What happens in the Dyehouse?
The Dyehouse at Dominion Woollens is a separate building at the back along the Speed River. It has to be separate because it poses a fire hazard with the large quantities of clean and dried wool.
Ever since dyeing became an industry that was expected to produce uniform results dyers have searched for kettles that would not affect their colours. Drying an ounce or two of material in a glass beaker over an electric hot plate is a fairly exact science. Dyeing one or two thousand times as much in a tank in a dirty dyehouse with heat from a dirty steam coil is another and tragic story. Dyestuffs are complex chemicals readily altered by contact with different substances, particularly metals.
Switching to new kettles
Until recent years wooden kettles were standard equipment in every dyehouse. The wood rotted, the kettles leaked and wood absorbed dyestuff like a sponge. Every new batch in a kettle was dyed not only with the dyestuffs intended for the job but with a trace of all the dyestuffs that had every been put into the kettle before.
For this reason certain kettles had to be reserved for certain colours and every dyer had more kettles than he could keep working.
It’s not perfect…but stainless steel is reliable
Stainless steel is not perfect but it affects the colours very slightly. It is very durable and can be quickly cleaned. The dilute acids used will not even dull its lustre.
After more than a year of tedious sample dyeings D. W. & W. began switching to stainless steel. The illustration above shows the battery of stainless steel skein dyeing kettles for yarns, all controlled by automatic timers and thermostats which insure positive and uniform dyeing conditions.