October 5, 2023
Writing about my now cumbersome reference library prompted a bit of consolidation and reorganization. Unfortunately, my resolve diminished when I came across a copy of the January 1912 issue of Industrial Engineering. The Engineering Digest’s cover featured a small advertisement for Chicago Rawhide Manufacturing Company (now an SKF company and seals manufacturer, Chicago Rawhide was founded in 1878 and is now based just outside Chicago in Elgin, IL), touting their rawhide pinions and metal gears. Other front-of-the-book ads were about Alberger centrifugal pumps and Bristol thermo-electric pyrometers. An early version of the “bingo card” (see Tuesday’s blog) system was referenced with a plea that the reader remind the advertiser of where their ad was seen! The magazine itself covered a wide array of subjects; I bought it for a wonderful paper on herringbone gears by Percy C. Day. I believe this was prior to Mr. Day joining The Falk Corporation, where he designed a series of “catalog” gearboxes using herringbone gears. It was a surprise to have herringbones credited to a Mr. Wuest, rather than Citroen, Sykes, Sunderland, or Farrel. Other articles covered the economics of replacing steam-driven line shafts with individual electric motors; variable speed drives for electric motors; advances in planing machines; the use and care of belt drives; and the calculation of expense burden (today we call it overhead). Obviously, in 1912 engineers were expected to be current on many topics. Has the engineering trade become too big and complicated for anyone to be a “generalist” anymore? In the small shops where I spent most of my career it was not unexpected for management to assign me to a building / machine rebuild or repair — over and above my regular gear design or process planning work, of course. It was a welcome break from the routine and guarded against the worst fate an engineer can suffer, i.e. — knowing more and more about less and less until you truly become an expert.