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Clinging to the Past

or do new techniques always win?

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Kiwi Bloke19/08/2021 10:30:50
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SOD's post in the 'Converting Fractions to Decimals' thread contained "The history of engineering shows new techniques always win and it's a bad mistake to cling to the past. Discuss!" So I thought I would. It warrants its own thread.

I'm sure this quote isn't entirely correct: surely some techniques have blossomed and then withered. But it feels like it's correct: change is always happening, and seemingly accelerating. Often I wish it would stop. Why do new techniques seem to win? Are they always better, or just fashionable, or quicker, or cheaper, or is it because they are marketed more sucessfully? In today's hyped-up, media-driven society, new is good and old is so, well, last year.

I will continue to cling to the past. It's where I've spent the entirety of my life so far. I know about the past, and feel familiar with it, but I'm distinctly fuzzy about the future. I like manual machine tools and I like scraping, old techniques that keep delivering the goods.

Change for change's sake is foolish. It's so easy and cheap to mess around with software that functionality can be changed and added to computer-driven systems almost at a whim. Doing something just because it can be done is no justification. Software-driven systems are surely to be included in SOD's 'new techniques'. I hope they don't always win, or the human race is done for!

Over to you...

Martin Kyte19/08/2021 11:07:16
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Decimals are fractions or a series of fractions .

2.17 is 2 + 1/10 + 7/100

Not so much clinging to the past but building on the past. Mathematics is the art of using the most convenient methodology to solve the problem in front of you. If you want to divide a lot of things by 2 for example fractional representations are quicker.

Horses for courses as they say.

regards Martin

JasonB19/08/2021 11:20:14
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Posted by Kiwi Bloke on 19/08/2021 10:30:50:

 

I will continue to cling to the past. It's where I've spent the entirety of my life so far. I know about the past, and feel familiar with it, but I'm distinctly fuzzy about the future. I like manual machine tools and I like scraping, old techniques that keep delivering the goods.

But what do you define as "the past", I assume you don't use a pole or treadle lathe and have one of those new fangled electric motors to run itdevil

And I did not see anyone in the conversion thread saying they used an abacus.

Edited By JasonB on 19/08/2021 11:20:53

Ramon Wilson19/08/2021 11:22:46
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Posted by Kiwi Bloke on 19/08/2021 10:30:50:

SOD's post in the 'Converting Fractions to Decimals' thread contained "The history of engineering shows new techniques always win and it's a bad mistake to cling to the past. Discuss!" So I thought I would. It warrants its own thread.

 

Change for change's sake is foolish. (My Italics)

Over to you...

 

Well Kiwi I couldn't agree more but progress is always based on what's gone before so it's a constantly moving stream.

But, and it's a big but from my perspective - for the most part those who persue, or intend to persue, 'model engineering' as a hobby usually have an 'active' intention rather than to sit in an armchair and pontificate.

For me my 'model engineering' is very much about making something of the past with past skills. That is based on beginning as a total amateur - re-training and then earning a living from employment as a machinist (note the term). This has stood me well over many years and I can still produce what I desire to make, with resonable effect, from basic hand and machining skills learn that which to today's 'machinist' might expect only be produced on modern computer assisted machines.

I don't expect anyone to live in the past with me but I am happy to pass on anything I have learnt over the years to anyone who has the desire to do likewise. That does not mean no one should consider the modern approach but I'd hazard a good guess there are far more of the few that do take an active interest who want to produce a simple oscillator or a Stuart model than anything esoteric requiring modern technology.

I've said it before - I'm a dino-sore (I know, sore being the operative word) but what is model engineering about if it isn't making something cohesive. Does one tell someone 'this' or 'there' is an easy way to go about a job based on skills from the past or do you tell them they need to learn CAD and purchase CNC kit before they make that first cut???

As always it's choice, down to the individual to assess, they alone to choose. But, to me advice should always be given based on fact and experience and not just what's thought might be the way to go.

So yes, I will cling to my past, willing to help anyone who may benefit - the future I leave well alone for others to persue

 

Regards - Tug

 

 

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 19/08/2021 11:24:58

Mick B119/08/2021 11:29:05
2023 forum posts
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I worked in the software industry - specifically MRP/MRP2/ERP systems - for more than 30 years.

There is no industry I know of more expert in disregarding and discarding bodies of knowledge built up over previous decades. I've seen it happen over 4 generations of applications. It's breathtakingly wasteful, and may even have played a signifcant part in industrial decline.

Far from clinging to the past, there are some sectors too eager to edit it out...

pgk pgk19/08/2021 11:30:00
2324 forum posts
293 photos

"New techniques always win"

The answer to that is a yes and no. It's logical to accept that there will be progression in all things but such progression is often of the 3 steps forwards and 2 back because it can take time or a heck of a lot of testing before the new method is thoroughly proven. And if that time period is excessive, then there is a good chance that a simpler or better old method has become lost or forgotten. Tarting up a tower block with cladding springs to mind. Or sheathing your tall ship in copper but then using iron nails.


Paradoxically it's often a harmonisation of an old technique with the benefits of new tech that might give the best result.

I can't give easy engineering examples 'cos I’m just a post retirement hobbyist but I came across several occasions in my old profession where historical techniques I'd come across from aged mentors were no longer being taught to new graduates and proved far better for a subset of patients than the latest gold standard approach. The argument there being a failure to fully categorise the case and the loss of past experience.

pgk

Nicholas Farr19/08/2021 11:51:57
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Hi, well there are more photos and documentation of myself and things that I've made in the past, than there is likely to be in the future. smiley

OK! I'll go and get on with something else.

Regards Nick.

Nicholas Wheeler 119/08/2021 12:04:55
744 forum posts
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Posted by Martin Kyte on 19/08/2021 11:07:16:

Not so much clinging to the past but building on the past. Mathematics is the art of using the most convenient methodology to solve the problem in front of you.

 

I would replace mathematics with getting things done.

Simple jobs have simple solutions, like using a container big enough for what you're trying to put in it.

Complicated jobs can have simple solutions too, like refusing to do it because Sid next door has the appropriate kit to do it faster, better, cheaper and all while the customer waits.

You and I might approach a job in very different ways because our equipment/experience/budget(which should always include time) differ to the same extent.

 

A new technique might only improve one aspect of the job, which could make it irrelevant for other workers. Drawing the line between change for its own sake and why am I only finding out about this now isn't easy

Edited By Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 19/08/2021 12:08:10

Edited By Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 19/08/2021 12:08:49

Vic19/08/2021 12:21:36
2920 forum posts
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I like to keep an open mind. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better. The reverse can also be the case. laugh

Seen on Social Media:

24682aee-4069-49cf-af69-df5e5e043402.jpeg

Martin Kyte19/08/2021 12:33:52
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Posted by JasonB on 19/08/2021 11:20:14:
Posted by Kiwi Bloke on 19/08/2021 10:30:50:

 

I will continue to cling to the past. It's where I've spent the entirety of my life so far. I know about the past, and feel familiar with it, but I'm distinctly fuzzy about the future. I like manual machine tools and I like scraping, old techniques that keep delivering the goods.

But what do you define as "the past", I assume you don't use a pole or treadle lathe and have one of those new fangled electric motors to run itdevil

And I did not see anyone in the conversion thread saying they used an abacus.

Edited By JasonB on 19/08/2021 11:20:53

I have a work colleague who uses a pole lathe. I would class it as appropriate technology. It dismantles and he can take it into the woods with him and turn all his bits there. The nearest power point is miles away.

regards Martin

Oh and they also use a horse for moving felled trees as they can go where tractors don't.

 

Edited By Martin Kyte on 19/08/2021 12:35:03

not done it yet19/08/2021 12:59:47
6350 forum posts
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Posted by Martin Kyte on 19/08/2021 11:07:16:

Decimals are fractions or a series of fractions .

2.17 is 2 + 1/10 + 7/100

Not so much clinging to the past but building on the past. Mathematics is the art of using the most convenient methodology to solve the problem in front of you. If you want to divide a lot of things by 2 for example fractional representations are quicker.

Horses for courses as they say.

regards Martin

Martin, you omitted writing the integer as 2/1 to ‘fractionise’ all parts of the decimal number.🙂

Changing from Lsd to decimal currency is now virtually universally accepted, but lb and oz still doggedly persist for some buyers (and sellers, too). I suspect that a lot of Troy ounces still abound? Grains are still in use by some, too.

We in the UK still have miles to contend with, along with mpg.

An awful lot of people would not know their metric height and weight, either! And that includes some in the younger sector of the population.

It is undoubtedly easier to add and multiply with base 10 numbers - manipulating old imperial values is likely hard work, or impossible, for the younger generations.

Some ‘modern inventions’, such as DROs and digital calipers, which offer instantaneous conversion between systems will eventually convert us ‘hobby machinists’ - even if only by the fact that most using imperial units will wither away. Keepin mind, though, that models of imperial machines are still easier to shrink by factors of two four six and twelve.

Boxes of tins, etc are often still better sized as dozens - although 5 x 4 (for smaller items) is not a bad format. There are not many boxes which hold ten units.🙂 Six by four offers good inter-locking overlapping when making stacks and may need to become more favourable, rather than holding palletised stacks together with plastic shrink wrapping.

In reply to KB - the answer is invariably “cheaper”. Accountants are not practical in their profession, just money accounters.

John Reese19/08/2021 22:14:19
990 forum posts

I hate fractions. I especially hate the foot, inch, fraction dimensions used in architecture or the degree, minute, second measurements in surveying. I convert everything to decimals.

Nigel Graham 219/08/2021 22:44:40
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"hate" is rather a strong word, John!

There is a case for using decimal fractions of degrees, yes, but the angular degree as 1/360 of a complete roat6ion has a great many geometrical advantages over a base-10 primary angle unit. I think the French tried a 100º right-angle but it was soon dropped because it is clumsy, with fewer factors.

(I know the "official" SI angle-unit is the radian but while that greatly facilitates many physics and engineering calculations it is not a very practical unit for manufacturing objects, navigation etc. So the degree is accepted by the SI: you use the better for the application.)

Surely though, if we avoid the sort of new-broom traps Mick B1 reports being so common in computer-programming, the whole point of Engineering is not to cling to the past?

Read an Edwardian engineers' reference-book or machine-tool catalogue and you are just as likely to see adjectives like "modern" and "latest" as you would in a comparable publication now; 100 years later.

If a craftsman from the Middle Ages were to come back and see a modern workshop in his own trade he would certainly recognise many of the hand-tools and soon see the principles of what the machines are doing. That is because no-one has invented better types of saw, hammer, chisel, files, square, dividers; simply improved their materials and a few details. However, once convinced that this strange elektrickery stuff is not magick, I reckon he'd wish they'd had such things in his day!

not done it yet19/08/2021 23:07:29
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School children hate fractions, I reckon (not so easy to use them on a calculator).

As a ‘starter’ I used to see who could first work out a long fraction multiplication question. In reality virtually all the fractions would cancel, leaving a simple bit of maths afterwards.

Most maths questions, at GCSE level, fall apart to provide an easy calculation for the answer. Students often make themselves hard work, by calculating each small part as they work through the question.

That alone sorts out the good from the lesser ability students as it saves so much time for the more able students to finish all the questions, with plenty of time to check back for any obvious errors.

Bill Pudney20/08/2021 01:26:57
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During my working life I saw the diminution and/or elimination of many traditional skills. In my World when I was a young man, draftsmen were a highly skilled and vital part of an engineering enterprise. To become a draftsman, one of the prerequisites was to be a time served apprentice in a relevant field, this didn't mean that because you had done an apprenticeshio as a pastry chef you could reasonably be qualified to become, for instance, a draftsman in a machine tool business. When I left school at the age of about 17, the company where I did my apprenticeship employed about 40 to 50 degree qualified Engineers, across all disciplines, mechanical, aerodynamics, stress, electronics etc etc. At that time there were about 250 to 300 draftsmen. The total number of employees were between 3,000 and 3,500. When I retired about 13 years ago, the company where I worked employed several hundred degree qualified Engineers, and less than a dozen draftsmen. Most of the young engineers were employed as CAD operators pretending (my description) to be draftsmen

I spent a large part of the last twenty or so years of my working life running informal Design For Manufacture courses, because most of the Engineers had absolutely no idea how to make anything. Most had no idea what the difference was between a lathe and a mill for instance, let alone what each could do. They were superb at data and model manipulation, and so on but basically had not got the "link" between what was on the screen and what was or was not being produced.

Then there are the traditional trades, for instance Fitters........these days because widgets can be made so accurately the need for "fitting" has almost disappeared. Now the task is simply "assemble", the only requirement being the ability to read simple instructions........

cheers

Bill

Michael Gilligan20/08/2021 07:25:32
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Have you ever wondered why the square array of mounting holes on NEMA stepper motors have such ‘awkward’ dimensions ?

4eb2c0bc-cefb-4b95-b7d7-39a8c5cdb911.jpeg

If nobody gets it, I will post the explanation later.

MichaelG.

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 20/08/2021 07:38:34

Neil Lickfold20/08/2021 07:57:22
720 forum posts
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Well old fashion toolmakers who know how to refit new parts to a hobbed or used part are very thin on the ground now. The young ones make the part to the cad model, but have no idea about making it fit and bluing in the parts.

Neil Lickfold20/08/2021 08:02:19
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MichaelG In your example it is 2-5/8 PCD

JasonB20/08/2021 08:05:08
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Posted by Michael Gilligan on 20/08/2021 07:25:32:

Have you ever wondered why the square array of mounting holes on NEMA stepper motors have such ‘awkward’ dimensions ?

 

If nobody gets it, I will post the explanation later.

I won't spoil it just yet with an answer.

EDIT Nick beat me to it.

Edited By JasonB on 20/08/2021 08:05:39

Michael Gilligan20/08/2021 08:12:30
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Posted by Neil Lickfold on 20/08/2021 08:02:19:

MichaelG In your example it is 2-5/8 PCD

.

That was very quick, Neil yes

**LINK**

http://www.piclist.com/Techref/io/stepper/nemasizes.htm

MichaelG.

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