It is here the intention to state some of the real essential elements that should be borne in mind by one trying to find the true course. These pointers are all submitted subject to the approval of the reader, and are only offered on their face value, as they may appear to be in accordance with experience and facts within the knowledge of everybody.
It is not necessary to thoroughly understand all of the new special machines put on the market any more than it is necessary to read all of the books of fiction that are now being printed faster than any person living can digest.
A watch may be judged by its record as a timekeeper without much knowledge of its parts, and although this is true of all machinery there is a certain general knowledge that should be possessed by all who wish to see the direction of evolution. Now, since so much is written of an advertising nature, in which the real object of the writer is concealed, it is understood that the average reader has become wary, and discounts in advance any statement with the feeling that the writer has his own interest in mind, and that sooner or later it will appear. In the discussion of this subject, however, it is not the intention to conceal this fact, but this very point is brought forward at this time with the acknowledgment that it is a handicap, but with the claim that mechanical facts are hard facts, and that by a full and complete disclosure the subject becomes clear, and that as we proceed each point will be clearly stated that it may be recognized as true or false. No attempt in dealing with hard facts will be made to prove that two and two make five ; each proposition is to be of
Mechanical facts susceptible of proof the simplest nature, and as readily understood as the simplest example in arithmetic, and as definitely conclusive.
In getting at the present conditions in the machine shop always have in mind the useful efficiency of the machine. This means more than the record time in which a piece of work can be machined; it includes the performance of the machine every day in the year.
Many record-making machines have two kinds of records: the number of seconds in which a single piece of work can be machined, and the number of months required to get new tools for each new piece of work. This makes it necessary to observe all of the actual conditions. The standard engine lathe has the good record for continuous work. A glance through any machine shop will usually show all of the lathes at work, but seldom all of the wonder-working special machines in operation.
Many of the most successful machine shop managers have preferred the slow but sure method of getting out the work, and their good results have furnished ample proof of their wisdom; but, as stated in the beginning, this is the period in the evolution of the machine shop in which progressive steps are necessary. Not all of the latter-day machines are found lacking in quick adaptability. Some of these machines will be found in operation every hour of every day, regardless of the character of the work.
One of the conditions that should be borne in mind in trying to determine the line of development of the modern machine shop is the changing character of its own work. Many of the rim-rolling and other special machines for bicycle work are of very little use to-day. If there is any evidence that the turbine engine and the electric motor are to partly or wholly displace the present engine and locomotive, those interested should see that their machine shop equipment is kept flexible and adaptable enough to meet the new conditions.