The moulder that produces the most work is not always the one that makes the most motions. The contrary is generally true. The man who does a large day’s work, if observed, will be seen to be attentive, calm, and thoughtful, but never, apparently, in a hurry. You will never see him excited, or making a false move.
If he steps across the shop to find some tool, you will generally see him bring back more than he went for. On his way he sees something that he will want further on in his job. His thoughts are on his work, and he sees ahead of what he is doing, and does not have to wait until he comes to the different parts of his job to know what he wants.
Materials and tools are always waiting for him, not he for them. When he has a new job he sees its requirements before he begins it. He thinks before he acts. His brains are always ahead of his muscle, and he never makes two motions where one will do. This requires thought and study. All men are not capable of this, but many that are do not practice it. They would sooner be in a sweat than bother their brains with thought, or study how to accomplish the most work with the least labor.
Practice should always lessen labor, and with some men it does, while with others it does not. The remark is often heard of a quick workman, “He slights his work; no wonder he can do so much with such ease.” In the eyes of some he is looked upon as careless, and called a “lucky” moulder. What is wanted in every foundry in the land is more of these lucky moulders; not those who, without their abilities and painstaking, try to imitate them, and are forced to the conclusion that they were not born lucky.
What is generally thoughtlessly called slighting work, is simply taking advantage of the requirements of the job. It is something that cannot lie well explained, and can only be done by a master of the trade. A beginner should aim at perfection first, and when he has accomplished this as far as possible, he can practice slighting, but never at the sacrifice of perfection. Many men practice slighting and lose thereby, for the simple reason that they have not made it a study, or they lack experience and judgment.
Slighting work does not always mean that every part of the job is to be done with less labor. Many times a little extra labor on one part will save twice as much on some other part of a job. Sometimes by a little extra care or labor in ramming up portions of a mould, a deal of labour can be saved in finishing. Many moulders waste time in the ill-use of their rammers. They ram many parts of their mold harder than is necessary. It would be useless to attempt to describe the many ways work can be slighted, as the class of work and general conditions must be the guide.
In foundry practice two classes of castings are produced—heavy and light. The production of each of these calls for a different class of men. With light work, the quickest-motioned men will excel. In this class of work it does not require so much practice or judgment to know what may be slighted. On light work, men are very seldom changed to different floors. They can keep their tools together and soon get the run of jobs, as one man may make a hundred pieces from one pattern during the day; while with heavy castings a man may require a month to make only one.
A foreman may successfully rush light work, but when he attempts it on heavy work he must go careful, or find himself the loser. There are times and places where the moulder’s manipulations may be as rapid on heavy as on light work, but generally this can not be expected.
There are two ways of bringing about rapid work. One is the foreman’s method, and the other the moulder’s. If a foreman can bring influence to bear that will interest workmen in their business, it will conduce to rapid work. If, on the other hand, he contrives to make men think they are being driven, rapid and good work will not result.
It is easy to judge whether or not a workman is quick-motioned, but not so easy to gauge his mind and perception. There should be harmony between the mind and hand.
Some men can see and understand all the requirements of a new job in far less time than others. Their brain is more active, mind clearer, and perceptive qualities larger, and if combined with these the organ of caution is prominent, they should make good reliable moulders, capable of doing a large day’s work.
In machinery foundries many moulders are given other moulders and helpers to assist them. To be able to keep this help employed so as to accomplish the most, and to avoid mistakes and trouble, is an accomplishment the moulder should perfect himself in, if he expects to produce castings rapidly. There are many moulders who are all right, and can do a large day’s work if left to themselves, but should you wish to forward things by giving them helpers, the extra quantity produced will be but little, as they cannot tell others how to work and also work themselves.
It is uncommon to find a moulder possessed of all the desirable qualifications. He should be reliable, quick, neat, commanding and temperate; a good many virtues to find in one individual.
Thomas D. West.
American Machinist – February 24, 1883