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  #51  
Old 09-30-2016, 02:52 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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I think I (or rather, my friend Dr Google) can help:
Quote:
The process of puddling was one of the most important process in making iron and steel. [...] Pig iron was heated to a molten state in a large furnace. The molten metal was stirred and carbon began to burn off. [...] Finally, the molten metal was then made into balls and the remaining impurities were hammered out. [...]

The puddler was highly skilled and was the best worker in the company. This was a dangerous occupation, which required much physical strength, stamina and concentration, “The puddlers were the aristocracy of the proletariat, proud, clannish, set apart by sweat and blood. Few of them lived past forty. Numerous efforts were made to mechanize the puddling furnace…Machines could be made to stir the bath, but only the human eye and touch could separate out the solidifying decarburized metal.” [...]

However, the puddling process made the first glimpses of steel. Workers began experiment with the puddling process to make the steel. [...] Puddled steel was just wrought iron that was not heated as long. The process of puddling steel opened the doors to many different processes of making steel. Eventually The puddlers were replaced by machines and different process.
  #52  
Old 09-30-2016, 02:52 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
@malthus: We had a similar thread not long ago about the idea of ancient process knowledge that's supposedly been lost. We eventually got around to the conclusion that damn near nothing that humanity has ever learned how to do has been truly forgotten. For the reasons you enumerate.

Somebody somewhere today knows how to knap a flint, tie it to a stick with grass & bark, and has killed a large herbivore using just such a self-made tool. And cooked and eaten part of the critter after starting a fire using makeshift found objects.


@yabob: A link or some explanation would help. So far all we you've given us is two generic nouns side by side.
Process for making bar iron or mild steel before the invention of the Bessemer converter:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puddling_(metallurgy)

Note how the article uses the verb "were" pretty throughout in describing the process. The Bessemer converter was invented in the 1850s. It was a skilled occupation, and a very dirty, dangerous one that didn't scale up easily. As per the wiki article:

Quote:
Working as a two-man crew, a puddler and helper could produce about 1500 kg of iron in a 12-hour shift.[10] The strenuous labor, heat and fumes caused puddlers to have a very short life expectancy, with most dying in their 30s.[11] Puddling was never able to be automated because the puddler had to sense when the balls had "come to nature".
  #53  
Old 09-30-2016, 02:54 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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There are lots of people who know how to knap flint. That doesn't make them a professional flint-knapper.

So I don't think #4 belongs on the list.
  #54  
Old 09-30-2016, 02:59 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by yabob View Post
Will you take my "steel puddlers"?
Yup. That's exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of.

It is hard to imagine anyone these days really wanting "artisanal hand-puddled steel", or anyone whose idea of a fun hobby is "puddling their own steel" after a hard day's work at the office. Nor is the process so interesting that some museum somewhere has recreated it, to learn the secrets of early Victorian steel-puddlers.

(With the caveat that someone in the developing world may, for all I know, still be doing it!).
  #55  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:01 PM
Johanna Johanna is online now
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Buggy whip manufacturer

is the classic example used by economists.
  #56  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:05 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
There are lots of people who know how to knap flint. That doesn't make them a professional flint-knapper.

So I don't think #4 belongs on the list.
It's mostly a hobby, but some people do it for money. I would think that counts, if they make a living doing it, like most other crafts.

http://www.neolithics.com/finished-p...-craig-ratzat/

http://www.neolithics.com/english-gun-flints/
  #57  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:07 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Buggy whip manufacturer

is the classic example used by economists.
That's just the problem. While such occupations have obviously faded into relative obscurity, you can always find *someone* still doing it.

http://www.drivingessentials.com/Whips.php
  #58  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:08 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Yes, except there are still horse-drawn carriages, and people still drive them, and they still use buggy whips. You can get brand-new ones today on Amazon. It's exactly the sort of niche profession that can still exist, despite being obsolete. Contrast that to flint-knapping, which doesn't.
  #59  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:11 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
Yes, except there are still horse-drawn carriages, and people still drive them, and they still use buggy whips. You can get brand-new ones today on Amazon. It's exactly the sort of niche profession that can still exist, despite being obsolete. Contrast that to flint-knapping, which doesn't.
Didn't I just post a couple of links to folks selling knapped products?
  #60  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:14 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Here's another example:

http://www.ced.ltd.uk/products/knapped-flints
  #61  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:29 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yabob View Post
Process for making bar iron or mild steel before the invention of the Bessemer converter:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puddling_(metallurgy)

Note how the article uses the verb "were" pretty throughout in describing the process. The Bessemer converter was invented in the 1850s. It was a skilled occupation, and a very dirty, dangerous one that didn't scale up easily. As per the wiki article:
Thank you. Sorry to seem obtuse.

Believe it or not I put "steel puddler" into wiki's search box; it seems I didn't scroll down far enough to see the word puddling. One more proof that a man has got to be smarter than his tools. Which I wasn't.
  #62  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:40 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
Contrast that to flint-knapping, which doesn't.
There's some weirdos out there who shoot old flintlocks, like me. There are lots of places that sell us flints that were hand-knapped, by professional flint knappers.
  #63  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:46 PM
Doctor Jackson Doctor Jackson is offline
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
I once had a job as an IBM Proof Machine Operator, as did hundreds of workers in large downtown banks. I doubt if that exists anymore.
Proof Operators are alive and well and make about $12/hour on average. There is really no automated way to encode the dollar amount on the MICR line of a check other than a proof machine. Even though some ATM's and bank apps have optical scanners that "read" the check and decipher the amount, they are not yet reliable enough not fast enough to replace a human.

Last edited by Doctor Jackson; 09-30-2016 at 03:47 PM.
  #64  
Old 09-30-2016, 03:59 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Witchfinders made something of a comeback in the 1980s, resulting in much trouble for heavy metal bands and daycare providers.
It wasn't always to the detriment of heavy metal bands.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 09-30-2016 at 04:14 PM. Reason: fixed link
  #65  
Old 09-30-2016, 08:01 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
There was an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s where a character was looking through want ads in the newspaper and noticing a lot of ads for "keypunch operators". She said she didn't even know what a keypunch operator was. (I was studying computer science in college at the time and was intimately familiar with keypunch machines.) That is a profession that is undoubtedly defunct now, although "data entry" is similar.

--Mark
My aunt started work as a keypunch operator at the state capitol in the 1970s. She was there until she retired, and went through all of the various upgrades, learning every new system as it was introduced.
  #66  
Old 09-30-2016, 08:40 PM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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I don't believe there are any stokers.
  #67  
Old 09-30-2016, 08:52 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Plague doctors. I'm pretty sure there are no more plague doctors.

There are still scribes though. In Judaism, they're called "sofers," and make hand copies of the Torah, and an few other handwritten documents (like mezzuzah scrolls) for Judaism.

ETA: No more castrati-- at least, the ones made for Catholic church choirs.

Last edited by RivkahChaya; 09-30-2016 at 08:54 PM.
  #68  
Old 09-30-2016, 10:52 PM
Grestarian Grestarian is offline
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Right under your nose?

I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned this one.
Then again, perhaps someone is still making money at it:

Daily Herald

Yeah, as in "New York Daily Herald" and various other newspapers which took their names from the age-old job*. A herald (or harold) was a guy who shouted really loud -- announcing the entrance of important people and telling people the news, originally of the court and the royal business. Later, heralds and cryers (not a professionally despondent tear-leaker) were the ones who worked for newspapers and shouted out the headlines -- "...read all about it!" to sell newspapers in the street. And slowly the newspapers went to delivery boys and news stands and the heralds were phased out. I still see people selling newspapers in the middle of intersections, but they just stand there and wait for someone who's waiting to make a left hand turn at the light to roll down their window and fork over some money.

---G!
It's also interesting to note that many family names are basically professions used as surnames -- sawyer, cooper, ____wright (or just "Wright" alone), farmer, potter, smith, et cetera.
  #69  
Old 09-30-2016, 11:29 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
There are still a few of these around, for niche/artisanal markets or at historic sites, but as professions they're largely obsolete:

blacksmith
I am not sure how few you think would make something "niche/artisanal," but farriers are a solid trade with thousands of practitioners. (25,000 in the U.S. according to this site.) In contrast, there were just over 4700 heart surgeons (with declining numbers) in 2005 according to this trade journal report.

Wrought iron workers are probably quite a bit fewer, only 4,000 according to Wikipedia, but the word blacksmith evokes the image of a farrier more than that of a decorative iron worker.
Are farriers as common as they were in 1900? Certainly not. However, as long as people continue to employ horses for racing--thoroughbred & harness, hunters, jumpers, dressage, western, the various specialty gaited breeds, farming, (lots of Amish in PA, OH, KY, IN, MN and other locations), ranching, and simple pleasure ownership, there will be a need for farriers.

I suspect that with over 130 racetracks, (and a lot of wealthy horse owners), grooms may be more prevalent than one would first guess, as well.
  #70  
Old 09-30-2016, 11:50 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
There was an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s where a character was looking through want ads in the newspaper and noticing a lot of ads for "keypunch operators". She said she didn't even know what a keypunch operator was. (I was studying computer science in college at the time and was intimately familiar with keypunch machines.) That is a profession that is undoubtedly defunct now, although "data entry" is similar.

--Mark
I did that during my "Gap Year", which I took 30 years before it had a name. Several years later, I returned to the same company in a different department, where I was a data entry operator, and found that my old department no longer existed; the employees all transferred to other jobs, whether in or out of the company, and in time a couple of my old coworkers came to work there too.

When a person does data entry, the data goes directly into the computer. When a person does (did) keypunch, the data had to be transcribed onto magnetic tape, punch cards, and who knows what else, which was then fed into the computer. The punch card machine was there when I started in 1981 and phased out less than a year later.
  #71  
Old 09-30-2016, 11:54 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
Yes, except there are still horse-drawn carriages, and people still drive them, and they still use buggy whips. You can get brand-new ones today on Amazon. It's exactly the sort of niche profession that can still exist, despite being obsolete. Contrast that to flint-knapping, which doesn't.
I used to live in an area with a large Amish population. Someone has to make those buggies.

One of the area's biggest employers was a company that made wine and whiskey barrels; the wood was harvested and milled elsewhere, and you could always tell when they got a shipment because you could smell the fresh wood while driving on the Interstate a few blocks away. Defective barrels were available for sale to the public, usually sawed in half, and the downtown trash cans were modified from some of these barrels.
  #72  
Old 10-01-2016, 12:01 AM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
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I've been wondering for a few years now whether there are still any operational Linotype/Monotype machines anywhere in the world. So that raises the question, for this thread, whether any Linotype Operators are still working.
  #73  
Old 10-01-2016, 01:10 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Not all that "very", AFAICT. In the US alone nowadays there are estimated to be over 9 million domesticated horses, which is nearly half as big as the US equine population at the start of the 20th century, and a sizable subset of domesticated horses still require hired grooms to take care of them....
See Tables 1 and 3 in that article. There are many fewer horses in the U.S. than there used to be; the high point was a century ago. Think of all the livery stables in cities and towns across the country that don't exist anymore - no jobs for grooms there.
  #74  
Old 10-01-2016, 02:56 AM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
That's just the problem. While such occupations have obviously faded into relative obscurity, you can always find *someone* still doing it.

http://www.drivingessentials.com/Whips.php
Not to mention that buggy whips and riding crops have other uses than the intended ones by people with certain inclinations. Ahem.
  #75  
Old 10-01-2016, 05:40 AM
Ken001 Ken001 is offline
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Tinker.
  #76  
Old 10-01-2016, 11:40 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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's dammer.
  #77  
Old 10-01-2016, 11:50 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
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@malthus: Somebody somewhere today knows how to knap a flint, tie it to a stick with grass & bark, and has killed a large herbivore using just such a self-made tool. And cooked and eaten part of the critter after starting a fire using makeshift found objects.
And got a TV series out of it.

I think the distinction is between people who keep the old knowledge alive alongside something else that is more likely their primary business, and those who are able to make a living out of only the old knowledge (which is probably not that many, if any).
  #78  
Old 10-01-2016, 12:21 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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Do you suppose railroads still hire 'bulls' or 'bull-men' anymore? They were the brutal guards railroad companies hired to seek out and rough up hobos who tried to hop freight trains in the early 20th century.
A related career which probably disappeared, at least officially, is the strike breaker ; the guys who'd not only get called upon to bash heads in when a strike is in effect, but also bust the teeth of "uppity" workers and suspected "reds" or unionists the rest of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya
Plague doctors. I'm pretty sure there are no more plague doctors.
I'm pretty sure there are still some plague specialists at the CDC just in case
  #79  
Old 10-01-2016, 12:24 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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Tinker.
I first read that as Thinker, and was about to dejectedly agree .

Are there still some newspapers that employ old-timey type setters ?
  #80  
Old 10-01-2016, 03:43 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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How about the venerable profession of lamplighter?
  #81  
Old 10-01-2016, 06:26 PM
dennishiding dennishiding is offline
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Originally Posted by Snnipe 70E View Post
I don't believe there are any stokers.
http://www.durangotrain.com/

Looked like they still had a stoker.

But yeah I don't imagine there's much more than this sort of specialty demand.
  #82  
Old 10-01-2016, 07:47 PM
Bookkeeper Bookkeeper is offline
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My wife used to work as a photo typesetter, which seems to have completely succumbed to computer digital publishing.

The Canadian government dictionary of occupations used to list Gunner* as an occupation, but it disappeared from the listings decades ago, presumably due to changes in manufacturing methods.

*Operated a "gun puffing" machine making puffed cereals.
  #83  
Old 10-01-2016, 09:21 PM
Asuka Asuka is offline
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VCR Repairmen

I can think of three pieces of media I've seen in the past 5 years where just the idea of somebody being a VCR repairman in current times was a complete joke/oddity and the repairmen themselves had to go through illegal means to keep afloat.
  #84  
Old 10-01-2016, 09:22 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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@Bookkeeper: Bookkeeper in the sense of hand-written ledgers and journals is pretty much dead. Certainly the same ideas live on almost unchanged in software, so the data organization and data entry work of the bookkeeper is pretty the same as it ever was.

But the neat red penmanship, the big books, the eternal arithmetic, and the green eyeshades have gone, well, the way of green eyeshades.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 10-01-2016 at 09:24 PM.
  #85  
Old 10-01-2016, 09:49 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Jackson View Post
Proof Operators are alive and well and make about $12/hour on average. There is really no automated way to encode the dollar amount on the MICR line of a check other than a proof machine. Even though some ATM's and bank apps have optical scanners that "read" the check and decipher the amount, they are not yet reliable enough not fast enough to replace a human.
The IBM proof machines I worked with had absolutely no capability to print anything on any check. You're probably referring to a later development and a much different machine.

I think you underestimate the power of optical scanners today. Even the Post Office uses them to read handwritten addresses. Not perfect, but they can read almost anything. Humans only get the worst ones to interpret.
  #86  
Old 10-01-2016, 09:55 PM
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I still see people selling newspapers in the middle of intersections, but they just stand there and wait for someone who's waiting to make a left hand turn at the light to roll down their window and fork over some money.
Not me and my friend Robert. We were bona fide Newsies!
"Getcher Daily Sentinel hee-yah!" "Pres-ee-dent slams Speee-ker of da Hay-ouse, read about it right nay-ow!"


Oh, and by the way, I've done bona fide metal typesetting (tres hipster now) and bona fide blacksmithing (but not horseshoes, that's a ferrier).

Last edited by digs; 10-01-2016 at 09:58 PM.
  #87  
Old 10-01-2016, 10:25 PM
Terminus Est Terminus Est is online now
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Before the middle of the Twentieth Century, a computer was an actual person who plugged numbers into equations and calculated the results. There were often rooms full of people who did this for a living, such as this computer room: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_...s_-_Dryden.jpg (NACA was the predecessor to NASA).
  #88  
Old 10-02-2016, 12:11 AM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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Milkman? Iceman?
  #89  
Old 10-02-2016, 01:19 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Milkmen still exist. You can even place your orders online now with some of them.

Ice delivery still exists as well, though they mainly target folks planning events like weddings and large barbecues.
  #90  
Old 10-02-2016, 01:32 AM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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See Tables 1 and 3 in that article. There are many fewer horses in the U.S. than there used to be; the high point was a century ago.
You seem to have mistaken the 1960 figures in Table 1 for current ones. (And why you think Table 3, which assesses horse breed distribution among registered Thoroughbred and similar horses in a recent 15-year period, is relevant as a source of information about total equine population decrease over the past century eludes me.)

There are, as I noted, estimated to be somewhere between 9 and 10 million horses in the US at present. That's over one-third of the 1915 peak population of around 26.5 million.

Yes, that's a dramatic drop, but it's by no means equivalent to becoming "obsolete" or "vestigial". Grooms as an occupation are simply not dying out the way, say, lamplighters and steam locomotive stokers and steel puddlers have died out, because there are still a hell of a lot more horses than non-electric street lamps and steam locomotives and puddling furnaces.

Sheesh.
  #91  
Old 10-02-2016, 02:00 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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I don't believe there are any stokers.
On a related note, coal passers (steamboat stokers), are no longer around. Even the few steam powered boats on the Great Lakes converted to automatic coal feeds by the 1960s.
If there are any boats still using coal passers, (probably river boats used as museums or tourist cruises--the last coal fired ship on the Great Lakes is the ferry Badger that probably always had automatic coal feed), they would definitely fit the category of "niche/artisanal."
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:03 AM
JacobSwan JacobSwan is offline
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How about the venerable profession of lamplighter?
We still have 5 employed in London. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/...s-street-lamps
  #93  
Old 10-02-2016, 08:04 AM
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VCR Repairmen

I can think of three pieces of media I've seen in the past 5 years where just the idea of somebody being a VCR repairman in current times was a complete joke/oddity and the repairmen themselves had to go through illegal means to keep afloat.
VCR repair would be one category that a general electronics repair person would work on. Just because one type went away doesn't mean all types did.

OTOH, modern electronics are virtually disposable upon first failure so repair shops have mostly, but not completely, disappeared. There are still places that scrounge for stuff at thrift shops and garage sales, fix them and sell them to working poor folk.

But a lot of stuff just isn't worth it. A few months ago I checked out for the first time a PC repair business I pass by a lot. The guy had, for example, several tablets for sale. All less powerful and more expensive than a $50 Amazon Fire Tablet. Ditto other stuff: desktops, laptops, etc. I think virus removal and such is they only way he can stay afloat. Didn't seem to be in the phone screen repair business which is in fairly decent demand.
  #94  
Old 10-02-2016, 08:31 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
On a related note, coal passers (steamboat stokers), are no longer around. Even the few steam powered boats on the Great Lakes converted to automatic coal feeds by the 1960s.
If there are any boats still using coal passers, (probably river boats used as museums or tourist cruises--the last coal fired ship on the Great Lakes is the ferry Badger that probably always had automatic coal feed), they would definitely fit the category of "niche/artisanal."
Back around 1998 I took a weeklong river cruise on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FileeltaQueenRacing.jpg. (Dumb VBulletin; ignore the smiley in the url. Clicking it still works.)

The boat and the company have since ceased operations.

When I rode her she still had the original 1900s-era dual expansion piston steam engine. The paddle really was the prime mover.

But the boiler was fired by diesel fuel and had been since at least the 1970s if not earlier. So no stokers.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 10-02-2016 at 08:33 AM.
  #95  
Old 10-02-2016, 10:01 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Back around 1998 I took a weeklong river cruise on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DeltaQueenRacing.jpg. (Dumb VBulletin; ignore the smiley in the url. Clicking it still works.)
Pssst...If you check "Disable smilies in text" option while composing a post, you won't have that dumb problem.
  #96  
Old 10-02-2016, 10:47 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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Thank you. I did not know that. Or rather I'd seen the checkbox but hadn't made the connection that it was applicable to this situation.
  #97  
Old 10-02-2016, 10:58 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clothahump View Post
How about the venerable profession of lamplighter?
Ooh, good one ! Another related profession : the knocker-up. Short-lived profession since they existed after factories and strict time-keeping but before individual alarm clocks, their job was to go out and bang on people's window with a long stick to wake them up in the morning so they could be at the factory bright and early.
  #98  
Old 10-02-2016, 12:43 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Flash programmers.
  #99  
Old 10-02-2016, 02:03 PM
DesertDog DesertDog is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
Back around 1998 I took a weeklong river cruise on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DeltaQueenRacing.jpg. (Dumb VBulletin; ignore the smiley in the url. Clicking it still works.)

The boat and the company have since ceased operations.

When I rode her she still had the original 1900s-era dual expansion piston steam engine. The paddle really was the prime mover.

But the boiler was fired by diesel fuel and had been since at least the 1970s if not earlier. So no stokers.
Actually, the fuel used on the DQ was Bunker C (AKA #6 fuel oil) which was one step up from tar; it was heated to make to move through the pipes better. I think she was built that way.
  #100  
Old 10-02-2016, 02:44 PM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
Actually, the fuel used on the DQ was Bunker C (AKA #6 fuel oil) which was one step up from tar; it was heated to make to move through the pipes better. I think she was built that way.
I was going to question the burning of bunker oil. But I looked at the picture. blacking out like that does look like bunker "c". Oops.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FileeltaQueenRacing.jpg

True bunker "c" needs to be heated to at least 130 degrees to pump it and around 180 degrees to atomize it properly in the burner. And if you spill a little while changing a burner the spilled oil may burn. Or if you spill it in a bilge water will float on top of it.
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