Earlier this evening, I saw a bumper stick which said "What the hell is a millwright?", displayed prominently under the center brake light of a late model Dodge Neon. Does anyone know what it means? I can't figure it out.
Got a job as an apprentice millwright in a plant back in the '60's. There it was mostly moving and setting up BIG and HEAVY equipment, as you said. Learned a lot about leverage. And keeping it all running.
Up here in B.C. Canada Millwrights are trained in their apprentice ships for five years . They must pass the Inter-Provincial red seal certification. The training includes Machinist training ( 3rd year Machinist school), Weldor training to a minimum of level "C" , some electrical control and a lot of hoisting and rigging. You will find them in mills , oil refinerys and most often every industrial plant of reasonable size that still does it's own work. It is a very skilled and highly paid trade. A good Millwright is as important as the old village blacksmith was in the old days ....... he could do anything ,any time with next to nothing.
Several decades ago I went to Africa for a few months to help straighten out some survey problems left by some Frenchmen who had been fired. On the plane I met a millwright traveling to the same job for the same reason. I told him about all the precision equipment that I am taking with me (theodolite reading to one second of arc) etc. He kept quiet about his equipment.
After a few days of work I realized that he is working with layout equipment that far surpasses anything that I had seen or imagined. He would do setups with mirrors, micrometers, collimators etc. that would align shafts of equipment that were 30 to 50 feet apart. He would send a light beam around a 40ft. x 60 ft. rectangle (mirrors) and align equipment to within a thousandth of an inch at those distances. Needless to say, had I used surveying techniques my accumulated errors in four setups would have exceeded (worsened) his by a factor of 20, or so. I was very impressed. He would explain to me that in a conveyor line (heavy multi-ton aluminum ingots) one roller out of alignment by a mere few thousandths of an inch would mean bearing life cut in half, etc.
As mentioned in the other posts he was a jack of all trades. While I was pretty impressed at my ability to lay out column lines to within an eight of an inch at distances of hundreds of feet, his everyday accuracy way exceeded what I could do with my equipment and knowledge.
In fact, it might be interesting to deal with the difference between a blacksmith and a millwright. We tend to think of a blacksmith as someone who shod horses, but of course they did much more than that.
I assume the original "millwrights" (someone who made or repaired mills) was either a good carpenter was well as metal worker, or else had an associate who was a carpenter/builder. I would guess in many cases the millwright made the machinery for the mill, while a carpenter/builder built the structure.
I am really interested in this thread, 'cause I am working on a historical novel where the leading character is a millwright.
BTW, what was the term in use in those days for someone who did build houses and other structures?
"AL" wrote: Earlier this evening, I saw a bumper stick which said "What the hell is a millwright?", (clip) Does anyone know what it means? (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Correct me if I'm wrong, AL, but I don't think anyone has answered your question. You weren't asking, "What is a millwright." You were asking, "Why would anyone ask that question on a bumper sticker?" I can't figure it out either.
"Emmo" wrote: I think the point of the sticker is that as manufacturing jobs disappear, so do the skills that were once required. It is a political comment on the scourge of outsourcing. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ You may very well be right about the intended meaning. And you are certainly right about the effect of outsourcing, as well as the effect of high tech manufacturing techniques and products on our job skills.
However, I would never hire the author of that bumper sticker to design a campaign for me. The message requires you to know the answer before you can understand the question. (And it helps if you are a mind reader.)
In the Metro Transit Bus repair shops in Seattle the Millwright is in charge of maintaining and repairing all service equipment, from overhead hoists to hydraulic lifts. My neighbor is an electric bus mechanic for Metro.
Shot in the dark here, but is there a local-ish college team whose name is "The Millwrights"? A tech/industrial college just might have such a nickname, and an opposing team might, no,too much of a stretch. Disregard.