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Transatlantic Cable 8 – Crafting the Cable
Five thousand miles of cable are ordered from two different firms,
Made and delivered in only six months, are the explicit terms.
As thick as a forefinger, Kerry to Newfoundland, under the tide –
Valentia Island to Heart’s Content Harbour, it spans the divide.
It has to be easily coiled, yet rigid and strong by design,
And weigh-in at one ton per mile, for five thousand miles of line.
For make it too heavy, and then it gets far too unwieldy to lay,
But make it too light, and the currents will catch it and tug it away.
The core of the cable is untainted copper in two-mile lengths –
This strand has been plaited from seven pure wires which give it its strength.
Then coated three times with refined gutta-percha, then dowsed and immersed
In longer and shorter arrangements, to test it and weed out the worst.
And next are the layers of hemp under pitch under tar, tightly bound,
Then this is all drawn through a rig where the outer sheath wires are wound –
Eighteen quick bobbins with bright charcoal iron strands weave day and night,
To wrap thirty miles of cable per day per machine at their height.
The copper and iron in wires in strands in the cable, if strewn
In a single long filament, easily stretches from here to the moon.
Then finally, more pitch and tar, and it’s done and it’s set for the deep,
So load it onboard and we’ll soon have it working and earning its keep.
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