The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
Tools Of Steel — Part VII
Our problem has difficulties of its own, but the greatest of these difficulties is the one which we make ourselves—it is the false conception that the problem is insoluble.
—Sir John Seeley.
Times have changed. With the change sheer necessity compels a change of methods. In the new industrial era the old guilds and handicrafts have largely disappeared. The mental life of the workers has been revolutionised by the advent and ceaseless advance of the machine. The new regime has its disadvantages compared with the old, but it also has its advantages which unquestionably more than balance the scales in favour of the new. Admitting that there are still factors associated with modern industry that are disagreeable from an employee point of view, it is nevertheless true that, in increasing measure, science and co-operation are eliminating the disagreeable factors.
The intricacy of modern machines is such that those who work them cannot, as is sometimes said, be regarded as merely human automatons. Only the man devoid of imagination can fail to recognise the necessity for high mental capacity in this era of machinery and specialisation.
What Is A Specialist.
The world's greatest men gloried in specialisation—Shakespeare was a specialist in literature, Cromwell in drastic government reform, Nelson in daring naval strategy, and James Watt in the steam engine.
The most prominent men of to-day are specialists. Our best lawyers and doctors specialise—and win fame. The most successful business men specialise, and by so doing capture the markets of the world. Nobody that wants a tooth extracted cares to go to other than a qualified dentist, who, as a specialist, knows his job.
Specialisation, Recreation And Study.
Specialisation and machinery have increased production, and in consequence real wages have been increased and the hours of labour shortened. More time for recreation has produced a healthier life and provided a much wider margin for study. To the studious worker the new system opens up a field of research of unlimited interest; it presents a range and variety of problems in science and art hitherto unknown.
Theoretical as well as practical knowledge is necessary to-day if we would make a real success of our jobs. Tom Heeney would not have qualified for a world's championship by merely studying physical culture. It was necessar for him to go into the for him to go into the ring and test, in a practical manner, the theoretical knowledge he possessed. To excel as a swimmer, books will help, but swimming must be learnt in the water.
The Lathe And Specialisation.
The origin of the modern lathe is not far to seek. The lathe embraces a greater variety of types than any other machine tool. The class and quantity of work to be dealt with determines the type of lathe to be used. The lathe most common to the mind of the jobbing turner is the engine lathe. This particular lathe covers a very large range of work, and the tradesman who can thoroughly handle this machine tool can invariably be relied upon to get the best out of all other types.
The demand, however, for work in particular quantities has relegated the engine lathe to the tool room and millwright's shop. (Tool rooms to-day are usually supplied with what are termed page 37 tool room lathes, these lathes being merely a superior type of engine lathe that carry certain refinements essential for doing high-class and accurate work.)
The modern machine shop is divided into several groups of machines—the lathe invariably predominating. In that part of the shop where the turret lathes are placed all small batches of work are dealt with. To enable this particular group of machines to obtain a high standard of efficiency a wide knowledge of tool lay-outs is necessary. The machine operators in large shops do not determine their own lay-outs, neither do they set up their machines. Tool lay-outs are decided by members of the production staff and their setting up is done by a charge hand, whose job it is not only to set up these machines, but to keep the output up to a high standard of quantity and accuracy.
The turret lathe approaches the engine lathe in the wide range of work it is capable of performing, but exceeds it in output.
Just over thirty-five years ago the first turret lathes were introduced, and the cycle and gun trades were the first to take advantage of them and prove their efficiency. Like most new machine tools they were not well received by the rank and file. Time ultimately reconciled the operators to the inevitable, with the result that in the cycle trade, production multiplied, prices fell, and Great Britain, under a system of freetrade, not only held her home market but captured the world's largest share in the export trade, and provided more employment in this (then) new industry than any other country. British cycles and fittings became world famed, and up to this very day the British push bike still holds its own.