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Let's hear it for British manufacturing!

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Howard Lewis08/08/2018 18:53:02
2327 forum posts
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The rot set in when some genius thought that more money could be made shuffling bits of paper around, rather than making things. he forgot about the "better mousetrap".

Britain has always been good at innovating, you will need a large sheet of paper on which to write the names of the Brits who started the Industrial Revolution, and made Britain the Workshop of the World.

WE are good at innovating; and then giving away the design, and poor at ensuring that the quality is good.

if we had followed the precepts of an American (deeming) as the Japanese did, we might still have a viable motorcycle car and truck industries (to name but a few).

Sinclair products were good at innovation, but totally useless at maintaining quality.

I am biased, but Perkins Engines are still in the vanguard of technology. In addition to production, they are the only R & D centre other than Peoria, Illinois, for Caterpillar, worldwide.

We are good at inventing I T chips, but they are mass produced abroad!

Push me off the soapbox, please.

Howard

Russell Eberhardt08/08/2018 19:26:02
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2480 forum posts
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What is important is not a few small (or even not so small) excellent manufacturers in the UK but the balance of trade in goods. This is depressing.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/263630/trade-balance-of-goods-in-the-united-kingdom/

Russell

Bodger Brian08/08/2018 19:56:07
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thy Posted by Mick B1 on 08/08/2018 16:49:26:
Posted by Bodger Brian on 08/08/2018 13:12:57:

Maybe your definition of wealthy is different to mine but I'm struggling to see how Cowells machine tools can be claimed to be only available to a wealthy minority, given that the current price for a new ME90 lathe is £2700 +VAT & that locomotives & traction engines are featured in the For Sale section here at prices ranging up to £9000. You only need a decent quality lathe & mill (of whatever make) and you won't be far off of that £2700.

...

Brian

When I needed a miniature lathe I found I could've bought about 7 Sieg C0s for the price of a Cowells, with relatively little functional difference. Of course it's up to individuals how they spend their money, but price has to have a fairly low position in the priority stakes to justify such a purchase IMO.

I agree entirely that it’s up to indivuals how they they spend their money - that was the point that I was attempting to make. What I was questioning was the assertion that Cowells machines are only for a wealthy few. By that standard, given the prices that are asked for completed models, as well as the monetary worth of the contents of the average workshop seen here, model engineers must rank amongst the mega-rich!

Brian

Roger Williams 208/08/2018 20:19:17
331 forum posts
1 photos

Dont forget Rolls Royce jet engines. Newall DRO's still made here too. ( I hope !)

Sophie Hawthorne08/08/2018 21:00:40
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Although we're unlikely to register massively in the economy of this small island my company, Hawthorne & Beauchamp Motorcycles is part of a small but beautifully formed supply chain here in the Midlands of the UK manufacturing and supplying parts to keep mainly vintage and classic Norton motorcycles running and on the road. I can guarantee that all parts are cast, machines and assembled here in the UK. We build such things as Twin Leading Shoe front brake assemblies, replicas of Norton's production racing item as fitted to their Norvil race bikes. We cast, machine and assemble such components as oil pumps, magneto replacement housings as well as repairs and modifications to engines and running gear.

I'm very proud of our, almost, cottage industry which I fell into with my partner who carries out all the welding and fabrication. I indeed fell into the engineering business purely by accident when I finally realised that my history degree wasn't going to pay the bills and put a roof over our head in a country which knows little of it's heritage and cares somewhat less.

Russell Eberhardt09/08/2018 10:19:13
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Posted by Sophie Hawthorne on 08/08/2018 21:00:40:

I'm very proud of our, almost, cottage industry

So you should be. From little acorns great oaks grow.

Russell

John Parry 409/08/2018 12:07:30
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8 forum posts

An interesting read of all the above posts, but I am somewhat surprised no one has mentioned Medical equipment. Are we not the place to go to for the latest and best in Hi Tech equipment for hospitals ?

Neil Wyatt09/08/2018 12:47:54
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16562 forum posts
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Posted by Bodger Brian on 08/08/2018 19:56:07:

model engineers must rank amongst the mega-rich!

Brian

Perhaps not, but the fact is that model engineering can be one of the more expensive hobbies - the vast majority of model engineers have taken up the hobby seriously on becoming 'empty nesters'.

That said, the availability of more inexpensive imported machines in the last 25 years has done much to widen the audience for the hobby. they vastly outnumber the availability of second-hand machines and without them second hand kit would also be much more expensive.

Neil

Bill Phinn09/08/2018 13:23:54
202 forum posts
39 photos
Posted by Sophie Hawthorne on 08/08/2018 21:00:40:

I'm very proud of our, almost, cottage industry which I fell into with my partner who carries out all the welding and fabrication. I indeed fell into the engineering business purely by accident when I finally realised that my history degree wasn't going to pay the bills and put a roof over our head in a country which knows little of it's heritage and cares somewhat less.

It's good to hear stories like this.

I'm not sure how our country compares with other countries in caring about its heritage, but I do know that much of the emphasis across both the state and charitable sectors has been on preserving the material heritage with little emphasis on preserving the skills that created that material heritage in the first place. Part of the problem is that the custodians of our heritage are rarely hands-on technicians or craftspeople themselves and they blithely and mistakenly assume that the skill-base for the creation of all sorts of handmade artefacts is as alive and well as it was say a hundred years ago.

Sophie Hawthorne09/08/2018 14:44:19
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Posted by Bill Phinn on 09/08/2018 13:23:54:
Posted by Sophie Hawthorne on 08/08/2018 21:00:40:

I'm very proud of our, almost, cottage industry which I fell into with my partner who carries out all the welding and fabrication. I indeed fell into the engineering business purely by accident when I finally realised that my history degree wasn't going to pay the bills and put a roof over our head in a country which knows little of it's heritage and cares somewhat less.

It's good to hear stories like this.

I'm not sure how our country compares with other countries in caring about its heritage, but I do know that much of the emphasis across both the state and charitable sectors has been on preserving the material heritage with little emphasis on preserving the skills that created that material heritage in the first place. Part of the problem is that the custodians of our heritage are rarely hands-on technicians or craftspeople themselves and they blithely and mistakenly assume that the skill-base for the creation of all sorts of handmade artefacts is as alive and well as it was say a hundred years ago.

I have lived and worked in Germany and Greece in the past and found that many Germans in particular seemed to have a good grasp of their history, literature and arts. Obviously both these countries had very different and turbulent pasts. I have to admit I was struck by the interest of their young in these subjects.

We, my partner and I, are rather fortunate in that we both come from that make do and mend generation of the 60's and 70's. We are also fortunate in that a wonderful Birmingham toolmaker has taken us under his wing and mentored us through till the present. He is in his mid 70's and still working hard but always has time to discuss a problem or point us in the right direction. I think the good people we have been lucky enough to come into contact with have taught us so much and more to the point inspired us to push ourselves.

I will admit that I'm personally saddened by the decline in the UK's engineering prowess but as is life, things are never simple nor lend themselves to easy solutions. We often drive past the remains of the Cincinnati factory in Birmingham. I'm told that companies like this were doomed from the day someone connected a ball screw to a servo motor and a computer controller.

KWIL09/08/2018 15:25:10
3117 forum posts
56 photos

The Cincinnati factory in Birmingham was of course the UK arm of its US parent.

I can remember in the 1950s the servos and computer controllers being fitted to these machines by EMI at Hayes in Middlesex

Howard Lewis10/08/2018 18:46:34
2327 forum posts
2 photos

A very good point that we need to save, not only the Heritage artifacts, but the skills that made them, and to maintain and operate them, for future generations.

We have already lost a lot of the skills of the handle twirlers, fitters, blacksmiths, boilermakers and foundrymen who produced the originals.

Howard

Neil Wyatt10/08/2018 19:27:50
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16562 forum posts
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Wasn't the late Neville Evans originally part of the 'new Norton' manufacturing?

Neil

Speedy Builder510/08/2018 20:54:25
1815 forum posts
127 photos

KWILL, in 1974, Cincinnati Milacron the electronic control systems company set up shop in Bedford UK, supplying controls to Cincinnati in Birmingham. Later importing the US controls and retrofitting them for the UK market. When CNC was introduced as opposed to NC, Milacron invented their own computer which was adapted to a minicomputer (CIP 2200) with disc drives (25 Mb hard drives - WOW !). **LINK**
Milacron moved to Biggleswade (The old home of Cincinnati Broach and grinding division) in about 1980 and eventually folded in about 1990.
In 2007, Cincinnati Birmingham disappeared. This could make you cry **LINK**

BRITISH or perhaps American - but lost.

SillyOldDuffer10/08/2018 22:33:14
4699 forum posts
1010 photos

Some of you chaps seem determined to believe British industry is done for, on the rocks, sunk, and pushing up the daisies!

Not so. True that British industry no longer looks like it did in the past. It's just that we've moved on from John Masefield's:

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

British industry today is slightly more profitable overall than British industry in the past. Is that a sign of failure? I suggest it means that in the rose tinted past large numbers of British firms were underperforming. For whatever reason, too many had slipped from success into the loss making mire. Many causes, but one serious mistake was to underestimate foreign competition. There was a golden age between 1945 and 1960 when most of the rest of the world were busy reconstructing after WW2. No wonder many have fond memories of the 1950s - they were swimming with the tide. As all things must, those happy days came to an end. Gradually making a living from manufacturing started to get difficult because other people can make ordinary stuff just as well as we can. They did, and, often using new modern plant, they were able to do it cheaper as well.

When things aren't going well you have to change. Reinforce success, not failure. That's exactly what British industry has done - they've gone up-market, dumped unprofitable enterprises, and started new ones.

A very unpleasant and painful process with many horrible mistakes and examples of baby being thrown out with the bathwater. But the survivors are doing rather well. What's left is to be proud of, they're doing a good job even if they don't want to make affordable hacksaw blades and twist-drills for retired model engineers.

Dave

Jon10/08/2018 22:42:29
988 forum posts
46 photos

Well done Sophie theres few of us alike.

We used to do certain machine tooling and grinding for Milacron Brum as far as i can remember till early 90's.

Problem is its the current and past generations supporting buying foreign goods, like it or not. Buying foeign stuff meant long term losing their own jobs and industry, we now have nothing except cittgae industry and a few select specialist businesses.

Some may say Hondas and other Ja cars are made here, theyre not just assembled and profits go back to the Head Quarters same with JLR profits go to India.

David George 111/08/2018 07:38:19
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914 forum posts
307 photos

As a lately retired toolmaker I did a lot of work for a company called Denso in Telford. They make primarily what they call cooling units for motor Vehicles which are radiators with all the fittings and wireing and brackets to go into a car lorry or van for many makes and around the world. They get in the raw materials and make most parts though not screws and bolts. They have a production line that presses the radiator metal parts and welds / solders the parts for the core they plastic mould all the tanks for the tops and bottoms they mould the cooling fans and most parts they assemble all the parts and supply the finished radiator to be plugged in to the vehicle. It is a huge site and employs about a 1000 people on site but the tool supliers and other sub contractors is also massive. There are other supliers around the country like Denso as I have worked on similar tooling for headlights and door parts as well.

David George

Phil Stevenson24/08/2018 11:12:41
73 forum posts
13 photos

Harking back to the wonders of current British manufacturing, I wasn't aware until now that the mighty Guhring have a manufacturing plant in Birmingham. **LINK**

Juddy24/08/2018 12:18:35
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60 forum posts
Posted by Howard Lewis on 10/08/2018 18:46:34:

A very good point that we need to save, not only the Heritage artifacts, but the skills that made them, and to maintain and operate them, for future generations.

We have already lost a lot of the skills of the handle twirlers, fitters, blacksmiths, boilermakers and foundrymen who produced the originals.

Howard

And what will future generations do with the Heritage artefacts and the skills that made them, I doubt very much they will have a real use in the electronic future.

Juddy24/08/2018 12:24:56
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60 forum posts

The post I made about tractor manufacture deems to have been missed - 17000+ tractors produced per year with a turnover of just under a Billion per year. Exporting 85% of production all over the world. The flagship plant of Case New Holland. Many of the components made in the UK. The registered company HQ is here in the UK, so tax is paid in the UK as well.

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