By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th


All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
colin calver25/09/2019 21:32:44
29 forum posts
4 photos

Gave the salsas assistant the dimensions of item I required h x w x d in millimetres. He stated no use to him as all items were measured in centimetres

Mick B125/09/2019 21:45:41
1720 forum posts
91 photos

I'd buy both dips and dancing lessons elsewhere... wink

David Davies 825/09/2019 22:39:45
126 forum posts
9 photos

Centimetres are an unusual unit used by maths teachers and dressmakers.

Radius is a mythical thing used by turners and mathematicians.

Real engineers use millimetres and diameter!

DiodeDick25/09/2019 22:40:29
5 forum posts
2 photos

I dropped in to a small sub-post office to buy stamps for the business. They only had 2nd class in sheets of 100. Not knowing the current price of a stamp, I asked how much that would be. The sales assistant picked up a calculator and was surprised to find that 100 stamps at 58p would cost £58.00!


R Johns26/09/2019 06:19:05
34 forum posts

Forget what I was buying. I was given the weight by a kid in grams. I asked "what's that in English" to which I just got a blank expression.

Tony Pratt 126/09/2019 06:50:05
1225 forum posts
5 photos

And we are led to believe our education system is so much better than it was, as GCSE results improve year on year, never really swallowed that onesmiley


Hollowpoint26/09/2019 08:34:04
337 forum posts
31 photos
Posted by Tony Pratt 1 on 26/09/2019 06:50:05:

And we are led to believe our education system is so much better than it was, as GCSE results improve year on year, never really swallowed that onesmiley


Most of today's youth certainly aren't more intelligent than older generations, they only seem interested in watching love Island and taking pictures of themselves. 😒 They are definitely less practical, I know lots of young people who can't even use a hammer. That said Ive seen a small resurgence in younger generations interested in crafts, you only have to look around YouTube to notice.

As a 30 something year old I'm kinda in the middle, though I have been described as an old soul on more than one occasion.

For balance I should also mention the swathes of old timers that absolutely refuse to measure in metric. 😂

roy entwistle26/09/2019 08:48:26
1250 forum posts

I admit to being one of the old timers ( 85 ) I insist on buying and measuring in imperial in fact when cutting clock wheels and pinions I convert from metric

A lot of metric things, paper for example although listed in metric convert to nice round numbers in imperial


Buffer26/09/2019 09:05:20
168 forum posts
46 photos


I was looking after my 14 year old nephew and I was breaking some concrete with a hammer. He asked if he could help so i gave him the hammer and the only thing he hit was the back of his head. A very nasty wound so your dead right.

Danny M2Z26/09/2019 09:05:56
892 forum posts
283 photos

Many years ago I went to The Melbourne PC Show.

I went late during the last afternoon to secure the demo bargains (easier for the vendor to sell off the exhibits off cheaply and write them off as a tax break).

Fastened my beady eyes onto some 1Mb memory chips (remember them) and asked if there were any 160 nano-sec chips available.

Salesperson said sadly " No, I only have 120 nano-sec memory chips left so you can have them at 50% of the 160 nano-sec price"

I grabbed all that I could afford while trying to keep a straight face. Saved hundreds of $$$ nerd

* Danny M *

AJW26/09/2019 09:11:23
306 forum posts
121 photos

Britain made itself Gt Britain with Imperial units, ever since we've been Metric it's been downhill!


Brian G26/09/2019 09:16:56
715 forum posts
28 photos
Posted by R Johns on 26/09/2019 06:19:05:

Forget what I was buying. I was given the weight by a kid in grams. I asked "what's that in English" to which I just got a blank expression.


I'm a youngster of 60, and the only things I weigh in pounds and ounces are hammers. (A 680g hammer seems overly precise to me).


Paul M26/09/2019 09:25:05
43 forum posts

I find it amusing when buying goods with cash when the sales assistant cannot work out change without the use of the electronic til or calculator. It would seem that mental arithmetic is beyond them. Is this a sign of being lazy or poor basic education? How would they have got on with pounds, shillings and pence?

I remember at infant school we had to recite our times tables every day, and had mental arithmetic tests every Friday afternoon. A good grounding in my opinion.

As for units of measurement, I prefer base 12 to base 10. Might be because I like to work with fractions. Half of ½ is ¼ etc.

To sum up this country, in my town you can find direction signs for pedestrians that make me laugh. Any distance less than a mile is in metres and any distance above a mile is in miles.

Graham Stoppani26/09/2019 10:03:02
83 forum posts
13 photos

I'm an ex-accountant and can still add up a column of figures in my head quicker than my son can on a calculator (and I'm much slower than I used to be). I love annoying him by giving him the answer half way through his calculations

SillyOldDuffer26/09/2019 10:03:28
6315 forum posts
1382 photos
Posted by R Johns on 26/09/2019 06:19:05:

Forget what I was buying. I was given the weight by a kid in grams. I asked "what's that in English" to which I just got a blank expression.

Is that surprising? The official UK decision to metricate generally was confirmed in 1965 and - apart from road signs - was pretty much complete by 1980. Anyone under forty is unlikely to have been taught 'English' units at school, and anyone under 60 who missed preparing for metrication as part of their education wasn't paying attention! You have to be at least 70 years of age to have been taught English units at school as the main system. Electrical units have been metric since mid-Victorian times.

To me weights and measures are just another tool. And like any other tool it should be improved, rationalised and changed as necessary to deliver better results. I think it's a bad mistake to see weights and measures as a National icon, somehow representing British culture and the good old days. I wonder how much shop-floor resistance to metrication damaged British industry when incomers trained at up-to-date Technical Colleges were told for forget all that rubbish by foremen trained before WW1?

The objection to the Imperial system is technical - it's internally inconsistent causing otherwise straightforward calculations to be riddled with weird conversions. Although fine for shopping and simple work Imperial is unnecessarily complicated and illogical as soon as the maths gets serious.

Some examples from my 1954 edition of 'Exercises in Workshop Mathematics for Young Engineers' illustrate the problem:

  1. What is the length of the side of a square field of area 10 acres?
  2. A rectangular tank of dimensions 10.75 in. by 8.5 in. by 7.25 in. is filled with water. Calculate its capacity (a) in cu.ft., (b) in gallons.
  3. A bar of steel is 3 in. square. If the steel weighs 0.28, find what length of bar will weigh 1 cwt.
  4. A bucket 15 in. high has a rim diameter of 12 in. and base diameter 10 in. How many gallons of water will it hold.

The 1954 questions are relatively gentle in that the input numbers are kept friendly and 'Young Engineers' were only required to give their answers in decimals of the main unit. Earlier textbooks demand answers broken down properly into Imperial sub-units. What is 5.154 gal. expressed as gallons, pints, and fluid ounces?

Attempting scientific and advanced engineering calulation in Imperial measure soon gets painful. What is a Poundal? In comparison, metric does a much better job keeping units rational. For example:

  • Force: 1 Newton is the force required to accelerate 1kg by 1 metre per second per second
  • Work: 1 Joule is the work done when an object is moved by a force of 1 Newton through 1 metre.
  • Power 1 Watt is Work done at the rate of 1 Joule per 1 Second

The Imperial system entirely lacks this simplicity, for example work can be measured in foot-tons, foot-pounds, inch-pounds or inch-ounces. Again as an exercise for defenders of English measure, how many inch-ounces are there in a foot-pound? Or Watts in a Horsepower?

Best place for Imperial is in a museum. Expecting young people to understand it is wasting their time, especially as most older folk don't understand it properly either.










Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 26/09/2019 10:05:10

Circlip26/09/2019 10:25:05
1197 forum posts

To measure in cms sums up the fact that todays "Dressmakers" panic when lengths are greater than single digits. As a greater than three score and ten member, I had to go bisexual in the early sixties when we were told "Everything in metric, Concord(e) and all that , so working in MILLIMETRES and IMPERIAL was never a problem, likewise £sd and decimal.

Parents had a pub and when serving, I always requested total order at one visit (as opposed to the numpties who would ask in singles). This allowed proper PULLING of pints and also ability to add up to present a total cost, then entering on the till keys which were marked initially with £sd and latterly in £p. Doesn't work today cos A. Goldfish have a longer memory span than many and B. The till keys have pictures of individual drinks now, luckily cos many youfs were away the day mafs were teached in skool.


Regards Ian.

Metric conversions? Used to spend half an hour (30mins) every Thursday fortnight (two weeks) converting imperial "Borderer" dimensions into metric because my V10 doesn't work in Imperial.

Edited By Circlip on 26/09/2019 10:26:10

Nick Clarke 326/09/2019 10:31:25
881 forum posts
30 photos

Reading Dave's post there is a lot I can agree with - the main one not is the 'over 70' bit. As I am not yet half way through my 60's I still find it strange that in Primary school we never used metric units - in fact the maths books still had farthings in the sums which were were told to just ignore. I used to be able to do multiplication and division of pounds shillings and pence. I doubt i could now (no need anyway) - those 10 shilling columns were the issue as far as can remember!

Having worked with Imperial units in junior school it seems, on reflection, as strange not to start using the first incarnation of Metric using centimetres, grammes and seconds in secondary school from day one, but to miss this step out completely and go straight in to the SI system with its kilograms, metres and seconds.

Must have just caught it at the wrong time!

Rik Shaw26/09/2019 10:50:10
1364 forum posts
373 photos

“Best place for Imperial is in a museum

My workshop is a museum? I quite like that and take it as a compliment.

Rik (73 and no.1 exhibit in my main gallery. Not yet mummified but a little dry and stiff.)

Stuart Bridger26/09/2019 11:29:59
476 forum posts
26 photos

I was taught in metric at school in the '70s. Started an apprenticeship in 1980 with British Aerospace and all apprentice training projects were imperial. The only "metric aircraft" at the time was Concorde, athough the airbus work was coming online. I do still "think" in imperial, I can visualise 5 thou but can and do work in both systems. Luckily my lathe has dual dials and I have a DRO on the mill.

bill ellis26/09/2019 11:35:13
71 forum posts
2 photos

Funny how the old brain works, I mix and match lengths depending on what I am doing, I will often use a bit of 50mm x 50mm steel and use a 6" length, or a metre of 4" square wood. If I'm fitting something to an existing space I'll use whichever system fits the gap best without habitually using one in preference to the other.

When machining stuff I tend towards imperial but am quite comfortable with either.

However I always use feet/inches when referring to a persons height (someone who is 1.68m tall means little to me, I'd have to convert it to imperial to actually visualise their height).

Same with a persons weight, I can visualise 14st but 89Kg is not as easy.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest