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Member postings for Alistair Robertson 1

Here is a list of all the postings Alistair Robertson 1 has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: AF socket sets. Are they extinct
11/11/2018 13:53:10

When I begun my apprenticeship I bought a Britool 1/2" socket set with BSW, BSF and A/F Sockets.

Some sockets were marked BSW, some BSF and others had BSW and BSF sizes on the same socket!

I never did work out what the relationship was as I had 3 different bolt size charts and they were all different!, so it was a case of "try it on and see"

I still have most of the sockets etc so I will look them out some day and see if I can work it out (or maybe not!)

I almost had a heart attack when I realised that I had paid almost £110 for the set.

My wages were about £8 a week then, so that is the equivalent of about £800 - £900 today or maybe more.

Thread: H80 bandsaw: bronze dust in gearbox
09/11/2018 13:05:31


Bronze dust would be common in a basic worm drive gearbox especially one that had been assembled but never "run in". I would drain it, wash the dust out and re-assemble with good quality worm drive oil.

I worked for a company where we made worn drive gearboxes for aerospace use and the worm and wheel were lapped in in a jig. When they were assembled and run on the test rig for a couple of days, They were then stripped and if any bronze dust was found, then the whole procedure was repeated (many times!)

The inspector's criteria was that his white glove had to be absolutely clean when he rubbed around in the gearbox to allow the "run in" certificate to be issued.

It must have cost a fortune!

Thread: Hay bales
20/10/2018 15:54:13

In Scotland because it was (still is!) difficult to get 3 sunny days in a row we used to stack the hay in "coles" about 8 feet in diameter by about the same high. They stayed in the field until any threat of "heating" had passed, then they were dragged tthe corner of the field and built in to a few "hay rucks" for winter feed.

The method of dragging was that a rope was attached to the tractor drawbar, round the "cole" then back on the drawbar pin. My job was to stand on the drawbar holding on to the rope as my uncle drove the tractor at top speed (about 18 mph) to the next "cole". Health and Safety not even thought about!! I then had to take one end of the rope, run round the "cole" re-attach the rope to the drawbar. then back to the "cole" to loosely hold the rope about 6" off the ground, shout OK and the tractor was drawn forward to tighten the rope and me with, feet standing on the rope and balancing against the "cole" away across the "park" at top speed to where the "big" men were building the "ruck"

On one occasion, somehow my foot went down the back of the rope and I fell back, flat on the ground. My Uncle took off with me trailing behind but my shouts were drowned out by the roar of the exhaust from the old Fordson at full throttle! I was dragged for about 400 yards and suffered a bruised ankle but I was expected (and went ) out to drag the other "coles"...I was off school for a few days as I couldn't get my school shoe on that foot ( I had been wearing gym shoes and they were not allowed in class!)

This thread has brought back wonderful memories of a time long past but fondly remebered.


Thread: Deburing holes
18/10/2018 13:05:24

Back in my machining days we used a 90 degree countersink in a cordless drill to beburr holes for tapping and appearance. Our inspector would not accept any unchamfered holes and woe betide any draughtsman or designer who produced any design without the sharp edge removed! He was not averse to telling the boss that it was not acceptable but he was such a sharp guy that his position was secure. He could spot when there was an error in any project and must have saved the company a fortune over the years.


Thread: Hay bales
18/10/2018 12:51:47

Hi, Dave.

I believe you are probably right about the "thrash" expression but I didn't think about it at the time. The expression is still in use today in north east Scotland describing a determined pub crawl with nothing in particular to celebrate. just an excuse to have a hang-over for a few days!

To get back to the topic of this thread I wrote a paragraph about bales and I forgot to add it to the text!

When the straw came out of the end of the "mull" (Usually a Barclay Ross and Hutchison, made in Aberdeen) it was fed in to a horizontal baler with the most fearsome "nodding donkey" sort of serrated head that moved up and down about six feet and packed the straw in to the chamber where it was compressed by a square piston driven by a crank with an attached flywheel about six feet in diameter. I cannot remember the name of the baler after all this time but it was a most impressive bit of kit. The bales were about 1 cwt. in weight but awkward to handle, the tying string bit in to your hands and only bits of sacking wrapped around the fingers helped to prevent your fingers getting red raw, By the end of the day your shirt was covered with blood from your hands. The bales were then stacked in a square "soo" (it resembled a fat pig! The bales were stacked to put a pitch on the roof and covered with a canvas cover. This served as bedding for any animals over the summer and early winter.

17/10/2018 11:04:24

I remember when my grandfather cut round a field of corn (oats) with a sythe to allow his binder, an american Deering with a left-hand cut, to get round the field to begin the cutting. The binder was pulled by a Fordson tractor and was supplied as new with a drawbar but if you looked closely the brackets were still on the frame where shafts for converting to horse drawn were still there.

The sheaves were stacked on "stooks" of eight sheaves for a few days for drying in the wind and the sun. When they were dry they were forked on to a horse drawn wagon equipped with "shelvings" which allowed two rows of sheaves to be stacked, top and tail. They were then taken to the "corn yard" where the "rucks" were built on stone bases. This was a most important job as the "rucks" had to be built to the highest standard and with great pride as these would stand for many months for all the neighbouring farmers and visitors to see. They also had to with stand the worst of winter and it was a huge blow to a farmers pride if a "ruck" was blown down in a winter storm.

A "ruck" was dismantled every few weeks to allow the sheaves to be "thrashed" in the small mill at the farm for animal feed as required but in the spring any remaining "rucks" were "thrashed" by the "traivlin' mull" anbd the resulting corn sold as a cash crop to help the farm finances. The coming of the "mull" was the high point of the farming year as neighbouring farms sent their workers to man all the jobs that had to be done. The "mull" would arrive the night before and set up, often in darkness to start at 8 o'clock next morning. The "mull" crew had to be up at 5am if they had a steam engine but the coming of the Field Marshal tractor gave them a while longer in their beds!

The "thrash" went on all day but always concluded by 6pm. to allow the neighbouring farm workers to get home to their beds as they probably had to be back next morning to continue or at least move on to the next "thrash" 13 men and 2 women were needed to keep a "traivellin' mull" going and I very much doubt that you could get that amount of fit and able men within 25 square miles today!

This way of life ended by the late 60's as the availability and acceptance of combines took over although I remember a couple of brothers who used a binder for the last time about 1998!

Thread: Three flute drills
05/10/2018 17:53:01


Many years ago when I was an apprentice we had u-shaped steel castings that had cast in holes through the two lugs. The holes were 35mm (actually 1 3/8" !!) in diameter. As cast they were about 1" diameter. We used a 1 3/8" 3 flute drill to begin with but later we got 3 flute drills with a reamer section half way along. This enabled us to bolt the casting in a jig, drill and ream in one operation in an old Ward capstan in about 3 minutes, the previous time was nearer 10 minutes. It was so efficient we only needed to make them for 3 days a week to keep up with production instead of a full time job!

Thread: Vertex BS-0 dividing head ?
25/09/2018 13:06:07


When I was senior Engineer at a local University we bought some CNC mills.

The supplier included a few BT40 ER chucks but not nearly enough for our needs,

As we hadn't set enough aside in our budget to fully kit out all the machines we had to try and buy at a cheaper price. Some of the technicians weren't too happy about buying cheaper holders as they were working with REALLY expensive materials and precise jobs.

We bought a few Vertex chucks from a local supplier at about 40% of the mill manufacturers cost to see how they did. Within a few weeks the technicians said to buy Vertex in the future as they were superior to the original supplied chucks. We bought several hundred Vertex products after that and everything was 100% although we never bought a BS-0 dividing head.

Thread: Centroid Acorn
19/09/2018 10:44:13


I have a couple of Denford CNC machines, Orac lathe and Novamill mill.

They have both been converted to Mach 3 many years ago and work pretty well.

As Mach3 is now an old system and is not being updated I think I would like to move on to something that still has manufacturer support and can use more modern computer hardware.

Has anyone any experience/feedback on the Centroid Acorn system?


Thread: What a waste!
27/08/2018 10:03:22

Last year I bought a Bluetooth USB adaptor from Amazon.

My wife said "what have you been buying from Amazon, there's a big box in the hallway"

A box was there with a size of about 300mm x 200mm x 200mm with no weight and as far as I could see no USB adaptor! My good lady had a look and found the adaptor in a 30mm square plastic bag tucked under one of the bottom folds of the box. Luckily no plastic beads to fly out this time!

Packaging and delivery must have been more than I paid for the adaptor!

Thread: Aluminium thread strength
16/08/2018 11:36:46

Many years ago we used a lot of Italian made gearboxes and occasionally a couple of 8mm bolts would strip their thread for some reason. Using an insert was not really an option as there was a cross-hole in the way.

When we were having a look at another failure, one of our more experienced (older!) engineers said "replace the bolt with a 5/16" BSW one, a 60 degree thread is no use for aluminium!"

After negotiation with the gearbox manufacturer they supplied some boxes undrilled. We drilled and tapped them and had no more bother. About a year later the manufacturer started tapping the critical holes BSW and we never had another problem in the next 20 years we used them. The bolts are listed in their parts list as metric 7.97mm x 1.39mm pitch, (5/16BSW!)

Thread: UNEF to BSP adaptor - a question.
13/08/2018 10:34:47

I think you will find that on the taper fittings that the male and female angles are slightly different to ensure a line seat type of seal which is far more reliable that trying to match in (blue) the tapers.

Regarding regulators being fuel gas specific you will find that when you buy a regulator from a supplier usually in the box are the stickers for the various differnt gasses that it works with, the usual Propane, Butane and Acetylene and some I have never even heard of!

When I was working we had a huge Chemistery department and we had to make a lot of very odd fittings to connect equipment that came from all over the world. The technician had details of over 70 types of threads and he always found one that he had never seen before!


Thread: The colour of threshing machines.
05/08/2018 18:58:07

Re. The flat belt joining clips.

They were called Alligator Clips. About 15 years ago I was helping to clear out an old engineering store when I found an unopened cardboard box of these clips. I laid it aside to save it as almost everything was going in the skip. (I was almost crying!)

When it was time to go home I went to pick up my prized connectors. They were gone and I was told someone had picked them up, looked at them, said "these are no use now" and had thrown them in the bottom of the skip!!

Oh well, I probably wouldn't have used them anyway.

Thread: Hand files for aluminium
05/08/2018 12:42:31

Many years ago I was installing some equipment at a company that made some sort of military items. (they couldn't tell me what it was for, offiial secrets etc.)

They had aluminium castings of various sizes and the had to fit in to other bits very precisely. They used hand files unlike anything I had ever seen or seen since. They didn't have conventional file sort of teeth, more like a diamond file but sort of squeezed out of the file body. They had a range of them from about 18 inches long down to about 2 inches. They removed metal superbly and never clogged up like a conventional file. They said they had different grades for different grades of aluminium and the correct type had to be used.

I asked if they had any to spare as I thought they were brilliant but they said that I would need a far higher level of security clearance before I could even apply for one!!

There did not appear to have a makers name on them and I have never seem anything even remotely similar in 50 years of engineering.

Anybody used or seen anything similar?

Thread: Supplier for a Drill Chuck Key
02/07/2018 11:02:14

This can be a minefield!

A few years ago we bought a brand new Jacobs 1/2" drill chuck. The supplied key was too big in the pin diameter.

The supplier tried to get the correct key from Jacobs but after 5 attemps to supply the correct key they sent everything back to get things sorted out. The chuck came back with the wrong key again! I found a phone number among the correspondence in the box for Jacobs. The guy I phoned said that they had many complaints about the key not fitting but they could do nothing about it as it was the correct key!!

We pressed out the handle and machined the pin to the correct size. Job done!

We then did the same for any chucks that the supplier got in to stock.

"The paperwork says it will fit so it must fit"


Thread: Where can I get this hole aligning tool
26/04/2018 15:05:36

Hi, Sam.

Try these guys

They have every variation of Cleco type pins you could think of and they seem to have large stocks.

A satisfied customer.


Thread: Phone Scam
24/04/2018 13:08:57


I had a guy saying there was a problem with my computer and I played him along for a while until he said "I cannot see you computer screen" to which I replied "Thats strange I can see yours and I see from your IP address that you are in Chennai, India" .

The line went dead instantly and I haven't heard from them again.


Thread: English dialect
16/04/2018 12:37:42

I am from North-east Scotland and it is still possible to tell where a local born person was brought up.

A resident of Peterhead has a different dialect and words than someone who was Boddam born/raised. A distance of 3 miles! Fraserburg (The Broch) is very differnt from a resident of Cairnbulg (Bulger) about 2 miles apart.

The most outstanding dialect is probably from New Pitsligo (Kyack) which was originall populated by people displaced by the Highland Clearances. It is still possible to pick out a "Kyacker" if listening in a hub-bub of conversation.

These dialects are disappearing but not all that quickly. It is quite common for parents who moved to the area from the south of the country to find that after a few months they cannot understand what their children are saying as they seem to love to use the local Doric tongue picked up at school. Doric is closely related to Danish/Dutch/Flemish and my Dutch friends can understand what is being said quite easily!

Thread: Where have all the Mondeo's gone
09/04/2018 14:26:08

Many years ago we were having constant problems with a batch of GEC motors.

One of our engineers was really worked up about it and tried to get a resolution with the company. He was getting nowhere and as a joke another engineer said "You should phone them up and ask for Arnold Weinstock" The first engineer hadn't got a clue who Arnold Weinstock was so that is exactly what he did and got through to the top man in a few minutes. He explained the problems he was having and quoting serial numbers etc. was told that Mr Weinstock would see in to the problem. Within about a week a box of replacement motors was delivered with an enclosed letter. It was only when he read the letter that he realised that the man he had spoken to was the big boss himself!

I wonder how many of todays captains of industry would answer the phone to a lowly engineer.


Thread: Aldi Calipers...
23/03/2018 15:43:18

I bought a couple of these digital verniers from Aldi in April/May last year. model No.94154. I don't have the receipt as it was on the good lady's shopping trip and her purse has a clear-our every few weeks.

I wasn't really worried as they were just for spares and they were CHEAP!

I used one last week and noticed that the display was adding 0.200" to the total when I moved over about a 18.5mm reading. By opening and closing the vernier it was possible to get the reading up to nearly a meter! The increase was always 5.08mm (0.200" which makes me think the error may be in the conversion part of the chip.

I took it back to the store but with no receipt then no refund. The manager said it could be more than 3 years old but when I pointed out the production date of 02/2017 he said it was working OK and just to use the zero button as that is what it was for!!

Anyone else have similar problems or is it just a one off problem and I should probably put in our electronic waste box.


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