It’s an Ill Wind……..


by Brian Knott

As part of the knowledge exchange program that in 1981 brought  two Chinese engineers to Fulmer for a year, it was necessary to prepare small batches of master alloy additions to the base metals for further processing prior to mechanical alloying.  The nature of the alloys required meant that the master alloys of iron/yttrium could only be melted in the argon-arc furnace (designed and built by Roy Ayling) in the Foundry.

Subsequently Fulmer was also asked to manufacture, on a regular basis, small buttons (a few hundred grammes at a time) of platinum/yttrium alloy for an experimental program being carried out by the UK arm of a multinational, precious metals refiner and product developer.  The platinum and yttrium metal would be brought to Fulmer by a security guard who would watch over me whilst I did the necessary, including weighing the metals in and the alloy out.

This continued until early November 1983, when the multinational, precious metals refiner and product developer requested a much larger batch (over 2 kilograms) of platinum/yttrium master alloy. I therefore did not expect to hear from them again until the New Year.  However, late November 1983 was the time of the Brinks-Mat robbery when £26 million worth of bullion, diamonds and cash was stolen from the Heathrow International Trading Estate.  Within a couple of days of the robbery the multinational, the client rang to ask if I could prepare, as soon as possible, another 2 kilogram batch of platinum/yttrium master alloy. The platinum and yttrium duly arrived the next day, again accompanied by a security guard.

Nobody would say why they needed the second batch in such a hurry but it was quite a coincidence, and it is an ill wind that blows no good!

Jun 2016

FRHG ref: V114