Cheap steel isn't a bargain

June 8, 2005
Editors discussed the advantage small companies had over large businesses in the June 1, 1905, issue.

100 years ago in American Machinist

Editors discussed the advantage small companies had over large businesses in the June 1, 1905, issue. In small companies, the decision about what steel to purchase generally rested with "some practical man who knows the difference between good steel and poor steel."

Larger companies often relied on purchasing decisions from financiers who looked at cost alone. Editors felt this practice was misguided, saying, "He is of course entirely unable to perceive or to understand the effect of the introduction of the cheaper steel into the shop, the losses caused by it . . . and the probable deterioration in the reputation of the goods."

Costly cabbies

Horse-drawn cab costs were the topic of discussion in the June 8, 1905, magazine. To stop cabbies from overcharging for rides, the Merchants' Association was handing out cards that detailed legal rates. Riders who believed they were the victim of price gouging were asked to contact the association, which would work to procure a refund.

50 years ago in American Machinist
"Paper" airplanes

In an article from June 6, 1955, editors told the story of an aircraft company rushing a new plane to completion. On the first test flight, the wings fell off halfway down the runway. Same thing on the second test.

The company president asked for suggestions from the rank-andfile, promising to accept any idea. The only volunteer suggested drilling 1-in. holes around the edge of the mounting pads on the fuselage and wing brackets. "For bolts?" asked the president. "No," replied the suggester. "Just drill 'em and leave 'em."

The suggestion worked, and the plane flew — with rave reviews from the test pilot. But the story didn't end there. Turns out the suggestion came from the custodian, who got his idea from an unlikely place. "You know how toilet paper always has holes in it?" he told the company president. "Well, I noticed that it never tears there. I figured if it works on toilet paper, it would work on a plane."

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