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Swarf, Mostly!

offline Member Offline
County/State: Hampshire
Country: United Kingdom

More about me:

There's a thread 'out there' that says we each ought to have a profile - here's mine:

I am retired and live in Hampshire. I trained as an electronics engineer, initially through a sandwich course with EMI, 1954-58. Our first factory attachment (at EMI Feltham) was spent in the trainee modelshop where we made spanners and toolmakers' clamps. Then we moved on to the lathe (they had a row of six Myford ML7s with 'Ministry of Supply' labels on them) to make a scriber and a centre punch and then the screws for the clamps.

Some of my fellow course-mates hated the trainee model-shop but it was obvious to me that the best approach was to take an interest in what was on offer there.  EMI, Feltham, at that time, was a super place to train as any sort of engineer because it was the time of the 'cost-plus' defence contracts which made it most profitable for the firm to do as much as possible in-house rather than sub-contracting to outside firms.  That meant that they had a lot of interesting departments whose staff were only too pleased to answer questions from keen trainees.

About that time I discovered that a fellow course member had a copy of 'The Amateur's Lathe' by Laurence Sparey; I borrowed and read that and soon got my own copy.

In 1960 I got my first house and soon built a 10' x 8' workshop to house my first lathe, a 5.5" Carl Hurth.  After a couple of years or so, that lathe (and house) had to go because of some domestic upheaval.

 By 1970, I had a house again, in Romford, Essex.  The ML7 retail price had just gone up from £96 to £105 for which you got the lathe plus a pair of centres, two spanners and an allen key but no motor or chucks.  So I bought a second-hand ML7 which was rather better accessorised.  I became a regular customer at Dunballs in the Brentwood Road who were Myford stockists and steadily added accessories and attachments to the ML7.

At that time, I was working for Plessey who had a most enlightened Staff Sales system - employees could buy anything that was a standard stores item for what Plessey paid for it plus 10%.  The company bought and stocked so much mild steel and other materials that their purchasing power commanded very keen prices resulting in some very friendly staff sales prices.  They had a similarly enlightened system for disposing of scrap and surplus material; basically, an authorised person came to the department and 'eyeballed' the item or material concerned, the departmental head confirmed that it was scrap, the authorised person named a price, took the money and wrote out a chit that transferred ownership to the employee.  For instance, our Lab storekeeper declared that one of his store 'bins' was scrap.  It was a 6' high and 3' wide rack with adjustable shelves, except that this one had lost all its shelves but two.  I paid the princely sum of five shillings for it.  We had a workshop attached to the Lab and I spent several lunch hours cutting up the parts of that 'bin' and modifying them to form the stand for my ML7.  All I had to add was some angle iron (staff sales again), some nuts & bolts and some grey paint.  There was even enough sheet material from the back-plate of the 'bin' to make the drip-tray.

Promotion in that job did bring a degree of stress and I often found it difficult to leave the job 'at work'.  This wasn't good for me or for my wife.  I discovered that if I spent an hour or two in the workshop after dinner and put a bit of metal in the lathe chuck and presented a tool to it, I couldn't think of anything else - it demanded total attention and the worries of the working day were dispelled.  It didn't really matter whether I actually made anything or not (though I did, usually attachments for the lathe or other workshop items).  I believe that those hours at the lathe saved my sanity and my marriage and it's out of respect for that benefit that I chose 'Swarf, Mostly' as my nickname for this forum.

In parallel with establishing my workshop, I started a collection of Model Engineer magazine.  This built upon an initial gift of a pile of the magazines added to by a subscription.  I also bought unbound volumes from a gentleman in Tenterden (or was it Biddenden) who bought and sold back numbers of ME to raise funds for the Kent & East Sussex Light Railway.  Eventually, my collection comprised fifty years worth of magazines - remember that, in the early years, ME was published weekly!

Life moved on - I changed jobs, was widowed, moved house, was made redundant, remarried, moved again and again, first from one part of Romford to another, then to Southampton, then to the part of Hampshire where I live now.  The ML7 has moved with me and currently shares a wooden workshop with two drilling machines and a Flexispeed mini horizontal mill.  Through eBay, I have added more attachments in recent years, most importantly the quick-change gearbox.  Fitting that is currently top of the job-list.

I hope that's enough of a profile!  I've spent quite a lot of time and thought compiling it but I've no idea whether anyone has actually read it!!!   smiley


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Last online: 17/08/2022 13:47:51

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