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Rock Drill in the Taisho Era (1912-1926)
May 1965

Taisho Sakuganki
[Rock Drill in the Taisho Era (1912-1926)]
38.1 x 54.0 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

(The rubber air pipe was covered with a semicircular steel belt wound around it.)
Though it is said that the rock drill was introduced to large-scale coal pits (yama) in the beginning of the Taisho era (1912-1926), few people were familiar with it in small and middle-scale coal pits. It required a huge cost of equipment to use, because miners had to fix an air compressor (appuki) near the pit mouth to send air to each underground coalface with steel pipes. It was impossible for poor pit owners to bear such a cost. However, the rock drill could raise mining efficiency. The steel chisel for the drill had a hexagonal tip 1 inch or 26 mm (sic) in diameter and a hole in the center. Since cuttings were blown out from the hole by air, the coalface was filled with whirling coal and rock dust. As a rule, miners had to wear masks while using this drill. However, they hated to wear them because masks prevented them from breathing easily. (The muscles of miners who used these machines trembled even when they were sleeping at night.) A strong man could use one by himself. However, it was safer and more efficient if two miners used it together. In the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989), there was a rumor about a newly-patented rock drill which could be used on a stand. However, it did not become popular. I suppose that it was inconvenient for miners to use such a drill on the coalface, lifting it up and down and moving it from side to side to bore dozens of blast holes in a short time.

Working naked underground was prohibited by 1932 or 1933, and miners were obliged to wear clothes, gaiters, and gloves after that even when it was more than 30 degrees Celsius in the pit. Miners at Nittetsu Inatsuki Coal Pit began to wear rubber-soled socks (jikatabi) in 1916 or 1917.

Word in the Inset
nomisaki: chisel tips

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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