Our very own Ron Clarke has received the distinguished honor of being recognized by the Industrial Fasteners Institute for the Soaring Eagle Technology Award for 2017. He received his award at the latest IFI meeting in March. Upon acceptance, Ron of course commended the entire team at Valley Forge for receiving this award, “It takes a team to receive this sort of recognition. This award is for the entire company.”
We are extremely proud of our fearless leader for being such an innovator in the industry for over 4 decades.
“The IFI Soaring Eagle Technology Award recognizes individuals who have extensive experience in the industrial fastener industry who have made significant contributions to the technological advancement of the fastener industry. Contributions may be through extensive work on fastener standards committees, the publication of widely acclaimed principles or documents and/or through the development of fastener related equipment products, or processes which have been widely acknowledged as advancements in fastener technology.”
As taken from www.indfast.org
By Glenn Snowberger
When it was suggested that I pinch hit for Ron as the Guest Anecdote writer I was immediately struck with fear. I felt like a new stand-up comedian making his first appearance at a comedy club. I was waiting to take the mic following someone like Jerry Seinfeld: “A tough act to follow’’.
What could I possibly contribute that was worthy of the invitation?
Well perhaps almost 57 years in the Fastener Industry should allow me to come up with something. Certainly I have experienced and seen many things, and met many people in this time, but what could be of interest to our readers. Then it struck me “why not tell how by chance I found myself in the fastener industry so long ago”.
As an Mechanical Engineering student about to graduate it occurred to me that I should consider how to use my degree and pick an industry that would provide me with opportunities. I only had to look around at my family and their friends and the jobs and the companies they worked for. One of my uncles stood out as he always had a new car, a nice house and a lake cottage, plus took great vacations. None of the others even compared. What was his secret to success? Well he was the Chief Electrical Engineer for a division of a major steel company. This made my decision easy, as the steel industry was big in the country back then, so I went about obtaining campus interviews with steel companies, and other industries. It turned out that I received several job offers, one of which was from a steel company with headquarters in my home town. I was on my way to follow my dream.
A short two weeks after graduation I started as an Industrial Engineer and attended an introductory session at the corporate office. This was then followed by notification of your permanent location
assignment. “Great, here comes a job at a major steel producing facility”. No such luck. My assignment was to a steel processing plant making bolts and nuts. So began my sojourn in the Fastener Industry.
This then was my first exposure to making bolts and nuts, but certainly not my last. Perhaps at some later date I can tell you how vibrant and alive the Fastener Industry was, with some 1,000 plus manufactures in the United States alone, and how the industry was always looking for experienced people.
By Ron Clark, President
It is hard for me to admit, but alas true, that I was not always the all-knowing, wonderful, omnipotent,…. in bolting matters only of course… no purple cap here… ever modest guru, that all my three followers know me as. Feeling the need to help you innocent bolting engineers…. Halley to note… that are untouched by harsh reality, I swallow my pride to bring back that nightmare window from the past in this anecdote remembering the matter of:
THAT DAM VALVE.
Looking back I can see why it took months of trial and error to fix what I considered poor design causing a simple bolt breakage problem. The valve was a large poppit style, about a foot in diameter that was driven open to allow fast approach of the slide downward and closed, to transit into pressing speed, just above the part to be trimmed. The Press would run for a few days and crash. The 16mm bolt holding the valve in place would fail. Fast approach would not slow down to pressing speed and tools would say “ouch”.
After a few failures we decided the obvious fix would be to beef up to a larger fastener and then a larger yet when that didn’t work, and at that stage, we pick up the story which continues as everything in India does, at tea time of course. I spent more time drinking tea than working, so that’s probably why my eyeballs are still yellow… anyway, there I was, drinking tea and munching Samosa’s with my good friend Erik, the plant maintenance super, discussing the latest repeat event involving… right….. you guessed it, that dam valve on my #!@%$<> (adjective) German hydraulic trim press that had crashed again, and Alberts was there. Alberts was an older bugger, a nice enough soft spoken chap….. wasn’t even a mechanic because he was only a lowly electrical supervisor, and part of his job was replacing fuses for Pete’s sake. So naturally, following the industrial caste system prevalent at that time, was considered mentally inferior….. So of course I had every right to look down on him….
By this time everyone in the forge and his brother were aware of my valve problem and maybe the whole world for all I knew. My genius reputation caused by a swollen head was in danger. Listening to our frustrated conversation while drinking tea through a monster mug, Alberts, as others before him, mildly ventured a simple fix that he had used successfully on his bicycle pump, which brought laughs and jeers from the room, along with a rude comment by me as to where he could put the fix and the pump. Because most of my problems were with German machines I remember feeling in those early days that the whole German race was against me and that they were winning. Of course this could well have been because most of the machines I installed were German anyway and I was too proud to ask the engineers at Banning who I felt would laugh at such a simple problem! I was quite young but already showing my Guru qualities in stupid.
Fast forward six months and I am at Banning, the press builder, touring our German principals from whom the company I work for import and resell machinery. I unload all my pent up Valve misery including some under my breath on Herr Joachim, the unfortunate spokesperson from their engineering department who apologetically tells me that they do not use that system any more but that they had suggested a simple fix that had I possibly not received…. Call me sensitive, but I know he was slyly laughing at me. He then showed me a sketch of the fix, which left me red faced and many hat sizes smaller. It was Alberts’ bicycle fix exactly… even including leather as the material used to absorb the shock when the valve closed. Yes SHOCK, IMPACT causing load spikes were loosening and finally fatigue failing the fastener which did not require any assembly preload. But of course you all knew this and the moral of this story is less about bolting and more about listening. A little respect for other people’s opinions can lead to good things.
In conclusion… I heard that sigh of editor relief.
As your ever knowing…. etc. .etc.. modest as always, bolting Guru I would end by mentioning a tea party on my return from the Deutschland sponsored by me.. I paid… for Mister Alberts, no less, to acknowledge his successful contribution to the institute of unaware bolting fixes and other unmentionable things and to inform him that Herr Joachim would like to hire him as head of design fixes for Banning or was it banging… can’t remember but my head size did grow back to require extra-large Mexican sombreros…
OK the end.
-Mr. Bolt (AKA by my competitors as Mr. Nut)
By Ron Clark, President
Decapitated little fasteners are never a pleasant recollection, so to my publisher, may you be buried under an avalanche of ISIS propaganda for persuading me to recall this traumatic event —— moving on—- so did you know publisher, that just like books, anecdotes should have titles. However, unlike books, it is possible for a reluctant author like myself, to craft a title with such literary skill, that after writing said title, no more words would be needed for the rest of the anecdote. With this stationery saving plan in mind, I have struggled to title the event I am about to describe, in the hopes that a single line would be large enough to satisfy your picky professional standards—– but alas, literary success eludes me once more. So to my multitude of readers —- I tried —– what’s that I hear —– long winded—– It’s the publisher’s fault.
Guess this title!
I’m not going to reveal them yet, but even though I failed to use them I did come up with a couple of titles of my own. The one is from a poem by Kipling, and though the line is taken out of context and certainly not applicable in this century, it could well have qualified for the event in the year it happened. Of course the other title had to be words in a song. Both poem and song were well known in an age that may unfortunately disqualify many readers in our jointing world, but alas, with historical precedent on my side, I am left with the sad decision to not glue, but screw, equal opportunity.
The place was Jamshedpur, India in the early sixties, where, even though living in Calcutta, I spent months of my life installing and servicing American, German and Swiss machinery at TATA’s Daimler Benz auto forge facility. Welcome a participant into the story, a maintenance mechanic at the plant, a character named Charan Singh, whose “man bites dog” attitude was known and generally tolerated by fellow workers and supervisors alike, and of course known to me, an outside contractor who had achieved the impossible by successfully working with him over the years. Other than a passing hand wave, I had not been officially introduced to Gruber the unwitting ‘other’ participant of this narrative, whose first name was Peter. Gruber had recently arrived from Germany to work on a very large, ailing, double acting hammer. Peter had no English so could only communicate with hand signals and guttural utterings which no one understood.
It was thought that the cause of their mutual dislike probably started early on when Peter in a combined flash of inspiration—desperation, had attempted to communicate with Charan Singh by drawing pictures on a pad, but the point of his lead pencil broke while negotiating the left arm of the swastika, bringing a rude snigger from Charan— sending said Peter into an awful Teutonic tizzy—worsened, when no one could find him a pencil sharpener. Perhaps this portended—is this a word Publisher?—events to come, and not long after, it was Peter who decided to stop me with a Tarzan like introduction wearing a huge cheeseburger smile, by sticking his ham of a hand on his considerable chest and saying ‘Me Peter’.
Seems like Peter had a suspicion that since I worked on German machines I was a kindred spirit and the answer to his communication problem, with his upcoming hammer rebuild. Had I known what lay ahead I may have caught the first plane back to Calcutta, but looking back, I now realize I was witness to the birth of the expression “Getting Torqued”.
The Players Bio
Peter Gruber was a large, genial, beer drinking man with a red face and hams for hands. Peter was not just a mechanic—he was a “German mechanic” and despite communication difficulties, managed to constantly convey his undeniably superior qualification to Charan Singh and crew with unmistakable intent.
Charan Singh was tall, wiry, middle aged and turbaned, a very proud Sikh—- who was a self-taught mechanic, as many were in India in those days. Fully self-reliant and ready to take on any challenges, he had worked very well with me on large press installations over the years. Acknowledging what one
doesn’t know can make average people successful. A little knowledge is sometimes dangerous and Charan would never admit to a mistake because his pride would not let him. As a result he was often involved in sometimes near violent altercations with colleagues and higher muckimucs.
And then there was I, the innocent peacemaker in this impending incident. I got on with most everybody because early in my life I realized that no matter how smart you think you are there is always someone around the corner who is smarter, and who you could learn from. But even I, with my self-admitted diplomatic skills, failed to heed the warning signs.
The Incident or “Death of a Diaphragm”
It was Charan Singh who drug me away from my afternoon tea at the maintenance manager’s office, to be present while he and Peter assembled the critical hammer diaphragm. The circular diaphragm was about five feet in diameter and was bolted down with a series of what looked like 5/16” hex head screws. The assembly sat on a workhorse and had been prepped by Gruber with German precision, with all screws snugged down, sequence marked and ready for the final tightening.
The plan was for Peter and Charan Singh, both experienced wrench turners, to sit on opposite sides while torquing the screws simultaneously in a sequence recommended by the manufacturer. Things went sour from the start when Charan Singh accused Peter of sitting on the wrong side of this symmetrical assembly. When the smoke cleared and order restored, it turned out that the side had nothing to do with it but that Peter was sitting on Charan Singh’s favorite stool. I was beginning to think that there must be some truth in the rumor that Charan Singh went nuts after twelve o’clock. So sides were switched and order restored by my diplomatic self, or so thought I.
I would inform some of you— dare I breach PC again— younger readers, that in the days before “click” torque wrenches, accurate preload on small screws was totally dependent on the mechanics skill. So the job ahead for the two proud mechanics, one from the east and the other from the west, demanded considerable skills. So there they sat on their stools like two pugilists waiting for the bell. Would have been a great iPhone moment.
Peter made the first turn on position marked # 1 with Charan simultaneously covering and torqueing his #1 on cue… The sequencer, seated on his own stool, lifted placard #2, so both mechanics covered #2 and torqued on cue. #3 was completed smoothly and I thought maybe this is working. #4 went fine and I called a pause after #6 to reorganize the placards. We restarted at #7 and after cue was called at #8 Charan Singh’s ring spanner came away with a head still in it and all hell broke loose. The German mechanic uttered a shrill scream of anguish and anger, the sequencer fell off his stool and I could have sworn that the wounded diaphragm resonated in tune with Peter Gruber’s vocal misery.
What happens next would have caused an international incident if anybody could have found us on the map. Gruber, yes the same Peter Gruber, covers #9 and with a casual snap of his wrist and to the surprise of all, willfully torques the head off. Rightly sensing a slight and not to be outdone, Charan Singh quickly responds by torquing off the heads of both his #9 and #10 in quick succession. All this happens at warp speed so that when the dazed sequencer props himself up with the help of placard #10, Gruber obliges by decapitating said screw with a flourish. After all befell ist befell, ya!
Like watching a tennis match all eyes turn to Charan Singh in anticipation who promptly removes the heads of his #11, #12 and #13 and stares at Gruber with a challenging glare that almost says I can do anything better than you… It is at that precise moment and in pin drop silence, when Gruber’s wrench is poised and ready to retaliate, that the calm, cautioning, changing voice of the maintenance manager is heard saying, “Be careful you buggers, don’t shear off any heads, we don’t have any more special screws —— daaaamn.” And sanity returns as all faces turn to my good friend Eric whose last name I shall withhold because he has either passed on or is still in hiding.
Had there been an international incident resulting from Gruber’s behavior it may have brought forth press like this:
India government lodges complaint with FRG embassy in New Delhi over events involving destruction of property by FRG passport holder and fugitive Peter Gruber last seen fleeing the scene with bearded Sikh in hot pursuit.
India PM in heated talks with German chancellor who finds Gruber’s behavior unacceptable—- now I know where Obama found that word. Chancellor makes light and challenges PM to a beer drinking contest.
PM declines indignantly—- he only drinks Mango juice but since he is the offended party he has choice of weapons and chooses instead a hot chili eating duel. The chancellor accepts, while citing precedent, volunteers his vice, who is Mexican, to be his champion. PM is snared in his own trap when his own vice unexpectedly pleads a sudden case of hemorrhoids.
Indo-German relations restored.
Not so well known diplomat also known as Mr. Bolt restores Indo-German relations by eating the Indian chilies and drinking all the German beer.
Mercifully— The End.
-Mr. Bolt (AKA by my competitors as Mr. Nut)
By Ron Clark, President
I don’t know if our editor will print this. But she’s Canadian….
‘OSHA’ AHOY. Where were you when I never heard of you, and after I heard I wish I hadn’t?
Firsts of anything tend to stay in our memory forever. So let me bore you with an anecdote of mine. Way back in my misspent youth I ran away from my apprenticeship at India’s largest steam locomotive workshop in Jamalpur to join the ‘boats’. Boats was a word used by us apprentices to widely mean the then, merchant navy. Word was out that steam engineers were needed, adventure called and I answered with all the unspoiled naivety of a teenage idiot.
Calcutta was the port, the SS DUMOSA was the ship, and I was signed on as the extra 5th engineer. Old man Punchard who hired this skinny looking runt, must have been seeing double during our interview, but I prefer to think he foresaw the makings of a great engineer happening before his bleary eyes.
Young Sailor RonThe DUMOSA was an Aussie Tub with significant similarities to the ARK. It floated and was close to the same age. It had been bought by a group of Boorie’s and had “cargoed” (is that a word?), to Calcutta and if it survived the voyage, it was to proceed light ship to the port of Karachi, in the newly formed nation of Pakistan, to be broken up for scrap. Nobody told me about all this or that most of the crew had deserted at Calcutta when I signed the articles. Maybe Punchard was not so drunk after all. Looking back I think there must have been many no takers, who were better informed.
First working day loomed and it fell to me, the extra 5th to supervise the lascars unloading cargo at the lone steam winch on deck. I knew winches lifted things and I’d seen them on Hollywood, ship movies and stuff, but had never worked anywhere near one before. Undaunted by my supreme ignorance and with steam snorting and leaking everywhere, things went fine until they didn’t, and the dam winch went nuts. A shackle pin fell out of a lifting clevis and a bundle of something came apart and hit the deck from what seemed the height of Mount Everest. To put the chaos that ensued in nautical terms, after all I was a sailor now, buggers were running to port, starboard and all points of the compass to escape the rain of errant cargo with me in the vanguard. I make no apologies but at that tender age, self-preservation and visions of life after the winch came to the fore, and aren’t you glad I survived to tell the tale. Notwithstanding my winch crews best efforts to the contrary, there were no casualties, though is those days, who the hell was counting. Lots of glowering and not so nice comments for the winch crew even though we protested our part in the incident as being just collateral damage. I didn’t know it then, but I think we might have invented the phrase collateral damage that is so glibly thrown around by politicians today.
Somebody important, turned out to be a cabin boy, suggested the captain be informed of all disasters and other things. Someone else reminded him that, there was no captain. Seems like Captain Bratton, jolly old tar that he was, had sailed his last voyage on the SS DUMOSA. Passing into the ghost ocean a few days previous and a new captain was on his way. Also seems like the unfortunate chap lay dead in his cabin for awhile before being noticed and like all jolly captains had to be winched off the boat after great difficulty in getting his great size out the cabin door. I got this information on good authority and with great detail, because cabin boys know everything.
What has this got to do with bolting you say? And I say I’m getting to it, so give me a break. After sixty five years I think I’m still traumatized by almost being collateral damage at the incident of the winch.
I hadn’t met the Chief Engineer yet. My source, yup, the cabin boy informed me that his name was Reynolds, and that he was so old that he looked like he’d escaped before the embalming was completed. He also confided that he was irreverently called Rundu, behind his back when not politely addressed as Chief. The 3rd engineer arranges the day to day operation in the engine room and it was Ghose, a Bengali engineer, who finally appeared on the scene.
With all the bright minds around it wasn’t long to diagnose stripped threads with the nut falling of the end of the shackle pin. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know a shackle pin from the Queen Mary but I did recognize the problem with the threads. (Unknown to me I was already fulfilling Punchard’s bleary vision of greatness).
When it was discovered that there were no shackle spares on board and no way to procure the hardware without idling the winch for hours, Ghose, who was also newly signed, went ballistic, muttering all kinds of disbelief in Bengali, which is a very suitable language to express frustrations and can be easily mistaken for French after a few drinks. Somebody found the nut, no it wasn’t the cabin boy, but the ANSI standards committee would have had significant problems classifying the fit or lack thereof.
Enter Chief Reynolds. He had shuffled alongside unnoticed. One look at him confirmed the suspicions of the cabin boy. I later heard that he was an old man even before 1941 when he was sailing with Atlantic convoys in oil tankers. There were not many engineers with the courage to stay below in oil tanker engine rooms on U boat waters. Evidently Reynolds was one of them, a survivor and a legend in his time, but now a wizened up shaky old relic of the past, who wouldn’t leave the sea. Or so I thought in my young wisdom.
Ghose explains the situation to Reynolds who peers at the hardware using a magnifying glass. Ghose leaves but returns with a steel shim and a pair of tin snips. Reynolds surprises me by skillfully cutting and shaping a strip off the shim and then inserting it into the nut. Ghose then threads on the nut and, Voila! The remaining threads develop enough torque to permit the shackle to operate safely for a few hours. We cautiously begin unloading again. My crew are winching again but lascars maintain a safe distance.
So I put it to you my readers, if any, as a popular though never published author, was this my first bolting lesson or a larger one where the ends justifies the means or, always find a cabin boy for information because they know more than the NSA.
My shaving mirror frightens me every m orning because I’m starting to resemble Reynolds. But the final lesson for y’all out there is, never judge a book by its cover, because maybe, just maybe, Punchard was right.
For more on my voyage to Karachi check in on the next newsletter if Lana agrees to go to print, that is.
-Mr. Bolt (AKA by my competitors as Mr. Nut)