Day 152, Stuart Compound, Liberty, Alchibah
I turned as the Woman entered the courtyard, “Glad you could come by Ms Underton. Could you wait just a moment while I finish up here?”
“Of course,” She replied.
I opened the firebox and leveled the existing coals with a small shovel, then poured in a bucket of hard Pole Tree charcoal that SFC Nug and the bots had cooked out. Satisfied, I closed the firebox, checked the draft opening on the cookbox chimney, picked up my drink and turned around.
“It’s been a long time since I could do a real BBQ, not this Texas style crap we have been living with. It will really take another jump when we have real pork and not Unicow.
“Our budding young wine makers just could not understand when I wanted their failed batch. Botched Wine makes great Vinegar and you can’t have good sauce without that.”
“I am sure that is interesting, but I do not think that is why you asked me over Mr. Stuart,” She replied.
“No Ma’am, it was not. I ask you to look at the construction of the Smoke Cooker I am using.”
She looked for a moment, then replied; “It’s typical rolled steel construction, commonly called heavy guage Sheet Metal. Not uncommon at all, why should I be interested?”
I took a long slow pull on my beer, “Because that cooker was assembled on Alchibah yesterday morning. We have the capability to produce Sheet Metal.
“The Can as a storage device was patented in 1810, hell the Union Army used it to deliver Rations during the Occupation Phase of the War Between The States in 1866. It has a decided advantage over glass or ceramics in that it does not break at all easily.
“I would make the modest proposal that our technology base is well in advance of 1866.
“If as you sounded in the Council Meeting, really do have knowledge of the production of cans and not just Food Preservation; I am prepared to offer you a deal.
“Work with my technical people, help us make the tools, to make the tools, to make the cans. We will build you a real cannery and enter in to a profit sharing arrangement. You get 90% and we get 10%; of course we keep production rights to the tools developed.
“I intend to use those as a starting point for several more generations of tools. You would not have to be involved in that project, you will be free to develop yours, or should I say our business.”
“Mr. Stuart, you were at the Council Meeting. You know I was denied any support!”
“Ms Underton, who said a damn thing about the Council. The Stuart Combine will bankroll this whole deal. So, what say you?”
“Mr. Stuart, your offer intrigues me but my experience was in filling cans and running the machinery used to do so, the sterilizing, filling and sealing and labeling. I know how to run the equipment and the requirements for safe operation. I have even watched the can bodies being formed and lids stamped. But making those kind of machines is far out of my field. I wouldn’t think there are enough people on the planet to pay for that kind of machinery with the kind of volumes we would produce. I had planed to use glass jars like everyone else. And glass and ceramic containers are reusable.
“What I was planning to get market share and make my product more desirable was use a container that could be reused not just by me but by anyone who wished for home canning. If we could do that out of metal we might pay for the equipment. That’s a design issue beyond my expertise.
Andy leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling, after a long pause He finally spoke. “Let me surmise Phyllis, you have direct knowledge of the final product assembly end of the canning process to include sterilization and have seen the preparation end of the containers but, have no specialized knowledge of that production process?”
I looked at the urbane businessman whom I had only known by reputation as one of Old Earth’s deadliest Killers.
“That is a fair summation Andy. I can see a lot of uses I could put a reasonably priced supply of heavy to medium gage sheet metal to though, starting with baking pans on the small end and roofing material at the other with breadboxes and sinks and a dozen other things in between, simple things like snow shovels and feed and water troughs for the animals. If you can provide the metal I can find a way to use it. And yes if you can provide the machinery to make a reusable metal can I could keep it running and sell the output. I just don‘t know about a profit on the machinery investment.
From the corner came a voice from a source she had not even known was there, “My fair Lady, might ye have ever seen the actual process by which the can is assembled?” asked the smooth tones of Robbie McMaster.
“Well, I have seen it but, I certainly, could not describe it with any kind of precision.”
“Ooch Lassie,’” He drawled. ”Stare into the eyes of yon Mariana and you have no idea what you might remember! The key is that you have seen more than anyone else we can find!”
Andy interrupted at that point, “Do you have any knowledge of the exact composition of the sterilizing wash for the interior of the cans?”
“Why yes I do, I even have two different formulas in stored memory. Finding the necessary components would be the problem there.
“ I’ve got a few more ideas for viable businesses and if you provide the startup capital I can make a success out of any of them. And even without your help or colony support, believe me, there are so many opportunities here that the possibilities are limitless.”
“What we have here is One, you have at least seen the processes on which we have almost no information; Two, you have specific information on a second set of processes that we need; Third, you have a bunch of ideas and an attitude that I like.
“In summation, you want to come to the work for the Stuart Combine on an Equity Stake basis? You will start as salary and pick up ownership percentage based on actual production.”
Mariana and I walked out into the courtyard trading our normal ribald jokes and banter that sent the Guys blushing and running. I stopped just as we came downwind of the outflow from the chimney of the cooker, stuck my nose in the air and inhaled. “Damn Mariana, that boy can still cook some serious meat.”
I was stunned when Mariana took one sniff then literally turned ‘Green Around The Gills’ and ran back inside in the direction of the closest bathroom. Walking over to Andy I asked, “What the fracks wrong with Mariana?”
“Damn if I know,” Was His reply. “She’s been like that for the last three days, I have been bugging her to go let Kurt or Sally check her out. But, She gets better as the day goes on so she don’t want to hear about it. I am kinda starting to get worried.”
“OK, I’ll go check on her, but what is it that you want those next couple of generation of tools for? I know your devious Ass from way back. Whatever it is, it’s got at least two purposes.”
Andy grinned, “Shit Kat, you know me to well. The first reason is small precision Tools so I can build a Lab that can produce old 7400 series DIP Logic Chips. Cripes, the old USA put Men on the Moon with that same level of Technology. I can then build Computers that can design better tools to build better Computers. Sooner or later, I will be able to duplicate my late designs that make up the array.
“Oh Yeah, along the way a piece of technology that was first made in 1906 and I need a lot of them. Robbie can’t do his thing till I have those tools.”
I just shook my head and walked back towards the house thinking what the hell would he want from 1906. Then it hit me like a brick, I had heard him talking about the History of Firearms too many times. Shit he and Gabe could trade obscure references all night long.
This one was not obscure, 30-06 Springfield; also known as U.S. Army .30 Cal Issue 1906. Trust to Andy, if you are gonna reach, reach for the best.
I came on Mariana just exiting the john, “Damn, Woman what’s wrong with you?” Her reply caught me flat footed as hell.
“Unless Kurt Kellerman can come up with a cure for Morning Sickness, I am gonna be like this for a while.”
“Close your jaw Kat,” Mariana continued“; it’s simple, I am knocked up as hell.”
I stared stunned for several long moments, “No Way Bitch, the UNWG tagged you with the best they had. Stopping you from breeding was damn near number one on their list of things to do.”
Just before She turned Green again She gave me that old feral smile, “The Bastards didn’t count on Kurt, Walt, Ash and Andy all making it here. Oh, Shit.”
As she ran for the john again I thought life could get interesting around here.