Engineering problems from a practical perspective.

1. - Telephone Cable Drums

It was decided that the best option to link two sides of a harbour with a telephone cable was to lay an underwater cable. The cable was duly ordered but it arrived on the largest drum that the local engineers had ever seen.

Post Office Telephones circa 1930

In order that the cable drum could be handled it was necessary to obtain a suitable bar to fit through the drum centre.

The most senior 'grey beard' engineer immediately pronounced that obviously 'Bar, Cable Drum No. 1' would be suitable.

Two youngsters immediately protested. Factors like 'bending moments' had to be calculated. They set to work on their self-imposed task and eventually arrived at the minimum bar diameter that would do the job, allowing an appropriate safety factor, of course.

The next stage was to refer to the 'Rate Book' - the catalogue of all the equipment used by the Post Office. Having found the right page it was just a matter of looking down the table until they found the best match. Rather to their annoyance they found that it was, indeed, 'Bar, Cable Drum No. 1' - exactly as predicted by their senior.

"How on earth did you know that would be the right bar?" they asked.

"Well", he said, "It's the biggest b****y bar we've got!"