View Full Version : standard of manual training since 1970/s

oil mac
01-23-2009, 08:54 AM
Its a a funny old world nowadays, but it would seem that training of craftpersons aint what it used to be I will give some examples O.K. a lot of what we do with our lives, and how we interact with those around us, our mannerisms, ability to learn, and general usefulness to society might i suppose depend greatly on our start in life, proper up bringing etc.

I was speaking to a foreman engineer some two years ago, who said his company had decided to start six apprentices Things went as follows--
Monday morning 8 am. started the young persons, put them to work under some suitable craftsmen, 10-30 am one was put to work on a small bar lathe after the previous one and a half hours of safety training, half an hour later, the foreman was told by the young budding craftsman, where he could stick his lathe! This is boring and not for me
Dinner break came other three did not return -- Never seen again
4 gone, we are not doing too well the foreman thought
Tuesday came along all seemed to be well,although the last of the machine shop trainees was mumping and moaning a bit, Never mind folk can be like that, The other apprentice was assigned to the electrical maintenance section, his face was black and grimy big grin, statement Boss this is brilliant , working like a trojan
The fifth remaining m/c shop apprentice demanded to be allowed to operate the big cnc milling machine, because manual machines like the small machine he was working was too boring, The big cnc cost about half a million pounds sterling , The operator on the big fellow was not amused, ,as he was a man of about 30 years vast experience, So the poor lad walked out
The last one sixth of the intake of tomorrows craftsmen, is according to the shop foreman got the potential to be one of tomorrows middle management or foreman grade, A kid with an innate sense of wanting to know how things work, and how can i sort out any breakdown or emergency
Many of todays youngsters would have jumped at the chance of learning a skill , Maybe in some ways things might be a bit too easy in folks formative years ?
Another occurance happened in the last few weeks, a friend of mine who dabbles a bit in clockmaking got for himself one of the little far east lathes, the quality of this machine was pretty fair, and in spite of not having any great degree of mechanical training (he was an electricians labourer) Has been turning out remarkably fine work,and producing nice little attachments for his machine too a high standard, And his clock repairs also are most commendable Along comes his pal, who had electrical/mechanical training & certificates also, demanding to use his new lathe, as an aside our worthy colleage had managed to completely muff up about four nice clocks, so my friend would not let him near his machine, Along came another earlier pattern of these far east lathes at a cheap price, so we obtained it for my friends friend, I spent about three days, scraping in parts of this machine to obtain a reasonable degree of accuracy, As obtained it was dire as regards quality
Our technical man, was complaining about the chuck not running true, these chucks are fitted onto a flange He had placed the spring washers onto the face of the chuck, and then tightened the nuts on the back of the flange -- Absolutely Incredible! I would have thought a very elementary mechanical skill, washers under the nuts, He then burned out the controls by going away & leaving the power on the speed control, He was well warned this is a no no on a lot of these little machines
I am not totally blaming the man for his mistakes but depending on the particular seat of learning one obtains their basic training seems to be a lottery as to the finished useful product Maybe nowadays, we are tending to loose track of the basic machanical skills, everyone seems to be taught clever theories and the little finer points dont seem to come anywhere into the equation manual skills take a back seat

One of the local kids in my street is an academic, lots of qualifications and for his summer placement before going of to the university, was given a placement with an electrical concern, the report i recieved from the head of that concern was again he was a natural with tools, excellent practical abilities a worker he will go to high office i am certain in his chosen electrical field
Yes much depends on the early learning, but also the person,__ You might like to give your thoughts guys, before the wester world finally implodes and we have no craftspersons.

John Stevenson
01-23-2009, 09:07 AM
Not wanting to snatch your thread but I did see on the local news that Rolls Royce are going to start their apprenticeship scheme up again and take on 220 lads.

01-23-2009, 10:15 AM
Its a a funny old world nowadays, but it would seem that training of craftpersons aint what it used to be

The world ain't what it used to be either. However, in British Columbia we have excellent apprenticeship training programs. Many can be started while in school at age 16. For an example here is the description of the machinist apprenticeship program. Note that NC Machines isn't even mentioned until level four. The full CNC training program is another training program that is available after you pass this one as a manual machinist. There is still a large demand for manual machinists here.



01-23-2009, 10:44 AM
Unfortunately most things that require effort and half a grey one are classed as BORING by lots (Not All) of youfs today. Concentration lasts as long as required untill it becomes time to press the reset button. The examples in the first post are typical and point to the basic problem of if yer don't like the alloted task, yer can always bu**er orft and you'll get bailed out. You don't have to leave the house cos we'll send your dole cheque through the post. You can hardly be surprised that the manual skills have been ALLOWED to deteriorate when in the past, if Lord John or I came home from school with a grubby piece of plaster/bandage wrapped round our finger cos the saw "slipped" in woodwork, "Be more careful" would have been the stock answer. Today if little Freddy bruises his EGO it's a witchhunt and who can we sue. He ain't going to cut his finger cos they don't do woodwork anymore, the education departments would go bankrupt in a very short time. Sadly, when you talk to the little darlings, they all want to go to Uny cos they've had it rammed down their throats by the intelligencia that the only good jobs require a degree (OR a big black Beemer)

OH BOY, is this recession going to sort the weed from the chaff.

Regards Ian.

01-23-2009, 10:53 AM
Today if little Freddy bruises his EGO it's a witchhunt and who can we sue.

Well, for starters you can sue the grossly incompetent shop teacher that allowed his students to cast aluminum outside in the snow a couple of days ago here.

5 B.C. students burned in shop class gone wrong

By Kent Spencer , Vancouver Province January 22, 2009

Five students have been burned by an aluminum explosion at an eastern B.C. secondary school that parents say should never have happened.

William Young, 18, said on Wednesday that students at Revelstoke secondary school were asked to pour molten aluminum as part of their shop class on Jan. 14.

When it contacted with water, the explosion "sounded like a small cannon" and students were showered by a 2,000-degree spray of hot projectiles. Some bits were the size of raindrops, others were as large as loonies.

"It felt like putting my arm against a wood stove," said Young. "There was a smell of burning flesh."


01-23-2009, 11:07 AM
Yes Evan, but we HAD a woodwork room and a metalwork room, with the correct equipment and COMPETANT teachers who did nothing else but teach woodwork and metalwork. Long gone, lost to Media studies and Self expression classes. Sadly the teacher involved now has to appreciate that not everything can be learned from books.

John Stevenson
01-23-2009, 11:24 AM
Well, for starters you can sue the grossly incompetent shop teacher that allowed his students to cast aluminum outside in the snow a couple of days ago here.

What's wrong with that ??

Casting and heat treatment in one lesson. :rolleyes:

01-23-2009, 11:28 AM
Why would the young want to work when they can stay home with mom and dad?

01-23-2009, 11:43 AM
Don't blame the kids, their parents raised them to be that way, blame them.

I may start recruiting on farms, they seem to be the only kids that have parents that make them do any work.

01-23-2009, 11:49 AM
Sounds familiar. For a good part of the last 20 years I worked, I had apprentices. Some were good, while others were, to be blunt, worthless.

The automotive industry is going through the same thing, now. Older, experienced mechanics are leaving the business, either due to their health, or the compensation they have been getting. That was my trade, for 40 years.
Th average mechanic is paid by the job (piecework, or commission), they are not expected, but required, to supply their own tools (at great expense, I might add) I learned the "hard way" back when a young guy could get help from the more experienced mechanics in the shop...Today, it's a whole different game. Nobody has apprentices, nobody can take the time out to help the inexperienced. The pay, per job, has been pared down to practically nothing, so, in order to make a living, one has to hustle, all of the time, or lose money. Gone are the "old days" when you took pride in your work, and went that extra step to insure it went out the door as perfect as you knew how to get it..gone. Now, it's quantity, not quality.

Kids, fresh out of school can go to a "trade school"....There are many across the US. Unfortunately, they teach with obsolete equipment, poorly trained instructors, and, to make matters worse, they charge plenty.

The schools also fill the heads students with propaganda....Some have been telling their graduates that they can make $100,000 a year, right out of trade school.....which would be nice, because a graduate degree from these schools can run up to a quarter of a million dollars.

In the "real world", these bright eyed kids find themselves called upon to diagnose and repair "state of the art" cars and trucks...with training that's ten to fifteen years out of date....and nobody standing by to guide them....this could get ugly (and it does)....

I consider myself fortunate. Growing up, I had three uncles and a father that were journeyman machinists. My uncles had a small home shop, which I spent most of my time in. By the time I was 18, I was an accomplished machinist, welder, and mechanic. This training served me well throughout my career.

The last time I visited my old high school, (class reunion) I went to the building where they taught auto shop and metal shop....It's not there any more...The metal shop is a detention hall, and the auto shop is where the building maintenance guy keeps his lawn mowers and tools. No industrial arts classes are offered any more. The problem is twofold....finding teachers qualified and experienced to teach the class is one....and attendance...Yeah, most kids today want to be "Rappers" and drug dealers (well, not all of them)
So, they closed up both shops.

Strangely enough. Years ago, I read a science fiction novel about a world in the future where all of the fantastic, high tech machines people had were breaking down, and failing. The people who repaired and maintained the machines were a rarity, so the society was slowly falling into a primitive state. "Techs" were looked upon as "high priests" of the society, and were hard pressed to keep a few machines serviceable...It was an interesting novel...Unfortunately, I can't remember the author or the title of it...I'd like to read it again. It was a prophecy that is coming true.

01-23-2009, 11:55 AM
Try H.G.Wells The Time Machine

01-23-2009, 11:56 AM
While it may be tempting to blame everything on the world going to hell, I don't think that's really the case. Some people have the "mechanical" gene; some don't.

A friend of mine has two sons. One of them is a natural salesman. He can sell anything to anybody. He has ZERO interest in his dad's shop. The other one moved his bedroom into the basement so he could easily take a nap when he got tired wrenching on his latest motorcycle rebuild project. He loves anything even remotely connected with tools and machinery.

Is one son "better" than the other? No, they are both great kids, they are both hard workers, but if the first one tried to work in a shop he'd be miserable forever, and never be good at it no matter how hard he tried.

01-23-2009, 12:01 PM
Unfortunately most things that require effort and half a grey one are classed as BORING by lots (Not All) of youfs today.

You mean aside from all those studying engineering, electronics, etc?

Sadly, when you talk to the little darlings, they all want to go to Uny cos they've had it rammed down their throats by the intelligencia that the only good jobs require a degree (OR a big black Beemer)

I don't think it's the intelligentsia that's responsible; just look at the rewards.
I took shop classes in high school, and loved it. But it was very clear that the a job as an engineer would pay far more and offer more interesting work than working with my hands. In the few cases where I've had jobs that allowed me to design, simulate and fabricate my projects, it's been near perfect.

01-23-2009, 12:05 PM
You mean aside from all those studying engineering, electronics, etc?

I don't think it's the intelligentsia that's responsible; just look at the rewards.
I took shop classes in high school, and loved it. But it was very clear that the a job as an engineer would pay far more and offer more interesting work than working with my hands. In the few cases where I've had jobs that allowed me to design, simulate and fabricate my projects, it's been near perfect.

That's exactly it - I went to technical college and got my motorcycle mechanic certification. I worked hard for it, and was excited to start it as a career - until I realized after graduation that I made more than twice as much delivering pizza than I would in the next ten years of wrenching.

I stuck with the pizza delivery job and now I'm in my second year of my engineering degree.

Around here, at least, the trades seem to all be dead end - you start at nine bucks an hour and stay there for ten or fifteen years.

Liger Zero
01-23-2009, 12:18 PM
I envy people who had the chance to start young. I took shop classes, I excelled in them, but the "guidance and placement" expert in the school office felt that I would be "wasted" learning a trade and steered me into a bunch of office-skill and computer classes. All old-time DOS (2 and 3.X!) and Apple ][ stuff, and a smattering of Commodore 64. Ah yeah, thanks to the Football and Volleyball teams we had the best computer-lab they could assemble from donations... but hey that "undefeated" legacy counts for something! :rolleyes:

As I understand it my class was the last to get to use the machines because of a "fear of lawsuits" never mind the fact that there hadn't been a serious accident in decades. The other part of equation is they wanted that room to expand the art-department and since the art-teacher had more pull with the board than the shop teacher guess who's programs got axed?

I'd love the chance to actually work with Masters of the trade and learn something beyond the basic production "work harder not smarter or faster" on-the-job training that I have gotten. Oh I'm grateful for even that but it leaves a huge hole. I know there are solutions to some of the problems I see in production but as the mentality is "work harder not faster or smarter" I don't get to learn these tricks.

Everyone says "ask questions" but a temporary employee who shows any interest in the machines is often shown the door, can't have an uppity temp thinking he's worth something. I admit, one shop I actually took matters into my own hands and changed a tool-bit because the Production Lead Tech was on extended smoke-break all night. Got fired for "tampering with the equipment" whereas the chap over on the other machine who stopped running because he was making scrap... he got fired for not producing enough.

Didn't matter to either the Forman or Engineer or the Lead Operator or Production Lead Tech (titles :rolleyes:) that here is someone with enough OTJ and experience (seven years at this point) to lend a hand in production. No they were too busy trying to protect their turf. :rolleyes: If you must know this was a screw machine shop out by the airport near Wegmans Corperate HQ. If you know the area you know the company. :)

If I could do it all over again I'd force the issue with the school about staying in the shop-classes. You take someone out of a clas they are getting 90-95 percentile grades in and put them in a class they pull a C- in yeah something is wrong. Gee depression Junior and Senior year? Wonder why!

That said I wonder if there are really any "true" apprenticeships out there in the machining trades. Or have employers switched over totally to hiring newly minted CNC Jockies out of the Community College?

01-23-2009, 12:26 PM
The gap created by the stretch of water between us doesn't allow you to actually see what happens over here, and although united temporarily by a pair of liars,the day to day happenings in the mother country. The basic manual jobs, and forget manufacturing cos we don't do that anymore, are usually cornered by the European migrants with cries from the locals of "The imigrants are stealing all our jobs" and "They do it for cheaper rates than we do" OK, we'll send all the immigrants back, but most of the jobs they do are too "Menial" for most of the people shouting about it, Sooooooo??

Strangely enough, there seems to be a reverse trend in the respect that lots of gas fitters and plumbers now, seem to be ex bankers and accountants.

Regards Ian

oil mac
01-23-2009, 03:29 PM
I am glad to note John, that Rolls -Royce are taking on 220 aprentices, This in our modern age will not in any shape or form resemble the form of training thee & me went through, Not to worry though, Time moves on, and craft practices and methods change with the march of time, When i composed my post on this subject, i clean forgot about a visit i had last Wednesday evening, to one of the remaining large Scottish engineering concerns (they are becoming an endangered species on the face of this planet) The quality of the products in that concern, certainly had a wow factor, and they were able to tell me of some very good quality apprentices in their concern, unfortunately time did not permit of me being able to question the departmental manager on his training system, So centres of excellence occasionally do exist.
Back now to a few observations, The disaster at the school due to casting alum in the middle of a snow clad surface and having an explosion is hardly surprising, Anyone in charge of such an excercise, who was, not showing a proper appreciation of the nature of untamed hot metal was, the height of crass stupidity, I would hazhard a guess, that the unfortunate teacher is most likely, the product of a system of woolly teacher training by lecturers who wouldnt know a Bull from a pigs foot, let alone, anything about industry & industrial practices
Some years ago i was most distressed to hear of an ex apprentice of mine, who worked as a steel moulder in a concern, now gone, He was a decent soul, hard working, and carefull, One night on a backshift, he was severely burned, with molten steel, by the instance of a running nozzle defect, on a bottom pour ladle, To get the ladle to a place of safety, as far as i can ascertain, someone, forgot all about him, went right over the top of
him, as he worked, His horrendous injuries dont bear thinking about, This was an unfortunate happening to someone who was carefull, Molten metal is unforgiving stuff, Sadly his wife had just had a little boy a week before that accident, I sat and cried when i learned of his untimely and horrible death
However back to today versus yesterday, about 57 odd years ago, when i was in my senior school studies, technical training was different, A great emphasise was placed on technical drawing, and mechanics, plus of course woodwork with about 50% of the time in the metalwork section, Now granted that the thoughts of kids & their expectations then, were much different from now The old mechanical drawing classes gave one an elementary basis for proportion & what was correct, as well as instilling into a young mind the essentials of carefull & neat workmanship, I also think for kids then there were more interesting things to see , locomotives, cranes working at the nearest large towns harbour, tugs & steam dredger fussing around, One was aware of machines with some of the things we were taught in their construction, Coupled to this was the quality of these old teachers of a different age Compare this approach to mechanical training in an elementary stage with todays computerised drawing classes, any item drawn , should it resemble an interesting machine, component is incidental and not meant!
Even todays cars, have a monotonous sameness about them, as though 80% of them come from the same design suite, (no longer a drawing office, and teachers are now frequently referred to as "facilitators of knowledge")
Granted every kid was not at all interested in technology, some went on to pursue careers in commerce and the arts etc, One wee guy i can recall, one of my peers, We were all highly amused to find, Had obtained a career working in a ladies hair styling salon, Talk about a brilliant career choice! He ended up with his own buisiness, nice little dishy dolly bird wife , super jaguar up market car, nice house, and pleasant working surroundings, meeting nice people, the rest of his mates, your truly included rel he -men , tough mans environment types (I was one of the lucky bunnies,) As the recession and change of trade & industry started to bite deeper, most of them ended up in the ranks of the unemployed , or real dead end jobs, Big Deal, My worry is what is ahead for todays youngsters?
When school days finished and my trade apprenticeship started, i well remember evening classes where i was taught to turn for real, on an old 1920/s Colchester cone drive screwcutting lathe - ex Fife School of Mining at Kelty What is that i hear? A couple of todays Health & Safety Wallas, having an apopleptic fit. Past halcyon & sunny days from an old buzzard

01-23-2009, 06:54 PM
Strangely enough. Years ago, I read a science fiction novel about a world in the future where all of the fantastic, high tech machines people had were breaking down, and failing. The people who repaired and maintained the machines were a rarity, so the society was slowly falling into a primitive state. "Techs" were looked upon as "high priests" of the society, and were hard pressed to keep a few machines serviceable...It was an interesting novel...Unfortunately, I can't remember the author or the title of it...I'd like to read it again. It was a prophecy that is coming true.

The Marching Morons, by C. M. Kornbluth

A very prophetic short story considering it was published in 1951.


Centuries into the future, someone revives a cryogenically frozen body of a late 20th century man, Barlow. Barlow is horrified by the society he encounters, in which the vast majority of the people are illiterate, ill-bred morons, with an average IQ of 45, while a small minority of competent people are expected to do most of the important work, essentially slaves to the ignorant but numerous masses. One of these competent men blames past generations:

“This damned mess is all your fault and the fault of people like you!....while you and your kind were being prudent and foresighted and not having children, the migrant workers, slum dwellers and tenant farmers were shiftlessly and shortsightedly having children—breeding, breeding. My God, how they bred!”

01-23-2009, 06:59 PM
I was out and about with work on wednesday, up near Manchester Airport.
We make metrology equipment, and were there to measure a part of an aircraft.
Anyway this aircraft is built on fixtures, as I imagine most small jets this size are. The first one is being built at the place that the fixtures were made, to make sure they are ok, before they are relocated to the factory that will produce the rest of them.
It was really nice to see proper engineering going on in a UK facility, with UK workers. So its not all gone, even if it is rare, or limited to specialist fields.
An amusing conversation with one of the workers there went along the lines of:
that huge framework there, its for moving aircraft wings. Its dead flimsy though, have to be real careful with it, that (quite substantial box in my eyes) is only 5mm (IIRC) wall. Dead flimsy...!
Most of the steel work there would not have fitted in our office :eek:


tony ennis
01-23-2009, 07:05 PM
Strangely enough. Years ago, I read a science fiction novel about a world in the future where all of the fantastic, high tech machines people had were breaking down, and failing. The people who repaired and maintained the machines were a rarity, so the society was slowly falling into a primitive state. "Techs" were looked upon as "high priests" of the society, and were hard pressed to keep a few machines serviceable...It was an interesting novel...Unfortunately, I can't remember the author or the title of it...I'd like to read it again. It was a prophecy that is coming true.

The Marching Morons, by C. M. Kornbluth

The Foundation Trilogy (Asimov) has a similar section. Men of the Foundation understand the science. They grunt technical work is done by the 'Tech Priests' who operate the atomic motors (lolz) by rote. To everyone else it is magic.

01-23-2009, 07:19 PM
To quote Arthur C. Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

01-23-2009, 08:02 PM
This is great, guys! I'm off to the library to see if I can locate the literature. Thanks again!

True, Evan. But we won't have to wait for the future to see Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote. Ask anybody on the street how a cell phone works or what makes an automobile go and.....you'll get the "Deer-in-the-headlights"
stare. To the average person today, magic is indistinguishable from technology....
I shudder to think what will happen, years into the future..when it all wears out...

01-23-2009, 08:23 PM

This discussion has been going on in one form or another during successive generations since the year dot, and I expect that it will go on until eternity + 1.

It is always "todays kids" - but always "someone else's" and never "ours".

We'll, todays kids are parented by today's parents.

I'd suggest that if kids that for what-ever reason got an Apprenticeship, Trainee-ship or what-ever, where either they or the job "doesn't fit/suit" then the screening system has let everyone down - including the kids. If the kids had their expectations built up by others then those "others" are as much if not more to blame than the kids if they find that their expectations are not met and the same may apply to the employer.

The employer may see the kid as a way of making money and the kid may see this as an opportunity to get a job, enjoy it, have "bragging rights", have good pay and conditions and something to make a worthwhile career of.

I don't think that this has ever changed much - possibly never will.

"Adult" - as opposed to "kid" - apprenticeships have worked well here at times too.

I am not sure that apprenticeships are or ever were needed provided that adequate and comprehensive "on the job" and supplementary relevant "schooling" was required and provided. Pay, related more to skill-levels and aptitude rather than having completed a "satisfactory" insitutionalised "Apprenticeship" is a powerful incentive to "do better" and "better yourself".

Provided that the "Trainee" has an appropriate level of core skills plus others related to a particular enterprise and a willingness/need? to acquire related skills and qualifications as he goes it should be OK.

The worst of the traditional apprenticeship was that is was institutionalised and not always relevant to or needed in the particular enterprise of industry. There was no opportunity to "cross-train" or change to another trade or get adequate credits for "higher" (tertiary) education such as a Degree or Diploma or other professional or sub-professional qualifications or employment.

In short, all too often a "Trade" or an Apprenticeship was a boring, dangerous "dead-end" job. Not always - but far too often, never the less. Its no wonder the "best" candidates" go else-where.

If the kids are smart enough to recognize this, they may well be smarter than some of their critics.
If I had to recommend a trade to a kid or his parents, I would have a list and machining would not be at the top of it.

Just because I have "been through the mill" is no good reason why I should think or make anyone else do it.

I am continually surprised and pleased at how well kids of all generations come through it all so very well, more in spite of the "system" than because of it.

The "system" is not of the kids making.

Perhaps we have more to explain than the kids do.

My parents families were far from perfect, neither were their kids (me included) or their (and my) kids either.

Its "us" that have fu**ed the system and have dropped it in the laps of the kids to "fix" it where in all probability we will get more benefit from their efforts than they do.

Yep - they sure do have a lot to thank us for.

There are more reasons to look up to kids than there are for looking down on them.

Apprentices included.

Give them a break.

01-23-2009, 08:28 PM
Welcome to post industrial society, where when things go wrong it is always someone elses fault, and if you don't want to work don't worry because the government will pay you to sit home and play your xbox all day...

This seems to be a common theme in todays western worlds...I believe it is caused by our great standard of living, where everything you could want is handed to you on a silver plate.. Only the every old have any recollection of what it is like to starve as many did during the great depression, what it is like to be very poor and that the only way out of being poor is to educate yourself so you can get a better job with more pay..

The baby boomers are nearing retirement and Generation X are the new parents of today.. People who in general taught their kids (generation Y) not to respect authority, it is never your fault and someone will always bail you out of trouble...

Rome collapsed when because of their brilliance they thought they need not work ever again the continous orgies would last forever...We are heading the same way...I hoped this current economic crisis would bring in a new long lasting depression but it seems government is going to "create" lots of money to bail people out..

01-23-2009, 09:59 PM
I wholeheartedly concur.

01-23-2009, 10:20 PM
Odd - ain't it?

Everybody - well a lot anyway - all complaining about what they don't like - almost exclusively and about something or someone else - doing nothing constructive about it themselves, and waiting and wanting some-one else to fix the mess.

But if the kids did it, who can blame them? - just look at the examples set here by some of the paragons of virtue that we are blessed with.

Ain't heard of or from a kid so far - or have I?

01-23-2009, 10:35 PM
Everybody - well a lot anyway - all complaining about what they don't like - almost exclusively and about something or someone else - doing nothing constructive about it themselves, and waiting and wanting some-one else to fix the mess.

Bit hard to fix society Tiffie...

01-23-2009, 10:40 PM
Lead poisoning had a lot to do with the fall of Rome. Lead lined amphorae for storing wine, lead plumbing and the practice of sweetening wine with lead salts (!!!). Lead oxide was used for makeup and body paint too. That was one of the main reasons that life tended to be like Julius Caesar; Short, brutal and nasty.

As for the orgies, that was a minor part of the play. The main attraction were the circuses. "Give them bread and Circuses" ("and they [the people] will never revolt") said by Juvenal.

01-23-2009, 11:02 PM
Interestingly after the fall of the Roman Empire it was the start of the Dark ages for that part of Europe and Britain...All the advances Rome had made went to poo for several hundred years.. (although legend has it that a mysterious tribe of people who painted themselves green and went by the name Alistairs drove the Romans out of England) :D

01-24-2009, 01:30 AM
I guess it is truly said that "the Peasants are revolting".

Neither is the problem restricted to lead-based paint on toys from China. Lead has been used extensively on Plumbing" for centuries as well as on some electrical cabling - and a lot else - including paints and metal preservatives (red and white lead).

Lead poisoning is neither new nor eradicated as it seems to show up every other week here. Mount Isa (which mines lead) was the most recent at if adversely affected the entire city - for years. As I understand it, that problem is being addressed.

Port Augusta, where the lead was processed had it everywhere - in clothing, roofs of houses etc. and in some soil in residential areas the concentration was enough to make it viable to mine and process. That problem has been fixed.



01-24-2009, 02:42 AM
My dad has spent the last decade or so working as an interface between contractors and the school district on new school construction projects. On the last project, the school got a nice new metal shop. All new equipment, and a new teacher. As my dad was walking around the shop noting deficiencies, the teacher pointed to a large metal object, and asked "What's that?". The thing he was pointing at? A milling machine.

This is why I didn't bother with shop class in high school. Learned much more at home with a file in my hand, a chunk of aluminum clamped to the kitchen table, and my dad watching over my shoulder.

oil mac
01-24-2009, 06:48 AM
Sadly for our so called western world, you have summed things up 100% in one, Your story does not surprise me one tiny bit, Some years back our schools in this district decided in their infinite wisdom, to install some German or Austrian lathes of a high class construction, These little machines had a vertical milling machine clamped to the rear of the bed, A friend of mine was the installing engineer, -- sets up machine, in walks rather snooty teacher, says to my friend, " It is bound to be very difficult to expect me, or my students, to mill & turn at once !"

Firstly these were machine tools more in keeping with installation in an instrument/research establishment,- Obviously in central purchasing some one had been awe inspired by the sales literature, and purchased a machine /machines, to fine for the rough & tumble of kids learning.
Secondly, Nowadays, what is wrong with having everyone a teach in or familiarisation day with the newly installed plant
Thirdly is it frequently below the dignity of some folk nowadays to come out with the plaintive cry, i sometimes heard in industry, many years in the past " Hey boss, wise me up in this" Saves a lot of embarrassment and future problems to admit on occasions you dont know

01-24-2009, 06:49 AM
I think Wells wrote about the Eloi's and the Morlocks and the demise of the printed word and storage of information on "Silvery spinning disks" long before Clarke, Asimov et al were even IN nappies. Perhaps one or two should watch James Caens version of Rollerball and see it in a different light?

You hit the nail on the head 'Tiffe that in the past apprentices were used as semi slave labor at times, the upside in my own case was that the next youngest to me in one toolroom was 63. It used to amaze me, that the number of people in the industry used to say "Don't go into engineering", and this was at a time when there were far more choices of employment. Another thing that amuses me is the"Tool Gloat" brigade helping the Chinese and Indian economy who then bemoan the demise of home industry? Much too complicated for me to understand, must be akin to Rocket science, although I'll put my hand up and admit my own machinery is Austrian.

"It's down to the parents". I was always taught to resepect my elders, so were MY kids, then the ball seems to have been dropped cos on numerous occasions I've had to seriously bite my tongue and turn away rather than "Deck" the grandkids who are "doing there own thing", behavior which todays society freely accepts. Remonstrate and your a "Grumpy Grandad" or a miserable old fart, but strangely enough every one want's it to be better and has been pointed out, it's ALWAYS someone else's little darlings. Funny ole world, but with the role models we see thanks to media adoration what SHOULD we expect??

Is/can it going change? It had better, but not untill people recognise the wisdom of one of our contributors signiatures, "No more free lunches" and "A fair days WORK for a FAIR days pay"

Regards Ian.

Edit, They were Austrian Mac, and perhaps the supply persons were offering the best deal. The other problems now are the "Blame" culture. Had to verbally smack a production "Manager" to get the show on the road and keep the customer happy BEFORE starting a bl**dy witch hunt, "Well someones to blame"

oil mac
01-24-2009, 07:08 AM
Oldtiffie, I once heard about one of the north African countries, Where a youngster was taught not one trade but two, in case trade in his first occupation died away, Strange, I always thought like the Romans, & we the British carried enlightenment wherever we went, Sounded to me the North African country had a good system of training for the future Would our traditional system of old thought on that approach?

Secondly Ringer Alistair would have painted his face purple to chase the Romans away, Still i believe he is so big he didnt need the paint, The purple paint was left to my grand-dads lot, the Picts.

Circlip, You are allowed and expected to get grumpy as you get older its brilliant, Who was the manufacturer of these Austrian machines, I can once remember seeing one somewhere but cant remember the name, they looked brill little things

01-24-2009, 07:23 AM
EMCO Elliot MAIER Co. Don't get me started, a whole new Thread, B E A U T I F U L machine, It's the one that is an improvement on the Myford and has been coppied to death (Poorly) by the Chinese.

Highjack over.

Regards Ian


01-24-2009, 08:24 AM
"A fair days WORK for a FAIR days pay"

That is one of those concepts that sounds so reasonable that it should be easy to quantify. It isn't. Many people are gainfully employed in occupations that produce no measurable or quantifiable results. A simple example is the lowly security guard whose very presence is usually sufficient to produce the desired result; Nothing. It's an essential job in today's society but has no possibility of being measured by a standard of "A fair days work" since the only real skill required or demanded is staying awake and observant and the product is a null condition.

Another less well known example is the position of Corporate Fellow. In many corporations this is a position for which there is no job description. The person so named is permitted to follow their own interests and are well paid in return. The expectation, not always realized, is that they will produce ideas that have future value to the corporation.

There are many such necessary roles in the modern workplace. Not all jobs can be valued in terms of the number of widgets produced per hour. We are in part a victim of our own educational system and by this I mean it's successes, not it's failures. Even the poorest of educations found today surpass the average of those entering the workforce in the early part of the industrial revolution. The young have at the least the ability to appreciate that there are occupations that do not require 40 years of servitude only to be rewarded with a worn out and damaged body incapable of continuing to serve it's owner.

There is nothing wrong with manual labor but it is most often excruciatingly boring at the least. We often pay people an increment to be bored. I don't find it the least bit surprising when that increment isn't sufficient now where the young have at least a view of distant horizons and prospects more interesting.

01-24-2009, 09:24 AM
In any industry there are three levels of workers, those that can,roll their sleeves up and get on with it, those that can't do as well but never the less try and those that can but WON'T. Sadly the latter are usually the ones with the loudest voices.

01-24-2009, 09:32 AM
I've always heard ( and believe ) "Those that can.......Do & Those that can't.....TEACH" And add to that "When you ain't worth a damn for anything else they make a foreman outta you" :rolleyes: Rick

01-24-2009, 10:37 AM
"You know. 'That Guy'"
"What guy?"
"That guy. The guy, who when everybody else has run out of options and gets things done? I'm that guy."

Liger Zero
01-24-2009, 11:57 AM
Ya'll sit here bemoaning how no one wants to go through an apprenticeship and learn the trade anymore.

Yet there is one sitting here who has ASKED to learn the trade.

And you know what? I have been denied. I'm not the right sort, no we don't do training here, this isn't a teaching shop, you have to have X number of years experience first, no we only hire experienced workers no room for a trainee, plenty of experienced workers already, no I don't want the responsibility, can't train you you might make scrap/break the machine/hurt yourself/we're a production shop not a trade-school... on and on.

So, who out there wants to train someone up in the machining trades from the ground up? Hmmm? Any takers?

01-24-2009, 04:13 PM

IIRC Haas in California takes on classes of apprentices from time to time, and it appears to be a very serious high-end program. It may be better adapted to mega-million dollar production than low-scale job shop work.

I'd wager there are a fair number of one-man shops who would be happy to have a low-cost helper learning the trade, but hiring such a person costs a lot more than their wage. If you are a sole proprietor, it is easy to ignore all the helpful government programs, but the first person you hire drags you into a lot more liability.

Once you have one employee, the second and third are only incrementally more expensive, but that first step up is either relatively costly, or very risky if you choose to ignore all the acronyms and lawyers/gov't officials get involved.

oil mac
01-25-2009, 08:02 AM
Liger Zero, I know where you are coming from in that experience, nowadays, i find more of the remaining machine shops are hesitant about starting youngsters Only employing time served or folks with x number of years experience, O.K. when i was a youngster i was a five year slave, guess i was lucky, was treated not too bad, I still think i was lucky compared to any youngster of nowadays, who cant get a chance to follow his dream, I will give another instance of a recent happening from about 18 months ago, I was in my local tooldealer/ironmonger being totally robbed-- Never mind its todays world,:( whist waiting in the line of folks eager to buy there purchases, i engaged in conversation, with a bright looking youngster, My gut reaction was i think he had potential to be a useful member of any small factory engaged in the mechanical arts, Upon asking the kid what he was purchasing, he said work safety footwear & clothing , he was going to "Blogs & Co"- (Not real name) to begin as a trainee, My heart sunk to my boots for the poor kid, Knowing the establishment concerned i knew that they were so miserable and mean the youngster had to supply his own workwear, and he would be in an environment where the clothes & boots would be destroyed in a fortnight, Worst still he would be treated badly, exploited and worked to death for a pittance at the end of which the promises made to him would be false & worthless , I went away feeling totally demoralised that no doubt his expectations would be totally dashed, All i could do was wish him well, and stated "Well you will get a little grounding in engineering- Learn what you can & look to when you can move on and use what you have acquired"
When i left the shop shortly after i was engaged in conversation with a very good friend,a retired patternmaker His reaction was same as mine poor kid landing in there, Dont think two of us were wrong?
A fair degree of luck in life depends on the hand of cards fate deals you out, Thank the Lord i got where i am safely.

John Stevenson
01-25-2009, 08:28 AM
You can't afford to employ one person nowadays, the cut off point is 4, possibly 3 with all the paperwork, extra insurance, national insurance contributions etc.

But what if you aren't big enough or have the work for 3 or 4 people ?
The last lad I had about 5 years ago came from a college based training board. I was required to pay him £25 a week under the training scheme. The college were paid £140 a week for him by the government, he saw non of this. part went to pay national insurance but as his 'paid' wages' were below a limit this didn't apply so they kept that.
The only expense they had was administration and one day at the college.

In all fairness he was a good lad, willing, intelligent, good time keeper when the bus's allowed :D one of the better ones I have had but no basic experience.
Result was it slowed me up a lot, still that's the price you have to pay.
The problem was he made no bones about wanting to join the RAF, he'd tried before but been turned down as there were no places.

So I spend all this time training him only for him to leave ? In the end the college closed and I had the choice of letting him go or taking him on the books full time at 18.

I know I made the right decision on letting him go as shortly after that I had papers from the RAF for references which I filled in truthfully.

The problem with this type of setup is that it's exploited, the training boards just want numbers, industry wants £25 a week slaves and sorry there are no jobs at the end but can we have two more slaves, sorry I mean trainee's.

The lad I had had already been 6 months at another place drilling holes all day on a drill press, same job all day. What training was there in that? He complained and they got rid of him.