Are you interested in Engineering? Do you judge a book by its cover?
Most who frequent this blog have seen some real failures in engineering, at times we simply can’t grasp how it was allowed to happen. Jack Belk is very much a ‘hands on’ man, and as many who drop in here know; that’s where the real learning happens. We know first hand how little you learn from the text and drawings as compared to dancing with the parts, components, and the whole of it. And Jack has done that for a lifetime.
Jack’s book ‘Unsafe By Design’. I think it’s a most excellent read, but you need stick with his style for a bit, and perhaps set aside what you’ve heard from others. Just like almost all of us, we are products of our environment, and Jack is no different. As you read towards the middle, you get a better idea of his writing style, his roots and what all has formed his expert view.
Many years ago, I bought a pocket pistol, I took it apart at least 20 times and marveled at the crudeness. I later saw a review of the same pistol in a Gun magazine. The reviewer talked about the small size, he mentioned the caliber, talked about the fact that it had wood grips. Never did he mention cheap die cast parts or the fact that it didn’t feed right. Nor the poor finish. So of course I thumbed through the Magazine, and there I found an advertisement for the same little Pistol. At that time, I wondered, just where does one go to get an honest opinion as per the safety or quality of a firearm?
I really do think this book is a ‘must read’ for any Engineer or mechanic, and it’s a reminder that there are genius designers, and then there are the bean counters who engineer. The latter a sad note about reality. I do recall being in the drive line tunnel of an an economy car and finding an ‘arm’ mounted off the transmission with pig iron weights attached. At the time I thought it was some type of weight added to counter some resoanance problem? To think this was an ultra light weight car with pig iron weights added? But the car was also known for it’s exploding gas tank when hit from behind. Not exactly an award winning design I guess.
But now.. in a world that embraces the probability of a failure as the measure of things safe? Does anyone think we really need a safe safety anymore? That’s a question that Jack Belk explores, and to my knowledge he’s the first person to explore and explain the difference between genius design, and what the bean counters design.
Here’s something in the news today that should >NEVER< happen, but it happens all the time, why? I think Jack answers that question with a degree of certainity.
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All the best,