Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's the Works.....or is it?

Interesting post about Works drawings on another blog.

Works drawings are sometimes an initial design in some detail, sometimes a finished drawing which is what's actually made.  What we have to do as modelmakers is decide by comparing drawing with period pictures if the "Works" drawings are any good for us.

I once had A.V.Roe drawings for the lovely Anson aircraft, but although overall they were helpful, in detail they were hopeless!  Same deal with Bristol Cars and as for architects...I've corrected impossible shapes for them more often than not, including the great Richard Seiffert (who gave us the wrong colour references for the model of the NatWest tower.
According to the architect's drawings for Brentwood Library, the roof simply would not have fitted if I'd gone on to make the model from the drawings.
I've even done  a measured perspective drawing of a famous gearbox where the main two shafts wouldn't have allowed any meshing of the gears!  So both modelmakers and technical illustrators act as checking stages in the production of most items.
I got fed up with waiting for a Chief Engineer of a car design house to come up with drawings (CAD this time) of a rolling monitor in the VW CM2's dashboard, so I sketched out a scheme on a bit of scrap paper, knocked it up in clay, GRP and made the mechanism, installed and tested it and even had the flat screen fitted (Rocking horse poo in those days) before the huge roll of drawings wormed off the printer.  When they arrived, it was obvious it would never have worked anyway.  When he saw mine in the car, he stamped on his Marlborough Light, drew himself up to his full 5 feet and stormed out in his new Audi TT for 4 days!  Never spoke to me again.  In that 4 days I'd also invented a drive system for a Palm computer for which I am a nominated inventor on a VW patent scheme.  The Danish boss, who I didn't realise was even in the room, described the mechanism as F---ing brilliant and immediately drew up the patent application.

I have never had a moment of engineering instruction, but working as both a modelmaker and a technical illustrator, without the "help" of computers has given me a natural feeling for these engineering problems, I suppose.

But convincing engineers of this facility has always been an uphill struggle.  With the noble exception of Nobby Clark, who was a real engineer, a Chartered Engineer.  A quiet jovial master, who could design the most complex injection mould tools with a slide rule and a set of Log Tables.
He, with all his qualifications and obvious skill, was always ready to discuss with someone who was "just" his illustrator.


  1. Given that I hold a Master of Engineering degree I should probably keep my mouth shut at this point :) Fortunately my field of engineering is software so I've never had to draw up a works drawing. Mind you I've yet to build a piece of software that bears any resemblance to it's formal specification either!

    What set me off on the original post, and what I still don't really understand, is why a modern drawing of a specific prototype should be so wrong. I would image that if you drew up a plan for a specific car from a specific set of photos it would be accurate to those photos, even if that meant it didn't relate to the works drawing. A set of modern plans that are different to both the works drawing and reality seem to me to be the very worst combination.

  2. Errrrr......I think you've misspelled "engineer" as you've only used half the letters. It really should be f _ _ _ ingengineers rightly. See...all one word.
    Unless you mean the guy who runs the locomotive?
    My father had a degree as a mechanical f_ _ _ ingengineer and never used it nor allowed anyone to call him that. I still have all his drafting tools from way back as well as some of his original drawings on velum when it was really velum. He preferred the term draftsman and right after I was born, he decided that if nobody could make correct drawings then at least he should be allowed to make the parts himself so he chucked it all in and became a machinist and worked as such until he retired at the age of 70 in 1985.
    Funny that as I'm now 70 and if I had half the motor skills my old man had I'd be golden. As it is right now it's about all I can do to wipe myself any longer.
    But just wanted to let you know that I understand where you are coming from and I have yet to meet any of that particular persuasion who don't feel that they have attained a rank higher that that of St. Peter himself.
    If you can't publish this I understand only too well but you really struck a nerve with this post.

  3. Well, 50/50 really guys. I have worked with some very fine engineers, like Nobby Clark and Jim Fowler. Natural engineers. Jim taught at the Ford body school for 21 years, invented inertia reel seat belts, the 9 row webbing we all know AND the machine that will weave the stuff without clogging up every few seconds. I doubt if Jim had more than an ONC to his name. So I would echo your views exactly, Rich, only I would write in "teachers", where you have f----ingengineers. I have never known a good one, except Chalky White, the English teacher at Romford Tech. probably as dead and gawn as the school itself. Teachers abound on the canals and I was always worried to share a lock with one.
    Mark, I do indeed draw my own plans, with a pencil, from photos and measurements, when the final cost allows, which, these days, it rarely does, so I use a published plan, change it where it obviously needs it and then finish the model to period pictures. Nobody has ever yet questioned it. Well, they've always paid. But that could be because they know I know where they live!
    Thanks for your comments, gents.

    1. Martin,

      I only had two really excellent teachers in my 15 years of schooling. The first taught me history and geography, the second, English literature.
      But there was another after who just just grabbed me and she said, "It goes in here!" A true revelation!
      Point being that the latter was most correct in all other things as well I might add. :-)
      My dear old friend I have never met a person who couldn't teach me something. Even if that something was simply not to be like them! But I do share your feelings by and large.
      I now return to your regular programing.

  4. I continue to learn from a few good folks, not least you old pal. But none of them is a teacher. Those who can, do...those who can't, teach... those who can't teach, lecture...and those who can't even lecture, criticise.
    Regular programming is very little currently. I have a stinking cold, a cough and a listless soul (OK, you always knew about the it restless legs). This year, the 'Flu jab was described as different. Damned right, Chris AND Tammy have exactly the same. What say you?