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.


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