Readers Tell Us How We've Helped

Nov. 18, 2004
Entrants in MACHINE DESIGN and Ford Motor Co.'s "Drive a Dream" contest chronicle how the magazine has helped them over the past 75 years.

Readers tell us how we've helped

Mike Eller, assembly team leader for the Niche Line at Ford's Romeo Engine Plant, explains some of the design intricacies in the 550-hp, 5.4-liter supercharged V8 slated for the Ford GT to Stephen Mraz, MD editor (left), Dale Bowen, contest winner (center), and Leland Teschler, MD executive editor.

Dale Bowen (left) watches as Cary Kramp, Niche-Line coordinator, and Gary Hunt, (kneeling), an engine builder, at Ford's Romeo Engine Plant check a Ford GT engine on a small-volume "niche line." The 2.2 million ft2 plant started as a tractor assembly plant but now turns out over 680,000 engines per year, mostly V8s for vehicles such as the Mustang, Navigator, Aviator, Explorer, and Crown Victoria.

After a quick front-seat briefing, Dale Bowen and Donald Jakubowski, test-car driver for Ford, hop in for some 130-mph laps around Ford's 5-mile banked track. The outside lane is banked such that the car didn't need to be steered at about 140 mph, a trick Dale decided to pass on.

Dale and the MD editors take a close look at one of the newest GT Fords to come off the assembly line at the Salem Specialty Vehicle facility in Troy, Mich.

What a way to celebrate a milestone: We received a host of letters from readers congratulating us on our 75th anniversary and letting us know how the magazine helped them through a design project or two. It was all part of our "Drive-a-Dream" contest cosponsored by Ford Motor Co.

The contest winner, Dale Bowen, chief engineer at Peerless-Winsmith Inc., Warren, Ohio, received a personal tour of several Ford facilities, plus an opportunity to drive an SVT Mustang on one of Ford's high-speed test tracks.

Bowen remembers reading in MACHINE DESIGN about powdered metals being used in electric solenoids. "Our company was looking to develop some new products, and the article gave me the idea that powdered metals might be useful in dc motors as well as solenoids," says Bowen. His years of experience with electric motors coupled with an engineer's drive to tinker led him to develop a proprietary blend of powder metal and a novel interlocking magnetic circuit that replaces conventional laminations. The resulting motor has fewer parts, is easier to assemble, is less costly, weighs 20% less, and has better performance than older models.

Numerous other readers told similar stories of taking away an important idea or two after perusing MD. "While designing a new desktop-sized blueprint machine, I had to devise a small developer chamber," recalls Jim Pollard, a mechanical engineer with Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y. "It needed to withstand an ammonia atmosphere and high temperatures, and still hold tolerances tight enough to prevent leaks around the area film entered and exited the developer." He found his solution, a relatively unknown plastic, while paging through an issue of MD. It more than met the required specifications. "And the project came in 15% below cost estimates for the project," he adds.

Nesdon Harris, a 20-year reader of the magazine and engineer at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Linthicum, Md., routinely uses the magazine to keep abreast of trends in design and improvements in materials, processes, and methods. "By paying close attention to advances in plastics, I was able to design a series of acetal cable clamps with a snap-in cable retainer. And I could accurately predict clamp performance for a variety of cable diameters and weights," he writes.

Back in 1965, Milo Kensrue, chairman of MK Products, Irvine, Calif., used MACHINE DESIGN to solve a dispute with the U.S. Patent Office and guarantee his company a 20-year technical edge. Kensrue had invented a MIG welding torch with a motor in the handle to pull the welding wire. "It was obvious after seeing an electrician push and pull on wires that the welding machine needed a motor to move the wire, but the motor would also have to maintain constant torque regardless of speed," he explains. But after developing just such a device, the Patent Office rejected his patent. "Then an associate in Washington showed the patent examiner a MACHINE DESIGN article explaining torque motors," says Kensrue. "So the examiner allowed my patent on the Push-Pull technology, plus three more claims. It became a standard in the welding industry and kept competition from copying my patent for 20 years."

Lynn Folgate, currently at Honeywell in Freeport, Ill., was working as a manufacturing technician more than 25 years ago when she needed to find a way to increase the flow of rivets dropping down gravity chutes into semiautomatic riveting machines. "An article in MACHINE DESIGN explained the differences between various lubricants and mentioned 'moly grease,' or molybdenum-disulfide lubricant," she recalls. "We ended up coating rivets with this moly coating and it solved our problem of rivets sticking in the feed chute. The coating also eliminated solder adhering to rivet heads as assemblies traveled through the wavesoldering machine, letting us do away with a lot of solder touch-up work."

Peter Burgher, chairman of Marelco Power Systems, Howell, Mich., recalls an article from years ago on self-tapping and sheet-metal screws. "I looked that article up when building an amphibious aircraft to select the proper fasteners for securing the turtledeck to the hull, the windows to the fiberglass frames, and the interior trim." he says. "And that knowledge still comes in handy when specifying and evaluating fasteners we use to put together 50 to 100 metal enclosures each month to house custom-manufactured transformers, inductors, and ac/dc power supplies. Plus, I ended up with a great aircraft."

"MACHINE DESIGN has been my number-one resource and go-to reference on lots of projects from practically my first day in engineering," writes Michael Blair, logistics analyst with Sikorsky Aircraft, Milford, Conn. He vividly remembers an MD assist while designing a machining center. "We wanted to use linear guide rails but had no experience with them. At an opportune point in the project, MD ran an article that clearly explained the concepts and defined the differences between the various manufacturers' approaches. It was helpful to all involved, with no slanted sales spin."

A 1994 MACHINE DESIGN article, "Why Bolts Fail," provided Randall Friesen, chief product engineer for Great Bend Industries, Great Bend, Kans., with design criteria he still uses in designing bolted and threaded joints for steering and telescopic hoist cylinders for heavy-duty mining trucks. "Severe mechanical shock loading and high-amplitude hydraulic pressure spikes can make threaded joints in the cylinders fatigue-prone," he explains. "The article provided a sound basis for developing accurate methods for achieving and maintaining preload levels and extending fatigue life.

Rest assured MACHINE DESIGN will keep pumping out the information engineers need to succeed.

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