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70s Engineering

I was watching a programme the other day and it was talking about the lack of students going into engineering and it got me thinking.

The modern world has become so instant and disposable that the kids of today wouldn’t have a clue about actually building something. half of them don’t even know how to mend a puncture in their tyre.

They say necessity is the “mother of invention” and that is so true.

I grew up with very little money and so was never lucky enough to own the latest shiny new toys, a brand new Chopper would not have been contemplated so we had to make our toys.

Go-Carts was the main project we would build in the summers. We’d go out hunting for a dumped pram and pull off the wheels. Find a few planks of wood, grab some nails and a hammer and a few hours later we’d be charging down the road in our racing machine.

I can remember being the first boys in our area having skateboards. They weren’t out in the shops yet so we’d get some double ply wood, draw out our shape and our day would cut it out for us. We would then get a pair of skates, pull them apart. I have to add here Ernst the skates on the 70s were adjustable with two wheels at the front and two at the back. So they could be simply unscrewed and taken apart. We would then have to flatten the toe and heal support area so the whole thing was flat. When the hammering was finished we would simply screw, yes we were budding carpenters by now, the skates to the top and bottom of the board. The screws generally pushed through to the other side so we would just get some metal studs to coverbthem over and also make a cool pattern on the top.

So again, just a couple of hours of work and we were off on our skateboards and the envy of our mates.

The summers were great fir the big projects but in the winter we scaled it down and a favourite toy we used to make were our tanks.

All you needed was a cotton reel, wooden if possible, a candle, elastic band and some matchsticks. We’d thread the elastic band through the cotton reel and push a broken matchstick through the elastic band loop. The next step is to light a candle and drop the wax over the broken match to make it solid against the side of the cotton reel. Once that’s done you have the tricky bit. You have to carefully slice off a section of candle around half an inch wide would be fine.

You then have to take out the string and try to make the hole a little bigger so you can thread the elastic band through it. You have to do it very carefully because the candle would break very easily. If you manage to thread the elastic through the last step is to make a groove on the top of the candle piece. This is needed as the match that needed to be inserted through the elastic band needs to grip the candle section.

Once that’s done it’s just a case of winding the candle side up so you get tension in the elastic band then you just out it on the floor and the tank should run along propelled by the long matchstick .

We used to make variations on these by cutting grips into the rims of the cotton reels to help grip and build obstale courses for them.

I just wonder how many kids make anything these days compared to what we did.

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A 70’s Latchkey Kid

People always ask me what is it about the 70's that I love so much that I even contemplated building this site. So I thought the best way would be to tell you a little about myself so in this part of the site I will be writing down some of the adventures and real life events that happened to me whilst growing up in the 70's. Some are funny and some are sad, but it's these life experiences that made me what I am today. I hope you enjoy them.

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