Saturday 3.14.15 The Day of bye, bye American (π or) Pi when the levee ran dry

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 14th, 2015

This mathematical formula, Π , or 3.1415 holds a certain significance for me. In the seventies and eighties it made me a lot of money. Though I have never had an education or inclination with anything that involved mathematics. In contrast to my twin brother who earned a degree in shipbuilding engineering and designed (cylindrical) storage tanks for most of his working life.

But knowing the correct way to calculate the content of a cylinder gave me an advantage over my competitors in the log export business.  Softwood Logs are purchased on the Pacific coast in Scribner Scale. The diameter of the log is measured at the top only and then the content is taken from pre-calculated scale books. It is a complicated, supposedly based on the expected yield of sawn lumber. But the shipping companies charge the ocean freight and the European buyers purchase based on the Brereton scale, where the average of the top and bottom of the log is used. No one in the industry seemed to know by what magic this Bernard Brereton had devised his tables, before the second world war. But every stevedore, shipping company, exporter and foreign buyer bought and used his Brereton Scale book. And because it would be impossible to show each diameter and lengths that trees produce, they were rounded of to the next even feet and inches. It turned out that it is the mathematical formula of a cylinder. Radius squared, in inches, x 3.1415 x length in feet to arrive at the content in Board Feet. Then it became obvious that the way to gain the biggest advantage in scale was to purchase logs with the most taper. The butt of a tree has the most taper and the longer the log the more taper.  And I did not need Mr. Brereton’s scale books any longer.

But the levee ran dry and it was: bye bye  American (& Tropical=A&T) Pi……

John van Ommen in 1977 or 1978, shipping logs to Valencia and Genoa.

John van Ommen in 1977 or 1978, shipping logs to Valencia and Genoa.

Other Business:

I am currently house, dog and cats sitting in the same home as I was last November, till March 19th. On Saturday the 21st I am signed up to sail the annual “Islands Race” from Gig Harbor. It will be a nostalgic encounter. The last time I sailed this race was before 1993. Ken House, long time friend and frequent crew in the eighties will be joining the crew and Paul de Leeuw expects to come down from B.C., he started crewing in the seventies on “Gemini”. I am hoping that Lisa can join us.

I am still looking for a good home for my friend’s Aqua Cat 14. Anyone with lake or sound beachfront in the Puget Sound area? All the owner is asking for is for me or you to teach him to sail it and use it  5 or 6 times a year. You have the use of it for the rest of the time. call me 253-441-7204



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