Dagenham Screwdriver when I was an apprentice.
299 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Apr 2021
When I was working as a delivery driver, they gave me a mobile phone to keep in the van for business use. I also had my personal phone with me, so I connected that to the van's Hands Free system and set up automatic forwarding on the works' phone to shunt incoming calls to my phone, and thence to the hands free speaker. If I needed to call the shop or a customer, I would park up and use the works' phone to make (and pay for) the call.
I had a problem in a supermarket once. Each of the aisles had an informative sign hanging above it to allow one to see at a glance what the aisle contained, and one had only to push one's shopping cart along the headrow at the end of the aisles to find out where to turn in for the item required. Then came Christmas, and the aisles were festooned with adverts for "Special Offers", but those items were not necessarily in the same aisle. The placards also obscured the original aisle labels, so finding anything became a mad dash around the whole store, hoping to accidentally come across the required item. Add this to the fact that they had stirred the shelves with a big stick, so no item was where it had been the previous week. I complained to the Store Manager, but he just shrugged and said that he was obliged to follow Head Office's instructions.
Done that in my garage. Three sockets in a row, one for the tyre fitting machine, one for the wheel balancer, and one (with neon) for the compressor, with the machine name written on the backshell of each plug, after painting with white paint.
The neon is also wired through to another in the lounge, so that the compressor doesn't switch itself on at three AM and make enough noise to wake the dead (and waste electricity - who needs 100PSI at 3AM?). A quick check to see if the neon in the lounge is extinguished saves a late night trudge around to the garage to make sure it's off.
I also rigged up a circuit to show a green LED in the lounge to show that the garage and shed lights were off and both doors locked, for exactly the same reason.
Soon after we were married, we bought a cottage in a village near where we both worked. My wife complained that she was getting a tingle from the cold tap in the bathroom sink, so I checked it for potential, and found that it was securely earthed. She said to put some water in the sink, and then touch the tap, sure enough, a small tingly feeling was experienced. I checked the plughole surround, and found that it was at about 50V from the earthed tap. I traced the source to the overhead cable running across the yard to the shed, the flat twin and earth had deteriorated in the sun where it was bent at a 90° angle to go from the vertical run up the outside of the brickwork to the underside of the horizontal catenary across the yard. When it rained, the current flowed out from the live wire into the damp brick, across to the lead waste pipe, through the wall, and up to the brass plughole. I cut out the lead pipe and replaced it with a plastic one, which solved the immediate problem, but later on I had to run a new SWA cable across to the shed to stop the leakage into the brickwork. I avoided the sharp bend by introducing a "Pigtail" curve at the minimum radius of the cable.
Not IT, but very dangerous. We moved into a house that had a gas supply to a shelf above the kitchen door, where presumably the gas meter used to be. The current gas meter was in a cupboard under the stairs, with all of the gas plumbing correctly connected. I decided to remove the dead pipe from the kitchen, but when I loosened the blanking cap, gas issued out, so I hastily retightened it. I phoned the gas supplier and asked them to come and disconnect the pipe from the main, only to be told that their records indicated that it had already been disconnected, and any pressure inside was probably caused by corrosion inside the pipe.
I loosened the cap again to let the pressure out (after opening the kitchen door to allow the gas to escape), and waited for the hissing to stop. It didn't. I rang the gas company again, who were adamant that I was mistaken. I then said "So you wouldn't have any objection to my connecting my central heating boiler to that pipe, then?" There was a gas fitter round to my house within half an hour to cut off this unmetered supply. Should have kept my mouth shut :-(
When I was at Uni, one of our lecturers tried to teach us Statistics, and failed dismally. Oh! he knew his stuff OK, but couldn't explain what he was doing on the board. He would write a complicated equation at the top of the board, then a slightly different version, where he had solved part of the first equation. This was then repeated in several more lines down the board, each time simplifying the previous line, until he got to the bottom of the board and wrote the solution. We would all then be left wondering how he had made that enormous leap of logic to finish, but when asked for an explanation, he would say "but that's obvious". Not to us it wasn't. We renamed the class on our timetables as "Applied Guesswork".
One of my pet hates is the word "got". It is an ugly black weed that grows up through any cracks it can find in the English language, and should be avoided at all costs. Its only valid use is as the past tense of "to get", but it appears to have wormed its way into everyday usage. There are other examples of word misuse, but this is the worst.
I have encountered similar discrepancies in both of the houses I have owned. The solution to the first was to get all four interested parties, my neighbour, me, and our two solicitors, together on site and physically measure the position of the boundaries involved. This process held up the sale of my property and the purchase of the next from January to May.
Once having successfully purchased the second property, I went to repair a broken fence, only to find that the measured distance between the two houses was less that shown on my plans (and also those of the neighbouring property) by about a foot. The two plots overlapped on the ground but were adjacent on the plans. Again, the only solution was to get all four parties, including two different solicitors from the previous time, together and physically measure the distances. These revised figures then had to be reported back to the Land Registry before I was given permission to rebuild the fence in the right place.
When I was an apprentice in the late 60s and early 70s, one of the postings most feared was to Autolite, Belfast. Luckily, I was not asked to go there, I went to Autolite Enfield (among many other sites) instead. I don't know what I would have done had I been selected for that posting, but several of my fellow apprentices went there and had some hair-raising tales to tell when they returned. One chap, though, committed suicide just after he returned!
On the other hand, I spent three months in Dagenham Foundry, the noisiest place imaginable, and I still suffer from Tinnitis to this day.
Story told to me by my father, a long time ago.
One of his work colleagues, a Professor or similar, mentioned to him that the power kept tripping whenever he (the Prof.) tried to start a particular machine. Dad suggested that he connect a 100W light bulb in series to limit the starting inrush current, and switch it out (ie short it) when the machine was running to give the machine full power, thus "Soft Starting" the machine. The Prof. argued that that wouldn't work, saying that the bulb would blow because the machine would still want to draw its full current and thus overload the bulb. Dad had to patiently explain that it would work because the bulb would be in control, reducing the current, not the machine
I am disabled and suffering from Diabetes.
I was on a trip to collect something I had bought on eBay, when I had a puncture. Fitted spare wheel and continued. On the way back, only about ten miles from home, had another puncture, but of course, no spare now. Phoned the AA and gave them my location, right beside a phone mast on a bridge over an A road. "we'll be with you in ten minutes".
To cut a very long story short, three and a half hours later the van pulled up - on the hard shoulder of the A road fifty feet below where I was on the bridge. The driver then took a further quarter of an hour to navigate the back roads to reach me, where he put on his universal spare wheel and followed me the ten miles home. As I hadn't had any food for over six hours, I was feeling extremely wobbly by the time we got there.
Complained to the AA, but their excuse was that it was a Bank Holiday Saturday, and the changeover weekend between two different Half Term weeks, so the traffic was heavier than usual. If they knew that, why did they keep on telling me they would be with me in ten minutes?
My daughter was once returning home from her university some 100 miles away, and when she arrived in town in the wee small hours, the traffic lights refused to sense her 125cc motorbike, it didn''t contain enough iron to trigger the sensor. She waited and waited, and eventually had to dismount and push it across the pedestrian crossing after pressing the button to announce her presence.
Well, I was only 16 at the time, and as noted in NXM's post, I was shitting hot bricks as I fought not to hit anything on the way through the village. My father said afterwards that he felt a huge surge of relief when he saw me reach for the ignition switch.
I once nearly crashed my GF's father's brand new 1964 Pontiac Catalina. It had only done about 1000 miles, and he had never opened it up whilst running it in. He offered me a drive in it as I was well impressed, and suggested I open it up to see how well it would perform.
As I pressed the gas pedal, the linkage jammed wide open, and I went through Sutter, Illinois at speeds of up to 110 MPH with my foot firmly on the brake pedal and black smoke issuing from the drums. Eventually I switched off the ignition (no steering lock in those far off days) and started to slow down on compression.
Then I did a silly thing, I knocked it into Neutral, so no power brakes or power steering. I was then confronted with a left/right zigzag under a railroad bridge, but managed to bail out through a field gate and across the field. The cop who was chasing me was not impressed, a .38 looks HUGE when it's only inches from your nose, but GF's Dad, who was an ex-Mayor of Sutter, defused the situation by saying "It's OK Bubba, put your pop gun away, this young man has just saved my life".
Popped the hood and unlocked the throttle linkage, had to ask GF for a Bobby Pin to replace the missing split pin, and was rewarded with a Police escort back through the town to the Dad's farm.
I had a mysterious and sudden power steering failure on a 2006 (VW) SEAT Ibiza. Had to continue driving the 103 miles home, it was OK in a straight line or on gentle curves, but maneuvering was a bit heavy on the handlebars. Eventually traced the fault to a broken connector in the wiring loom, I can only assume that it had been struck by a stone or some debris thrown up under the front of the car. Once fixed, all was perfect again.
I once got a serious belt from the HT side of a 5kV - 240V step down transformer that I had been assured could not be back fed - it could and was. In my agony I managed to scream hoarsely "Switch the ***** thing off" and one of my co workers dived across the board and killed it before it killed me. This led to an in-depth investigation as to why, but I missed that because I was off sick for a week to get rid of a nasty case of the shakes. When I returned to work, I always shorted anything out before I touched it, sometimes with spectacular results.
When I was living in Kentucky back in the 60s, the house we rented did not have air conditioning. My father removed the front panel of the gas furnace in the basement, reversed the connections on the room thermostat to run the fan when the temperature was high, and turned off the gas supply. He then opened one of the ground level windows on the North side of the building and strung a net curtain over the opening. The air coming in from under the adjacent bushes was relatively cool, the net curtain condensed the moisture, and the resulting cool air was circulated through the AC ducts throughout the house. The condensate was collected in a plastic planter trough and disposed of daily down the laundry room drain. When the weather turned colder in the autumn, he reverted it to a central heating role, which was how he left it when we returned to the UK.
When I was on "Detached Duty" for my employers working in Finland, I wanted to listen to Classic FM over the Internet as I had when at home in Blighty. Unfortunately, the website detected that I was not in GB, so wouldn't let me in. It asked for my Post Code, and once I had entered my home address' code, it was quite happy to let me listen. Of course, there was a 2 hour time slip, but I could live with that.
When I was working in the Drawing Office of a large manufacturing company, HR sent us a new trainee to be trained as our Filing Clerk. Each of the major types of product we produced were allocated a specific filing system, and the filing systems were in separate filing cabinets (A0 size drawers to take our largest sheets). After she had been with us only a few days, it became obvious that she was completely innumerate, and had stirred the contents of each cabinet to such an extent that no-one could find anything. We sent her back to HR, who complained that we were being overly picky, so we had to get them to come and see the carnage she had wrought. They next moved her to the Mail Room, but it only took her a week to trash their system as well.
She was then moved to the Catering Department, but whenever she entered the shop floor with the tea trolley, all production ceased as the machinists and fitters stood and ogled this exotic creature that had suddenly appeared in their midst. Finally, she was deployed to push her tea trolley around the Front Office, where the staff were mainly female, and she did not have such a disruptive effect.
She was still happily pushing her tea trolley around the office block when I left three years later.
Same here. When I was a kid, I was given a "Space Watch". It was a conventional wristwatch but the crystal was replaced with a stainless steel cover with two viewing windows, and the hands were replaced with two numbered discs. I put it on, and it stopped. Took it off, it started working again. On = stopped, Off = starts again. Perfectly repeatable. Other members of my family had no trouble, just me. Watch was given to my sister, and I inherited my grandfather's pocket watch. I was the only kid at school who regularly wore a turnip.
Fast forward many years, and I was given a self winding watch as an engagement present (one of a pair, SO had the other). Again, would not work on me, but would on the mantelpiece or anyone else's wrist. I now just keep a cheap mobile phone in my pocket with no SIM and Night Clock running on screen.
We used to have an F Big Cat, he was the runt of the litter but grew enormous. If there were any of the local moggies in our garden when Mickey sauntered around the corner of the house, they all suddenly remembered that they had pressing engagements elsewhere. He lived to be 16 years old, but kidney failure ended his reign. RIP Mickey :-(
Several of the students at the college I attended (not me, I hasten to add!) kept a sixpenny piece with a length of fuse wire soldered onto the periphery so that they could fish it out of the coin slot after releasing the balls. The wire was only soft soldered on in case the coin went too far down the chute and couldn't be pulled back past the mechanism. If that happened, the wire would unpeel from the coin and no evidence left behind.
At a place I worked many years ago, the fag machine took two 50p coins to dispense a packet. One enterprising machinist took a length of tungsten bar from the raw material rack and use the copy lathe to copy an actual 50p coin to give it seven sides. He then parted off several discs that were exactly the same thickness as the 50p coin, and used them to "buy" free fags, When the owner of the machine turned up to empty the coin box, he found several blanks, and complained to the management about these "worthless" coins. The Company had to reimburse him to the tune of the corresponding number of 50p coins, but no-one calculated the actual cost of the Tungsten or the machine time spent making them.
A mate of mine when we were at college in the Midlands laboriously worked out the sequence of local codes from there to his home near the south coast by driving along the shortest route and noting down the codes in the order of the telephone kiosks he visited along the way. I don't remember how many digits he had to dial, but it took him a seriously long time to dial home.
When I was working for a large electrical manufacturer producing manuals for the equipments we built, we had occasion to do so for a Swedish customer. I loaded the Swedish keyboard driver, but we only had QWERTY keyboards, so I printed off a sheet of Swedish keycaps and stuck them onto the keys with Pritt Stick so they could be easily removed when the contract was completed. We all became quite fluent in technical Swedish for a while, but it soon faded afterwards.
I got out of Prime by cancelling the associated Credit Card, so they suspended my membership due to "Financial Irregularities". I had previously jumped through all their hoops to cancel, but they still took the £8.99 per month anyway. I complained, and they said that they'd sort it out, but _still_ took the money the next month, A visit to my bank eventually was the only way to stop the payments, and Amazon retaliated by cancelling my account. Their loss, not mine.
When my eldest daughter was at Uni in Bradford, she lived in a "Student House". There were more students in the house next door but one, so in order that they share the cost of a network connection, they ran a coax cable up the wall of one house, along the shared gutter, and down the wall of the other house. This was done with the full knowledge and permission of the owners of the house in between, and the system worked for the whole four years my daughter was in that house, and still is for all we know.
Soon after we were married, we moved into an 1840s built cottage. My wife noticed that she felt a tingling sensation when she put her hand into the water in the hand basin at the same time as touching the cold tap. I thought that there might be an earth fault in the plumbing, but no, the tap was solidly grounded. The voltage was coming up the lead waste pipe and making the plughole, and therefor the water, live. I cut out the lead wastepipe and replaced it with a plastic one, which cured the symptoms, but not the problem. This was traced to a PVC Flat Twin and Earth that fed the shed, where it ran up the wall and bent to run along the catenary wire, it had cracked and water had entered, so there was a current path through the damp brickwork and into the house via that lead pipe. Permanent solution was to replace FT&E with SWA and make the turn into a big pigtail loop.
When I was rebuilding my Range Rover Classic I bought lots of parts and stored them on a purpose built rack in the garage/workshop. Fairly near the end of the rebuild I went to get the special bolts that hold the brake calipers on the axle tube, but they were conspicuously absent from the rack. In desperation I sent off for another set of four, which took about a week to arrive. Next day I went into the workshop, and there, on the bench, were the original four special bolts. Anybody need four off M12 Extra Fine (0.75mm pitch) twelve point head high tensile bolts?
I was for many years the Tape Centre Supervisor of the Tuesday Night Crew at Royal Observer Corps Headquarters in Coventry Group. As such I had under my purview several tape punches/readers and a fair few minions to operate them. Everything that came into or left our Ops Room went through that department (I nearly said "my department", but I couldn't honestly claim it as mine as I had to share it with the other two TCSs on the Monday and Wednesday crews). On one exercise, we were told to stand to attention at our posts because we were to be inspected by the "Scrambled Egg" and the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. I was told off because I was seen holding my new wife's hand (she was on my team), but the Lord Lieutenant was highly amused.
I worked as a Development Engineer at a large electrical manufacturer. The Workshop Manager jealously guarded his stock of raw materials, and if you went to ask for (say) some Molybdenum bars to turn up some electrical contacts, he would refuse to give you any, because "If I give you all that, there will be none left". He did not accept the premise that the stock was there to be used in deveopment projects, so we had to go behind his back a nick the stuff off the racks when he was not in his lair.
I once happened to visit a street market, and was drawn to a stall offering various tools etc.. As the wind began to blow, the awning started to flap and the support struts worked slightly loose. The stallholder opened a spectacle case and took out a (brand new) 1" micrometer, with which he started to tighten the wingnuts on the awning. When he had finished, he returned the mike to its case and replaced it on his display. I said to him "I hope you are not going to sell that mike now that you've buggered it". He scowled at me and replied "Why not? no-one will notice".