Tuesday August 31, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Nuts & Bolts

On this Day:

In 1842, Micah Rugg patented a nuts & bolts machine.  However, any claim that he invented this fastening system simply doesn’t hold together…

The introduction and widespread use of nuts and bolts is the result of innovations in engineering and metallurgical technology. Hexagon nuts and bolts and the tools to use them require strict tolerances. As a standard fastener type, hexagon nuts and bolts are commonly used only after forging, stamping, and machining techniques have been developed before precise hex bolts can be manufactured.

Hex nuts and bolts are part of a fastening system using threads. The thread’s history can be traced back to the seventh century BC when the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Sennacherib uses screws as part of the pump that supplies water to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon’s water supply system. The Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum described wood threads in the third century BC, and by the first century BC wood screws were widely used in oil and wine presses. These are usually attached to some kind of permanent handle as a rotating device.

Metal screws and bolts first appeared in Europe in the 1400s but did not become common fasteners until the 18th century, when machine tools were developed to make them. Between 1770 and 1798, Jesse Ramsden, an English musical instrument maker, Henry Maudslay, an English engineer, and David Wilkins, an American inventor, all obtained patents for thread cutting lathes, which were used to make screw rods. Early screws were often customized with square bolt heads. Replacement bolts are custom made, so they are not in large quantities and cannot be widely used.

Square-head bolts were common in early applications because they were easier to make using the tools, metals, and techniques of the time. The precision of the square head is low, so the wrench may not be the exact size of the bolt, but it is close enough to turn the manual square head. But the square head is large and requires more rotation space. By 1841, Joseph Whitworth, a British toolmaker, and his American counterpart, William Sellers, of the Franklin Institute, had proposed a standardized thread system. As toolmakers developed new technologies for mass production, standardized bolts and nuts were soon available.

Between 1856 and 1876, the English metallurgist Sir Henry Bessemer developed the Bessemer process, which produced cheap mild steel in large quantities. Square bolt heads are easier to make when machinists use cast iron and thicker steel. However, as the machinery became smaller and more compact, hex bolts were developed to meet the demand for more compact bolt heads.

In 1830, James Nasmyth, an assistant of Henry Maudslay, designed pioneering milling accessories for his desktop lathes and made a number of hexagonal bolts for a scale model built by the Science Museum in London. By the 1840s, cold heads could be used to press the metal. It was not until the 1880s that the Bessemer steel plant began to produce new mild steel of accurate thickness and quantity, and then the cool-machine began to press the hexagon nuts. This innovation means that nuts stamped from flat metal billets and machined to exact tolerances can be screwed to bolts made by the new screw machine in factories anywhere in the country. In heavy industrial applications, larger hexagon nuts quickly replace square bolt heads.

During the two wars of the 20th century, the huge military equipment and equipment maintenance forced manufacturers of war materials to achieve higher standards. The humble hexagon bolt and nut fastener system are vital not only to the war effort but to every aspect of modern life (per https://www.hbyppowerline.com/news/history-of-bolts-and-nuts.html).

So where does Micah Rugg come into all this?

In the United States, the first systematic bolt manufacturing operation was founded by Micah Rugg in 1818. Rugg was a Connecticut blacksmith who developed a process of cutting and heating square iron bars into bolt-sized pieces. These workpieces were then smoothed along an anvil, and a die-cutting press was used to shape the bolt’s head and threads. Using machine tooling processes, such as drop hammering and die trimming, proved to be both time- and cost-efficient. By 1840, Rugg had sold several thousand bolts and expanded his operation to produce nearly 500 bolts a day.

Following the success of Rugg’s pioneering bolt production methods, other manufacturers began developing new technologies and techniques to capitalize on the burgeoning fastener market. William Clark, another manufacturer from Connecticut, is credited with designing the first bolts and dies made from round, rather than square, iron in the 1860s. Clark also streamlined the bolt head formation process by using die compression to create both the head and the angled neck in the same operation. His pinched and concave neck bolts proved highly cost-efficient and reduced the risk of splitting wood when driving the bolts into a workpiece (per https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/hardware/bolt-manufacturing-evolution/)

First, a Story:

Today I was asked about my job manufacturing nuts and bolts. I told them it wasn’t really riveting…

Second, a Song:

John R. Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Much of Cash’s music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. He was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band characterized by train-like chugging guitar rhythms, a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark all-black stage wardrobe which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”.

Born to poor cotton farmers in Kingsland, Arkansas, Cash rose to fame in the burgeoning rockabilly scene in Memphis, Tennessee, after four years in the Air Force. He traditionally began his concerts by simply introducing himself, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”, followed by “Folsom Prison Blues”, one of his signature songs. Alongside “Folsom Prison Blues”, his other signature songs include “I Walk the Line”, “Ring of Fire”, “Get Rhythm”, and “Man in Black”. He also recorded humorous numbers like “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue”, a duet with his future wife June called “Jackson” (followed by many further duets after their wedding), and railroad songs such as “Hey, Porter”, “Orange Blossom Special”, and “Rock Island Line”. During the last stage of his career, he covered songs by contemporary rock artists of the time; his most notable covers were “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden and “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode.

Cash is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His genre-spanning music embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel sounds. This crossover appeal earned him the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. His music career was dramatised in the 2005 biopic Walk the Line.

Cash nurtured and defended artists (such as Bob Dylan) on the fringes of what was acceptable in country music even while serving as the country music establishment’s most visible symbol. At an all-star concert which aired in 1999 on TNT, a diverse group of artists paid him tribute, including Dylan, Chris Isaak, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Dom DeLuise, and U2. Cash himself appeared at the end and performed for the first time in more than a year. Two tribute albums were released shortly before his death; Kindred Spirits contains works from established artists, while Dressed in Black contains works from many lesser-known musicians.

In total, he wrote over 1,000 songs and released dozens of albums. A box set titled Unearthed was issued posthumously. It included four CDs of unreleased material recorded with Rubin, as well as a Best of Cash on American retrospective CD. The set also includes a 104-page book that discusses each track and features one of Cash’s final interviews.

In 1999, Cash received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Cash number 31 on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list and No. 21 on their “100 Greatest Singers” list in 2010. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked Cash’s 1968 live album At Folsom Prison and 1994 studio album American Recordings at No. 88 and No. 366 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

In recognition of his lifelong support of SOS Children’s Villages, his family invited friends and fans to donate to the Johnny Cash Memorial Fund in his memory. He had a personal link with the SOS village in Diessen, at the Ammersee Lake in Southern Germany, near where he was stationed as a GI, and with the SOS village in Barrett Town, by Montego Bay, near his holiday home in Jamaica.

“One Piece at a Time” is a country novelty song written by Wayne Kemp and recorded by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three in 1976. It was the last song performed by Cash to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and the last of Cash’s songs to reach the Billboard Hot 100, on which it peaked at No. 29.

Bruce Fitzpatrick, owner of Abernathy Auto Parts and Hilltop Auto Salvage in Nashville, Tennessee, was asked by the promoters of the song to build the vehicle for international promotion. Fitzpatrick had all the models of Cadillacs mentioned in the song when it was released and built a car using the song as a model. The result was presented to Cash in April 1976. It was parked outside the House of Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee, until someone could find a place to store it. After The House of Cash Museum closed, Bruce Fitzpatrick retrieved the ’49–’70 Cadillac with a wrecker and brought it back to Abernathy Auto Parts and Hilltop Auto Salvage in Nashville, Tennessee, and crushed it (per Wikipedia).

Here is Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three performing “One Piece at a Time” set to a video montage of images by rhumesable. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“I connect with just plain old everyday people. Human behavior fascinates me, the people who are the nuts and bolts of this country who help hold up the world.” – Sissy Spacek

Further to the Melbourne Smile, Eric O’Dell of Surrey, BC, Canada writes:

Found the story of Melbourne interesting.  Had not heard the story of the group from Melbourne going to Tasmania; and then later resettling back to Melbourne.  On my last cruise the ship stopped at both Hobart and Melbourne. Having read the history of the terrible penal conditions at van Dieman’s Land, I didn’t expect to find such a beautiful place…..and an excellent winery as well. There is a lookout above which offers a commanding view of the city and harbour.


And Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada writes:

“My attachment with Melbourne is strong.  I graduated from LaTrobe University in Melbourne with my doc.
Best regards,

Dr. Frank Fowlie”

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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