Today’s machine shop is filled with various computer-controlled machines which perform all of the steps required to build a complete engine, or just about any other task you can imagine with respect to metal machining. Grinding, boring, turning, drilling, and more–but it takes an operator skilled enough to program the machinery to do his bidding. With the proper training and computer aptitude, there is only one limit to what can be achieved with today’s modern machinery–that of which the operator can conceive.
Prior to the advent of computer-controlled machinery and accompanying software, each of the operations had to be performed by hand. There was no single machine where a cylinder head could be placed inside to have the majority of the port and chamber machining operations performed in one shot, nor was there a block machine that could knock out the vast majority of tasks performed by the machinist. Each one had to be performed separately, with the job moving from machine to machine for each step of the process–and sometimes repositioned on the same machine to access a different area.
So when we came across this video showing off the state-of-the-art machining operations (and how many people it took to complete them) from 1942–and realized that all of these positions are virtually gone in today’s machine shop–it was a serious eye-opener.
Today’s machinist must be computer-literate, a problem-solver, and capable of not only understanding what the machines are doing but how to program the computer to make those operations happen effectively and accurately. The skillset has evolved, but the ultimate goal is the same: to produce precision-machined metal goods which are well-engineered.
The point of the video was to educate potential machinists of the different types of jobs they would be performing, should they decide to embark upon a career in the machine shop. From reading blueprints to measuring finished products with the relatively rudimentary tools of the day, it’s a fascinating look into where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. We can almost smell the cutting oil!