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Gearheads: 1916

Sept. 26, 1916. "Boys of Wanganui Technical College, New Zealand, during an engineering class." Tesla Studios glass negative. View full size.

Sept. 26, 1916. "Boys of Wanganui Technical College, New Zealand, during an engineering class." Tesla Studios glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

The Wood Bock Floors

I have no idea if they are still used but when I retired in 1994 the large company I worked for who has many factories around Illinois used those creosote soaked wooden blocks over concrete.
Crews were constantly replacing bad blocks. From what I remember they absorbed falling metal parts so they weren't damaged and were easier on a person standing eight hours a day. I'm sure often moving machinery to new locations also had something to do with it.
I didn't have a job where I had to stand nearly that long. But personally my legs and feet ached from those blocks.

Beneath it all...

Is a wood-block floor.
I never understood why they were used; perhaps in a 'light' industrial environment they were more economical and durable than concrete (or iron-infused concrete).

Hooks! We need hooks!

Where are we to hang our coats?

Not mentioning ties

Are they making appliances?

I had a class like that.

I went to Stuyvesant High School in New York and we had a wood shop with all the overhead belts and pulleys. They powered lathes, joiners, planers, grinders, etc. I can still hear the noise of the electric motor that drove them and I can still smell the wood. We did NOT wear ties.

Too young?

Aren't some of these kids too young to be in a Technical College or is this just a substitute for a trade high school?

It's a digital world

Time for the photograph, boys. Everyone with ten fingers, move to the front.

Changing times

There is so much to look at here, besides the frightening neckties. The pyramidal change gear stands are neat for sure. Also notice the two marine engines in the right foreground. The taller single cylinder engine on the metal stand is one of those new-fangled internal combustion models, but just behind and to the right you see a classic double expansion steam launch engine perched on a crate.

Damn the hazards!

When our shift ends, we're off to camp!

At First Glance

I thought I was seeing a Lewis Hine scene of downtrodden young boys, but as soon as I saw the neckwear I knew it wasn't going to be that bad.

The machinery (and ties a bit)

That is a pretty complete set of machine tools in there, I am particularly impressed by the set of gears that go with the metal lathe near the center. The boy in the front is holding a mill file, probably they taught proper draw-filing technique for creating flat and true surfaces.

The ties no doubt indicate their class standing and, since this is a posed picture, are probably tucked into their shirts when actually working with the equipment.


Egads! I wonder how many boys were injured before they discovered that ties and moving machinery don't mix?

Hello OSHA, here's what happened

A room of moving and spinning equipment and all those neckties.


My first thought was "surely Shorpy comments won't state the obvious concerning ties and machinery."

[Let's not forget OSHA. - Dave]

No OSHA equivalent in 1916 New Zealand

They sure as heck wouldn't have let us work with spinning machines, while wearing ties that could have gotten caught in them, in my shop class. And not one protective eye goggle anywhere.

An OSHA Nightmare

But I would have loved a class like that!

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