Saturday, November 26, 2011

English Mechanics - June 1938

English Mechanics QueriesQuerist requires a formula for working the pressure to eject a cylindrical pot stamping out of its die, in terms of the pressure required to stamp it out.

I'm glad I don't get that sort of question when people hit the Ask Phil button at the side of this page !

Browsing through English Mechanics magazine, June 1938 issue - I'm a bit behind with my reading, it's just the sort of thing you could write in and ask. Another questioner asks about making a xylophone and the third about wiring up an earth indicator. Flicking though the other issues that year, the questions all seem to be in the same vein.

This was the era of men in sheds. Inventors beavering away in the workshop at the bottom of the garden, every so often taking a pause to re-fill the obligatory pipe and take stock of progress. Electricity was still relatively news, refrigerators a luxury and bicycles or motorbikes the personal transport of choice for most people.

Can you image such a magazine in WH Smith today ? Even those that do science don't get into the nuts and bolts in the same way. Now we have people who are scared to build a plastic kit, then they were considering how to set up a production line for metal pots. Mind you, if you had to ask the question then I wonder how much chance there really was that you could use the answer. As it is, the reply involves pointing out that there are too many variables to be accurate. After all, are you stamping out thimbles or batch tubs ?

Still, at least there is an answer. One that even makes sense to me and describes a basic machine to do the job. I could probably head down to the shed and after a bit of hammering and drilling, have my own production line up and running in a couple of days.

I wonder what happened to the questioner ? In a couple of years time he would probably be involved in fighting from a muddy trench wishing he had stamped out a few more metal pots to wear on his head. It's quite poignant really.

(US readers might point out that they had "Popular Mechanics" magazine but I'd suggest that it was more colourful and quite a lot less hardcore shed man than the English version. A lot more readable though.)

More on English Mechanics here.

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