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The mechanic who influenced the fate of Russia

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад /

Russian metallurgical companies invest in their modernization on average 200 billion rubles annually. How could a scientist in the 19th century manage to successfully introduce foreign innovations into the industry with a minimum budget?

Only significant investments provided for one of the basic sectors of the economy to adequately withstand the crisis provoked by the pandemic. Head of the Department of Metallurgy and Materials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Pavel Servatinsky stated this in the framework of the INNOPROM international exhibition. However, Ivan Time, the founder of mining mechanics, years ago proved that it was possible to develop the industry without huge investments.

He was born in 1838 into a family of a Saxon German who settled in Zlatoust. His father worked as a medical inspector at mining enterprises of the Urals, so that the future scientist in his youth became acquainted with the smelting of cast iron, obtaining iron and making weapons. This and stories about the work of mining engineers of the great Russian metallurgist Pavel Anosov, who was the godfather of Ivan and often visited the house of Time, influenced his choice of profession.

Златоуст
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In 1851, the young man moved to the capital city and enrolled in the Institute of Mining Engineers Corps, a boarding military-type educational institution. After 7 years, the talented young man graduated with a gold medal and the rank of a lieutenant.

During the first following years he worked in the Urals and Donbas. Using the knowledge gained in alma mater, Ivan Time built a gold-washing factory at the Berezovsky gold fields near Yekaterinburg. Then he supervised the construction of a puddling and welding factory working on peat. And all that at the age of 22!

Convinced in the high qualification of Time, the Mining Department commissioned him to design a steam hammer for the Lugansk plant and to design all machines for the first iron smelting plant on mineral fuel that was under construction in the Donetsk Basin.

The young engineer completely immersed into design: he built a blower for the blast furnace, steam boilers, a coal-lifting machine, a water supply system with steam pumps capable of lifting water to a height of more than 100 m. Not only he had created them, but also developed the rules of calculation and construction, made the basic recommendations for operation.

горный университет
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In 1870 Time was appointed professor at the Mining Institute, where he taught for the next 45 years. Here that the scientist wrote more than 600 works on various issues of mining and oil engineering, metallurgy and hydraulics.

His work “Resistance of metals and wood to cutting” became exceptionally famous: thanks to it, a whole industry of heavy engineering appeared in Russia. The research helped to reach a fundamentally new level in the creation of the domestic metallurgical and metalworking industry.

Ivan Time understood that in order to provide serious scientific research and training of students, high quality technical models were required. That was why he started to persistently order them from abroad; at that time, the mining mechanics in Russia to an extent was behind the European level. The professor went on study trips to the enterprises of Germany, England, France and Belgium, as well as regularly visited international exhibitions, where the inventors demonstrated the latest developments.

всемирная выставка
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Time bought some models already in their finished form, but most often, getting acquainted with the latest foreign technology, he chose the most interesting objects, perfected their design and ordered the production of models already based on his own drawings, accompanying that with thorough instructions. Primarily, they were manufactured in Germany, in the workshop of German mechanic Christian Schroeder, whose works were of utmost quality, and then sent to St. Petersburg. With this approach, machines for domestic enterprises could be replicated in Russia, rather than produced abroad, which allowed downsizing the budget by many times. Thus, the undershot water wheel of Poncelet was created by French engineer Jean-Victor Poncelet. He was offered a new variation of the classical mechanism with concave blades, which significantly increased the efficiency. Ivan Time ordered its model for the university and later used it in his research.

всемирная выставка
Фото © Горнодобывающая и статолитейная промышленность на Всемирной выставке (1873)

As a result, the wheel was an important step towards the creation of a hydraulic turbine. At the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873, Time presented a turbine of his own design, which was highly appreciated, and the scientist became world-famous. Being aware of all technical novelties of the industry, throughout his career he actively participated in modernization of the Russian production.

At present, the Mining Museum has about 70 technical models created in Schroeder's workshop during his close collaboration with Time. They are an excellent illustration of the evolution of engines in the mining and metallurgical industry within 40 years, covering the period from 1870 to 1910.

горный музей
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад /

During his time at the institute, the professor developed classical courses in hydraulics, steam engines and boilers, and introduced practical design and production of machine models into the educational program. Topics of projects were taken by students at real factories of Donbas and Ural, and for testing them at the Institute he created a large mechanical study, drawing rooms and working shops.

горный музей
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад /

It is noteworthy that the professor played a great role not only in the development of mechanical engineering, but also in the fate of such outstanding personalities as Peter Wrangel and Alexander German. In 1899, a loud scandal broke out at the Mining Institute caused by a duel of its students. The reason for the quarrel was a girl. Such fights at that time were considered a criminal offense, and within the walls of an elite imperial university that was an unprecedented audacity! Young people were to be expelled and further penalized, which would have put an end to their careers.

However, the father of the fatal beauty, who was Professor Ivan Time, found out about it. A world-renowned scientist asked the director of the Institute to keep the young people in the institution: “Deprivation of the rights of a mining engineer, even if too ardent but excellent students in favor of many negligent ones is hardly fair.” Had he acted differently, Russia's history could have been quite different: without education, Wrangel would hardly have become the commander-in-chief of the White Army, and German would have become the founder of Soviet mining engineering.

врангель
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The young men met the daughter of their teacher in the house of Time himself, where music evenings and performances were hosted on Saturdays. The professor’s wife was a soloist at the Mariinsky Theater and inculcated her passion for art in her family. The performances gathered many spectators, and Ivan Time often invited his colleagues and students. It was then that one of their daughters met Wrangel and Hermann. However, they did not impress the girl, and she married another Mining Institute student, Nikolai Kachalov. After a while, he became one of the first Russian developers of optical glass cooking technology and the founder of the theory of its cold processing.

Time was a representative of a famous dynasty of mining engineers. His grandfather and his brother built their careers in the mining industry. Mining is, in principle, one of those professions that are passed from one generation of the family to another. Having once visited a gold mine or mining camp, their children absorb the profession of their parents and devote their minds to the mineral complex. In 2006, a direct descendant of Ivan time became the founder of the Department of Automation of Technological Processes and Production at Mining University. And today already his son is successfully engaged in scientific research of metallurgical processes at the University.

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