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Anybody ever seen side curtains for a phaeton? the inserts are plastic. Did they have plastics in the late twenties?


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  • Peter Gariepy changed the title to Anybody ever seen side curtains for a phaeton? the inserts are plastic. Did they have plastics in the late twenties?

"Plastic" is an interesting subject. I have never studied it in depth. The word itself has had multiple meanings over the years. Basic science tells us that there are three common "states" of matter; "solid", "liquid", and "gaseous". Without getting too deep in theoretical physics and the formation of the universe? There are two other states of matter (arguably). Most people recognize "plasma" (as something other than part of our blood?) as a superheated gaseous-like energy "thing" (it is a lot more complicated than that!). It being a state of matter beyond simple gaseous (making the "states" count four).

 

The fifth common state of matter is "plastic". It is the zone between solid and liquid. Technically, GLASS is "plastic". Most matter changes from liquid to solid in a narrow range of temperature. At 31 1/2 degrees Fahrenheit, water is a solid (ice), at 32 1/2 degrees Fahrenheit it is a liquid. Everyone that has done a significant amount of oxy-acetylene welding is familiar with the shift from solid to liquid in most metal alloys. Relatively speaking, the shift from solid to liquid is through a fairly narrow "plastic" stage where the metal is soft, yet still basically solid. Once the critical temperature is reached (varies greatly from one alloy to another!), the small hottest spot turns into a puddle of liquid metal. "Glass" is technically a plastic because its transition temperature zone is very large! Glass reaches the lower end of a semi-liquid state where it becomes pliable (the "plastic" state), but does not become a true liquid until another hundred degrees (roughly speaking?) hotter! A rather large temperature zone for the "plastic" state. In addition to that, even when hot enough to be nearly a liquid? If dropped, the nearly liquid glass will not splash per se, but will shatter, much like it does as a solid (interesting to actually watch). We of course do not see this in our normal lives, because glass does not reach its true "plastic" state until a couple hundred degrees F above our "comfort zone" we normally live in.

THAT has been the "five hundred words or less" version of what requires several chapters in a rather large physics book! (I left out a LOT!) (No, I did not count the words?)

 

"Plastics" as we usually think of them today has a long history. The earliest synthetic (man-made) "plastics" were developed in the mid 1800s. Bakelite was invented right after 1900 (I looked that up many years ago).

"Isinglass" by definition is made from Fish bladders! (Look it up!) The word was later applied to a type of plastic developed from mineral mica to create a similar see-through and flexible material. Alternate spellings include "eisenglass" (which translates in German to "iron-glass" in English), or "isenglass". The mineral mica form goes way back into the 1800s, I don't know just how far back. 

Most so-called "isinglass" today is of course a more modern synthetic material. The name has stuck, and will probably continue to be used. Modern isinglass looks and feels very close to what the original versions did many years ago. I am not sure which would actually last longer?

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Interesting write up Wayne.

I remember a science teacher telling the class once that Glass is essentially a liquid.

And referenced why very old glass tends to lose its shape and will be thicker at the bottom if it has been a window for a hundred years.

I never did take the time to measure the thickness of old windows, but I do recall older glass being kind of wavy and would distort whatever you were looking at thru it.

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The etymology of "isinglass" is pretty funny too. Another use for that term was the clear "glass" (actually mica) windows in the front doors of old coal-burning stoves. The mica diaphragm of a 78rpm phonograph was usually always referred to as "mica" (alternative accessory diaphragms such as No-My-Ka made a point of using different materials for a mellower sound.) People just seemed to call stove windows "isinglass." 

The curtains on buggies and early cars were celluloid. The celluloid material was around since the mid-19th century in one form or another; I used to have a 1909 Conley camera (the Seroco, for Sears-Roebuck) with "Keratol" bellows--a patterned leatherette made of cloth doped in nitrocellulose, with a pattern like pebbled pigskin pressed into it. Light leaks everywhere, though I guess it would've been OK a century ago. 

Pretty crazy stuff. 

 

 

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38 minutes ago, JACK M said:

I do recall older glass being kind of wavy and would distort whatever you were looking at thru it.

That was before 'float' glass was invented by Pilkington Brothers, where the glass cools/hardens on top of a layer of molten tin, making perfectly flat, and distortion-free.

 

Craig

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I know your science teacher told you otherwise, and so did mine.  But after a thirty-year career in the high-tech glass industry, I can assure that glass is neither a liquid, nor does it distort over time.  Sometimes I wonder who was the teacher-of-science-teachers who propagated this rather commonplace myth.

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On 5/12/2022 at 5:03 PM, wayne sheldon said:

"Plastics" as we usually think of them today has a long history. The earliest synthetic (man-made) "plastics" were developed in the mid 1800s. Bakelite was invented right after 1900 (I looked that up many years ago).

 

Thanks for the info. Very interesting. I used to come across cheap old bakelite banjos when I was involved in music. Some would be in good shape and some would be badly deteriorated. Exposure to something had a bad effect on them but I could never figure out what. A decorative blue plastic gear selector knob on the dash mounted selector of my Chrysler was in the process of deteriorating badly when I bought the car. I'm guessing a film of motor oil from an owner who didn't wash his hands caused that, but that's speculation on my part.

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Nitrocellulose certainly is. It's also the stuff early movie film was made from. In the 1920s there was an embargo on smokeless (i.e. nitrocellulose) gunpowder to Afghanistan . The Afgans responded by buying up old movie film and shredding it. It worked although I have no idea how well.

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