No 6207 A Study in Steel

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An evening pause: A fascinating and well-filmed documentary from 1935 describing how a British company then built locomotives. Note the lack of construction helmets, gloves, or safety glasses. Note also the number of workers involved. Today most of this work is automated, making it more precise and efficient. Then, however, they did not yet have such technology, and instead found ways to build very sophisticated machines using the skills of ordinary humans.

Hat tip Edward Thelen.


  • Robert Pratt

    Oh come on, they had “strangely looking hats to keep the sweat from their eyes!” Very good film.

  • Jwing

    Amazing, collard button-down white shirts, vests, and hats….mostly made of wool and cotton tweed. regular shoes not boots!

  • Localfluff

    “Who is now to say that the day of the craftsman is no more?”
    Great movie clip! Please dig further where you found this.

    War of the Worlds begins with the idea of an alien civilization watching us. Which is an interesting thought experiment. Like we watch ants. How clumsily, but still productive like all survivable random biology, they would think, I think, the items of our industry are manufactured. And we were the first to leave the planet. Omnius Terra venerandum. All life on the Earth bow to our herding and gardening, because we have proven to be so superior to reach out into the infinity. All life wishes to get a ride along with us on our Noah’s Ark to eternity.

  • wayne

    Edward– excellent selection!

    As well, I would highly recommend “Master Hands,” 4 -part series produced by the Jam Handy Organization from 1936, detailing the manufacture & production of Chevrolet’s in Flint, Michigan. (not just assembly–they manufactured everything from the ground up.)
    >Selected for preservation in 1999 by the National Film Registry.
    Parts 1-2 start out slow, but are also fascinating nonetheless. (all 4 parts run about 30 minutes total.)

  • Joe

    Fascinating, was that a plasma ark they used to cut the sides out with?, I wonder if this kind of labor intensive building happens any where in the world today, not talking about ship building, but locomotives, China maybe?

  • I love watching things being built. I worked for a company that had me in various Boeing plants in the Seattle area, and I’d sometimes get so caught up in watching the manufacturing that I’d neglect my job for a bit. Humans, and life in general, are the antithesis of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. From chaos; order. Good stuff.

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