Value of Junk (01:46)
Despite negative associations, everything in a junkyard has recycling or second-hand value. The metal scrapyard is one type; everything is sold to metal manufacturers.
Grinding Mill (02:28)
A mill grinds down cars and other light metal. Workers replace the grinding hammers when they wear down.
Metal too thick for the mill goes to a shearer, where hydraulic compactors bend it into a bread loaf shape; blades then chew through it. A scrap ship loads metal processed at the junk yard, destined for a Korean steel mill.
Ancient Metal Recycling (01:56)
Early humans found gathering raw materials extremely difficult, and so focused on reusing. Craftsmen used pieces from abandoned buildings to create new ones.
Metal and Ancient Battlefields (01:46)
Because ancient people reused metal, archaeologists digging up battlefields, such as at Hastings where the 1066 Norman conquest took place, find few swords and other metal objects
Shifting Nature of Junk Business (01:45)
Industrial Revolution mass production reduced metals value; scrap dealers who collected rags for paper production became obsolete when railroads provided easy forest access, shifting focus "junk men" selling other trinkets.
Changing Reputation of Junkyards (01:30)
Junk yards won respect during the world wars, feeding the war machine with scrap metals, but they were a target of '60s beautification efforts. Growing appreciation of recycling has improved their reputation.
Automotive Salvaging History (03:28)
Retired cars go to the automobile salvage dealer, which resells used parts. The business started around 1910; people raided abandoned cars, burnt the wood out and sledgehammered cars.
Junk Yard Cooperation (01:33)
To help match parts with buyers, early junk yards set up speaker phones to work together. Memorizing inventory was crucial. They now communicate online.
Pick-Your-Part Yards (02:06)
At pick-your-part yards, customers pick parts themselves out of cars raised on stands. Cars are first processed for environmental safety.
Wrecking Cars (03:09)
Pick-your-parts yards sell cars to scrap yards after two months. A machine wrecks the cars to separate types of metal; a special machine takes out an engine in seconds. Scrap yards grind cars into small pieces of metal.
Recycling Computers and Chips (02:35)
High-tech junk yards recycle computers. Huge early mainframes were scrapped for metal, but personal computers are valuable for reselling chips.
Stripped Down Computers (01:34)
Computers are stripped of valuable parts and metals and sent to the crusher and ground into tiny pieces. An Eddy Current then separates out metal through magnetism.
Recycling Movement (03:05)
Few computers are recycled; many are packed into landfills. Past landfill crowding spurred recycling efforts, but companies often struggled. Recycling became more widespread when governments began picking it up.
Recycling Plants (01:22)
A recycling plant sorts and bundles recycled goods, using manual labor and conveyor belts. They are then shipped off.
Aviation Boneyards (02:08)
Airplanes go to aviation boneyards. Laws discourage many owners from selling used parts, but such parts were once widely used. Aviation boneyards grew as people sought to build their own planes.
Lawsuits and Aviation Salvaging (02:05)
In the '80s, lawsuits forced many out of the aviation salvage business. One company sells planes for movie scenes and theme restaurants.
Moving Junked Airplanes (01:55)
The boneyard cuts planes up to load onto trucks or drives it on roads. It hosts a large library of airplane technical manuals.
A man gave up scrapping to create art out of discarded junk; he is constructing a "forever-tron," purportedly designed to launch him into space.
Forever-Tron Vision (02:24)
The forever-tron is a never-finished project that puts in art the junk yard principle that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and that value is in the eye of the beholder.
Credits: Modern Marvels: The Junkyard (00:50)
Credits: Modern Marvels: The Junkyard
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