Like every generation before me, I feel this generation has it easier. Most of this is due to the advances in technology and I get it. However, there are times when technology impacts your view on life. Recently, Facebook posts hit two of my soft spots in the same day; changing tires and bailing hay.
As a youth, I spent my fair share of time on these two labor intensive efforts. In fact I once had a conversation with my ex-father in law that a right of passage for my own children was to spend a 90/90 day bailing hay. For those of you that have “been there” this is a day where it’s 90 degrees out and the humidity is 90 percent. Typically the air isn’t moving on this day. In the hay mound, it’s even hotter. Mix in the nettles on your sweat soaked skin and the dust in your lungs and you start to get the picture that hell isn’t far removed.
As for changing tires, I was a “parts replacer” while going through college. In the same manner I declare that I’m a painter and not an artist, I state that I’m not a mechanic. I was the low guy on the totem pole who got to fuel trucks on 90/90s and at 30 below, wash trucks, and change tires. These were full sized tractor trailer tires that used a sledge hammer and bars to remove the tire from the rim as well as pry it back on. Factor in the effects of a northeast winter bonding a tire to a rim with rust and a visual picture starts to emerge. One could easily spend a half an hour loosening a tire.
One particular day of effort was after a night of doing shots until 2 AM. I arrived at work at the normal 6 AM to find two tractors backed into opposite bays required the tires be swapped from one to the other. Twenty tires had to be removed, dismounted, swapped, and replace on the vehicle. Now this would have been easy had the rims been of the same style however they weren’t. One style was the “Budd wheel” with a rim that bolted to the hub and the other style was wedged to spoked designs that required removing a snap ring from the rim. The snap ring held the tire on. The Budd wheels are tubeless and the spoked wheels required tubes. Needless to say the labor and associated writing of each and every serial number (i.e. the paperwork) along with being hung over took the entire eight hour shift to complete. It was brutal.
Fast forward to 2016. The same Ryder company that I changed tires for has a video showing an automated tire changer. This device removes the tire from the rim automatically and puts the new one on. Like me, it’s a mobile changer. Gone are the days of pounding on the bead with a sledge hammer and wedging the tire off with two, three foot bars. Well, sort of. The tire they showed was new with a fairly new rim absent of rust. It remains to be seen if this equipment can perform the job under all conditions. One thing is for sure, it will save on the back as the machine does all the work. All the technician has to do is pull levers, assemble a few parts, and roll the tire into place.
In the second let down of that day, FB posts revealed a video for an automatic hay baler that lifts bales in the field and automatically stacks them. As a bit of a reprieve, there is a shot of manual stacking of the bales at the end of the video. Of course the laborers are outside and not inside where it’s forty degrees hotter and no air is moving. I must somehow find a disadvantage to relate to my own personal misery.
Neither of these designs would have been possible without control systems and motor drives. In addition, the advances of sensors play a large part. So Planet Analog community, “ya done good”. And my children have never had to experience these labor intensive efforts first hand all while being conducted for minimal pay.
Technology has made great advances for us all. I’m sure that today’s generation will be blogging about current technology or a lack thereof and reference how their own modern times have made life easier for the younger generation. As an engineer who enables such advances, there is a sense of pride in the accomplishment. However, to have two of the most irritable instances of growing up presented on the same day is hitting below the belt. And of course the venue for alerting me was none other than Facebook; another technological advancement that was lacking during my youth. I’m shutting the computer down and going out to work my back manually away from technology. This time it will be with weights for enjoyment and not as a job. Somehow it seems a bit more acceptable. Now where did I put those Bluetooth headphones? Life is so easy these days.