We had been looking for a blasting machine to add to our dynamite display and came across this antique detonator. The owner told us that it didn’t work (the plunger was frozen in the up position). Luckily all it took was some lubricating oil to get the plunger working and producing an electrical current.
Lion Blasting Machine
With the push of the plunger, blasting machines fired an electrical charge that traveled along wires to the detonators or blasting caps to ignite the dynamite and cause an explosion. This could be done at a safe distance from the blasting area and was much better than waiting for a fuse to burn or worrying whether it was still burning. Blasting machines were common used for mining operations when it was necessary to break up rocks to get to the desired ore.
This Lion Blasting Machine is made of dovetailed oak and measures 13″ H x 6-1/2″ W x 8″ D. After a mild cleaning, we applied a wax finish to the wood and replaced the missing leather strap.
The metal plate on top reads “LION BLASTING MACHINE, CAPACITY 1 TO 50 ELECTRIC CAPS COPPER WIRES TO 30 FT OR IRON WIRE TO 6 FT EACH, TO OPERATE LIFT THE HANDLE UNTIL IT STOPS. THEN PUSH DOWN QUICKLY WITH FULL FORCE, CALIFORNIA CAP COMPANY, OAKLAND, CAL. U.S.A.”
California Cap Company
California Cap Company of Oakland, California was the first American manufacturer of blasting caps used for explosives in mining. The company was started in 1877 by William Oliver and Freeborn Fletter who saw a need to reduce the dependence on foreign sources for caps, especially for mining operations on the west coast. The company was the major supplier of blasting caps and explosives, especially in the western United States. It ceased operations in the 1940’s.
We now have an interesting display for our family room. The blasting machine sits inside a DuPont wood crate with a few sticks of dynamite (replica dynamite that is). The picture above was shot near our home in the Sonoran Desert.