Brown & Sharpe Machining
Case of the Mystery Mark
by Kathi Stringer
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"Shop Talk" - The Stories

True Story - The Case of the Mystery Mark

Kathi Stringer - Age 23 at the time

The Brownies were knocking out the parts while I finished setting up a plastic pin.  The part was about 3/8 in diameter and about an inch long.  Easy stuff.  The OOG cycle time was about 2 seconds.  Not bad for a single spindle double chain drive cranking upwards from 6000 rpms. The shop was noisy. I was used to the grind but I could still hear the part reflector flip-and-bang every time a cycle completed.  The yellow plastic part bin was filling up quickly.  

Just about then, a new gal asked me for something to do.  I off handed the yellow bin full of newly machined parts mixed with a rats nest of plastic strands, commonly referred to as 'chips.'  It was a messy job since it was foreseeable that every time she would pick out a part from the rats-nest the residue coolant would flick off the plastic strands and most times undoubtedly land on her face.  One of the job hazards and quarks.  Messy, but she seemed content to be active.  Great, things were humming.

A few minutes later as I was examining a print (blueprint), she got my attention.  She wanted to know if the bar-ends were good parts.  You got to understand the bar-ends varied in length and their was nothing symmetric about them except for the diameters.  One end had no coroner break and the face was jagged with remnants of identifying white paint tacked to it.  They looked like junk.  And, I should have said so, except my impulsive and conniving wit took my brain over.  Here we go...we both fell victim to my brain.

Nancy asked,  "Are these any good?" She was holding the bar-end in her naive little palm.  She seemed very interested in an answer.  Far be it for me not to give her one.

"Glad you asked."  I flicked over the part to view the jagged end.  "Ah," I nodded, "Do you see the white paint on the end of this part?"  She nodded agreeably.   "Well, look closely.  This part has a least half the paint left on it.  Can you see that?"  She concurred with a serious facial response. "Good, you got 'the eye," I said validating her aptness in the makings of a expert sleuth.  "Here's the deal.  The bar-ends that have 50% or more white paint remaining on them are to be saved."  Nancy focused intently on my words.  "Because," I said scientifically, "that paint is very valuable.  You see, when these bars spin at this high surface feet per minute, the paint molecular structure changes.  The electrons begin to implode on each other storing up 'force' or power.  Now, this is how we make money on the deal.  We sell the bar-ends to the nuclear power plant, and they in turn, scrap off the paint in a radiation safe environment.  From there the paint 'elements' are contained within isotope arrays to produce nuclear fusion.  This fusion in turn provides power for our industry."  

Nancy looked as though nothing could lose her.  She was being very scientific as well and got right to work.  From afar I noticed that she appeared to be very methodological as she carefully held up several bar-ends to the light to make a determination as to whether it had at least 50% paint remaining.  On occasion throughout the day Nancy would defer the judgment call to me as to whether or not the bar-end had enough paint. Of course, I was just as careful as my co-sleuth to make such determinations.  I would hold up the part, slant it from one light reflection to another and say, "Well, I don't know about this one.  It doesn't look like it has quite enough paint on it.  Throw that one out, but keep this one.  I try to hold to the rule-of-thumb, if it looks iffy, lets not take the chance."  

And so this went into the afternoon.  Finally the OOG spit out the last part.  I turned off the switch and the spindle hummed down to a silent roll.  The job was out.  Minutes later Nancy gave me a plastic bag full of bar-ends.  I explained that I was way behind and didn't have time to attend to the matter and that she could give them to Bruce, the company president herself.  But, I cautioned her first, "Bruce has a terrible memory.  He forgets things often.  I would imagine with his busy schedule he won't have a clue as to what you are talking about.  So, you will have to go over it slowly with him.  Eventually, he will catch on."   I groomed her confidence by reviewing all the details concerning the power stored up in the paint attached to the bar-ends.  Prepared with insight, she made her way through the shop into the administrative division.  

Time clicked by.  She was in there for quite a while.  I was beginning to wonder if she actually convinced the president that she had the power of the city in the palm of her hand.  Just as I began to lose interest, I heard the administrative door bang against the wall as she stormed back into the shop.  Her face was strained with distorted tissue that looked as roadmaps etched across her vein bulging forehead. It looked as though the fusion from the bar-ends rerouted into her isotopic array of neurons. She was TICKED!  If looks could kill, the whole block would have exploded.  She was seriously outraged!   BANG! The parts slammed into an empty metal can.  I could hear them rattling off the edges like firecrackers.  For a minute there, I thought there really was going to be a meltdown.  However, this was her first case as a sleuth and she had succeeded in resolving, "The Case of the Mystery Mark"

Happy bar-end hunting!

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