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Remember When…

Think it was simpler, back then? Think again… (Adding machines had nearly a hundred keys?)

Email me with the things you remember from the “good-old-days” that I forgot to include…

  • Drafting was a highly regulated, mechanical art form? (It took a new guy several months just to develop the skill for applying “text” to a drawing.)
  • Sprinkler designers wore white shirts and ties, smoked like chimneys and knew how to use Scum-X? (A bag of powdered pencil eraser for removing smudges from a “paper” drawing.)
  • Blueprints were actually BLUE? (and stunk of ammonia.)
  • There was no email, internet, or distractions on the job… unless you counted “practical jokes” on your coworkers? (Remember the time… )
  • A phone call at work meant your wife was having a baby, or someone close was injured, or worse?
  • Two, or three beers, at lunchtime was no big deal, especially on Fridays?
  • There were only three types of sprinklers? (Upright, pendent and sidewall.) In only two sizes? (Standard 1/2″ and Large Orifice 17/32″.)
  • Sprinkler fitters were real men, wore bibs, had huge biceps, bad backs and carried lunch in their back pockets? (That’s Jim Beam to the younger crowd), cutting-oil was an after-shave and the NFPA pamphlet 13 was a “Red Book” that would fit in your back pocket?
  • Becoming a Designer, or a Sales Rep was considered a promotion!
  • Plastic pipe and fittings, in a residence… WTF?
  • The AHJ was an insurance company?
  • There were only a few choices of installation contractors in the whole country… Grinnell, Automatic, Viking, Reliable and ?
  • Fittings were made of cast iron, threaded, or flanged and only welded in extreme cases?
  • The pipe sizes used were based on past practices and listed by a “schedule/table” in NFPA 13… and the only system configuration available was a center-center, end-center, or an end-end TREE? (No loops, or grids before hydraulics became common).
  • Backflow protection was a detector check valve at the city connection? (Now it is almost a seperate industry.)
  • Anti-freeze solutions were mixed in a bucket and installed on every exposed loading dock in cold country?
  • Grooved fittings and couplings were unheard of in the sprinkler industry? (Started to be used somewhere around 1970.)
  • Hydraulic calculations were a closely guarded secret by senior designers and there was no such thing as a calculator?
  • Tools like come-alongs, jack-ladders, pipe wrenches, channel-locks, ropes, chains and pulleys were a fitter’s “go-to”? (Ask an old-timer.)
  • In apprentice school, we taught our apprentices another definition for a “peckerhead”… (The wiring box mounted on an electric motor.)
  • Submittals were a copy of the install prints sent to the owner/insurance company and permits were not even required in most localities?
  • Making copies of documents involved sheets of “carbon” paper and heavy pressure on a pen?
  • Designers used a slide rule, a T-square, triangles, curves, a compass, dividers, lettering guides, templates and the most used an erasing shield. (CAD – Huh?)
  • Drawing on cloth, mylar and even “paper” ?
  • Pencil pointers?
  • Pocket protectors?
  • Rolling scaffolds?
  • Everyone knew what a “star” and a “running” dimension were and what CIF, TOS, FF and CYA meant?
  • Hydraulic calculations, before computers (BC)?
  • Cutting hanger rods on the plan, before ATRs and portable ban saws?
  • Dry pipe valves were as big as a Prius?
  • Threading and cut-grooving Sch 40 pipe, unloading and moving 6” and 8” Sch 40 on-site.
  • The first time you used a JLG, or a scissor lift?
  • The last water-motor gong you installed? (Before electricity…)
  • When inspector’s test connections were installed at the farthest point on the system from the supply?
  • When apprentices weren’t job foremen?
  • When an FPE was unknown and PEs were not interested in “Fire Sprinklers”. (No money in it.)
  • There was an “ASCOA”, a “GEM and a “STAR” company that manufactured sprinklers?
  • NICET? CEUs? CPDs? InterWHAT?
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