Ours is a Heritage of Inventiveness
This issue of Young Times includes another story pertaining to my father’s inventiveness. This time while stationed in Korea during the war. We had many nice comments about the caliper article and felt our readers may enjoy some other interesting tales from the past. Over the next few issues we will expound on other projects that Young Mfg., Inc. and my father have been involved in over the years. I hope you enjoy them.
Recently, I pulled a few old and very dusty sample parts from the attic space at our shop. I remember some of the parts from when I visited the plant as a child. Today, when I look at those stampings and assemblies that were made by my father and uncle upwards of 40 years ago, I’m amazed by the quality of the items. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting they weren’t quality minded. Actually, Dad and Rolly may have paid more attention to detail over the course of their careers than most people would.
What strikes me when I look at those old samples is the fact that the dies created to make the parts were crafted on manual milling machines and engine lathes. There were no wire EDM’s, no CNC mills or lathes and no CMM’s. All the work was done by hand and by feel - designed and accomplished without the aid of computers, but with a sharp eye for those little things that make the difference between a good product and a great product. Many of those early jobs were done without blueprints. Hand-drawn sketches, verbal communication and an understanding of what the customer needed were generally enough to get the job done. We would have a tough time doing that today.
Some of the parts are small stainless steel pieces that exhibit no sharp edges, even though it is obvious they have not been tumbled. There are also formed pieces with minimal or no tooling marks and complicated assemblies that include actuators which still work smoothly and flawlessly.
Wonderful things can be made on today’s CNC equipment - things that would have been difficult (if not impossible) to create in the past. By the same token, some of today’s CNC programmers and operators are not very adept at running manual equipment with any reliable precision. True old-school toolmakers and machinists are getting harder to find every day. We may never return to the “old ways” and even though that may be a good thing, we need to remember our “roots.”
We are all endowed with natural talents from God and we are each unique in what we do with those talents. I grew up in a family of very skillful “hands-on” people, yet no two have the exact same interests regarding work or hobbies. Many have similar skills, but each has his or her distinct abilities. Being part of a family with so many talented people, it becomes easy to take things for granted. Now, as I talk with my father and other family members about the past, I wish I had paid more attention to what was going on around me over the years. There’s no telling how much more could I have learned!
Manufacturing can be challenging and frustrating sometimes, but it seems there will always be a need for it in our society. My grandfather taught his kids how to work early in their lives. Dad has said many times that Grandpa would tell him regularly," Learn a trade, and you will never be out of work.” It appears that was some very good advice.