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DRIP, DRIP, DRIP... The National Better Business Bureau reenters the picture, requesting an update of Letter Circular No. 302, Battery Compounds and Solutions, in which battery additives as a group are criticized. Dr. Vinal of NBS tests AD-X2 to satisfy his curiousity. He includes it with some other additives he is testing for the Federal Trade Commission and now for a revision of Letter Circular No. 302.

On the basis of this new study, Dr. Vinal stands by the results of the original experiment, stating that battery additives are not effective in restoring batteries or extending their life.

The NBBB then approaches NBS, specifically asking it to test AD-X2. Dr. Vinal reports to the NBBB that he had included AD-X2 in his previous tests, and in doing so, has broken NBS's policy of not mentioning product names.

The current NBS Director Edward U. Condon authorizes the NBBB to mention NBS's testing of AD-X2 in its report, Battery Compounds and Solutions. The report generates a flood of mail to Congress from outraged distributors of AD-X2. By the end of 1951, 28 Senators and 1 Congressman have sent inquiries to NBS about AD-X2.

A lucky coincidence for Ritchie places the new Department of Commerce (DOC) Secretary Sinclair Weeks on his side. Weeks was formerly director of a company that had recently replaced a "dead" battery at a cost of $1300. The "dead" battery, after being treated with AD-X2, was revived and is still working after more than a year. Weeks not only believes that AD-X2 may possess the very attributes Ritchie claims it does, but he feels the NBS Director is responsible for the publicity that is causing a drastic down turn in Ritchie's business.

Department of Commerce Secretary Sinclair Weeks became an adversary of NBS, then in the end a supporter.
[Department of Commerce Secretary Sinclair Weeks]

THE SURGE The following year, a national magazine reports that results of laboratory tests of AD-X2 made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are inconsistent with the results of those done at NBS. An increased turbulance ensues; NBS is looked upon as "massive Government" preventing a small businessman from earning a living.

When asked to resign by DOC Secretary Weeks, Director Allen V. Astin recognizes that even the DOC no longer has faith in the adequacy of NBS's battery additives testing.

CONCLUSION The past two decades saw an era of Federal programs and Federally-supported work projects. These projects were initiated to bring the nation's unemployed out of the depression, and to shore up the private enterprise system. But, the political tides changed in the 50s, and with them surfaced a mistrust of so-called "big government".

Also, in the post-war era of massive enterprise, public sentiment fell nostalgically on the side of small business. For a time, self-made engineer and inventor Jess Ritchie rode that wave of sympathy. (Later, in a pamphlet "Why the Battery Manufacturers Tried to Smash Jess Ritchie"[Adobe Reader is needed to view this PDF file.], Ritchie accused the big battery manufacturers of being in collusion with government to discredit his claims of longer battery life with AD-X2.)

The first instruction on this AD-X2 package was sound. By following it a consumer might have achieved favorable results without even using the additive inside the package.
[By following only the first instruction on this AD-X2 package, a consumer may have achieved favorable results.]

But, the press attacks the Administration for dismissing Director Astin without a hearing. NBS scientists and scientific organizations oppose the dismissal and threaten resignation. Confronted with this, Secretary Weeks withdraws Astin's resignation request, pending a congressional hearing, and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) appoints a committee to review the work of NBS on AD-X2.

The NAS committee finds that the MIT tests are "not well designed", the NBS staff is fully competent and the quality of their work is excellent. It supports the position of the National Bureau of Standards that the AD-X2 battery additive "is without merit".

GLUG, GLUG, GLUG... Jess Ritchie remains caught up in the legalities of AD-X2 for another few years. Director Astin is returned to his position at NBS. Both Astin and the Bureau are perceived to be more credible than ever, and AD-X2 slowly submerges beneath the surface of public memory.

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  • In the NIST Research Library:
    • Chapter 2, Testing can be Troublesome, A Unique Institution, The NBS 1950-1969, Elio Passaglia - QC100.U57 no.925 1999
    • Storage Batteries, George Wood Vinal - QC605.V54 1940 1955
    • National Bureau of Standards Letter Circular 302 - QC100, U5775 1919 V7 NO.1-12
    • National Bureau of Standards Letter Circular 302 - QC100, U5775 1931
    • National Bureau of Standards Circular 504, Paul 0. Howard and George W. Vinal, Battery Additives, Washington, D.C.: GPO. - QC100.U555 1951
  • Why the Battery Manufacturers Tried to Smash Jess Ritchie, 1956[Adobe Reader is needed to view this PDF file.]
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