Re: Engineer Humor

Subject: Re: Engineer Humor
From: Guy Haas <ghaas -at- NETSCAPE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 09:53:48 -0700

At 09:32 AM 10/17/96 -0700, The Tech Writer wrote:
>How Mil Specs Live Forever


It gets worse. When that article passed through here, someone replied:

>and from the ranks:

>>You *must* know that I have a story about my own experience with this
>>sort of thing (no, I wasn't around for the Roman Empire):
>>The company I worked for back East did about 40% of its business with
>>the U.S. Navy. Consequently, we had to conform to Mil-Specs on a lot of
>>our products. We made standard commercial valves & regulators to control
>>fluid pressure & flow in a variety of applications, like steam, oil, or
>>water flow. Our products generally used standard commercial size
>>fittings, such as 1/4 inch.
>>HOWEVER, those same products, when ordered by the Navy, had to be
>>retooled to Mil-Specs, such as the fitting size. The Navy doesn't
>>specify 1/4 inch -- they specify 15/64 inch. This means that you have to
>>special order fittings of that size to be custom made by a fitting
>>manufacturer, and then you have to buy the whole lot that the
>>manufacturer makes (this is called a "mill run"), and generally, the
>>lead times for such things can be as much as 6 months.
>>I wanted to find out why the U.S. Navy specifies such an odd size, since
>>it costs about 10 times as much as the standard commercial fitting. The
>>reason is that the design of "1/4" fittings was spec'd into battleship
>>design in 1919 (just after WW1) in the US because that was the closest
>>thing to an English Whitworth size that was available that American SAE
>>size tools will fit. The British Navy at that time (of course) was the
>>leading Navy of the world, having just basically beaten the German
>>Kaiser's Navy, and blockaded all German shipping, thereby winning WW1.
>>The British Navy had specified Whitworth sizes (as opposed to metric,
>>used by everybody else) so that no parts could be used by anybody else
>>(mainly the Germans) from any captured British warship.
>>The American Navy hasn't built a battleship since 1950, and nearly all
>>of them have been decommissioned since about 1960. I think one or two
>>have been recommissioned since for use in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf,
>>but there are no new ones.
>>So anyway, the reason that Mil-Spec valves cost us taxpayers anywhere
>>from 4 to 10 times as much as the commercial counterpart you could buy
>>at the hardware store is that in 1919, the British Admiralty was afraid
>>of the Germans stealing parts from British warships.

Guy K. Haas, Software Exegete ghaas -at- netscape -dot- com
Netscape Communications 415-937-3773
501 Middlefield My opinions are mine,
Mountain View, CA 94043 Netscape's are their own.

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