16/05/2019

Down the memory lane... Trainee in the sixties...

Erling Pedersen, trainee at Nisap Maskinfabrik (ϣ), tells:

”As I started as trainee in the sixties, we had just started to use the new workshop. The buildings were extended to almost double size; we had a lot of space even though we were now 10 employees. However, the largest ”revolution” was the change from DC to AC. This meant new opportunities, e.g. within the welding area.

The machinery consisted of two manual lathes, some manual drills, one shaper, one milling cutter, four welding machines, one homemade plate nipple, one cold saw, one eccentric and one hydraulic press, made by means of a cylinder from a lorry tipper.

We produced machines for the agriculture: fertilizer distributors, mowing machines, piggery locks and beet diggers. As the youngest trainee, I first had to learn how to clean up and sweep. From 16:00 to 17:00 every day I did this. My first real jobs were drilling or turning, and later also welding. We only carried through electrode welding; the first several months I should only knock slag and clean weldings, made by the journeyman. I remember when we got the first CO2 welding machine. No more slag... What a relief!

As trainees, we almost always worked in the evening. We had fixed chords on parts for the piggery locks. In this way, we made extra money in addition to the DKK 10, which was the starting wage for a trainee at the time. As a trainee, I performed all processes in the manufacture of a piggery lock: The bending of ratchets, cutting and welding of the sliders, punching of side plates, turning of shaft to pawl, welding the lock - and painting and bundling. There were different degrees of difficulty - painting as the easiest and welding as the most difficult. The welding was to be done by the journeymen, and not until they did not want to work in the evenings any longer, I got the chance. It was a difficult process; you had to control the electrode. To keep good hourly wages, you should weld 100 pieces per hour. Taking into account that each unit meant five parts and six weldings, you should hurry up.

At that time, we were typically four trainees and four journeymen, some working people and our Master. The tone was good and we were in a good mood most of the time. If you made a mistake, you had a reprimand immediately. The youngest trainee was exposed to lots of teasing, and if you did not satisfy the expectations of the journeymen, you would get water in the long basin. If you had made something really stupid, Master shouted:

"YOU CAN NOT EVEN DO A STITCH IN A SHIT, WITHOUT DAMAGING BOTH".

Then afterwards you were “little”, but then we also knew that Master was not angry any longer.

One of the new products at the end of my trainee period was hydraulic drive units for manure removal. In order to ensure that they were properly installed, I spent the first month at Ansager Staldrens to install and repair. It was exciting and a good experience to travel in most of the country and install plants. Repairing was not for the faint hearted as the repair was to be carried through, because the system could not get out of the manure. The entire plant was often filled with cow dung, which you had to remove to find the fault.

We spent six weeks a year at the Technical School. This could take place in Esbjerg or in a boarding school in Ollerup. Some of us chose Ollerup and had a great time at Ollerup Technical School - both professionally and socially. The principal saw it as his task to teach us the professional knowledge, but he also tried to educate us more generally. Thus, he insisted that we used knife and fork when eating. He said: "A craftsman must be able to use both hands; this we also train when eating."

After four years and four months, we carried through the final test in the company, and the examiner masters came to approve the outcome. It was a great day, when we received the journeyman letter, and were entitled to receive journeyman wages."