This is Charlie Negas, Newman, Georgia, boiler maker for 40 years and still going strong. Charlie is a full blooded Greek. His parents came from the old country and he was 14 when he started with Cole in 1926.Courtesy of Mr. Howard Camp, 18 W. Washington
18 W. Washington St., Newnan, Georgia
Charles Negas, a Greek, started making boilers in 1926 with the R. D. Cole Manufacturing Co., Newnan, Georgia and in 1940 the R. D. Cole Company bought him a brand new Boiler No. 90 Riveting Hammer. To this day, no one but Charlie has used this hammer, not even for an hour. When he goes on a repair job the Old 90 rides up in front with the folks. It has always been under his lock and key.
Where the company used to make several boilers a day, they got down to several a year. This is when Charlie got to be a one man boiler builder, doing most of the operations himself with only one helper. He now stays busy doing repair work for the company's very best customers as he has not built a new boiler in 4 years. When you see Charlie, his welder and a helper, with a truck load of equipment going to a boiler somewhere (no telling where) you can bet your boots his Ole No. 90 is up in the cab with the mechanics in a greased bag ready to go to work.
During the war when hammers could not be had or repaired, everyone had their eyes on Charlie's hammer but he would not let anyone have it. One tank building road foreman had an order from the executive office to get Charlie's hammer to build a tank and tower but his boss told him to do what he wanted to about lending the hammer. Charlie did not let him have it and has never let anyone borrow it.
The first time I ever saw Charlie was in 1933 and he was driving 1-1/8' rivets in a creosote cylinder and someone inside was bucking the rivet with another 90 air hammer (double gunning the drive).
Air hammers are nice but all of the old tank builders and boiler makers around here will tell you that you can not beat a hand driven rivet and flogged over without snapping it. The vibration from the air tools seem to loosen the cold ones up.
Cole was making boilers during the Civil War for the confederates but quit boilers in 1962 after 100 years. High steel tanks are their business today.
You really have to know your stuff to use a 90 on small rivers, especially if the air pressure is up 25% more than the hammer is designed for. Doing it this way one can drive twice as many rivets in a day as you are supposed to, mostly on large elevated tanks with thousands of rivets. All of this is why Charlie will not let anyone else use his hammer.
Of course, most of the rivets in boilers were driven by a hydraulic BULL, which is nothing but a large press and covered several hundred square feet and the air hammer was only used to drive odd rivets where the bull could not get to. When Charlie was making the last boilers he also kept up with the blue prints and did every job from laying out, rolling and running the bull, installing the tubes and, finally, testing. A one man boiler factory. And now that is gone.