Philadelphia (Nov. 22)
(From Our Philadelphia Correspondent, Robert Reiss)
Assisted by scientists of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. S. Weinberg, consulting chemical engineer, has evolved a process of “embalming” wood so that it will withstand the ravages of centuries.
This discovery, in conjunction with another that Dr. Weinberg says he hopes to be able to announce soon, namely, a method by which wood can be made non-inflammable, may have a radical effect in the commercial world, particularly in building construction.
The “embalming” of trees and dead lumber is made possible, Dr. Weinberg explained, through the injection of certain poisons which kill all wood worms and protect the wood against the elements. “It now takes one year to properly treat and prepare railroad ties,” he said. “Through the injection of certain poisons into the wood we have found the worms already in the wood die instantly and other worms die as soon as they taste the wood. The preparation further protects the wood against the weather–such wood can withstand the ages. No fungus can form, the wood cannot rot or decay, and the pests are killed.
“The wood worm, known scientifically as limnoria, which infests harbors and eats the pilings, proving one of the most destructive of wood pests, can be successfully killed by the application of this injection. This will open a field of industrial economy.
“We are scientists, not business men,” Dr. Weinberg added. “We are content to work in the laboratory. At present we find plenty to do with the microscope. Our next step undoubtedly will be to perfect some application which will make wood absolutely non-inflammable, and we are not far from that even now.”
Further describing the advancement of scientific research in the field of lumber, Dr. Weinberg said: “Birch as a wood is comparatively valueless because of its lack of color. By injecting color into the sap of the trees we have been able to transform the white and yellow birch wood into a dark color. Since the grain, and even the knots, are identical with walnut, it is impossible to detect any difference between them.
“The process of treating the sap of a tree with color injections, has made marvelous strides in the last few months. We are able now to inject the color solution into the growing tree, and within four days the color has completely permeated every inch of the wood.”
Several years ago, Dr. Weinberg, who is called the “wizard of wood,” announced he could dye growing trees to any color in the rainbow–thirty-two different shades to be exact. This was done for the purpose of experiment, and not with a view to commercial advantage, he explained.
“This was merely the preliminary step to what was to follow,” Dr. Weinberg said. “We were merely going through the kindergarten stages then, but now we have found a process which is to prove of great utility to the public.
“We have conducted extensive experiments in the woods of New Hampshire on thousands of birch trees. These legions of white and yellow trees has no commercial value whatever because the wood lacked color. The grain was beautiful, but the color was missing.
“At the same time we were faced with the realization that the walnut forests of Indiana were being used up more quickly than they could ever be replaced. We set to work and made various experiments and at last found a solution, which, when injected into the sap of a tree, turned the birch wood to a dark walnut color. The wood taken from the tree cannot be told from genuine walnut.”