Changing To The Metric System

Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Sheldon Scott, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    Here's a story for you @Frank Sanoica

    I spent my career as a tool & die maker where precision measurements are a way of life. Many years ago there was a movement in the U.S. to change to the metric system. I was in favor of it but one of my bosses at the time was dead set against it. He wasn't very bright.
    The first things we had that were made to metric dimensions were huge molds that made the plastic liner that was the inside of a refrigerator. All the blue prints were in metric but most of our machinery wasn't capable of metric dimensions so we had to convert them to our system.
    I got the job of making a major change to the molds which involved turning them on their side and hoisting them onto a large bring mill and clamping them onto large angle plates, I the had to mill a slot about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch deep down the back of the mold, then take it off the machine and reset the angle plates to 45 degrees, hoist the mold back on the machine and continue the cut,
    Now my boss was a nervous wreck. This was our first job converting from metric and he was worried I might not have got the dimensions right.( he didn't have a clue how to do it).
    He left for awhile and I got started, finished the first part and had was setting the angle plates to q 45 degree angle when he came back around. Knowing how clueless he was about the metric system and how nwevous he was about this particular job, I decided to have a little fun. As I was starting to set the angle I said by the way, Glen, what's 45 degrees in metrics. He thought for a minute and said I don't know but I'll go find out. He went across the shop to the tool room office to ask, As lck would have it, instead of just the other foreman was in the office, this was the time of day the engineers were in the office having coffee, the place was packed with people. I could hear the roar of laughter all the way across the shop when he asked the question. He came out, his face red as a beet, gave me a cussin' and said you did that on purpose.
    I just grinned.
     
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  2. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Sheldon Scott What a great story, Sheldon! I had hoped that my message sent quite some time ago would get you to compare experiences; maybe you never got it. I should be more forward, but am reluctant to "go about more than once". As an add-on, I wonder what the boss would have done had you used Radians instead of Degrees?

    Here's one for you perhaps of interest. In 1970, a machine we were designing and building called for two "transfer beams", having an "H"-shaped cross-section, about 3 inches wide on top flange, 2 inches on bottom, web about two inches high. But, the beams were curved, me, having no idea what tolerance might be achievable making them, as they had a radius of curvature of 135 inches, I called out 135 +/- 0.010". Then I went about trying to locate a boring mill big enough to make them. Only one place in the Midwest (we worked out of Chicago) had one, Allis-Chalmers Company in Wisconsin. The diameter swung would be 22+ feet; their mill was 30 feet! Perfect. They chose not to quote the job!

    Locally, in Cicero, Illinois, Danly Machine Co., makers of huge mechanical punch presses, had a new tape-controlled milling machine. They liked making custom parts, made many for our machine, but balked at the curved beams. Neither we nor they knew exactly how smooth a "stepped" finish could be achieved programming the mill to generate the curvature. Bending the beams was absolutely out of the question, since they had to remain perfectly "in-line" to be supported by ball bearings which allowed the beams to slide back and forth. So, Danly took the job, but refused to guarantee holding the plus or minus ten-thousandths. All the other dimensions were cake! The beams were tool steel, forget the type, they stress-relieved the doggoned things several times during machining. Their programmer was right on the money. Made them for $700 apiece!! We brought them back to our office, where we had one of the beam-carriers set up in a big vise, ball bearings in place, started a beam at one end and it slid on, back and forth, like greasy butter!

    I'll dig out a few pics for you. I am quite happy to state this time I am NOT off-thread! BTW, if you did not read it somewhere here, my Dad was a Tool & Die Maker. He had mentioned Danly many times when I was a kid growing up. Building that machine was one of the most fun things I ever did, career-wise! Frank
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    The machine. It contained 70 oil seal molds each individually mounted in a "carrier" which was loaded and unloaded into and out of a big oven. The curved beams moved up and down while stationary, raising and lowering 4 carriers each, one beam bringing them out of the oven, the other in. Outside the oven, the carriers traversed around a large index table, on which new components were loaded into the molds. The carriers were mechanically locked and unlocked automatically; while locked, they were subjected to a force of 30,000 lbs. Locking and unlocking took place in the big hydraulic press we built specially for this machine; it is located between the oven and index table. Below, the overall machine, not yet operational, but able to work the carriers in and out of the oven. The girl is my wife's sister, then 15. The hydraulic power unit is the object with two drums of hydraulic oil behind it.

    [​IMG]

    Below, a carrier sitting in it's nest, awaiting being lifted off and moved into the first station in the press. The oven contained a large turntable having 60 nests. The big nuts are visible on top the press. The bolts, 3" in diameter, were stretched 3/16 of an inch by heating, corresponding to 60,000 lbs. of tensile force, after which the nuts were run down against the platen surface. Nests had hardened steel inserts which guided the carriers into position. Aluminum was used wherever possible, to reduce weight in motion. The two index tables, oven, and work table, were driven by Ferguson Index Drives. The beams were driven in and out of the oven by a Ferguson "Intermittor".
    [​IMG]

    Below, close-up of the press interior; the curved beam is visible at left, support bearing showing in the "H" section. Two closed carriers are seen sitting on the other beam. I'll describe in following post why this thing was built
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    Comment would be appreciated...... The company was experiencing difficult times. My co-worker, Bruce, and I, were delegated to explore a concept proposed by the company General Manager, whose brilliant thinking resulted in a revolutionary approach to making oil seals. For the novice, an oil seal is a soft material which grips a rotating shaft preventing leakage of lubricant. Tricky to develop and manufacture. But needed by the tens of millions, yearly. GM Bob Brink hired me away from the Gasket Division, this being the Victor Gasket & Manufacturing Company, largest sealing Products co, in the world, started by two brothers in their garage in the 1920s.

    By the time I was hired, 1963, Victor operated plants worldwide. I was very successful in achieving what many there had failed to do: apply strain gages to cylinder head bolts to observe their dynamics during operation of the engine. 1966, Victor company sold out to Dana Corporation, one of the flagship U.S. makers of vehicular products. 1969 I moved from gaskets to oil seals. Victor Divisions of Dana Corp. then had 9 domestic plants, two of which produced oil seals, Chicago Plant 5, and Churubusco, Indiana, Plant 9, built by the Victor family in 1973.

    My first assignment in "seals" was to test and quantify Brink's idea of molding oil seal assemblies sans a molding press. Success! Next, design and build a machine to do it automatically, thus removing much of the labor cost. Bruce & I were charged, along with our Machinist, Roy, to pull it off. The company was experiencing difficult times due to competitive growth, foreign product, and such. Average cost (Victor) to produce an oil seal was 13 cents. Our machine was projected to do so at 1.6 cents!

    Bruce and I were given unprecedented power, but we did not perceive it then. We worked in an office area in Chicago Gasket Plant #1, along with our boss, and about 10 other Engineers, who mostly solved technical problems for customers. Their financial constraints were significant; ours were non-existent. We were having fun, accepting the technical challenge, working at our own pace (which pissed-off the big guys, but they were smart enough to shut up). Our own pace, though, since we were both known as "doers", meant get the thought done, even if working all night. We were no slouches, IOW. The machine, named "QUANTA", was being assembled at the 'Busco plant, 176 miles away from our homes in Chicago. Little did we suspect Dana's plans involved moving ALL seal production efforts to IN! We ploughed ahead. Drive to Busco on Sunday night, drive home next Friday evening. Bruce was by then divorced, and I resented the long-term rigmarole. By early 1972, it became clear all production was going to Busco. I quit the company. By then, Quanta was producing seals. Bruce moved to Busco.

    My wanderings and misdeeds following produced a B.S. Engineering from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I was then recently divorced from my wife of 12 years. Took a job in Canon City, CO. Moved. Bad move. After a year, I called Bruce in 'Busco. They had had their Facility Engineer keel over, and my presence would be, as Bruce put it, "a stroke from heaven"! I interviewed for, and got, the position. This was "Chief Facilities Engineer", which made me Bruce's boss, as well as the Maintenance Dep't., 18 guys. Didn't frighten me bit, as "skilled" was my meat.

    Of course, first day back on the job for Dana after 6 years away, I checked out Quanta, which was dutifully churning out oils seals. Two young women seated around the index table, were placing parts into the molds. How could I have known then, one would become my future wife? She did, and is seated in the living room, 37 years later, unaware that I'm reiterating this.

    The Plant had terrible Union problems. Way too much Union control exercised over operations. Debbie & I quit, moving to Phoenix. Dana closed our beloved meeting place a few years later. There, ya got the other side of the story. Frank
     
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  5. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    Oh, he would need a mainframe computer to convert the 45 degrees to whatever system, huh. But seriously, our orientation is the English system so we are well versed with the feet and pounds. Even now, I have difficulty imagining how tall is a person who stands 1.7 meters or how heavy is one who weighs 50 kilos. My height is 5 feet 4 inches but don't ask me to give the numbers in metric. With my weight, oh, forget it, let's not discuss something negative here.
     
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  6. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    Ha ha @Corie Henson you made me laugh. I'm the same way with our system versus the metric system. Since I purchase a lot of jewelry findings, beads and supplies, I end up having to convert a lot. Thankfully, I can just use an online converter, but I've noticed a lot of the overseas sellers seem to measure larger than the actual objects, so there are still issues, with one 6mm piece being smaller than another. I think that's just another way they try to make money off the backs of buyers.
     
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  7. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Corie Henson A troubling fact for me between Metric & English is this: In Metric, both Mass and Weight are expressed in similar units, Grams, Kilograms, Milligrams, and so on.

    But in English System, Weight is expressed in Pounds, but Mass is expressed in Slugs! Maybe that stems from overweight making one feel like a Slug!

    Frank
     
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  8. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Although the metric system makes sense, I have a sense of pride over America's rejection of it. More than fifty years ago, we were told in school that the country would be on the metric system before we graduated from high school, so we'd better learn it. It didn't happen, and I kind of like that. I don't know about the future, however. We have accepted soccer, and it's a slippery slope from there. I suspect it's all part of a plot by Britain to retake its colonies.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
  9. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    We used to work in the imperial system, feet and inches, pounds and ounces etc ... but a few years ago it was decided everything would become metric , even tho'; technically we'd adopted the metric system in '65 although it was rarely used outside of industry ... to the point that even grocers selling fruit in pounds and ounces faced heavy fines and or prison if they didn't comply with the metric system. *fact*
    It was a disgrace the way people were criminalised for selling in imperial measurements and weights

    Ultimately our stores and tradesmen came to an agreement to show prices in imperial and metric measurements.. in stores.. and workmen builders and craftsmen have to work to the metric system only... ...

    Strangely, our distances were never changed.. and we still use miles and not kilometres.....

    However in my mind , and most people over 40 here, still think of, stones, pounds and ounces..and not kilos.. inches and feet and not centimetres and metres.. and pints and gallons instead of litres ( although we have to buy liquids including fuel in litres)

    However, I'm bi- metric..(is that a new word) ? ...... because I spend so much time on the continent I know exactly what to ask for in kilos or metres in the stores over there when in my mind I'm thinking of yards or pounds and ounces ..:D

    It's fact that the metric system is much better for calculations because you'll always get an accurate answer, but the imperial system is easy to work out in your mind and for every day things .. for example we know what a tablespoon of flour is but what is 2.6 grms ... ?.. we know what 3 pounds of potatoes look like, we roughly know how tall a person is by looking at him ..he's around 5'10... but could you guess he;s 1.78 mtrs?
     
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  10. Ed Wilson

    Ed Wilson Very Well-Known Member
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    When the Hubble space telescope was sent up, it's images were out of focus because of a mix-up with conversion from one system to another. A space walk was necessary to fix the problem. When doing anything at home requiring measurement I use metric.Trying to divide a measurement containing eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds or sixty-fourths is nuts.
     
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  11. Bess Barber

    Bess Barber Very Well-Known Member
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    I just read a post @Steve North made about how America, Liberia and Miramar (I think) are the only three countries in the world not using the metric system. I know it makes more sense and is probably easier, but I'm with you, I think America should continue to hold and not change. :)
     
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  12. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    One problem with the English system ( I guess now it's just the American system) is the use of the same terms for both volume and weight. It's really noticeable in the kitchen. If a recipe calls for 16 ounces of something do you put in a pint or a pound? Both are 16 ounces.
    Anything in ounces could be either weight or volume.
     
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  13. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    There's the difference,. A British Imperial Pint is larger than a US pint, and holds 20 fluid ounces... and 16 0z of dried weight is a pound..:)
     
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  14. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    Holly, is a cup 8 ounces or 10? In the US 2 cups equals a pint.
     
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  15. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Actually that's quite simple. If it's a liquid ingredient, it's a pint; if a dry ingredient, a pound.
     
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