Pencil Pusher

Some cool china mechanical engineering photos:

Pencil Pusher
china mechanical engineering
Image by michaeljy
Not extensively identified is railroad involvement in early development of plotter and printer technologies. Shown at operate on the Atlantic Coast Line around 1930, in “G” scale, it was needed to recruit dwarf Chinese elves to operate this equipment. Numerous lost their lives performing the hazardous labor. Provided the higher-pressure atmosphere of industrial design, boiler explosions have been typical. As opposed to Irish leprechauns, the Chinese were deemed expendable by railroad robber barons. ACL management had hoped to get rid of a draftsman position in the Engineering Department with this innovation. The ramifications for the market would be considerably, considerably more.

The notion caught on. Constantly hunting for new approaches to decrease forces, a brash young VP-Engineering, D. W. Brosnan, was so impressed that he ordered 1000 Baldwin File Drivers for use on Southern Railway. He later experimented with having SR’s Pegram Shops modify one to take shorthand, so he could fire his secretary, who had mistakenly put sugar in his coffee 1 morning. (He wanted his coffee to reflect his management style—cold and bitter.) Regrettably, Chinese characters kept popping up in File Driver output documents, specially when drawing curves, causing an unacceptably higher error price. (As evidenced by erasers in foreground.) Planet War II brought rationing of rubber, which triggered most File Drivers to be mothballed for its duration. Nevertheless, many saw European service under Lend-Lease, drafting war plans. Secretary of State George Marshall praised File Drivers’ invaluable contribution to the war work in drawing up plans for the D-Day invasion.

The postwar period amongst 1945-1950 proved to be the high water mark in File Driver improvement and use. Anxious to recover from wartime constraints on improvements to infrastructure and rolling stock, railroads seemed to have an insatiable need to have for engineering plans.

Not everybody was in love with File Drivers, even so. One particular returning veteran, who prior to the war had been an apprentice draftsman on the Chesapeake &amp Ohio, vowed not to share a drafting table with what he derisively referred to as, “that tinker toy.” Before doing so, he insisted he would, “Die with my pencil in my hand!” In a contest hastily arranged by C&ampO public relations, he took on a single of the road’s File Drivers. This time man beat machine, turning out an incredible 23 blueprints in an eight-hour period, compared to the File Driver’s 19, but it was a pyrrhic victory. By the end of the shift, the young draftsman suffered from a case of writer’s cramp so intense that co-workers had to pry loose his fingers from his pencil. The subsequent day, organization physicians pronounced it the worst case of carpal tunnel in healthcare history. His drafting profession was over.

This period also saw the pinnacle in File Driver design and style evolution. Determined to remain on the cutting edge, the Pennsylvania Railroad looked for methods to squeeze ever far more productivity out of their vast fleet of File Drivers. Realizing that some managers had been reluctant to completely use File Drivers simply because of their dowdy appearance, famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy was enlisted to give them a facelift. The design and style he chose, primarily based upon the all-natural contours and flow of the human hand, was breathtaking to behold, and so lifelike that it was stated to be the supply of inspiration for Charles Addams’ character, “Thing,” in his “Addams Family” series. But crews located the design and style ergonomically not possible to digest, and faced with their intractable opposition, Pennsy had no selection but to stay with the classic File Driver appear.

Pennsy engineers did accomplish a breakthrough in one particular area—the pencil itself. Managers had longed for a resolution to the persistent dilemma of short lead life. Early stopgap attempts at rectification by way of ever sharper and longer points proved futile, because any gains had been offset by an increase in broken point incidence. This had been particularly vexing for the Pennsylvania, given its effectively-deserved reputation for higher-speed drafting. Designers in Altoona ultimately arrived at a solution: the world’s initial workable “mechanical” pencil.

When unveiled in early 1947 (see, “Pennsy Engineers Learn New Way To Put Lead In Their Pencils,” March 1947 “Choo-Choo” magazine), among the 1st to see the handwriting on the wall have been officials of the International Brotherhood of Sharpeners United, who foresaw the loss of hundreds of jobs at the Juniata Pencil Turning Works. A union-sanctioned slowdown followed, and thousands of hours of productivity basically evaporated while crews whiled away whole days functioning on the New York Instances Sunday Crossword Puzzle. Some have been even so brazen as to play tic-tac-toe. Soon after an incensed President Harry S. Truman complained to Congress that the union was, “Doodling with America’s future,” he asked for sweeping legislation granting authority to use the Army Corps of Engineers to seize handle of railroad engineering operations. A Presidential Emergency Board in the end ruled in management’s favor, but tossed a bone to the brotherhoods by requiring carriers to preserve one particular of two Pencil Loaders assigned to File Driver crews. This flagrant featherbedding quickly became fodder for political pundits and comedians, consequently the epithet “Pencil Pusher” entered our American lexicon.

File Driver action was not confined to east of the Mississippi. Western roads also maintained stables of the small workhorses, adding their own flavors to the currently quirky File Driver personality.

Union Pacific was determined to achieve what its rivals had not: equip File Drivers with fountain pens. The obstacles seemed insurmountable. New York Central had worked on the splatter dilemma for years, and pointed to a disastrous ink well spill that blackened the Hudson River for days as evidence that the liabilities outweighed any prospective rewards. UP countered that the characteristics of its road, with extended stretches of prairie proper-of-way, meant that a higher percentage of its plans consisted of straight lines, thereby minimizing the threat of splatter. An additional sticky problem—the harsh Nebraska climate—was overcome when UP chemists developed an oil-primarily based India ink imported from Bombay. Logistical supply problems were resolved when Common American Tank Auto Business modified a portion of its wartime oil tanker fleet, making them obtainable to UP for ink-hauling service below the unique reporting mark “INKX.”

A related problem proved fatal to the UP’s plans, nonetheless: viscosity, i.e., obtaining the ink onto the paper. Union Pacific designers tried wick systems utilizing cotton waste, but this proved unsatisfactory because friction generated by higher drawing speeds necessitated frequent repacking. Teaming with Timken Roller Bearing Organization, experiments had been made with ball-bearing delivery of ink to paper, but once more with out good results. A frustrated UP management lastly dropped the idea. It would be practically ten years later that the French conglomerate BIC, below contract with SNCF, would make what they termed, “Le pen de balle,” commercially viable.

After the war, Japan National Railways had “borrowed” U. S. File Driver technology, adapting it for use as a technique of attaching erasers to pencil ends, a novel concept that proved to be a advertising sensation. This ensured Japanese domination of world pencil production until well into the 1990s, when, in an ironic twist, they were surpassed by the Chinese. New File Drivers continued to be turned out by China’s Datong Functions until the mid-1980s. At the turn of the 21st century, Lionel, with added economic backing from Ross Rowland, made a valiant effort at getting America back into the game, generating an “O” gauge model that incorporated mini compressed air cartridges and microchip technologies in location of steam and dwarf elf labor. (See, “Making Its Mark,” June 2001 “Miniature Railroader,” and “Graph Fight,” July 2001 “Choo-Choo” magazines.) Alas, it was to no avail. PCs and CAD software had so decimated U.S. rail employment that there merely weren’t any forces left to decrease. The need for File Drivers had passed, one more web page of American rail history had turned.

The final hurrah for Class I steam-powered mechanical drawing took location, predictably, on the Norfolk &amp Western, when property-built N&ampW streamlined Z-class File Driver No. 13 saw helper duty on plans to upgrade public restrooms at the Hotel Roanoke in March 1954. O. Winston Link chronicled this final chapter in his greatest-promoting book, “Flushed With Success: The Tiny Draftsman Who Could Did not Stall on the Stalls.”

But not all File Drivers were destined for the landfill. Eleven chapters of the National Office Supplies Historical Institute of Technology boast of getting one or more File Drivers in their collections, even though couple of are in operating situation. Some have been fitted with electric motors, in spite of the aesthetically-unpleasing presence of a power cord. The objections of purists notwithstanding, some market insiders quietly speculated that an aggressive electrification plan may well have ensured a File Driver presence on some Class Is, notably the Pennsy and Virginian, for at least for a handful of more years. Despite the fact that that is debatable, there can be no doubt that a new generation of civil engineers did not have the exact same appreciation for cinder burns on blueprints as did their predecessors.

Noted rail author and bon vivant Lucius Beebe convinced Brosnan’s successor as SR President, W. Graham Claytor, Jr., to element with Southern’s experimental dictation-equipped unit, which had been gathering dust in lengthy-term storage on a shelf at Pegram. The Smithsonian wanted the unit for display in their Museum of Science and Technology, but negotiations had bogged down, and fan groups were begging SR to permit the old machine out on the road with Hyperlink to autograph copies of his book. In the end, Beebe won out, primarily since, as SR historian Jim Bistline mentioned, “We just got tired of becoming pestered about the damn thing!”

Beebe re-christened his unit the “Graphite Queen,” and utilised it to deal with personal correspondence correct up till his death. Beebe was often heard to say, &quotNothing helps me create like my little Queen!&quot As supplied in Beebe’s estate, “The Queen,” as she is nonetheless affectionately recognized, now resides at the California Museum of Transportation, exactly where she earns her maintain by tracing silhouettes of delighted museum visitors.


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