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Funniest Machine Shop Experiences

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  • Funniest Machine Shop Experiences

    Post your funniest machine shop experience.

    I worked for a research facility for over 40 years. Shortly after I started work there an incident occurred which I remember with fondness. At the heart of the yarn reside three individuals: a space science engineer named John, a cryogenic engineer named Larry, and a kind hearted and well loved shop foreman named Jim. A very large piece of bearing bronze had been delivered to the shop. It measured about 12" in diameter and about 20" long. As would be the case today this was a very expensive piece of material and was needed for project which was required to be completed on a very strict schedule. Well Larry, an old and crusty guy who was so cheap that he even saved string, snuck the bronze out of the shop while the foreman (Jim) was in a meeting and took it down to his area as a joke. Now a joke is not a joke unless you can share it so Larry was very vocal in telling everyone but Jim what he had done. John, a much younger man who was (as we all were) aware of Larry's penchant for flying off into hysterics if he lost anything or if you even asked to borrow anything from him, decided to turn the tables on him and when Larry was gone for lunch stole the bronze from HIM and took it down to his own area. After the shop foreman was given enough time to work himself into a quandary sweating the fact that the bronze had disappeared Larry took the whole party of us (including John) down to his area to show Jim that the bronze was not gone after all ... that he had it and that it was all a joke. SURPRISE! The bronze was not there. Now Larry is running around like a chicken with his head cut off because he had revealed that he was the one who took it and thus responsible for its loss. They had to sit him down because he was shaking so bad and his legs were so wobbly that they thought he'd fall down or faint. Larry was on the verge of calling the police, the FBI and the army when John figured things had gone far enough and quietly took Jim down to his area and told him the whole story. Then they quietly took the bronze back to the shop and asked Larry to show them precisely where it was when he originally took it and lo and behold there it was.

  • #2
    An office, not so much the shop. The President of our national firm was a youngish, yet brilliant man who was extremely outgoing as well as demanding. He earned the full respect of those who worked for him. That being said, like Dato's guys there were those in the firm who were the pranksters and they always seemed to find each other to collaborate.

    Our guys decided to put a life size blow up rubber doll in the President's car trunk thinking the next time he entertained "the guys" at the golf course, there'd be that surprise lurking and he'd have to find some quick explanation. They employed the President's secretary ...that's what they were a conspirator to get access to the car keys and planted the doll, then just waited...

    A week or two went by when his secretary called our pranksters to relay what had happened that morning.

    He had a meeting across the border in Ontario, and had taken the female President and male treasurer of a major client in his company car to attend this meeting. Now, at the border crossing, as luck would have it, they decided to do an inspection which included a look in the trunk. From inside the car he "popped" the deck lid and assuming nothing would be found other than his golf clubs...just waited for the border guys to close the trunk and waive them on.

    Apparently the small gathering of border agents at the rear of the car got his attention and he and his guests exited the car to see what was the issue.

    Well, suffice to say there had to have been some quick explanations about this mostly deflated rubber doll in the trunk, staring outward with a stupid grin on her face. This was all relayed by his secretary first hand so it was likely pretty accurate. The only repercussions were that both guys, in lieu of their bonus checks, a potted cactus plant. After a week, their bonus checks were finally released.

    This story made history and is a part of the legacy of the company, owing to his pretty good nature about such things and the fact that all involved remained employed until the company was eventually sold off.


    • #3
      Some 30 years ago one of my customers hired me to work in his shop , originally for a week,but the week went on for over a year.
      Despite not being an employee I found myself getting along very well with his employees.
      After a few months I was usually both machining and assembling, often rush repair jobs.
      One afternoon saw me on the small lathe, a 14 by 40 and machining and assembling shafts with loctited parts.
      I finished the job, told everyone who needed to know that I had a


      • #4
        Originally posted by David Powell View Post
        Some 30 years ago one of my customers hired me to work in his shop , originally for a week,but the week went on for over a year.
        Despite not being an employee I found myself getting along very well with his employees.
        After a few months I was usually both machining and assembling, often rush repair jobs.
        One afternoon saw me on the small lathe, a 14 by 40 and machining and assembling shafts with loctited parts.
        I finished the job, told everyone who needed to know that I had a
        Hurry up and finish. The suspense is killing me!!
        Just one project too many--that's what finally got him...


        • #5
          Originally posted by David Powell View Post
          that I had a
          .....already left? (quite literally)
          Last edited by Mcgyver; 06-25-2019, 01:18 PM.


          • #6
            Originally posted by LKeithR View Post
            Hurry up and finish. The suspense is killing me!!
            I think someone might have had him killed to keep it quiet!

            I'm not from a machining background (can ya tell?!) but work in IT. Two stories spring to mind (that I can tell - there are others, of course):

            1. The first computer repair shop I (informally) trained at was staffed by what can only be called pot heads. I have no idea how they managed to function if I'm honest but their work was good and I learned a lot.

            2. The next place was mainly serving businesses but it had a retail front and there was the occasional walk-in trade....although our reaction was a little "Hey, what are they doing just walking in?!" it was that infrequent. One guy got quite irate despite everyone being reasonable with him. After getting quite agitated, he picked up his PC and threw it through the glass front window....or he would have, had it not been the better part of an inch thick plate glass (no idea what need the previous shop had had for it) so it merely bounced off...and knocked him to the floor. Instant karma.


            • #7
              Not quite machining or all that funny, but happened in a machining, welding and fabricating shop.

              We were in a bit of a rush to get ready for a "show and tell" presentation for a big client. A rather bossy, impatient fellow was lead hand for a small work group. The work at hand included pointing a number of stakes on the table saw. LH set a young fellow to work on this, walked away, but kept an eye on him.

              YF was working slowly and carefully, too slowly for LH, who strode over, grabbed the stake, said "Not like that, like this!'.

              LH shoved the stake through the saw, cutting part way through three fingers.

              Two of his workers took him to hospital, one driving the car, the other in the back seat helping to staunch the blood.

              Not a lot of time saved.
              Last edited by cameron; 06-25-2019, 02:39 PM.


              • #8
                I'll never forget one time during a shop renovation. Several of the partners and office big-wigs were displaced and had to hold up with their desks in the hallways. One particularly unpopular official who had his desk in the busiest section became the target of someone's ire. Early in the morning while he was away, there mysteriously appeared some gay and drag magazines on his desk. I was at a machine at the time where I could observe the sideways looks of shock and awe from passers-by as they glanced at them.

                Best Regards,
                Last edited by rjs44032; 06-25-2019, 02:56 PM.


                • #9
                  Funny, but also kind of malicious.
                  A disgruntled employee looked up "Most Dangerous Websites" on the internet.
                  At break time, he logged-on to the #1 most "Dangerous" website.. left it logged on, and returned to work.
                  Sure enough, the company computer was jammed-up with Viruses, Malware, Ransomware,,, and God-knows what else.
                  The entire company network crashed.
                  We had to go back to the old paper punch-cards at the timeclock, and logging our hours on paper.
                  The entire fiasco lasted about two weeks, until the I.T. guys cleaned out the system.
                  He confessed to me, long after we were both gone from that company.


                  • #10
                    Slightly different.
                    Where I worked had a nice Company Cafeteria where people went to on break to eat breakfast etc. Everyone was eating and Company vice president came in with a couple of buddies to eat. Dining done and They relaxed for a smoke before heading back to the office. About 30 seconds after a cigarette load went off and a big wig on the other side of the table was in the process of eating a fork full and darn near pushed the fork through His throat. Everybody turned white as They expected heads to roll. The VP looked around and said Son set Me up.
                    mark costello-Low speed steel


                    • #11
                      The suspense was unintentional !

                      Originally posted by LKeithR View Post
                      Hurry up and finish. The suspense is killing me!!
                      Dentist,s appointment the next morning. Well I went to the appointment as planned and then went in to the plant., a couple of hours after usual start time, Within seconds of clocking on ( I had a time card to help keep track of billable hours) all hell broke loose, yelling, laughing, banging on metal all began and continued for a minute or so, even the plant owner joined in , laughing.
                      After it died down I asked " What did I do to deserve that?" apparently I had, inadvertantly got some loctite on the morse taper of the revolving centre and had left it in the tailstock when I went home.
                      The next man to use the 14/40 lathe had found that the revolving centre was stuck FIRMLY in the tailstock. To remove it they had taken the quill out, heated it with the oxy set and even then had to press it out with the 50 ton press. So everyone ( 20 0r so) guys were aware of my misadventure with loctite.
                      To this day 30 odd years later the owner and the workmen still sometimes ask' Used any loctite lately? and smile when I meet them !
                      Regards David Powell


                      • #12
                        Well, since I never worked at a machine shop, I'll have to tell a flight instructor story. Had a student complain about not getting enough fuel for his cross country flight from Orlando to Naples, FL. After departing Orlando and half way over, across the Everglades, I unfold the map and cover up the mixture control and pull out the mixture killing the engine.
                        My student looks at me in the most undescribable way of disbelief, disgust, anger, and fear of one's life.
                        I was planning on letting the airplane drift down to about 500 ft, but I couldn't control my laughter.
                        If your a student pilot, and your instructor has become bored and burnt out, I suggest getting a different instructor.

                        Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk


                        • #13
                          I'm not the pilot, just the mechanic,
                          working for government contractor on army VIP aircraft. the ones that haul the general officers. we launch them on flight line and maintain them.
                          The aircraft tug we were issued was rife with its problems, and the E-7 (E-6, E-5, O-3, you name it) couldn't seem to get it fixed.
                          That is, until I had a 0-dark:30 launch for the base O-9. (3star general)
                          I get the aircraft pulled up to the hangar door tracks and, dammit, the tug stalled, dammit the carb is flooded, dammit the battery run dead, it just won't go.
                          There is the General's aircraft stuck sitting on the door tracks, golf clubs in the baggage, 3stars in the window, all ready to go, and the doggone tug is dead.
                          What's a contractor to do? Call the E-7 (the squirrelly one) at wee hours of the morning of course!!!!
                          The squirrel gets on scene about the same time as the 3-star' entourage, and there is no airplane for General to board. The pilots standing around tapping their feet.
                          The morning PT (thanks to the squirrel) turns into pushing the dead tug away, and pushing the aircraft to the flight line. The pilots crank up, the General boards, and away they go.
                          The SFC immediately wants our maintenance records for the tug. (we are assigned the tug, army maintains it)
                          I say "which one Sir, today, yesterday, last week, or last month?"
                          Well the squirrel SFC blows a gasket, the smoke coming out of his collar looked like a hit-n-miss engine that aint hit in awhile.
                          By 10:00 same morning there is a flatbed truck (motor pool) looking for me, (contractor), lo and behold, it got a brand spanking new tug for the aircraft.
                          The look on SFC face was priceless, the contractor got the new tug, and the Armee still had their old junk.
                          All it took was a 'convenient' dead battery at 03:30 in the morning........
                          Last edited by Ringo; 06-26-2019, 12:35 AM.


                          • #14
                            I worked as an instrument technician at EIL Instruments, which also had a repair department that fixed oscilloscopes, oscillators, and other such equipment. A favorite joke was to slip a piece of tubing into the device being worked on, and whenever the technician turned it on, a tech at the opposite bench would blow smoke into it (people smoked inside at work in the '70s and '80s).

                            Another joke was to connect a 1/4 watt 1k resistor across the blades of a power cable, which would go *bang* with much magic smoke when plugged in.

                            The guys also played a joke on the janitor. They took an animal skull and put a red lamp in it, and placed it in the bottom of a trash can, covered with some paper. When the janitor went to empty the can, the "demon skull" greeted him. Boo!

                            We also calibrated police radar units, and one of the techs found a ticket book in one of them. So they wrote up a bogus ticket about illegally passing a stopped school bus, and put it under the wiper of another guy's car. He was ranting and raving about it for a long time, while we scolded him about being a scofflaw, before we let him know it was fake.

                            One guy bought a new VW bug, and he was bragging about how it got 30 MPG while most of us were lucky to get 20. So while he was at lunch, some of the guys would slip a gallon or two of gas in his tank. Then he bragged even louder that he was getting 40 and even 50 MPG or better. After a few days of such fun, they started siphoning off a gallon or two - and then he got really quiet about his amazing new car.

                            P S Technology, Inc.
                            and Muttley


                            • #15
                              Bach when batchfiles were in use, wrote a very simple one to load on a co-workers computer that ran when he next booted the computer. It was very simple, just put one line of text on the screen.

                              That line of text was "Press any key to format drive C:"