July 26, 2023
[starbox]As the Tool Time host used to say, “The answer is more power.” My little lathe/mill combo has a whopping .75 horsepower and I’ve managed to stall it a few times. The newest machine tools have much more power and speed than their predecessors, so as to have more flexibility with the feeds and speeds of the incredible cutting tools currently available. We’ve come a long way from hand-ground, high-speed-steel tooling, and our machines reflect that progress. A more noticeable horsepower race is going on in new car showrooms. When I was a boy, during the infamous muscle car era, the factories and insurance companies were wary of letting so much as 400 horsepower get into the hands of the average consumer. Dodge, touting their 100th anniversary with rather odd commercials starring the long-deceased founding brothers, has stopped taking orders for their 808 horsepower Hellcat because they can’t get enough parts. Other companies will be happy to sell you 400, 500, 600, or even 700 horsepower street-legal cars. How much trouble will the average driver get into with 808 horsepower? The speed limit is now 70 in many states, but even an 80 horsepower econobox can exceed that. Cable TV shows feature street races with home-built 1,000-plus horsepower cars and include footage of the inevitable crashes. Porsche and other legendary makers require special training before they will hand a driver the keys to some of their products. This may be an over-reaction to our litigious society or a wise way to keep a well-heeled client alive so they can buy more toys. Much like a machine tool builder or cutting tool supplier, including training and support into the price of a new machine, they want you to be successful and buy more of their products. With much power comes much responsibility; more about that next time.