Thursday, March 07, 2013

Buckle-up: 1987 Kodak #44 Boiler, Building 321

Eastman Kodak Company, Limited Edition Boiler #44 Commemorative Buckle circa 1987.
My father recently passed away. A few days after making funeral preparations, my mother asked me if there was anything of my father's that I wanted as a memento.

At first thought, nothing came to mind, but the following day as I was getting dressed and tightening my belt with a Civil War replica buckle, it came to me. At that moment, I was reminded of two buckles that I recalled my father having worn when my brother and I were children: one that we had bought him that said simply "Dan" (his name) and a second that had been acquired while he worked at Eastman Kodak during the early 1980s. While driving to work that morning I called my mother and asked that if she could find either, I would like to have them. The first to come to light was the Eastman Kodak Power Plant buckle pictured above.

Back in its heyday, it was not uncommon for members of a department at Eastman Kodak to purchase wearable paraphernalia such as baseball hats and tee shirts as a means of celebrating their efforts and, I suppose, to share in the company's success.  A simple reading of the buckle would seem to suggest that in 1987, Building 321, the location of Boiler #44, had an upgrade of sorts and a buckle was designed to commemorate this.

Raised type on the back of the buckle (pictured below) adds some specifics details to the celebratory buckle's purpose, though it was clearly written for those professionals, such as my father, who would know what it meant. Though I have a vague understanding of some measures, such as PSI and the boiler energy source (coal), the rest of the information is fairly alien to me.
Combustion Engineering Boiler
Type: VU40
MCR: 550,00#/hr @900 degrees
Pulverized Coal @ MCR 24 tons/hr
Initial Startup-June 14, 1987

General Electric Turbine/Generator
1400 PSI Throttle
280 PSI Extraction
10 PSI Exhaust
Initial Startup-8/27/87

Back of the buckle.
This buckle was likely part of an exclusive series as it is inscribed with the "No. 51" at the bottom of back. It is not difficult to imagine the old Kodak having these made and shared with its employees. When I was a child, Kodak was a big, friendly company that annually invited families of employees in to tour the buildings, including the areas where my father worked. When I went to college, I spent two summers also working at Kodak Park, though in a different part of the complex.

Unfortunately for most, a post about Kodak's past and present has to end on a somber caveat. The current history of Kodak is not nearly as rosy. Now, sadly, after my father's many years of service (and that of my grandfather before him), this belt buckle is pretty much all we have left from Kodak. Though some of the shine is off that relationship, I am very glad to have this shiny buckle as a remembrance of my father.

The only online image I could find of a VU40 Combustion Engineering Boiler.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mister Scott,
I work in B-321 still (01-07-2015)although my paycheck has changed names over the years, I have 34 yrs here in the powerhouses. The picture you show is not a boiler but the generator powered by the boiler and both are still in service today. I'm curious to know if I knew your father back in the day. If you like to share his name or know more you can reach me at I look forward to hearing from you