California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Emsco Refractories Company

History


Emsco Refractories Company was established in 1927 in Los Angeles, California, with E.M. Smith as president. The brickyard was located at 8661 Dorothy Avenue in South Gate. This yard manufactured firebrick, silica brick, and glass-tank refractories. White plastic fireclay was shipped to the plant from the Emsco Clay Company in Riverside County and a mixture of high-grade china clay and quartz sand was shipped from El Toro in Orange County.

The brick plant had a crusher, ball mill, dry pans, and a pug mill. The bricks were formed by the dry-pressed process or stiff-mud process and repressed. They were fired in 8 gas-fired kilns. The plant employed about 39 workers.

Firebricks were marked with the EMSCO name, but some were not marked. Early brand names included the EMSCO D.P. (dry pressed), A, and B. In 1930 were introduced the ROYAL brand along with its series of A, C, D, L, and ROYALITE, and FLUX. In 1935, EMSCO #50 and EMSCO #70 were added. Finally, in 1942, they added the REGAL and HI-HEAT brands. Hand-molded special shapes were made. These products were shipped throughout the southwest region of the country.

In 1928, Emsco purchased the plant of the Atlas Fire Clay Company at Vernon and soon afterwards put it into production. It is not known which of the products were made at that plant by this company. From the city directories, it appears that both plants were in operation to 1943. In 1943, Emsco closed its plants and the company was dissolved.

Emsco Bricks

Emsco Royal Firebrick

g Emsco Royal is light buff in color. The surface is smooth with tiny pits. The edges are straight and dull. The corners are dull. This brick spalls easily. On the marked face are two lines of names with recessed block letters in rounded rectangular plate outlines. The first line is EMSCO, that spans 3 1/2 inches and stands 3/4 inch tall. The second line is ROYAL D.P., that spans 5 1/2 inches and stands 3/4 inch tall. The periods are square shaped. D.P. stands for dry press. The first rounded rectangular plate outline is too faint to measure. The second rounded rectangular plate outline is 7 inches long and 7/8 inch wide with two screw imprints that are 3/8 inch in diameter at the start and end of each name. Another version of marking is shown below in which the names are split into three lines. The interior consists of about 1 percent white subangular quartz, 1/16 inch across, in a medium grained granular body of alumina. This brick was made using the dry-pressed process. Length 9, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the Emsco Royal D.P. firebrick.
View of the marked face of the Emsco Royal D.P. firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the interior of the Emsco Royal D.P. firebrick.
View of the interior of the Emsco Royal D.P. firebrick.

View of the marked face of the Emsco Royal D.P. firebrick.
Microscopic view of the interior of the Emsco Royal
D.P. firebrick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

View of the marked face of the Emsco D.P. Royal firebrick.
View of the marked face of the Emsco D.P. Royal firebrick. Photo courtesy of James Freedner.

Another version of the Royal firebricks is shown below. The description is the same for the Royal firebrick given above. One of the faces contain the name ROYAL in recessed block letters that span 3 5/8 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. This brick was made using the dry-pressed process. Length 9, width 4 3/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of part of the marked face of the Emsco Royal firebrick.
View of part of the marked face of the Emsco Royal firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the interior of the Emsco Royal firebrick.
View of the interior of the Emsco Royal firebrick.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Emsco Royal firebrick.
Microscopic view of the interior of the Emsco
Royal firebrick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

Emsco Tongue and Groove Firebrick

The Emsco tongue and groove firebrick is salmon in color. The surface is smooth with brown iron oxide spots and gray quartz. The edges are straight and sharp. The corners are broken. This brick spalls easily. The sides contain transverse striations. The faces display faint velour texture with longitudinal wire-cut grooves. On one face protrudes a longitudinal tongue that is 7/8 inch wide and 3/8 inch high. On the reverse face is a longitudinal groove that is 1 inch wide and 3/8 inch deep. Centered above the groove may be the name EMSCO in recessed block letters that span 3 5/8 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. These tongue and groove are made to interlock with other tongue and groove brick. The interior consists of about 15 percent white subangular quartz and 1 percent round brown iron oxides, all less than 1/16 inch in diameter, in a granular cream alumina body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and repressed. Length 9, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the tongue face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.
View of the tongue face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the groove face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.
View of the groove face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the end of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.
View of the end of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the marked face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.
View of the marked face of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the interior of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.
View of the interior of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior of the Emsco tongue and groove firebrick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

Emsco Regal Firebrick

Emsco Regal firebrick is shown below with the names on two lines in recessed block letters. EMSCO is on the first line. REGAL is on the second line. No dimensions are available.

View of the marked face of the Emsco Regal firebrick.
View of the marked face of the Emsco Regal firebrick. Photo courtesy of James Freedner.

References

Bowen, O.E., and Ver Planck, W.E., Stratigraphy, Structure, and Mineral Deposits in the Oro Grande Series Near Victorville, California, California Division of Mines and Geology Special Report 84, 1965, p. 30.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 97.

Freedner, Eric James, personal communications for the Emsco bricks, 2008.

Gurcke, Karl, Bricks and Brickmaking, University of Idaho Press, Moscow, ID, 1987.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1930-1942.

National Labor Board Records, Emsco Refractories Company, July 20, 1944, Box 33, Folder 32, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University.

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 Producers For 1943, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 128, 1944, 222 p.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.