rockstar.esq

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About rockstar.esq

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    estimatorsplaybook.com

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  1. It occurred to me today that the word "productivity" has (at least) three accepted meanings, each of which is driven by the observers perspective. To the worker, productivity is the rate of work getting done. For example "John installed twenty lights today" To the manager, productivity is the effectiveness of work getting done for example "Our lighting crew has completed 60% of the work with half of the schedule remaining" In the big picture, productivity is the rate of change in the effectiveness of work getting done. For example "We increased our revenue by 2.5% without hiring more people." Back when I was an apprentice, we were expected to make production on our assignments. We were often given a specific amount of material to install in our working day. All of our scrap went into an individual bucket. Anyone who had an excess of material or scrap at the end of the working day better have a good explanation ready. Falling behind attracted attention which brought instruction and correction in mostly equal measure. On larger jobs it was common to see managers comparing the progress between crews. The affected foremen running said crews faced a similar fate for falling behind. Managers likewise, face comparisons made by the companies ownership. This approach brings mixed results which reinforce just about everyone's complaint with employee-management relations. Recently I read some articles talking about how productivity is at an all time low. This is one of the most common explanations for why wages have been largely stagnant for so long. Delving deeper into the article, I realized that employers are citing a flat rate of improved effectiveness as "low productivity". It's not that workers aren't getting things done, it's that they're not getting more stuff done than they have in the past. On the surface, that sounds like business owners focusing on "the stick" rather than the "carrot". At some point, simply yelling at people to go faster is bound to max out the improvement. Now it would be easy to suggest that the grand answer to greater productivity is investment. Yet I see lots of evidence that companies aren't making capital investments (tools, equipment, etc,). So they're neither raising wages, nor improving their tools, yet the stock market is setting records. What gives? I think I have part of the answer. Businesses are shifting away from competition. I see evidence of this all the time in my local construction market. General Contractors (GC) that routinely invite "the whole subcontractor market" to bid on cattle-call projects aren't winning much. Yet a drive around town will reveal their banner on projects I wasn't invited to bid on. A particularly common practice is for the GC's estimator to conduct all the bids for lost cause cattle-call nonsense, and mostly pointless conceptual projects. Once they've got an actual client on the line, the project is handed off to a Project Manager (PM) who conducts the bidding from there. These PM's are often hidden behind impenetrable bureaucracy where they are free to act with impunity and without transparency. Getting back to the management level view of productivity, the PM's have every incentive to avoid changes that could hurt their performance numbers. Since they're not competing to win the work, low prices aren't a big concern. In fact, this situation allows them to leverage the opportunity against a select group of subcontractors to demand lower risk for the status quo. This approach can range from great professionalism to outright collusion. "On paper" the PM is consistently delivering successful projects at the same price. Thus we hear business owners complaining about how "worker productivity is flat". Yet these projects are more profitable which helps to explain how it's possible for their stock to rise while "productivity" falls. Transparency is a tremendous threat to these hidden markets. If clients knew that PM's weren't actually getting competitive pricing, they would withdraw from the negotiated agreement. If market-leading subs gain access to the hidden PM's they can expose high prices, thereby driving a wedge in longstanding "relationships". Exposing the process also stands to reveal the "secret" behind a PM's success. For many PM's, that wouldn't be flattering. Transparency is a threat to the business owner as well. It's convenient to blame stagnant wages on low worker productivity. How good would it sounds to admit that they're increasing profitability by avoiding competition? They could claim they're pursuing better clients, but all that really means is that they're targeting clients with higher budgets and lower scrutiny? Business owners would also stand to lose "plausible deny-ability" of their PM's actions. At a bare minimum, industry "best practices" are being studiously avoided because they provide insufficient opportunity for graft. Oddly enough, there are situations where transparency is a threat to the client as well. Roadwork is an excellent example of this. So long as the client isn't a municipality, a road can be built in a remarkably short time. I worked for a firm that regularly paved all the streets in a one hectare neighborhood in less time than the city took to pave 100 linear feet. The city used the same road design, materials, and vendor supplying the labor as well as the materials. Roads provide a convenient problem for elected officials to solve. The longer it takes, the longer they can point to the progress being made on their watch. So long as nobody realizes that it's an artificial delay, the public is mollified. Please don't get me wrong. When the paving company showed up, they were hard at it to get the job done. Paving is hard work. The city just made sure they didn't show up for months and months on end. Yet the city would have traffic control set up for the whole time. In my time with that company, no less than four separate cities did things the same way. There's a big interstate expansion slated to begin out here that's supposed to take 10 years to add one lane in each direction for 15 miles. That's 21.698 feet per day. I looked it up one time, but the single best day of production on the transcontinental railroad was something like 13 miles. 13 Miles of track in one day working with hand tools must have been some kind of awesome to witness! That being said, it just doesn't sound possible that in 2017 we can only get 21.698 feet per day using modern equipment.
  2. Vaughn, Could you case harden the face of your puck? It might be worth a try.
  3. Thanks to all for filling in the gaps. I suggest we turn our attention back to blacksmithing.
  4. My first thought is that it's a hack just because of how crudely it's posted. Specifically, the font choice, size, and color don't match the rest of the page. That said, I've never seen the site before so I don't really know. Either way, the cruelty involved is only enhanced by acting rashly. Thomas, I tried to find a cached version of the site without any success. I'll PM you a phone number I found.
  5. Nice hammer. I particularly like that you can tell someone who doesn't know boo about blacksmithing that you've got a square faced rounding hammer! Its one of those things that sounds wrong but isn't.
  6. Will W. Based on steel I've unintentionally burnt, I can't imagine the fireworks involved in trying to "render" the carbon out! The little bit of charcoal I've used sends up "fire fleas" something fierce. To my mind, this is a bit like breaking concrete to recover the gravel.
  7. Kozzy, that's interesting but I'm not sure how to read it. As an electrician, it's a big "no-no" to connect aluminum and copper directly because the galvanic reaction just eats both metals. We're typically using tin plated hardware to connect the two, or "bi metal" steel which isn't well defined. I'd love to know more about this stuff. George, I have a few cooking utensils that are brass at the food end and steel for the handle. Going on a decade old and no signs of any problems. I've also got a Case pocketknife with brass stock separating the steel blades so I'm guessing that brass and steel get along fairly well.
  8. Metal Masher I don't know if you've got one but a 4-5" angle grinder with a flap disk (not wheel) is a wonderful tool to blend edges. Even in a very coarse abrasive like 60 grit, the flap disk will leave a beautiful shiny and blended finish. It won't however, let you make something very flat. For that, the plastic backing plate and plain abrasive disks are really nice.
  9. Frosty's comment reminded me of an observation an older buddy of mine made. He's been doing blacksmith demo's for at least twenty-odd years now which naturally leads to lots of public interaction. He said that he encounters a lot of young, aspiring knifemakers who hand him a card which invariably reads: "Something, Something, Forge" on it. To him, "Something, Something Forge" is the marketing equivalent of asking someone out on a date by saying "So my... parents are out of town..."! Getting back to the OP, I checked your profile location, then googled cities in South Metro Minnesota. Minnetonka popped out at me as recognizable. According to Wikipedia, Minnetonka means "Great Water". I think "Great Water Ironworks" sounds impressive, as does "Great Water Custom Tools". Wiki tells me Minnetonka is a Dakota word. "Dakota Decorative Iron" might work for you as well.
  10. SoCal Dave is right. The word "Forge" in your business name virtually guarantees that you're never going to be on the first page of a google search. In 2017 customers who can't find you on the first page of a google search, won't bother with you. Think about how much money was spent on marketing to teach the world that "Gap" means clothing store. If you don't have that kind of money, you might consider naming yourself for what you actually sell in terms your customer would use. The majority of people will not search for "forge" or "forged" unless they're researching identity theft. All of that being said, "Legally forged" is a clever tagline that could feature in your marketing and banter. I recommend naming a business after a prominent natural or geographical feature because everyone loves nature. If your surname is difficult to pronounce for American's perhaps there is a notable natural or geographical feature you could choose near your ancestors. A while back there was a similar post from a smith located in a village who's name translated to something that evoked a beautiful image. Perhaps your surname translates to something similarly inspiring in English? Decorative items often suggest artistry and sensitivity to beautiful aesthetics. "That's a pretty name, where did you come up with it?" is an opening to share your sensibilities which in turn connects the buyer emotionally to your work. There's only one "you", and your culture, heritage, and location are all ways that people can relate to you. Selling hand-made decorative items and tools in 2017 means convincing the buyer it's a good value. Either they're paying more for a personal connection to the maker, or they're saving money because it's cheaper than anywhere else.
  11. WL, Thomas, I suspect that I could open the 3/4" hole to about 1-1/4" before I start to hit the ID of the nozzle. If I was running an electric blower, it might be a bit more touch and go, but with the hand crank, I suspect I can accommodate small inefficiencies without it mattering too much. Glenn, That's a good idea that would probably dial me in fairly quickly. I'll give it a try when I get a chance.
  12. Tubalcain2, thanks for the reply. I guess I could try opening it up to see if there's a problem. If it is, I can always weld it back up.
  13. I have a buddy who loves using chain to quiet his anvil. I tried it for a while with modest success. It wasn't until I made a steel stand that bolted up tight that I finally got a quiet anvil. Compared to folks using chain and magnets at the hammer in, there's no question that tight bolting is the most effective silencer. I don't have any silicone, or noise absorbing material between the anvil and the stand. The only dampening I have is oiled sand in the hollow tubular legs of my stand. I did take the time to flatten the bottom of my anvil. There was a small ridge on the parting line of the base. That being said, all the anvils I've seen in such situations were London pattern. I have no idea if it's possible to get the same degree of silencing with a two horn anvil. I've only encountered a couple in real life and they rang pretty well.
  14. I recently upgraded my hand-crank blower to a larger Buffalo forge one. My old Champion has about 1-1/2" diameter output, compared to the buffalo which is closer to 3". The little guy just takes a ton of cranking to get and keep a fire going. The buffalo forge blower is putting out a lot more air which is nice because I can crank slower to keep things moving along. I've noticed that there's a lot of resistance when I'm cranking compared to when the blower isn't connected to my tuyere. "Firepig" has a 2-1/2" diameter inner pipe that tapers down to about 1-1/2" at the nozzle. I tried to follow Mark Aspery's design on this. He called for a restriction hole at the nozzle of roughly 3/4" irc. The "snout" is a water jacketed tuyere that's plumbed to a remote bosh. This photo shows it with the tub fairly empty, in use, I fill the tub with sand to insulate and to provide a ducks nest for the fire. I'm wondering if I should open up the snout diameter a bit to ease the back pressure which should make it easier to turn the crank. I haven't studied this stuff, so I don't really understand what the restriction is meant to achieve. I don't know if opening the restriction some will adversely affect anything. Thanks in advance.
  15. FYI that's an electrical conduit body, they are properly called a 2" LB.