July 26, 2023
Long time readers of this blog know that my “gear career” has included plenty of non-gear-related assignments. Of course, if you are a deeply entrenched in the trade as I am, everything seems “gear related” in some way. Take this week’s long-anticipated installation of new sidewalks at our forever home. My poor contractor had no way of knowing his client had been involved in pouring thousands of yards of concrete over the years and would want to review the rebar plans and check the forms personally. If you question my math on those concrete pours, ask anyone who installed a Hofler gear grinder in their plant over the last 20 years. The first time I was given the foundation plan for one, I mistook it for a swimming pool. Being used to older designs where the mass was in the cast iron machine bases did not prepare me to layout a complex multi-level poured concrete “basement” complete with a deep hole under the center of the table for extra long shafts and several sump pumps to deal with ground water. Studying a metric drawing with reverse angle projection in a “customary units” world gave me a massive headache. Somebody had to handle the problem so why not the chief engineer? With a “volunteer” to check my work, lots of plywood and framing material, and a hard working crew, that first foundation turned out fine. Over the next several years we installed at least a dozen more machines in that old building. Then production got moved to another facility and over a hundred machine foundations were needed. We had a crack team by then, although you learn not to joke about cracks around concrete work. So young engineers, if the boss asks you to step out of your comfort zone, say yes. You will learn something new, get some great stories to tell, and have knowledge to impress [or annoy] an audience years later.