flanging 2

Brighton Corporation has always trained their own flanger operators.  The reason being flanging machines are rare.  Unlike welders, machinists, pipe fitters, whatever, no trade school turns out flanger operators.  So Brighton must give them on-the-job training.  This is very time-consuming.  And costly.  When I was hired, no production times were kept on my work for 6 months.  They knew it would take at least that long for me to get up to speed.  And they knew I was going to scrap a bit of metal learning how to operate the machine.

This situation is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is such a lengthy costly process that once I am trained, once I am turning out quality work at an acceptable pace,  they do not want to lose me.  They have invested a lot of money and effort in me, so they want me to stick around.  A good situation for me, since a lot will be tolerated and excused to keep me happy.  On the other hand, if I get pissed off and desire to quit, my options are quite limited.  Whereas a welder or machinist can work anywhere in the country, there is very little demand for flanger operators.  I heard there is a plant in St. Louis, but I never checked it out.  So once trained, we are stuck with each other.  Hence 42 years of employment for the same company, a rare event nowadays.

When I was hired way back when, at the age of 21, I received four weeks training.  The first two weeks I stood behind Roy H. and watched.  I was also sent on numerous errands to find this, fetch that.  Of course, inevitably I was sent to the basement (no such place) to get a bolt stretcher (no such tool).  More about harassing newbies in another post.  But there was a practical side to these errands.  I was learning the layout of the plant, and where things were (or were supposed to be).  But mostly, for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks, a total of 10 days, for 80 hours, I watched.

Then the next 2 weeks I ran the machine, while Roy watched.  I realize now how nerve-wracking that can be, since I have trained numerous operators myself.  That’s another post.  But Roy wanted me to learn the controls, without screwing up the material or the machine.  He smoked a lot of cigarettes those two weeks.  I hate to consider it, but I might have contributed to his drinking, which soon got him fired.

The month ended without me scrapping any metal or destroying the machine.  Roy happily went off to third shift (for a short while) and I was all on my own on second.

This is the kind of machine I trained on.  It’s a Blue Valley flanger.  Very primitive by today’s standards, but remember this was over 40 years ago.  Flanging machines have become much more powerful.  3-8-blue-valley-flanger-model-4-hydraulic-bottom-roll-adjustment_151719187478

This is how it operates.


2 thoughts on “flanging 2”

  1. That’s funny about sending you to the basement to get a bolt stretcher. That must be a common gag. At my very first job, as a dishwasher at Perkins, one of the cooks told me to go up in the attic and find the bacon stretcher. Of course I was eager to please and gave the cooks a good laugh when I realized there was no attic and no such thing as a bacon stretcher. Probably the gag I remember the most though was when I drank pickle juice. I was always drinking Mountain Dew in the dishwashing area. I drank it in one of those clear plastic cups they served customers with. One day I came back from a break picked up my glass and took a really big swig, only to discover they had dumped out the Mountain Dew and filled the cup with pickle juice. However, the biggest laugh the cooks got out of me was from something that they had nothing to do with. We had a kitchen supervisor who I reported to directly, but there was also a restaurant manager. The supervisor was an ok guy, but nobody liked the manager. Remember Frazier from cheers? He kinda looked and acted like him. Really pompous. Anyway, he was always there on Sunday mornings because that was easily the busiest time of the week. One Sunday morning I went into the men’s room that all male employees shared. We were not allowed to use the restrooms that the customers used. I remember walking in, closing the door, and then looking down at the toilet and seeing the BIGGEST turd I had, and maybe ever have, seen. This thing was HUGE. If I’d had a camera I may have taken a picture. I used the plunger and had to break the turd up into three pieces in order to get it all to flush. After I walked out of the bathroom there were a couple of cooks, a waitress and the manager in the break room. I was only 16 at the time and failed to use any common sense in this matter, otherwise I would have realized that the monster turd would have come from someone I worked with. Anyway, I walked into the break room laughing my head off and said “Damn….you should have seen the size of this turd. Biggest damn thing I ever saw. How could someone just leave something like that in the toilet and not even try to flush it down?” No one said a word. Coulda heard a pin drop. So I go back to my dishwashing machine and a few minutes later one of the cooks walks back there and he’s laughing so hard he can hardly stand up straight. He told me that the manager had been in the bathroom for a long time and had just come out about a minute before I went in. Oh well….the manager never mentioned it to me. How could he?


    1. Yeah, those sound like some mean tricks. I had plenty pulled on me, too. But I think I’ve more than balanced the ledger. I’ve gotten some good laughs on co-workers myself.


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