Collections Catch of the Week: The Rietz Magnet Apparatus
Submitted by M.Lenz and Y.Rancourt, Collections Assistants
This week’s item may not look like much, but it was an important part of keeping food, produced at the cannery, safe. This machine is actually a high powered magnet, invented in 1940. It was used to remove “tramp iron”, small iron fragments that flaked off equipment in the herring reduction process. When fish being processed passed over this magnet, tramp iron would be pulled out and stick to the magnet, keeping it out of the finished product. What made this magnet different from earlier electromagnets was that it was completely liquid tight. Not only sealed in its cover, it was also filled with molten bitumastic sealing compound which solidified at room temperature, making it completely immersible. It was a helpful addition to herring reduction, unless you liked some iron crunch with your fish.
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