Century-old confusion

Century-old confusion

Fortunately, today's tradeshows don't tend to attract audiences beyond the machinist world. In the September 22, 1904, issue, a reader recounted his recent visit to the St. Louis World's Fair. He seemed particularly amused by the visitors' confusion about

Fortunately, today's tradeshows don't tend to attract audiences beyond the machinist world. In the September 22, 1904, issue, a reader recounted his recent visit to the St. Louis World's Fair. He seemed particularly amused by the visitors' confusion about the function of the metalworking machines on display:

"A party of men and women were looking at the Niles 20-foot boring and turning mill, the table of which is constantly revolving, and an old chap with classic golways remarked, 'I wonder what that big thing does.' An observing old lady with him said it looked 'mighty like a merry-go-round without the hosses;' but another old wiseacre scoffed at the absurdity and told them that it was 'a turntable for a roundhouse, used by them thar railroads.' This settled the matter to the satisfaction of all concerned...I fully expected to be asked if the crane trolley, which has grooved drums...was a sausage machine, but was spared this."


Dirty laundry

The September 1, 1904, issue featured "The Machine Shop and the Home — By A Machinist's Wife." In this column, the author discussed the household trials and travails that accompanied marriage to a machinist. In particular, she lamented the sorry state of her husband's shirts: "The mixtures of iron rust, machine oils, flour, sawdust, coal ashes, mud, hayseed, tannery refuse and ordinary dirt that used to come home to me on the clothes to be washed out were a trial, and each combination left something to be desired in the way of looks... I think that some of the combinations would have made a fair grade of indelible ink."


Rickety railroad

A railroad of decidedly dubious distinction was the subject of a September 13, 1954, column: "We've heard of the smallest railroad in the world, the longest railroad in the world, and so on, but we were a little surprised to hear about what is admitted to be the 'World's Worst Railroad.'"

This turbulent track, once in the plant yard of Sperry Products, Danbury, Conn., was made up of the worst rail faults found by Sperry's rail-inspection cars from the thousands of miles tested across the U.S. Railroad engineers used this track to determine the reliability of reconditioned railroad cars. "The faults certainly are there, too," wrote the editors, "about 120 different kinds of breaks, cracks, pits, holes, and otherwise dangerous faults — all in about 1 /5 of a mile."

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