Author Topic: I've been lurking for five years.....  (Read 1120 times)

Offline mtf70

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I've been lurking for five years.....
« on: March 12, 2021, 06:19:22 AM »
Hello All,

I've been a lurker for over five years now, dipping in every so often but as i haven't been that active in topics relevant to this forum I didn't get around to an introduction.

Having reached my half century last year I want to get thing moving as I likely have less time left than I've already been granted.

I have a great interest in all things Engineering particularly machine tools, their history, development, use and refurbishment.

Over the years I have built up a small collection of machines - mainly lathes but haven't found the time to really use them for a considerable while. Some are functioning, some need refurb and some are in bits and have been for decades. This ranges in size from my Stedall (a fantastic gift from a cherished and much missed Great Uncle) down to my Unimat. I also have a Colchester Student which I bought when the price was right but never got round to using it as, well, a lady came into my life around that time.

I used to service and repair machine tools for a living but after almost twenty years of technical sales roles I walked out of my job, sent myself back to college in my late forties and generally earn my coin from playing with wood and other construction materials these days.

I also enjoy working with wood as a hobby and was lucky enough to be gifted a wood turning lathe by another cherished Great Uncle on his passing.

Looking to clear some space to turn my store back into a workshop and get back to making some of my own metal swarf both from my machines and from hand fitting which I also love and often miss.

I also enjoy welding but haven't picked up a torch in years.

Railways have always been a major interest during my life, both steam and diesel but I have found it difficult to maintain interest in recent years. I spent some years helping maintain a full size railway locomotive but a 200+ mile round trip every couple of weekends to play was really something for the single man.
I also like farm machinery a possible legacy from a mis-spent youth collecting Britains farm models and my own tractor remains a dream however unlikely it is to be realised in present circumstances.

I spent years driving and playing with old Fords, particularly MK1 & 2 Escorts back when the ordinary working folk could afford such things.

After years of driving company cars I have my own little van now.... I recently reflected that my previous van was a Mk3 Escort with an XR3 engine; bet that would be worth more these days than the £325 I sold it for!

I'm based in the Eastern part of England and will continue to dip in and as things progress maybe I will have something worthwhile to share.

Cheers
Christopher

So much for the 'brief' introduction  :wave:

Offline awemawson

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2021, 06:35:14 AM »
Well done popping your head 'over the parapet' and a belated welcome.  :thumbup:

If you've been lurking for five years you probably know us pretty well by now, but do share your projects with us as they come along.
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2021, 07:11:19 AM »
Thanks Andrew.

I served my apprenticeship in a large (20 acre site) engineering factory where we cast and machined both our own range of products and those for others too.
I have found your TC20 thread interesting as in the third year of my apprenticeship I moved into the main machine shop (on maintenance) and they had two Beaver TC20s which were at the time 1989 ish still relatively new.
We had just taken over the majority of the servicing from the manufacturer and as a apprentice I found being able to work on such a new machine fascinating bearing mind some of our autos dated back to the 1930's.
If the external service engineer was called in for problems that we weren't equipped to solve (electronic control - mechanical engineers not allowed to touch due to union ruling) I often went with the guy to learn too.
The exact details get lost in three decades since but I remember we had a couple of Beaver VMCs in the factory too - VC 15 and VC 30 possibly as we had a maintenance machine shop for making our own spares and a pattern shop too.

Fond memories and seems amazing that they are still around, you expect it of manual machines but nc and cnc machines seem rather more fragile from a control perspective.

Offline awemawson

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2021, 09:58:58 AM »
Good to hear of other TC-20's having been used - was that at Dorman Diesels ?
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2021, 11:44:18 AM »
George Fischer Castings at the old Britannia Iron Works in Bedford...... now all houses  :(

Offline awemawson

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2021, 12:35:28 PM »
Well I never !

I was at Boarding School in Bedford and one of our school visits was to the Britannia ! Just down the road was Smiths scrap yard (down the side of the railway line) that I haunted on Saturday mornings - all sorts of good stuff chucked out for me to scrounge. That must have been in the early 60's - how time flies !
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2021, 03:57:31 PM »
What do they say about a small World :)

The gatehouse is the only part of Britannia that still remains.

I used to have a look at our scrap heap when I was on late shift. Fitter I worked with whilst I was on foundry maintenance was an expert at looking for useful bits, at home he had an old round head Student that he'd re-scraped the bed on and an ML7 that he'd bought new instead of a car so he walked to work.

I cycled the 12 mile round trip until I learned to drive so I started with an ancient Drummond 4" round bed which was pretty rough.

Smiths is still there but now called EMR.

I spotted a bit further down the Midland Main Line almost 20 years later as I grew up in Stewartby once the London Brick Company village of the largest brickworks in the World.

How time does indeed fly - finished my apprenticeship 30 years ago this year..... how did that happen?

Offline awemawson

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2021, 05:11:38 PM »
So you grew up near The Chimney Corner pub!

There was so much oil in the clay that the brick works used that not only was there a foul stink, but the kilns once up to heat didnít need any more fuel!

Up to 1959 I had lived in Leeds with my parents. Father was HM Inspector of Schools, and that year he (and we!) were moved to Bedford where he was primarily to advise on education and language for the large immigrant community of Italians who didnít seem to mind the heat of the brickworks! We were living on the Kimbolton Road.

In 1969 he was head hunted to be Principal of a Teacher Training College on the Kings Road Chelsea but I stayed on at school as a boarder, only enjoying the flesh pots of Chelsea in the school holidays

So many misspent youthful days were passed at the Smiths scrap yard and also Cox & Danks - happy times (with little parental supervision!) And I kept the school workshops equipped with lathe tools found in those yards and the science lab with oddities (many from Texas Instruments on Manton Lane that had gone to scrap)

Are you still living in the area?


Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2021, 07:11:16 AM »
Chimney Corner wasn't too far away and certainly had a Sunday roast or two in there as kids as my parents knew the owners.

I spent six months at the London Brick Company (LBC) before I started school and there was certainly a diverse range of nationalities working there and I have to say I never found a problem with any of them and chatting with them as a 17/18 year old opened my eyes to different cultures.

Same when I started at George Fischer and there was a point when I couldn't go into Bedford without seeing someone who I recognised from either of those places. When I ended up on shifts in the machine shop our team of two fitters and two setters could have been one of those tales of the Englishman, the Italian, the Caribbean and the Indian but all of us good mates and British.

My parents still live in Stewartby and both worked for LBC at some time my Dad completing almost 30 years before being made redundant after it was sold in the mid-80's.

He would have the same with seemingly random people greeting him in the street and if you asked who they were my Dad would just say 'I used to pay him out' from the days when he went up the yard on payday to distribute the wages; my Dad would probably recall what job they did too so quite sad that he has the early onset of Dementia.

The Oxford clay has a certain texture and aroma and when they used the methane from the landfill site to help maintain firing temperatures in one of the kilns the bricks had an even more distinctive flavour!

The Dad of one of the lads in the same apprentice year as me worked at Texas and I spent a while based out of Manton Lane when I worked as an external Technical Sales Engineer for Cromwell Tools; sad that after Cromwell was sold the Bedford branch was closed since it was the first branch to be opened as the company grew.

I'm not too far away these days but if I had lived where I do now in my spotting days I'd be watching Deltics rather than Peaks as I traded the MML for the ECML. A little further along the old Varsity line if you like.

Took a day off yesterday to pick my Mum up and take her to the Dentist in De Parys Avenue, then went up Kimbolton Road for a Screwfix visit whilst she was having her appointment.

Lucky enough to still have both parents with my Dad in his 80's and my Mum in her 70's; they've lived in Stewartby for over 50 years now and in the present house since 1974.

Bedford has changed a lot and much is not for the better but I think with a little careful planning the rich cultural and industrial heritage (soul) of the town could be revived as it is not gone but merely sleeping below the surface.

This has been quite an enjoyable and unexpected trip down memory lane for both of us I daresay :)

Offline awemawson

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2021, 11:09:39 AM »
Screwfix on Kimbolton Road  :bugeye: Good heavens it was rural when we were there, then they built huge estates of houses spreading from the park / cemetry up to Manton Lane and behind everything to the west of Kimbolton Road I think they did the same either side of Putnoe Lane - I remember ranging over fields for hours when I lived there as a child in the summer holidays.

My friend lived in the remains of Cauldwell Priory off Kempston Road (not far from Britannia Iron Works) - I think that there was only one wing left but lovely grounds, large mature cedar trees iirc  - that now all demolished and is housing  :(

I barely recognised the place when I was last there some years back - a second bridge over the  Ouse (well there always were two - the Town Bridge by the Swan Hotel and the Suspension  Bridge by the boating lake) but only one road bridge. We used to row 'fast starts' in an eight from one to the other with the coach on a bicycle with a megaphone yelling at us  :clap:
« Last Edit: March 13, 2021, 02:10:55 PM by awemawson »
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2021, 01:14:35 PM »
Screwfix on Kimbolton Road  :bugeye: .......

Worry not; there are two Screwfix branches in Bedford now and the one I went to is on the Elm's Farm estate and I just used Kimbolton Road for access but there has been lots of development at that end of town and the bypass makes access easier.

Offline krv3000

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2021, 07:25:18 PM »
hi and welcume

Offline mtf70

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Re: I've been lurking for five years.....
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2021, 09:17:27 AM »