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We have it EASY---

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  • We have it EASY---

    I expect most home shop machinists have all their machines individually driven electrically, their shops lighted with electricity, the shops heated, some air conditioned in summer, brazing and soldering done with propane or natural gas, welding by electricity. When I was young i saw some shops belonging to older fellows, where the lathes were treadle driven, lighting was by oil lamp, the shops were unheated, brazing and soldering was done with paraffin( kerosene) blow lamps. Yet the products of these home shops generally equalled those we see today. We should all be thankful for the luxury which surrounds our activities nowadays.But I wonder whether " having it easy" has made some of us complacent and perhaps a little lazy? Looking forward to a healthy discussion. regards David Powell.

  • #2
    It doesnt matter, Everybody still expects the home shop guy to make it for FREE..............


    • #3
      I am 73 and grew up in town but visited my grandparents in the country. There is nothing that will instill an appreciation for indoor plumbing like a visit to the out house on a frosty morning. My generation has experienced the best quality of life for the least effort input. My grandfather was somewhat of a blacksmith repairing horse drawn farming equipment. I have a few of his old tools kept for sentimental reasons. We do in fact have it EASY
      Byron Boucher
      Burnet, TX


      • #4
        I would love to figure out some other way to do things, run machines, heat the house and the water.

        It's quite why I got in to machining in the first place. "I want to make my own stuff instead of buy it." Granted, I do much more woodworking than metalwork. But that's mostly because the material is so much cheaper.

        If I could figure out a reasonable way to store energy, kinetic or otherwise, for use in powering machines there'd be all KINDS of whackiness I'd be doing.

        I'm no luddite. I just think it's fun to be able to go as far back down the chain as possible in as many areas as possible.
        Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


        • #5
          Yes David I heartily concur with you, Life is generally much easier, Except for the rat race mentality of today, I remember my old uncle turning small components for his clock repairs using the most primitive home made set of Hand turns one could possibly have seen, Even in my own seventy five year time span , when I began to take an interest in mechanical/ blacksmithing things, workplaces, were not in many instances bang up to date or very comfortable
          The same could be said of the home handyman or amateur mechanic, over in Britain even in the 1950s, through to the sixties a lot of old guys still treadled away with a round bed Drummond lathe, frequently with a hand cranked drilling machine & treadle driven tool grinder their only machine tools + in as you say in a rural setting lit by the light of an oil lamp, or in the cities a gas lamp in many occasions
          Many years back I visited a model maker in possibly the worst housing area in Glasgow, on a cold dark wet night, The guy was a superb home craftsman & his workshop was along one wall of his bedroom, consisting of a small lathe, homemade drilling machine of 1/4" capacity , a little Adept 3" stroke hand shaper, & a small home made tool grinder AS a matter of interest his wife was sitting up in bed wearing her dressing gown (thankfully) & reading a horror comic!

          MY point is, these guys were content Although they were living under more trying conditions, money was tight, work hours long & not a lot of extra cash for luxuries, would they like to be in our time frame? I wonder, Would we if we were forced back to those days, be content also? I doubt it, Everyone would like to be young again, without the some of the nasty managers & foremen I recall from the past
          I think I feel a great feeling of admiration as to how the old guys could make do & mend both at their trade & in their home workshops

          wind back the time to approx. twenty years ago, the era of bashing the city to bits in the name of[progress was still continuing lets call it modernisation, a friend of mine was in a tool dealers buying a machine for his employers when a man walked in carrying two little glass cases each with a superb little machine tool in each, He wanted to know what they were , He was just in time to see the end of a house clearance & a whole lot of them were lying smashed up in a dumpster, about to be lifted onto a lorry Health & safety precluded him saving the ones in the rubbish.
          I guess we were seeing how the modern person had no thoughts or feelings for the craftsmanship of that long gone home craftsman Folks nowadays, don't give a rats a**e for yesterdays craftsmanship
          Me brought up in a works environment in my early days, where a lot of the plant was belt driven colours my thoughts I still would not dispatch my belt driven old Colchester lathe for a fortune , as I was taught elementary turning on one by the light of a dismal low wattage bulb long ago, Only today, I was sitting in the doctors waiting room & speaking to another medical victim, She was mentioning Christmas time, & recounting her grandson saying when asked "What did you get this year?" His answer "Nothing much, Only a stupid I Player" Does that not sum up todays lack of values? How about giving the kid something which would develop manual dexterity

          I will go back to lurking behind the woodwork


          • #6
            We had a treadle sewing machine back in the day. Mom used it like that for years, and it was a pretty big deal when Dad came up with an electric motor for it. The women in our house used wash boards before Dad came up with a wringer washing machine. That was a pretty big deal too. There was one house we lived in that didn't have a working shower stall. When that got fixed, you could actually get naked by yourself and wash your bod. Other than that, it was a tub in the middle of the room, and the hot water came from a pot on the oil stove.

            One of my chores was to pump oil from a tank outside and bring it in to fill the tanks. Our neighbor had the same setup, except his feed was through a copper line. We couldn't afford the copper line. I smelled like oil all the time.

            One Christmas we awoke to find the house cold- below freezing. I had forgotten to fill the tanks the night before. There was a bit of a delay before we opened presents that year- pajamas from aunt and uncle, shirts and blue jeans, socks, underwear- and there were some homemade toys.

            There was a need to have a workshop- Dad was a carpenter and did odd jobs between working on construction crews when the work was there. I had a hand in constructing the shop- my first job was puddling cement. The cheapest way to build it then was cement blocks, so that's what we used. It had a dirt floor. The first job we did inside it was to build the rafters for the roof. All the power tool work was done in the driveway since there wasn't the money to put in a feed. It did have a wood stove, and our water tank for the house went in right beside the stove. There were times when we had to go out to the shop to get warmed up. The two oil stoves just weren't capable of keeping the house warm- there were years when the pipes would freeze. One year it got down to -27F, and stayed that way for a few weeks. The temperature inside the house stayed below freezing for many of those days.

            We had electricity in the house. I made good use of it as I taught myself electronics. I don't think I ever really thought about the prospect of not having electricity in those days, or ever considered life without it, but I do think about that a lot now. How far back would I be able to go- could I make do satisfactorily without it now? I don't know.
            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


            • #7
              Yes we have it much easier and I wouldn't have it any other way. People look back at the "good old days" but don't see the "bad old days" that went with it.
              The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

              Bluewater Model Engineering Society at

              Southwestern Ontario. Canada


              • #8
                Easy ?

                EASY ??

                Do you know how hard it is to keep this camel on a treadle machine without it biting you ??

                Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


                • #9
                  Interesting post David.
                  Loose nuts posting re: the good old days, & the bad old days, true there certainly where bad ones, but people that look back on those times, i'm sure are relating to the good times when consumerism wasn't so rampant, people seemed more content with out the massive credit debts of today.
                  My wife and i purposly lived like the old days for almost 30 years, raised 4 kids without TV, heated and cooked with wood, grew most of our own food, hauled our water from a spring , and lighted by kerosene lamps.
                  Those were busy times, but better times. My kids are now grown and mention this fact once in awhile, we had fun together, we all learned things, and the kids now know that if they had to do it today, they could, it would not be such a culture shock to them compared to those who have never experienced such an upbringing, it gave them values, showed them that you can get by and be happy with less, and doing things for yourself.


                  • #10
                    You are living the good side but you still have access to modern medicine. You don't have to worry about polio, or your kids going blind from measles or many other illness that struck people down that we don't have to worry about today.

                    You also have access to other modern conveniences IF you wanted. In the old days it was do or die and in the hard times especially in winter many did. I have looked back to earlier times and thought it would be nice to be back then but I have talked to many people about how it was to live then and asked them, if they could would they go back. Most refused.

                    I'm am glad for you, that you have been able to live the way you have but it is not the same as living "back then".

                    P.S. I,m also glad I don't have to use a treadle lathe. It wouldn't be as much fun.
                    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at

                    Southwestern Ontario. Canada


                    • #11
                      For a brief period, about 4 years, we lived on a farm in Ohio. I was just shy of 9 years old when we left and moved to North Carolina. For many years after that I resented leaving the farm. Life was good there, there was plenty of room to run, play, We even had a strip mine up the hill out back where I could go and watch the giant earthmoving equipment, and Dad would explain how coal happened, and the significance of the different layers of rock and soil. Yeah, for my sister and I, life there was good.

                      For many years after, I was really angry about being pulled away from that wonderful farm.

                      Then, years later, I found myself at about the same age as Dad was when we left there, and suddenly I began to realize how tough it was on him, especially in Winter...up at 4:00 to stoke the coal furnace, work, hard work all day, little pay, constantly fighting freezing pipes, cars, trucks, tractors that won't start when needed, on and on...

                      Now I don't complain much about stuff. We do have it easy nowadays, in many ways. No matter how bad things may seem now, I have enough sense of history to realize that I've got it made. I'm grateful.


                      • #12
                        loose nut, agree, you are correct.
                        ( I built a treadle powered wood lathe with a heavy cast flywheel back then, it worked, but spent most of my concentration pedaling the thing, instead of concentrating on the turning!! Lol. It did give one a strong right leg though!!)
                        But very true, most diseases like polio are no more thankfully, and modern medicine one cannot compare at all to a number of old remedies. A number were old wives tales as they say, and those who did get better, got better on their own.
                        Still in todays world we are bombarded with news of horrific things, blasted by endless advertising , but i suppose one can, if they wish block out much of that by just not having it on.
                        (Which i do frequently.)


                        • #13
                          Anyone want to go back to long distance operated assisted calls? No cell phones, no GPS, I could go on and on. I am old enough to remember no central heat, no A/C,
                          AM radio,no TV. No computer. Internet. Thanks, I don't want to go back. Bob.


                          • #14
                            I think it is important at least for some short periods of time to go back to basics. I have enjoyed backpacking with the Sierra Club where you carry all your essentials in a pack and learn to experience nature, although somewhat insulated by means of waterproof nylon tents and tarps, and polyester or down sleeping bags. But you also learn how to get water from a spring or a stream, and perhaps also learn to forage food and building materials from natural sources. A little less primitive are rustic cabins along the Appalachian Trail and elsewhere, that are heated with a woodstove or fireplace that also serve for cooking, and lighting is by lanterns or candles.

                            Actually, for more than six years I lived at my present address while it still had privies and a hand-dug shallow well (although served by an electric pump), and I soon installed a woodstove to supplement and replace the existing kerosene space heaters (which in turn had replaced the original wood or coal stoves). I have deer and coyotes and perhaps even bears and other creatures that share my 2.5 acres of woods and weeds, and I really like being close to nature. I appreciate having electricity and (finally) indoor plumbing, but I don't mind it too much when the power is off for a few hours or a couple of days and I must revert to a simpler and quieter way of life for a while.

                            I really liked the ideas of Thoreau as presented in Walden, and I think we all would benefit from at least some exposure to the way of life that existed as the norm until about 100 years ago, and still is practiced to a large extent by the Amish.

                            Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                            USA Maryland 21030


                            • #15
                              It can be done today:

                              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                              USA Maryland 21030