ShopTalk: Where Industrial Arts Went

With 72 ahead for me in a few short weeks, and with Elaine tuning up for hip surgeries, we continue to enjoy all the adventures we can in life.

But life is indeed changing and all around us.  Especially in the Shop.

I’ve told you before about my concerns with America becoming a third-rate place – having lost our “industrial edge.”  It’s there in books bemoaning the passing of “old school” industrial arts.  The good stuff.  Where you can really get injured and part of the growing-up process was a no do-overs when you’re trying to pour molten aluminum down a sprue.

Or when you started to feel the edge of kick-back trying to begin on a table saw because you weren’t in charge of the work.

See?  Those are real lessons of growing up.  Not this fake, bull-shit hand-holding crap.  Real power tools.  The kind that caused fits for school district insurance carriers and their retained counsel.

But you know this stuff.

A little flavoring, though, before we get to the point.

The Nature of Shop Work Has Changed

It didn’t strike home until I ordered my latest batch of old shop magazines off eBay.  Delta-Rockwell put out a series in the early 1960’s that everybody at the firehouse would rave about.  Pappy, and the Uncles, would all get worked up with the prospect of some wood, a day or two off to focus on things and you know what?

It rocked.

That’s because – very much in the tradition that a farmer will hand things down to a son – there was Pappy having me shag tools and I learned every move he was making.  By the time I was 10 or 11, I was on the old “Monkey-Wards” saber saw (also known as a jig saw) and from there by age 12 it was onto the Skil saw.

Today?  Well, the covers and articles teach as much about the evolution of modern America as they do the disappearing craft worker:

See the change?

Well, let me point it out for you.  People aren’t doing the same kind of “decoration” of the kid’s rooms, anymore.  Let alone taking the time (and finding the joy) of cutting down a couple of sheets of 5/8ths plywood (sanded both sides) and building something that would stay in the family forever.


Oh, and the project on the right?  Dandy paint cabinet for the home shop.  Well, except that so few people have a home shop today.  And if you’re renting, and have enough paint around to store in a cabinet look for the landlord to go through the roof.  God help you if there’s a fire inspection.  Paint in a non-metal closed area?  Not going to work, these days.

Money Matters, Too

One of the joys of the “old ways” though was that they took time, employed craft workers and that was dandy.

Today, though, the work is overseas and anyone with half a brain can buy used Rockwell and Delta machines on Craigslist and eBay for a song.  But the realization of just how much we have changed hit me like a hammer as I found this handy list of “Table Dimensions.”

Sure, you might have a bedside table.  But what’s a butterfly table?  Console table? Or a drum table?

In today’s world, we are not compelled to acquire non-optimized furniture.  Sure, there were dimensions for “telephone tables” but although they may still be called that, when I looked on Amazon, only one picture (out of 14) showed a telephone (and an antique at that) on a “phone table.”


The more I looked, the stranger it got.

There was a dandy write up on how to  build a “drawing table.”

Which would be great IF anyone was really “drawing” anymore.  App, ain’t it?  Corel?  Paint?

I suspect the real artists (like Elaine) run around with something like her U.S. Art Supply Coronado Walnut Easel, Large Adjustable Wooden French Style Field and Studio Sketchbox ($100, Amazon).  Thing is, it’s totally optimized to what artists like:  Change.

Sure, sure, Mr. Ure is extravagant (bunny’s cost moneys…): But look at the cost even at Biden’s proposed min-wage of $15 an hour?  Even if wood were free Amazon would be the obvious choice.  Because there’s wood, hardware, finishing, joinery…all that stuff eats up the hours…

Want another example?

The 3D Revolution

Here’s yet-another mind bender:  This looked like a marvelous project:  A king-sized lathe-turned chess set.

These were spec’ed as being turned from 3 3/4-inch square stock.  Ah… an hour or six of fun on the lathe.  And there is something really (how to say this?) magical about “letting a chess piece” materialize out of a tree limb.

On the other hand, with two 3D printers, I can download anything off and then use the re-scaling features in Cura and print out the ready to use chess set of my dreams.  Any size.  You play the Darth Vader set.  I’ll play the squirrels, right?   Hmmm… this wasn’t going well.

It was about to get worse…

Quick!  What’s Ubiquitous?

Why, time, of course!

There was a period when American home craftpersons were turning our clocks-galore!  They were some beaut’s too.

Even today there are some dandy clock kits out there.  The problem isn’t with the art of clock-making, per se.  It’s that time has become ubiquitous.

It’s on the wall in front of me (pendulum), on the right corner of my screen, in my the app I’m using (reminding me of my last “Draft saved at….).  And if I’m still not sure what time it is, I can ask “Alexa, what time is it in Stockholm right now?”

Yet – my friends with Apple Smart watches don’t seem to appreciate my asking this –  “How much precision in time keeping do you need?  Are you splitting atoms or do you really need 20 centimeter GPS precision for targeting?”

Hmmm…  Not sure what to make of it all.  I love the blown up drawings (they go into my head for future use).  And details like that (along with some of the jigs used for fancy cuts) really change your way of looking at design.

But until the grid goes down – there’s a chance which even I’m honest enough to admit to – that I’ll never get out of tools what I’ve put into them.

But not when there are 1,900 plus downloadable clock variants on Yeggi.

The “Social Shop” Gone, Too

Bad as all this “optimized living” stuff is (turning us into click makers and that’s about it…) there’s one more point before we head out for more coffee:

The social angle of two or more people working on a project has largely disappeared into the technology.

Here in the Outback, it’s still around.  If a neighbor needs an odd size electrical connector, “Maybe George has one…save us a trip into town…”  (Which takes an hour.)

On the flip side, every pair of eyes within 2-miles “has our back” and if I need a hand with something (heavy, unwieldy) there’s help right away.

Don’t see as much of that in a city.  I lived in cities for most of my adult life and during times when I was in apartments or condos?  Couldn’t so much as tell you the first name of any of the other people in the building.

Even in the upscale burbs, the only reason I knew the guy three houses up (retired from the FAA) was because we connected over projects and power tools and kids about the same age.

It’s all well and good to make a living with your brain.  But going through the great tool company project books from 60-years ago is a strong reminder that this was once a world where people were known by their “works” and the “skilled craftsman’s hands” made America.  Back when we still made pipelines and unbeatable cars.

It was a time when everything was made locally and the salads and veggies were from 50-feet away.  Not good for digital gamesmanship.  But a more honest life and closer to the Earth.  Seems to be out of style.

The “Economic Maraschino?”

A well schooled and highly educated colleague sent a note this week citing another writer:

“This year’s debt buildup in the US has funded zero new productive investments. No roads, no airports, railroads, nothing.”

Maintenance only. Slap-dash at that.  Covid kills Boeing, Joe kills XL, and debt service will finish us all.

Say, maybe if we just keep doing enough “stupid busy work” maybe we can turn into a whole country of  “stupid people” – you think?

Write when you get rich,

58 thoughts on “ShopTalk: Where Industrial Arts Went”

  1. Covid did not kill Boeing. Outsourcing engineering offshore killed Boeing.
    Boeing was the most successful export business ever. And their engineering group was a union shop. Perhaps one of the readers who is more familiar with the Left coast labor movement can comment on what really went on behind the scenes with Boeing engineering.

    • A bunch of things killed Boeing. The 737 Max debacle`was part of a long standing feud with the FAA over Boeing’s many safety violations. For years the FAA had to address Boeing’s lack of transparency and launched more than a dozen legal enforcement cases against the company for failing to comply with safety regulations.

      When two 737 planes crashed, the worlds trust in the company went down with them. Then Covid hit and the entire air transportation industry crashed…the problem with Boeing is…if they violated safety regulations in good times to appease bottom lines for investors…what kind of quality would you expect from them during bad times? Is outsourcing engineers a cost savings measure or A quality measure? Only Boeing has the answer to that. Has nothing to do with west coast labor movement.

      • Just to clarify, outsourcing software engineering offshore is always a Labor issue. And as you have pointed out, there is no reason to expect Boeing to be forthcoming in why they made changes in technical production. Someone with knowledge from the other side of the bargaining table might be enlightening. As for your analysis, I don’t accept simply dismissing the decision to outsource as an internal Boeing matter; that is brown shirt globalist corporate drivel.

      • Everything is a business model… Southwest Airlines (Boeing’s biggest 737 customer) would only accept the Max if it was certified under the same type rating as all previous 737 models. Their pilots could fly any variant saving big bucks.

        The FAA wanted to make the Max a new type certificate if Boeing designed the plane with taller landing gear to provide clearance for bigger underwing engine clearance.

        Taller gear and bigger engines on a stretched airframe would essentially make the Max equivalent to the B757, but 25% more fuel efficient.

        So the answer is… build the Max under the old certificate, and add the automatic trim system from the B767. Except… the trim system works every few seconds in a high power setting/nose high attitude (like takeoff or go-around) and is supposed to be seamless for the pilot if hand flying… which is typical for takeoff and initial climb. However, Boeing did not disclose in the flight manual how this auto trim system worked. Worst, the logic of the auto trim is backwards to previous Boeing auto trim systems.

        So you spend years expecting the trim system to work as you’ve been trained, then in an emergency turning on the autopilot put the aircraft into altitude gyrations that got larger and larger, causing the loss of control. Expectation bias.

        Now everyone knows the problem and will train for it in designated Max flight simulators. And that maneuver will be practiced in every check ride. Already airlines around the world are ordering the Max because the 20% fuel efficiency is too hard to ignore

        I’m type rated in the 737, and with the additional training/flight simulator I would personally fly the aircraft or fly as a passenger.

      • Boeing started downhill when “share value” became the main product. What finally killed it off was the merger with McDonnell Douglas. McDonnell management philosophy won out, and they’ve been doing everything on the cheap ever since.

      • Having retired from Boeing after 30+ years, I’ve seen the downward spiral for a long time. One thing, no matter who’s the head monkey, the company was ALWAYS schedule driven. I’ve seen and experienced this first hand. The schedule ALWAYS wins. Quality began the downward plunge after McDonnell Douglas bought Boeing with Boeings’ money. The McDonnell family were the biggest single stockholders and pretty much dictated how things were going to be after the so called merger. After the build up when business picked up in the early 2000’s, the company started to emphasize having managers with a college degree in something. With time, they started hiring managers off the street instead of promoting from within. Some of these came from Home
        Depot, McDonalds and other similar companies. In many cases, they had NEVER had anything to do with making airplanes. The very people who were supposed to know something about what was going on in their area became the village idiots. They were only there to manage people, not to now what they were managing. Also, another thing that became real big was self inspection for the people making the parts and doing the processes. It’s no wonder that it’s become what it is. If Boeing could have their way, Q.A. would rubber stamp the final operations instead of inspecting operations and parts along the way. Things have changed for the worse, and I suspect that it’s like this at a lot of companies around the world. Follow the money. To say this is a business model is probably right, but I think that greed and a lack of morals has more to do with it. I watched the video from Aljazerra, and although it’s more than a few years old, it probably only is the tip of the iceberg. The cost of over runs for the 787 will probably never be known, but I remember hearing one figure of over 30 billion dollars, but that might be light. The reason that Boeing owns the plant in South Carolina was like a number of things associated with the 787, and that was to get control of the screwed up production, and the only way was to own the plant. And, undoubtably, there were many others. I remember running into a friend who was scouring Boeings scrap metal for material to make jigs for parts for one of our partners. The lead time for raw material was at least a year. Our partners didn’t take risks making production jigs for parts like the upper upper managers lied about. Good thing it’s only money, etc. As far as the work ethic goes, it would seem that living on ones phone is more important than just doing the work. And yes, a number of the younger peoples work ethic isn’t the same, and the older employee’s have been retiring and with it some of the work knowledge. George, the Puget Sound area has changed a lot, and not for the better overall.

    • Three excellent articles on this subject:

      The ‘Primary Directive’ for any kind of sound engineering is avoidance of “Single Points of Failure”. The use of just one stall sensor violated this rule and then compounding it with a series of blunders caused the deaths of several hundred people.

      • In hazard analysis, potential failure modes are sub-categorized by potential casualty value and loss of life. All catastrophic single point failure modes should have been picked up in design review. So was there a failure to do proper safety analysis, or a failure to follow up on implemenation? Coordination of safety with offshore subs can be very difficult, under the best of circumstance.

    • Where did the decisions to outsource engineering come from ? Nothing to do west coast labor movement..

      This is real world scheisse – See DVD – “Deutscher Verteidigungs Dienst – german defence service. Most powerful german intelligence agency, black, and largely in control of the Federal German Republic..over 65 years has been the blackest, most ruthless and most powerful intelligence agency..” -M. Shrimpton -Spyhunter

      S A B O T A G E

  2. “People aren’t doing the same kind of “decoration” of the kid’s rooms, anymore. ”

    Phew.. its still like that here.. kids called last night. I can’t get the drawers out of the dresser. (Homemade dresser) canyoufix it..sure over i go..the runners swelled.. I couldn’t get a screw driver in it to remove them. Hey honey (to my five year old grandson) can I borrow your screw driver.. he runs to his toolbox and grabs it..dresser fixed.. then I was asked can you make another trophy shelf..when I built the house I made curtain rod holders that have shelves on them wifes plate collection.. the kids the same thing..
    I do get you though. I had a car that the engine threw a rod.. into the high school shop it went.. it was their years shop project.. up till 2005 they had wood shop to..that is now gone.. the do still have them make things at home..
    It wasn’t that long ago maybe five years that I got the request to make a potato cannon.. I checked with everyone before I helped the kids make it.. and it was ok..the principle teachers kids and patrol officers were all out shooting it..they would drive a pickup back and forth almost a half mile away to see if they could land the spud in the back.. lol ( i put a range finder sight on it lol)
    Today all of that is gone..they can’t even wear a shirt that has WTF on it..
    But here at home projects still thrive.. most people just dont have time.. many have to work multiple jobs..

  3. “On the flip side, every pair of eyes within 2-miles “has our back” and if I need a hand with something (heavy, unwieldy) there’s help right away.”

    It’s still like that here in the wastelands.. when the grill is out an extra burger gets put on for the patrolman.. if your working in the yard you set a lawn chair next to the road just to do your waving for is just a phone call or holler away..
    People still respect each other and treat their neighbors as they wish to be treated..
    Boy or girl scouts.. band whatever selling their cookies or fruit.. if mom or dad tries to sell them there aren’t any sales.. if the child asks they sell out.. kids can still play safely and as far as I know there isn’t a gang problem. ( ihave heard that theres an essence creeping in as those migrating fro the big cities drag that lifestyle with here with them.)
    Celebrities and famous people buy homes around here.. mostly because no one knows who they are .they just look familiar and they can relax in a real life scenario..
    You can sit out on the patio porch swing enjoying a good cup of Starbucks coffee..

  4. G-Pops,

    diabolical debasement of our American way of life, our shared culture – has been underway by unstoppable forces [principalities of darkness/cowards] since coot can remember.

    ..under the guise of attorneys,insurance execs, marketing & advertising execs, pharma, ect..

    – nearly half of Ure nation is Diabetic/PreDiabetic, we gotz some serious underlying issues..

    In coots family – the kids (young adults25-30) wrangle, bargain,cajole, manipulate w/each other over the handmade children’s toys & wooden puzzles our Grandfathers made…in the wintertime, when crops are dormant and “idle” time was plentiful.
    As a collector – early on I recognized the Quality,Durability and Scarcity of those handmade pieces, and made it a personal misson to “collect” as many of those hand made toys & puzzles from parental units as possible. Parental units made some highly sought after pieces as well.
    Today – the coots usually host the big family get togethers, and the first place the babies & toddlers with parental units in tow go – is downstairs basement gaming area to play with the some of the coolest Children’s toys & puzzles money can not buy.

    “Money Matters” – no it dont, not anymore imho.

    MMT is here, and Janet be monetizing that debt..$120 billion a month, every month Minimum..just pulling it out her big fat derriere every second of everyday – cause we the peeps Demand It!

    Speaking of Demonetization – Wonder why the price of Gold has not moved much this year in USD terms, in light of the massive monetization of debt going on, destruction of world currencies & economies, US dollar tanking ?

    The answer is Digital Gold = Bitcoin..Pure Monetary Energy, baby.

    Pure Monetary PROPERTY in Cyberspace – with NO JURISDICTION!

    Unlike free & clear east Texas farmland, or any other debt free farm land for that matter.

    Future Prediction Time – sit down, buckle up.

    Price prediction for Bitcoin is nonsensical, as BTC upside price potential is UNLIMITED. read that again – UNLIMITED.

    BTC is the DOMINATE Digital Monetary Network – Buy it and wait for the World to Catch up..

    An Engineering breakthrough, that is Thermodynamically Sound.

    Think original idea of Ford assembly line -what horse?
    Think GE original light bulb tech -whale oil/wax
    Think early internetz/BBS

    Coot likes to buy the dominate playa- portfolio theory = BS.
    Basket of delivery service companies or AMZ, basket of EV car makers or Tesla, basket of tech co’s or Apple.

    9 out of 10 times buying/going with the Dominate player is a winnerwinnerchickendinner.

    – like Ures ChickityChina/Cointreau Chicken..”see a drumstick and brainstarts tickin”-BNL

    The coots family really enjoyed Ure chicken dish – so much so that after the meal

    -which saw the coot taking a huge raft of shit from assembled “peanut gallery”..”wheres this recipe?, urban what?, we’ll never survive this clusterf, how much Cointreau? moar cheese, moar Cointreau’- crew at Che Coot is brutal on a good day.

    BTC is only way I can see to securely move Money 20-30 years into the future, for future generation (s) of bandicoots.

    UST, Bonds, Stocks, Precious metals, free&clear realestate – ALL subject to significant risk of Principal & Interest – And reporting to IRS on the 1040 Confessional form.

    BTC Network is expanding at a rate of 200% a/yr, cant expand any faster, and
    eventually Bitcoin is going to DEMONETIZE ALL Assets; gold,silver,oil,lumber..everything.- and life will be gooder.

    • ..”so much so that after the meal – Ure recipe went in current coot family recipe book! Thanks Popz

    • “hand made toys & puzzles from parental units as possible.”

      That’s what I wanted to do after I retired. Make wood toys for kids. Not to sell but donate to shelters etc..
      I use to make a kick ass train and airplane.. but I’ve got patterns for all kinds of toys.. I made a coworker a carousel for his niece. He took it home to cali.. called me up and said i have an order for five thousand of them.. huh.. I don’t make things to sell.. they are made th o GIVE away as gifts.. if you sell them then it’s a job. A business model. Instead that’s my hobby..done for leisure no rush. It’s done when its done…

  5. “There was a period when American home craftpersons were turning our clocks-galore! ”

    Still do that to.. when I’m done with the violin i have been considering and asking the wife if I should make a grandmother’s clock out of cardboard lol…
    For a cigar box project I made a six inch black forest clock. Had to get the movement from germany.. I still have a box of random movements for future projects..

    The one I wanted to make was called a Whistler. The decorative components with peanut or pecan shell flour and dental cast..

  6. George,

    I really worry about the oncoming generations. Most, if not all, have absolutely no idea how anything works, let alone how to repair it. Being the child of Great Depression era parents, I was taught that if at all possible, “repair it, don’t throw it away”. As a result, I have a rather large “bone yard” of things I might need some day.

    I have through my nearly 70 years had a variety of work experience. I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, but have always considered that just another tool in work chest to be used as I needed. Been involved in plant/maintenance engineering, time study for the garment industry, ran a construction firm that did home building and also industrial/commercial construction, owned and operated a manufacturing company producing cabinet hardware, and (my true love) own and operate a row crop farm.

    Point to all the above is that experience is the great teacher. Everything has a lesson to teach and value to be retained. I feel comfortable tackling any job, due to a life long set of skills learned. Not as fast as I once was, but I eventually get it done. My biggest weakness is computer programing. When I was in college, Fortran and Cobal were the big computer languages. Did everything with punch card reader and hand written program sheets. Have pick up other computer skills through the years, but takes me longer than it should.

    Old school still has its’ place. Case in point, I had a pneumatic punch press that used printed circuit boards to actuate. Had a board failure and the manufacturer wanted 3 months and $5,000 to repair “my” board. Could not wait that long. Made a simple flow chart of the operation of the press and its’ interaction with the production line. With purchase of less than $1,000 of parts (NEMA 4 enclosure, relays, etc.) and three days work, the press was back in operation. Considering the vibration it took, the relay setup was much more bullet proof and worked the same. Manufacturer of press actually wanting a copy of my circuit diagram, which they were unwilling to pay for. Suffice it to say, they did not get a copy.

    Anything learned is of value, and hands on skills are a true treasure. We “industrial arts” people are a dying breed. Not hard to see why civilizations fail; they forget the lessons of the past or ignore them as “out of date”.

  7. A good reflection of our past years George. Today’s youth does not look at things the way I, you, and some of your readers do; they have not experienced the trials and tribulations that made us resourceful and multiskilled. All we can do is leave them our written perspectives (journal, a library of self-help books, your myriad articles and books, and teeteehee my collection of Mother Earth and Woodsmith). My son is a somewhat prepper/DIY/gun collector who works for Home Depot Corp; always told me growing up that there was no way he was going to work as hard as I did as a contractor. I worry not about him; he has the skills if times turn upside down. Again George a good article.

    • Thank you.
      Yeah – just tore apart an MJF tuner and fixed the roller coil and put in a new turns counter.
      Old bush pilot trick: When you get an ugly repair (alternator belt on a C-170, for example) tie wrap one on the engine case. That way, if the alt. belt breaks, you can put the new one on without pulling the prop.
      Migration of idea example: When the tuner went back together, a spare belt was taped to bottom of it for the next time in 10 years when the rubber belt breaks – which they all do in time.

  8. Hey George, You could not have been more correct on old school shops disappearing, I just did a job for a local auto shop they needed a bore on a bearing hole enlarged on a FWD transfer case. Simple job it took longer to set up than do, I charged them 2hrs of shop rate when the shop owner came to pick it up he was overjoyed and proceeded to tell me that he had called over 25 machine shops in the greater Phoenix area and all but one would not even talk to him unless he program for the machining and one place that said they could do it wanted $800 to do a 30min job after set up! And to be quite honest I have been spending a lot more time in front of the mill and lathe making stuff for people or repairing whatever and the distance they travel to have me do it! There are getting to be fewer and fewer shops wanting to do that kind of work much less able to do it in todays world there are no more “Machinests or tool and die makers” they are just operators, they would no more know how to the simplest lathe or mill operation than the man on the moon! You made a comment about a paint locker a dead fridge or up rite freezer make a great paint locker strip the compressor and condenser coil out paint it safety yellow ad a couple of flammable stickers done!

  9. My Dad came here from Sweden at age 23. He made everything…the house I grew up in, a log cabin on the lake, table and captain’s chairs for my boys (2 & 4),
    window boxes for my house, a ring for me. He made me a rocking horse when I was two..and I still have it. Of course he made the cabinets in the kitchen..he could make anything.and it lasted. Also had a huge garden. My Mom canned and put things in the freezer. We helped ..I admire those who can create things, make a house ..or picnic know what I mean. I have no time for those who make piles of $$ taking advantage but couldn’t make or fix anything. Seems to be lots of those around

  10. “Being the child of Great Depression era parents, I was taught that if at all possible, “repair it, don’t throw it away”
    I am with you there.. fixing the new electronics is more expensive than buying a new one.
    Friday… the sewer overflows.. water everywhere..
    Down goes the snake.. its ok..
    The next day washer drains the sewer overflows.. dam.. out comes roto rooter.. he’s curious sticks the camera down to see why..
    Dam.. with normal shifting.. a pipe is broken…
    To fix it. We have a slab floor.. we have a lot of granite digging a basement was out.. how much..
    So far I have bids for ten to fifty grand.
    Our options.. sell the house let the new owner deal with future issues..
    Have it fixed put in a whole new kitchen and dining room new floors with an access etc. move into an apartment while repairs are being made.
    Or be blind to it and pretend it doesn’t exist and keep roto rooter on speed dial..
    I totally intended to sell the house to the neediest grand child when the time arrives for us to sell out..
    I had the thought … can a stint work. So Tomorrow I will get a bid to have it lined..what I am hearing is 5 to twenty grand.. either of those figures is horrifying.. we live payday to payday..and after having to survive a year without an income our savings is gone..
    I am pretty sure I could get a loan but income doesn’t support the costs of another loan..
    We shall see.. I might see how the process is and if a DIY’er can do it..

    • A good do it Ure-selfer would move the washer to an outside wall, dig outside where it’s easy.
      PVC supply runs could be put in a new wall, move wiring. Depending, bet a handy feller could do the job for:
      20 2x4s framing $100
      4 sheets drywall $100
      Wiring parts $100
      PVC parts $150
      Sidesewer hookup $200?
      New stack and an ugly bump on outside wall $200

      Something on that order? is it just the washer line? Avoid loans if possible.

      • I actually thought about that… my first thought breach the foundation then tunnel to the token pipe.
        It’s the main line and is real close to sixty feet long.. when I built the house I put in three bathrooms kitchen etc.. to fix it wont be an easy fix…they are all involved.. what else sucks is I built it… I put extra reinforcements. When I did the driveway I put footings under the road so that I could have cement trucks drive up and down it.. its solid.
        I haven’t checked my lottery tickets from fridays drawing yet..
        The guy coming out to give me a bid his cost is almost a grand just to tell me how much it’s going to cost me..
        I have been looking at spray lining equipment to see which option will be cheaper.
        Back years ago sewer pipe was made out of tarred cardboard..

      • The other sad part is IF we have to radically downsize and move.. the guy we are helping will have to go to a shelter.. so I am looking in on how to make sure he’s going to be ok as well..
        Theres nothing good about this weekend so far..
        Since covid and all the affects that has had on everything this surprise was not expected. I thought I had my bases covered ..
        I am pretty good about figuring difficult scenarios out.. buying the equipment is looking as a real choice.. will know more tomorrow for sure

      • Its sixty foot of line.. the one thought was get a teacher dig down then run a connection at each spot to connect.. but that would be as expensive but wouldnt require moving or tearing out the floor and kitchen…

        This is an easier option..

        So far it’s all up in the air..I will know more tomorrow… theres also a felt liner that can be put in place and expanded. Just have to rasp out the line ..

      • You better up the price of those 2×4’s! I am in the process of making a workbench out of a 6 ft. piece of an old bowling lane. I went to the local lumberyard to buy what I needed for the project and I about fell over at the prices today. 2x4x8 were $8.28 each! I will darn sure measure twice and cut once LOL.

    • Not understanding… Is the collapse inside or under the slab, or between your foundation and the sewer or drywell mainline?

      • Under the slab… and a possible future trouble spot outside the foundation
        I had it checked this morning..
        Now the results… I need to have someone tell me that Angel’s and god don’t exist..
        I called to get someone out.. he shows up bright and early.. I had to take someone to the doctor’s.
        Real nice young man spins his camera down. Finds the trouble spots then brings out the cleaner..
        Very professional.. explains how hes going to fix it.. his helper kind of slips with what he thinks the cost is.. my heart skipped a beat but I kept silent waiting for the bid..
        He is busy writing the bid and the bill..
        I look at the bid and the bill.. I look at it a few times.. then I say dam I was expecting a whole lot more than this..
        He said.. you don’t know me but I know who you are.. years ago when I was a little boy .. my mother got really sister and I thought she was dead..we were scared and alone..and then you walked in saying everything is going to be ok you were there.. you reassured us our mom was going to be ok and made sure that we were ok. That we had food and was cared for..
        Then he said that I didn’t have any idea just how much that affected him and his the bill is for materials only. He then marked out where the issues were with the main sewer line. Said unfortunately he doesnt have the equipment for that but is going to give me the names of a couple that will treatment right.
        In the end the crucial repairs will still be couple of thousand .. but nothing like I was expecting..
        God works in mysterious ways.. I
        Feel as if a huge burden has been lifted..

  11. I teach on the side, and I teach CAD software tools that are handy for making stuff. I meet people all the time who want to make stuff. They have tools, skills, or sometimes just dreams. They want to work in manufacturing, making stuff at a maker space, or their home, or all of the above. It’s not gone.

    Is it a large percentage? No most of my students just want a job, and with a 9 month certificate in Computer Aided Design/Drafting they get jobs. Industry in the area is always short of talent, and has been since I got into the field 24 years ago.

    I’m saying that just because mom/dad don’t have a shop or tools to make or repair anything, doesn’t mean their kids aren’t drawn to it. It’s a human need. They know it when they see it. My own kids have watched me make and fix everything I can, their whole lives. Only one of them is drawn to it. She’s doing fine.

    We should start to worry when they decide we don’t need these tools any longer. For climate change or something equally BS.

  12. i spent a lot of time on a southern oregon farm with a crusty but gentle grandpa. we milked 42 cows, changed the irrigation, rebuilt motors, used a scythe to keep fences clear. i had to drive tractors at eight, the pickup at ten, and made my own gunstock for my .22 before he would give me the 12 ga. when you mowed hay you had the 12ga on the tractor so when the pheasants flushed you could stop and get dinner. we would go to the plywood mill and get the core logs (which they burned if you didn’t take them) and then used the PTO on the farmall tractor to run a 36″ buzz saw without a blade guard to cut them up into stove size. i was grabbing the fall pieces when i was still in grammar school, that huge whirring blade right in your face, sawdust flying. we wrestled calves to earmark, brand, cut the nuts (then rocky mountain oysters for breakfast… yummm) and never thought about getting kicked and bruised. it was just plain what it took to live. gardening, canning, pickling, bread, butter churn… people today, especially my own kids taken by angry divorce, know jack shit about what it really takes to get shit to the market.
    by age 21 i was building a 38′ boat (1968) and sailed it south by 1975.
    i pity youth i see now, stuck in their hand brains, glued to the IM of life, fearful of having no one message them constantly.
    western humanity is so screwed.
    now at almost 75 i’m building another boat, and will be heading south as soon as possible. at least the people of the tiny islands still know that life isn’t in your hand all the time and there is more to what we are than electrons… bitcoin included.

  13. Spot on, G. As I see it, Rome is burning, but the majority of it’s citizens are too busy checking their phone apps for the latest memes.

  14. My wife and I made our wills out years ago and update them about every 5 years. On the last update a couple of years ago, we called our 3 kids together and told them to let us know what of out material possessions they wanted and we would list them accordingly. Except for an antique grandfather clock which one of them thought they might want if they had room, it was crickets.

    I have visions of this huge dumpster bucket in front of our last home being filled to the brim for haulage to the dump.

    Gives a whole different meaning to family heirlooms.

    • “we called our 3 kids together and told them to let us know what of out material possessions they wanted and we would list them accordingly. ”

      The one thing everyone wants of the kids.. is years ago.. we bought a malt maker from a restaurant that was closing.. everyone of the kids are nuts for it. What they dont know is I went out and bought one for each of them.
      Their husbands all oogle my toys and the playpen..
      I am a tool slut and know it.
      What they dont realize is my freeze dryers and canning stuff will be offered to my church first.

    • I’ve been accused of being a pack rat, even though there’s been many times I’ve been able to pull a rabbit out of my hat when someone needed some off the wall item. My ex used to threaten to get one of those huge dumpsters after I pass on. I’m grateful my new other half share the same mindset.

      • My wife use to threaten the same thing.. then we went a year without an income.. LOL…. now she helps…. all of it came in handy..

  15. Yes, I believe us now-retired folk lived during the golden age of making America great… postwar. I’m fond of the many industrial arts I was exposed to in high school. I settled into electronics. Even that now days is no longer ‘fixable’. What do you do with a massive IC chip with 100 surface-mount pins when it goes bad?

    An entire generation or two is now dependent upon foreign made ‘stuff’. The downfall of America will be epic when it happens, and the casualties will be very high. None of the younger generation knows how to take care of themselves during hard times.

    • I keep..hand operated and mechanically operated of most tools.. like my oil crank.. I can crank out cooking oil by hand or I can use the mechanical oil separator..the only thing I donthavethat option with is the cream separator. I had a hand crank one but it ended up a flower planter years ago..

  16. George,

    For “looking out of the box”, I have perhaps another option for the collapsed drain pipe. I am not sure if you can find a contractor to do a residence, but municipal sewers (that have collapsed) are routinely cleaned out and flexible plastic liner is rolled out inside the newly cleaned out pipe. Once the liner is in place past the break, it is hardened in place; and magically you have a new pipe. For municipal sewers it is called in SITU remediation. If you can find a contractor, maybe a small hole to insert the liner instead of a total slab break out.

    Just did a web search and numerous companies pop up that do this process. Some even have procedure for swimming pool piping.

    • Thanks Lloyd… I did find someone.. he is coming tomorrow morning at eight to see what it is going to take for me to get it fixed.. he is going to clean it.. camera it and see if it is fixable..

    • That’s what I was thinking of, for his solution. Shoot, even just shoving a piece of PVC in the existing drain, past the break, might be an option. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to work.

      ‘Thing is, the tile would have to be tapped somewhere for an insert repair of any kind to be done, and I’m not divining the location of his break, from his earlier posts…

  17. “Back when we still made pipelines”

    IIRC, Trump made approval of the Keystone Pipeline contingent upon the pipe and materials all being sourced from domestic manufacturers whose acquisition and production was entirely from within U.S. borders.

    We DO still make stuff. We just don’t make as much as we used to, nor do we make a lot of the sub-assemblies with which complex machines are built…

    • I fail to see how it’s legal for a government to revoke a permit already issued unless the permittee has failed to comply with the terms. This would especially be true if the permittee has invested money and time based on that permit. It would seem to be a violation of the fifth amendment.

      Sadly, it seems that we live in a lawless world where governments refuse to abide by even the laws that they made! Where’s the incentive to follow the law when even the lawmakers won’t?

      • The Constitution of the United States is a legally-binding contract between the U.S. Government and its Citizens — That’d be the Contract that’s been routinely ignored or circumvented entirely, by our “leadership” for more than a century now. The Constitution was written to limit the amount of power the Federal government could accrue, and the ways in which the Federal government could exercise that power. The shitheads who’ve been elected to positions within that power structure over the past dozen decades or so don’t like having to abide by statutory (or any other) limitations.

        We have hundreds of intercontinental and transcontinental pipelines in CONUS — over 1,400,000 miles of petro-pipeline in all. They run from Texas to Canada, Pennsylvania to Louisiana, California to Oklahoma and many other places, both hither and yon. They have been transporting both crude, CNG, and fuel oils & petrol products, many of them for nearly a hundred years, with ruptures or spills [being] so rare that I doubt 1-in-10 of you even know the pipelines exist.

        BNSF had two spills that I recall, between the time Buffett acquired it, and now (I think there was a third, but I’m not certain), hauling product from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma. Were XL finished and functional, the graphic likelihood of it suffering a spill (ex- outside interference, like a terrorist attack on it) in our (or our children’s or their children’s) lifetime is asymptotically close to zero… But the envirowhackos think “pipeline bad, choo-choo good” and so, XL goes away and the Oracle goes back to adding $2.3mln per day to his bottom line (because that’s HIS cut of the BNSF profits from hauling Alberta oil), until the next Administration comes along.

        It is NOT legal, but there’s no one on the planet who’s both rich enough, and inclined to fight the status quo in court and win.

  18. All is not lost. I have only homeowner skills typical of those who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s. I put together Heathkits as a kid, finished a basement with the help of a more talented friend, and do odd plumbing and minor electrical jobs just to save money. My son, now 43, had minimal tool exposure at home although he did make a gavel in junior high wood shop. But over the years he has developed many skills out of necessity: girl friend’s car scrape led to Bondo skills, bought a well-used BMW and tackled stuff I wouldn’t think of using a rented lift and YouTube guidance. He also has built loft beds for his kids after first making models with his 3D printer. He rewired his house (Swedish laws about DIY electrical work are different) and we both received an education about phantom voltages. He built a media server for his in-laws and several other computers beginning in high school. His tool collection doesn’t approach George’s, but by the time he’s 72 I expect he will be living in the country with the barn filled with tools. By the way, he makes his living managing a spare parts supply chain for a Swedish company—all of his mechanical and electronic skills are now avocational.

    So, what went right? First asset was genes: insatiable curiosity runs on both sides of the family. And probably a mild case of ADHD. Aptitude came by way of his self-taught machinist maternal grandfather who was a 4th grade dropout. Willingness to screw up is another. I won’t take on a project unless I’m certain I can complete it. The kid is more of a “We’ll see what happens” mind-set. He was seduced by computer hardware while his high school classmates were playing Dungeons and Dragons and an orthopedic problem kept him away from sports. We joke that I could have been driving a Benz rather than a Toyota if I spent on cars what we spent on computers during his adolescence. He also lucked out getting a job with a small internet provider while in high school.

    The point: shop skills are indeed less common than they once were, but they are not extinct and will not go extinct as long as some people fall off the predicted paths. The “maker movement” is a testament to their endurance and it is interesting to see who shows up at maker fairs. Still predominantly male, but the two I’ve attended spanned the high school to geezer age ranges. And look at builders in Robot Wars. High school kids to retired engineers. All is not lost.

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