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Thursday, 28 March 2013

If I was honest, perhaps a dream come true in my silver years.

An Amateur Engineer, and the satisfaction of producing something out of nothing that you can’t buy anymore.
Certain tactile materials that are all around me have a certain appeal, wood has always given off an aroma that reminded me of my granddads timber yard up the top of Queen street in the chalk pit, the sounds and smell of sawdust as the wood was cut to size has left a lasting impression on my senses. 
Metal and the smell of oil reminds me of my Dads overalls and his workshop at the bottom of the garden when I was growing up, a small little place that was heaven to me, and just to be allowed to enter was a joy I would give up playtime with my chums to be with Dad out there in the winter with the heat and smell of the little paraffin oil fire in the corner. The knowledge passed on to me in those hours spent with him has been invaluable over the years. Watching him make threads on a piece of metal to fit perfectly, reviving a machine that had been broken to last another few years. Learning how to sharpen the many different blades that he used to razor sharpness with just an oil stone and elbow grease, never letting his precious chisels anywhere near a grinding machine. He did have a water stone that I was instructed to turn by hand at a certain speed, but that was all, there wasn’t any electricity out there at the bottom of the garden to run machines, everything was done with hand tools. I’d sit there in the corner with the pressure from the Tilly-Lamp hissing away, not only giving light to Dad but also keeping me warm as well.
Since then as time has gone on the need to have my own small haven at the bottom of the garden was a dream I never thought would ever materialise, the cost of the tools far beyond my pocket when the children were growing up. But gradually it has become a reality and I have never been happier than when I am out there with the wind whistling through the trees outside, the rain beating against the roof on a cold winters night, warm and cosy in a cocoon of my own making.
I have collected over the years all the hand tools that have ever been invented, sets of chisels too numerous to count. There are at least two-dozen planes all in mint condition of varying sizes and they are sharp and all in use.
But it is the metal work that I find most rewarding now, to be able to skim a thousands of an inch off a piece of metal on my small milling machine is very satisfying, to turn a bar for a press fit in a bearing on the metal lathe also gives me a thrill every time. I wonder sometimes if Dad is looking down on me with a smile on his face, nodding his head in that way he used to when I did something right, without a word ever being spoken.
I have read books, watched video’s, studied and asked questions to engineers, learning over time on the how and the why and also with a lot of ‘what ifs’ that must have sounded at the time rather stupid to them, but realising there is always something missing in my knowledge as an amateur machinist that I needed to refer to from the books in my small library.
What has surprised me is how lucrative it can be, gone are the days when a small component could be obtained for a small amount of money from the local machine shop if it had been broken or had worn out. Now, because the majority of machines I suppose are made in far away places, it is not possible to get anything repaired, you are expected to buy a new one. I have never advertised, its all word of mouth, if I accepted every job that came my way I would never leave the workshop to indulge my other pastimes, to sketch or to enjoy my retirement generally, so if you can buy it I won’t make it only for myself. But if it is unobtainable then I am interested, so long as there is no time limit, only under extreme circumstances will I work until it is finished, burning the midnight oil, it is very rarely appreciated. 
Anyway ‘T’ nuts, a pet hate of mine, you ask ‘What the h*** are ‘T’ nuts, well, I will tell those of you that don’t know tomorrow and why they are a pet hate of mine.
Thanks for stopping by, please call again.     

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