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Fleas in the machine shop---o.t.

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  • Fleas in the machine shop---o.t.

    Fleas in the Machine Shop
    Back in the day, (beginning in 1965), I was an apprentice draftsman at a big company in Belleville, Ontario. We had about 600 people at the time, and an immense machine shop/steel shop, and assembly shop. All machining was done on manual machines, and so to avoid shutting down the big lathes and shapers at "noon-hour" the machinists were allowed to bring their lunch from home and eat it at their machines. This lead to a rodent problem, and the machine shops were over-ran by mice. To solve the mouse problem, it was decided to bring in a small group of cats, (strange as it may sound). The cats cleaned up the mouse problem, but within a year the plant was over-ran by cats.--All the structural steel and platework that was stored outside got very rusty (we were right on the north shore of Lake Ontario) so when the steel was brought in from the storage yard, it was ran thru a giant shot blasting machine called a Wheelabrator" to clean it up. We began having problems with the wheelabrator, and it was found that all of the attendant cats were pooping in the Wheelabrator shot-blast reservoir, and the cat poop was plugging the nozzles of the Wheelabrator. Then the company hired an "animal control specialist" to come in and trap and dispose of all the cats. This worked fine, but for many months afterwards, there was a terrible flea problem. I'm not making this up, so help me God!!! My boss was a Dutch fellow who was allergic to fleas, and since it was quite common for the design office to send revised blueprints out to the shop office, Ab would tuck his pantlegs into his socks before entering the shop, to keep the fleas from jumping up his pantlegs and biting his ankles. The fleas either didn't bite me, or else they bit me and I had no reaction to it, so for about 6 months I was the one elected to run revised blueprints out to the shop office!!
    Brian Rupnow
    Design engineer
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada

  • #2
    "I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly... "

    Parts of Australia now have a serious mouse problem... they been back and forth over the years with invasive species issues, and "solutions" with unintended consequences.
    "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


    • #3
      I met my mrs at an aluminium extruders, there was a packing department where she worked that had mountains of cardboard sheet for box making, she told me that there are cardboard fleas in the board, they bite!, I didn’t believe her, there was, the buggers would eat you alive, not seen anything like it since.
      strange stuff out there!
      I remember the wheelabrator, tennison or somthing, literally a giant bucket wheel like a turbine in a giant steel chamber


      • #4
        Wheelabrator is a company that is still in business, I make parts for them often. Mostly for trash to steam power plants.
        Wheelabrator is an industry leader in the safe and environmentally sound conversion of everyday residential and business waste into clean energy. 


        • #5
          Gotta love Bri's stories,,, he reminds me of my Pops, lot's of details in an era that will not be duplicated,,,

          it's probably situations like this that started the bubonic plague,

          the flea thing makes me think of one of my old buddies - Mag lil pig,,, she's the only dog that knew how to consistently catch (and eat) squirrels, you would look at Magpie and think "hmm not much going on up there" but don't you kid yourself the gears were turning,,, squirrels would hang just 10 feet above her in branches and heckle her for half the day driving her nuts,,, she devised an incredible system --- she basically acted like she did not care, but when you really looked she was paying incredible attention and using her ears,,, then when they were running on top of the privacy fencing she would charge and hit the fence at about a 45 degree angle with both front paws - as soon as that happened she would use that angle to "spin" her body around,,, if it was enough of a hit the squirrel would fall into my side of the yard and most likely not even hit the dirt but go directly into the jaws of the pig,,, it was a well orchestrated killing dance,

          she would gobble everything down but the tail, sometimes would eat it so quick that flea's would not jump ship but any delay and the squirrels body temps would drop and then id be dealing with a dog with flea's for awhile... I miss the spirit of that kid... what a champion...

          I think my new girl will eventually put two and two together and when she finally does watch out - will probably cut down on her food bill lol she's an athlete....


          • #6
            Flea's. Ha, I remember going to look at buying a house in Florida. The nice realtor lady was explaining how the owners had fenced the back yard for their dog to roam in safely. The owners had moved out a couple of months earlier. The realtor lady was wearing white pants and after not too long she started doing a dance. The bottoms of her pants were black with fleas. We left right away and told her to get the house fumigated and we would look again. We had a good laugh over that one.
            Location: The Black Forest in Germany

            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


            • #7
              The previous owners of the house we bought had had a dog, and when we moved in the fleas were terrible. We tried stuff from the store but finally had to call in the professionals and they did the job. We've kept cats ever since, but never had the same problem with fleas.

              Little known fact: "Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em. Little fleas have littler fleas, and so ad infinitum,"
              "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill


              • #8
                There's another little insect that's easy to mistake for fleas, called springtails. I'd almost bet those were what covered the realtor lady's pants.

                I only learned of them two or three years ago when I suddenly had an infestation of what I thought were fleas around my garage entrance, despite having no pets. I was initially astounded because I'd NEVER seen fleas that densely packed, so a little google research revealed the truth.
                Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TGTool View Post
                  The previous owners of the house we bought had had a dog, and when we moved in the fleas were terrible. We tried stuff from the store but finally had to call in the professionals and they did the job. We've kept cats ever since, but never had the same problem with fleas.
                  My daughter had this problem in a house where a cat had previously lived. Apparently the fleas lie dormant until they detect movement and warmth, jump up and bite your ankles, then drop off when they have had their fill. Somebody told me how to cure the problem. You place a desk lamp with a 15 watt incandescent bulb over a saucerful of soapy water on the floor. The fleas detect the warmth (LEDs don't work), jump up, fall into the soapy water and drown.

                  It sounds too good to be true, but it really works. We put one on the living room carpet, and after a day there were thirty dead fleas in the saucer. Rinse and repeat, there were about a dozen, then six, then one, then none. We did the same in the other rooms, which produced much smaller numbers, and she has had no problem since. Job done: total cost a few pence, and no nasty chemicals.

                  George B.


                  • #10
                    Back when we were still building nuclear power plants I spent a fair amount of time at the various sites. There were always cats, especially around the (hundreds of) trailers used as construction offices. I was told the contractor (usually Bechtel or EBASCO) brought the cats onsite by the truckload, to help keep the trailers free of mice and rats. Those were some tough cats, they knew their job and they were good at it.


                    • #11
                      When I lived in Hillsdale, Ontario, wife and I had two cats. We decided to take our three kids and drive across Canada to Newfoundland. We took our two cats and our pitbull dog to a boarding kennel, and away we went on a really tremendous camping holiday. Three weeks later we arrived home, and figured we could unpack and go get our pets the next day. The house was absolutely hopping with fleas---it was just crazy. We set up our camper in the front yard and slept in it, and I started phoning everybody I could to find out what the heck was going on. It seems that our cats had been infested with fleas (We didn't know that), and a lot of the damned fleas didn't live on the cats, but in the floor rugs. After three weeks without the cats to feed on, the fleas were all starving and thats why they all jumped on us as soon as we walked into the house.---I ended up getting some kind of powdered super duper poison that I had to sprinkle on all of the floor rugs, leave for 24 hours, then vacuum all the rugs while wearing a particulate mask that made me look a bit like a man from mars. It worked, the fleas wee all killed, and after that the cats and the dog wore flea collars.
                      Brian Rupnow
                      Design engineer
                      Barrie, Ontario, Canada


                      • #12
                        I used to be troubled by fleas in the old houses I rented. They loved me, left my roommates alone. From the tops of my shoes to just below my knees, I always knew when there were any fleas around. I would take off my shoes, roll up my pantlegs and slowly shuffle across the floor while watching carefully. I'd catch them one-by-one and crush them between my thumbnails (fleas are very hard to crush). No fleas where we live now, just mosquitoes....
                        It's all mind over matter.
                        If you don't mind, it don't matter.


                        • #13
                          The soap dish works with a green led as well. I caught dozens when our cat brought home man eating fleas long ago. It was strange as earlier colonies of fleas stayed on the cat and left people alone.