California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Acme Brick Company

History


Acme Brick Company ad
Advertisement of the Acme Brick Company. From the Los Angeles City Directory, 1929.

In May 1925, the Acme Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $250,000, in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. The directors were Thomas Kelly and L.C. Kelly of Los Angeles, and George W. Wiseman, R.R. Speers, and C.P. Campbell of Santa Monica. Thomas Kelly was president, R.L. Worthington was secretary, and L.C. Kelly was treasurer. J.H. Thress was the superintendent. The company office was at 815 South Hill Street in Los Angeles. This company apparently was not affiliated with the Acme Brick Company at Ft. Worth, Texas.

The company had purchased 20 acres of land at Stanford Street and Nebraska Avenue on the outskirts of Santa Monica. Here was 20 to 30 feet of red and yellow clay overlain by two feet of soil. The clay was mined in an open pit by a gasoline shovel and 3-ton side dump cars. The clay cars were hoisted up an incline from the pit to a hopper at the plant.

The plant, which cost $300,000, employed 30 to 40 workers all year round to process the brick. The machinery was powered by a 135-h.p. electric motor. Clay was ground in a Martin dry pan and elevated by a bucket elevator to a 1/4-inch impact screen. The oversize from the screen was returned to the dry pan for further grinding. This plant had two Martin pug-mills in series to mix the clay. From the pug-mills, the mixture was sent to the AutoBrik brick press with a seven-brick press box, and a capacity of 60,000 brick per day. Bricks were also formed in 50 seven-brick maple molds, 9 1/8 x 4 5/16 x 2 5/8 inches. Formed brick were sent by conveyors to the Martin pipe-rack driers, which were heated by steam from two 150-h.p. oil-fired boilers. It required from 24 to 36 hours to sufficiently dry the brick. Then the brick were sent to six oil-fired field kilns, each with a capacity of 600,000 brick.

The Acme plant produced common brick and handmade roofing tile. These products were shipped by rail or trucks throughout Los Angeles County. As indicated in the advertisement above, their common brick was of "face brick quality." The common brick did not have the sand-molded look of most common bricks. Instead, it had the smooth surface of a face brick. However, the brick produced here was of a lower quality then those made by neighboring brickyards. This may be the reason for the relatively short life of the yard. Indications are that the brick plant closed in 1929, only after four years of operation. The company was dissolved about 1933, the year it was last listed in the directories. The property remained idle until the Bel-Air Brick Company reopened the yard in 1936.

Acme Brick

Acme common brick is pale orange to pale red and mostly uniform in color. Although the form is good, with nearly sharp, straight edges and dull corners, the brick is soft and spalls easily. The surface is mostly smooth with raised gritty patches. A few clasts of quartz or sandstone may be seen protruding the surface. Around the top edge is usually a lip about 1/8 inch thick. The top face is smooth with minor pits and longitudinal strike. Stack indentations are present on the top face. The bottom face is smooth and flat and contains a rectangular frog with beveled sides that is 5 3/4 inches in length, 2 inches in width, and 3/16 inch in depth. Centered at the bottom of the frog are raised block letters of the company name ACME, that span 3 3/4 inches and stand 1 inch tall. The letters are rounded and 3/16 inch thick. The interior contains about 2 percent subangular gray quartz, subrounded red clay, and subrounded red sandstone, all less than 1/2 inch in diameter, in an orange, sandy clay body with minor pores. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/2, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the pale orange Acme common brick.
View of the marked face of the pale orange Acme common brick.

View of the side of the pale orange Acme common brick.
View of the side of the pale orange Acme common brick.

View of the top face of the pale orange Acme common brick.
View of the top face of the pale orange Acme common brick.

View of the interior of the pale orange Acme common brick.
View of the interior of the pale orange Acme common brick.

Microscopic view of the interior of the pale orange Acme common brick.
Microscopic view of the interior of the pale orange
Acme common brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

View of the marked face of the pale red Acme common brick.
View of the marked face of the pale red Acme common brick.

View of the side of the pale red Acme common brick.
View of the side of the pale red Acme common brick, showing a color gradation.

View of the top face of the pale red Acme common brick.
View of the top face of the pale red Acme common brick.

References

Acme Brick Co. Installs Dryer, Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 6, 1925, p. 443.

Acme Brick Co. Starts New Plant, Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 7, 1925, p. 516.

Acme Brick Co. To Build New Plant, Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 8, 1925, p. 610.

Charter Acme Brick Co., Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 5, 1925, p. 378.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 94.

Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2012.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1927-1929.

Santa Monica City Directories, 1925-1933.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production For 1927, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 101, 1928, 311 p.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production For 1928, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 102, 1929, 215 p.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production For 1929, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 103, 1930, 231 p.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production and Directory of Mineral Producers For 1930, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 105, 1931, 231 p.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.