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Many of you have had the fortune (or misfortune?) of working with very experienced, wise, journeyman, with many years in the trade. The guys we like to call "master plumbers," in some cases. They got a zillion stories, and they don't work hard anymore, but they do work smart.

The second Journeyman I was paired with at my first company tells me tails of how we are so lucky to have Hammer drills now a days and when he started they had to take a mallet and the equivilent of a concrete/hammer drill type chisel and beat a hole in the concrete until it was deep enough to put an insert in. He said one time the mallet broke off the handle and his Journeyman told him to just hit with the mallet in hand.

He also told me the story about how he got sent to this house in Surrey where a guy was contracting his, and his brothers house next door. So he walks in and there are painters, finish carpenters, drywallers, and flooring guys doing their thing. The guy says in his deep east indian accent that he wants him to install plumbing fixtures in his and his brothers house next door. So he looks around, and he doesn't see any pipes coming out of the wall - no water line, or drainage rough in done, nor any underground either!!!

Anyways, I'm curious what characters you've worked who can relate stories of "the good old days" and maybe you can share a few (or maybe you were in the good old days yourself too?).
 

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When I first got into the trade in the late 1970's there were still a hand full of working WW2 vets working in the trade. Now let me say all our veterns are special! But this breed had some unique qualities and ingenenuity that made learning interesting and fun. I guess for them falure was no option and that attitude carried to the jobsite. Some of their war stories left me speechless. Hats off to them!:thumbsup:
 

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When I first got into the trade in the late 1970's there were still a hand full of working WW2 vets working in the trade. Now let me say all our veterns are special! But this breed had some unique qualities and ingenenuity that made learning interesting and fun. I guess for them falure was no option and that attitude carried to the jobsite. Some of their war stories left me speechless. Hats off to them!:thumbsup:
You are spot on about the stories and the unique qualities of this breed.
I knew a few of them and they have touched my life and many others in their years.

Recently I did a job for a customer and when I was in the basement I saw a display box with a Bronze Star in it. He noticed I was looking at it and asked if I knew what it was and what it was for.
I replied it was a Bronze Star and he got it for doing something very brave or, very dumb...
Maybe a bit of both...

He laughed and said, "And I lived to tell about it!"

Anyway I took care of his problem, picked up the tools and stuff put them by the door and went back to him. He asked what he owed and I told him the story of the Bronze Star.

He then told me a story about how he parachuted in deep behind enemy lines in Europe as part of a special ops team to retrieve some top secret gear that was on board a spy plane that had crash landed in the mountains. They spent several days at the crash site stripping the gear out of the plane, then cleared a landing strip for a plane to land on at night to pick them and the gear up.

Strange...
He told the story like it was no big deal and anybody would have done the same thing...
 

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Scott K. That manual hammer drill you spoke of is called a star drill. I have used one many many times. You place it on the wall where you want the hole, hit it a good hard lick with a bfh ( big f-in hammer ),:hammer: spin the star drill about a quarter or half turn, then hit it again and repeat. It does the job but you have to be careful not to pound it too many times without spinning it or it will get stuck in the hole. Also gotta watch out for when the hammer glances of and you strike your hand. Was about all they had back then. The old man I started out working for in plumbing used one. He never owned a hammer drill. He even used a black and decker jig saw to cut holes for a closet flange. Didn't own a saw zall either.
 

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Back 7 or 8 years ago there used to be alot of cool stories at the supply house counter, now you go in and can't understand the language.

I have a couple guys I talk too, like just now my buddy called me, he said the customer told him that there was mold in her toilet tank, so she called toto customer support, and the customer service told her that the plumber had mold spores on his hands when he replaced the flapper



:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
 

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It's hard for us today to realize how plumbing was done back in the good old days. An old plumber couldn't believe I used a snapper for cast iron rather than a hammer and chisel, implying that I was soft.

I still have a brace and bit out in the shed. Plumbers made holes by using a hand-powered brace and bit and then a keyhole saw to make a larger hole, all by hand.

Pipes were often just notched into the top of floor joists before the subfloor was put on.

And iron pipes are unforgiving. They don't bend much. You can't drill out the holes in a floor joist and slide them through. It took a lot more planning ahead to lay out piping, and as many have probably noticed, a lot of plumbing used to be run below the floor joists.

Plumbers used to build their own tool boxes (as did carpenters). Commonly, this was a trapezoidal end on an oblong box with a piece of pipe as a handle. Tools usually consisted of pipe wrenches and often plumbers made their own tubular - they had special tools to make a flange for flanged tailpieces, bends, and could solder on their own threads for slip joints.

They would also make their own pipe dope - either the gray type with linseed oil or the red lead type for stronger joints.

And we all know about lead wiping - there were some very creative plumbers out there.
 

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When I started we too had war Vets and people who CARED !!! GREAT times ! Hard times but GREAT !

The hammer and chisel you speak of was a way of life . When our company finally got a hammer drill it was like one of these " UFC Cage matches " to get the thing !!

Pick and shovel for most sewer and water jobs . Lead pots all over the jobs . Going in on Sat & Sun to cut and thread black and Galv nipples for the next week .

Man ,,,, that was good times :) :)

Thanks for remembering !!
 

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I one worked with an old journeyman who refused to buy a sawzall. We worked [email protected] and guess who did the pipe cutting?When I showed up one monday morning with a brand new millwalkee sawzall I thought he was gonna Sxxx he even went to the owner, who told him he better change with the times or he was gonna get left behind.Slowley he changed
 

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master of disaster
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!!!!

when i was a kid my dad would tell the customer he would have his backhoe out on saturday to dig, my dad would show me and my older brother from pnt. a to pnt. b and with shovels in hand thats how we spent alot of saturdays as a kid.
can you dig it! thank god for mini-hoes, leak 1-lots of blisters!!!!
 

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So well I remember getting put out on a water service job with my shovel, pick and sharpshooter.Oh yea my sack lunch and a couple of cokes.That afternoon the plumber would come back with a roll or 2 of copper and hook it up,Sometimes they MIGHT let me soldier a joint .We turned on water and came back the next day to wait on inspector then I got to cover up ditch,AWWW the good ole days
 

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When I started in this trade (new const), a 2 man shop hired me as a helper. The owner was 70 and his son in law was 50. We would all 3 show up at 7am. They would drop the tailgate, pull out a case of beer, bag of ice, and dump all into an ice chest, then each would crack open their first beer. Then, they would "lay me out" for work, then walk back to the truck and sit on the tailgate, BS, and drink the entire case before noon. I would go to the truck to ask questions and they would both walk to my work area with their beers (and an extra) and discuss-mostly argue about the best way to do it. Asking them a Q meant an hour of BS. At noon we would eat lunch. After lunch they would crack open a bottle of hard stuff and sip it on ice until the end of the day. I can't tell you how many times the inspector showed up at end of day inspection of rough, and these two would stumble around (drinks in hand) babbling with the inspectors. I worked for these guys for 3 yrs and after year one I was pretty much forced to be on my own. I learned a ton very fast. Eventually, it was me walking with the inspectors who corrected my work (which I would fix) and they would come back and pass it. What a learning experience. They were great guys, but that kind of 'on the job' drinking would never be allowed now.
 

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Scott K. That manual hammer drill you spoke of is called a star drill. I have used one many many times. You place it on the wall where you want the hole, hit it a good hard lick with a bfh ( big f-in hammer ),:hammer: spin the star drill about a quarter or half turn, then hit it again and repeat. It does the job but you have to be careful not to pound it too many times without spinning it or it will get stuck in the hole. Also gotta watch out for when the hammer glances of and you strike your hand. Was about all they had back then. The old man I started out working for in plumbing used one. He never owned a hammer drill. He even used a black and decker jig saw to cut holes for a closet flange. Didn't own a saw zall either.
I have a star drill in my tool box...
Yea, I've used it lately...

I also have a hammer drill...
I use that a lot more often...
 

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boy oh boy are you guys bringing back some memories. I too have a star chisel in my tools and also carry a brace with me also. still have my cast iron lead joint tools also can't seem to part with them. packing iron cold chisel and ladle. I was the back hoe with pick and shovel and digging bar. was also the jack hammer with a sledge hammer in hand. I remember replacing water lines in an apartment complex in maryland in 18 inches of frozen ground and using a hammer and chisel to get thru the frozen layer . thanks for the memories..... ya right lol
 

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master of disaster
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hey al , istill have the memories- busted knuckles- bad knees-and acheing back, but remember: YOU GOTTA LUV IT !!!!!!
 
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