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New member just getting to know the place.

Oct 22, 2023
Hello to all,
I am new to the site but not new to metalworking. I started my shop life in 1966 and took machine shop at Asheville Buncombe Technical College, 60 students in two classes. I went on with 11 others to take the Tool & Die course. I had the second highest grade point average so got lots of job offers. I chose Square D in Asheville, N.C. now closed and gone. We stamped, assembled and made control components. I got my Master Tool & Die papers and then went to Cutler Hammer doing the same products. We built all our tooling at Square D but Cutler Hammer did not. I got them convinced we could and hired some more of the more talented tool makers from
We built, progressive dies, compound dies, thermoset and thermoplastic molds. Automatic assembly machines also. I was offered a free college education by Cutler Hammer but turned them down. Went into tool design and just got bored going to same job each days so left after I think 16 years.
Went to work for National Lock Hardware division. They did stampings for hardware, automotive and lots of zinc die casting. I jumped in and got their casting department producing triple the amount without new equipment. We made such a sturr in the market our biggest competitor came in and bought us out and closed us to eliminate the competition.
So I went out and opened a zinc die casting company for someone else and just did not enjoy his company. So I did contract tool building in a friend's tool shop.
I decided to move on and took a tool engineering job at Amereican Yard Products, Inc. now Hsqvarna in Orangeburg, S.C.. I made lots of changes in their processes and cut costs by millions each year. The CEO pretty much would sign up for any proposal I made. My name is on a patent for the mfg. of lawn mower blades. Cut cost from about $2,00 each to $85 yes eighty five cents. We used and sold millions each year. 5,000 riding mowers a day, 20,000 walk behind mowers a day and 1,000 garden tillers a day. I was made the Engineering Manager. After nearly 5 years I had to quit the best job and go help mom with dad, Parkinson's took him slowly. Then she got Alzheimer's and also slow painful life. I drove 100 miles a day to work each day in Spartanburg, S.C.. Was there for 18 years in many different jobs, tooling engineer, engineering manager and finally in product process and tooling engineer. I worked with customers to improve their products and processes to cut costs and improve quality.
I got tired of the politics in mfg. today with the college kids thinking they know everything right out of school. I retired early and was getting job offers from all over. I knew people and companies all around the world. I decided to take an engineering managers job in Wuhu, China. Yes China. I packed two suitcases and moved to China. I have previously spent about 5 months there so knew what it was like. I signed a one year contract. China is now what we are told. They are way ahead of the U.S. in tooling and mfg. also. They do not do it with people they invest in automation and new machines. We could build dies in half the time they could in the U.S.. Did not cut corners either. If you wanted U.S. made screws, dowels, leader pins, nitrogen, etc. We ordered from U.S. flew over and still built for way less. The companies are not owned by the government but by individuals. They treat the people very fair and tool makers made about 50% of U.S. salaries. But they got three meals a day, more paid holidays, bus ride to work and a full months bonus pay for Chinese New Year. You are very safe there and nobody every bothers you. The kids love to practice their English. So I made enough to come home and pay cash for home, build a 4,000 sq. ft. shop with 2 post lift, paint room and buy 4 mustang convertibles from one years pay in China. I brought money home did not send over there.
I also have a couple Hardige lathes, Harig 6 x 12 grinder, KO Lee cutter grinder and just got another cutter grinder not delivered yet. Starting to have health issues with numb legs and feet so will not last long. Wanted to play in shop and go to Africa and hunt some more. I was also a P.H. on a hunting ranch in Africa.
So that is me and will be building a phase converter soon, picked up several big motors cheap. Will turn up some had to find pieces for Mustangs on the lathes and do some cutter sharpening for local shops. I do not see how the U.S. is going to survive. There are two or three shops closing each week. I have been buying from the auctions. The unions in the U.S. were needed at one time but no more. They kill any possible way to compete in a world market. We could not even build ventilators and masks during covid, how will we build guns, tanks and ammo?
I will have questions on the KO Lee which was built for Carboloy for use in OEM cutter mfg. during WWII from what I see.
Interesting life you have led, thanks for telling us about it. How about posting a couple of photos of your shop? I wish I had a paint room, would love to see what that looks like.