget Sound paper machine I came across a photo showing this transfer reel. I could not find a date or place but suspect it was developed after the Aldrich reel as it wound larger diameter reels. The reason I wanted to show this reel is that it is kind-of a "back to the future" thing. For all of us that think we were instrumental in developing the drum support reel, here is the for-runner in all it's glory in living black enamel with pin stripping.

POPE REEL (concept sketch)

This is another "back to the future" thing. A centerwind pope reel. If memory serves me right, in the recent past, I saw a reel like this at an S. D. Warren mill in Grand Rapids, MI. (Maybe someone out there can confirm this). This is interesting because again it is a fore-runner of the core support duplex only more so. This reel wound the jumbo supported on the drum and was also available with a centerwind attachment. In looking through some records, it appears that most were supplied with the centerwind attachment.


Turret Supercalender WindupHere is another use of the centerwind application. Quite a few of these turrets were used as super calender windups. This is an interesting story. As supercalender speeds approached the 1500 FPM range, depending on the sheet characteristics, the centerwind started exhibiting dishing and telescoping. It was not unusual to see windups with "batter boards" on either end of the winding jumbo to keep the roll from slipping sideways. This was caused by entrained air. We didn't have the know-how or smarts to use a lay-on roll to eliminate some of the entrained air. As process speeds increased, many of these centerwinds were replaced with a drum type windup with level rails similar to that used on paper machines but without primary arms. The first conversion I recall was at the old Watervliet Paper Mill in Kalamazoo, MI.


First Level Rail Reel-1947

The drum type reel with level rails and primary arms started appearing in 1947. The early applications were for jumbos of 72" diameter, up to 200" width at speeds less than 2000 FPM. This sketch shows the earliest version. Instead of swing arms it used a horizontal air cylinder for nip. The rail was pivoted to permit increasing the incline to optimize the nip loading on board type reels.


Modern Level Rail ReelIt is obvious the modern day level rail reel with primary arms is the result of significant improvements in the original 1947 design. This is the most popular reel design in use today. This type of reel is used on paper machines (and off machine) in widths to 400", jumbos in excess of 120" diameter and speeds in excess of 5000 FPM. In some cases, particularly on coated and supered grades, the level rail reel as we presently know it is being replaced by reels that utilize the drum support feature-reels like the Valmet Opti-reel and Beloit TNT reel. Others are sure to follow if not already in use.


When looking at some of the old designs discussed here, we may get the feeling of simpler times, when machines were narrower and ran at a slower speeds. I suspect however, if the truth be known, that the challenges and pressures were no less then, then they are today. Each generation from the start of the industrial revolution, utilized their current technology and skills to the limit and pushed the envelope. If they didn't we would not have 400" wide paper machines operating in the 5000 FPM speeds nor graduated to terms such as tons of paper per inch of machine face or breaks at the pressroom per 1000 rolls


All sketches and layouts by Luigi Bagnato

If you have an interest in the historical side of finishing, you can go to the following links:

Step Back in Tme-Volume 1 A visit to the old St Lawrence Paper Mill on the St. Lawrence River-

Step Back in Tme-Volume 2 Pot Pourri of finishing experiences and oddities.

Counter Roll Dispenser Visit the VRML Gallery and view the Counter Roll Dispenser VRML model.

Update November 16, 2007

This photo was found in an Internet search. The photo was labeled Puget Sound Pulp & Paper c 1895. This was probably the mill visited in this article.   

 Click the photo for a larger view



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