[Ads-l] Anecdote: Knowing where to tap

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon Mar 6 22:32:23 EST 2017

I've come across this story as an artist being asked to draw something 
like a logo. He does so with a few strokes. The rest of the story you 
can fill in.


On 3/6/2017 2:32 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> Thanks, Jim. Below is a version of the Steinmetz anecdote from a
> letter in LIFE magazine in 1965.
> [ref] 1965 March 14, LIFE, Letters to the Editors (Letter from Jack B.
> Scott, O'Fallon, Illinois), Quote Page 27, Column 3 and 4, Time Inc.,
> New York. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
> https://books.google.com/books?id=QFMEAAAAMBAJ&q=%22chalk+mark%22#v=snippet&q=%22chalk%20mark%22&f=false
> [Begin excerpt]
> Sirs:
> In your article on Steinmetz (April 23) you mentioned a consultation
> with Henry Ford. My father, Burt Scott, who was an employe of Henry
> Ford for many years, related to me the story behind that meeting.
> Technical troubles developed with a huge new generator at Ford's River
> Rouge plant. His electrical engineers were unable to locate the
> difficulty so Henry Ford solicited the aid of Steinmetz.
> When "the little giant" arrived at the plant, he rejected all
> assistance, asking only for a notebook, pencil and cot. For two
> straight days and nights he listened to the generator and made
> countless computations. Then he asked for a ladder, a measuring tape
> and a piece of chalk. He laboriously ascended the ladder, made careful
> measurements and put a chalk mark on the side of the generator.
> He descended and told his skeptical audience to remove a plate from
> the side of the generator and take out 16 windings from the field coil
> at that location. The corrections were made and the generator then
> functioned perfectly. Subsequently Ford received a bill for $10,000
> signed by Steinmetz for G.E. Ford returned the bill acknowledging the
> good job done by Steinmetz but respectfully requesting an itemized
> statement.
> Steinmetz replied as follows:
>    Making chalk mark on generator $1.
>    Knowing where to make mark $9,999.
>    Total due $10,000.
> Jack B. Scott
> [End excerpt]
> On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 11:55 AM, James A. Landau
> <JJJRLandau at netscape.com> wrote:
>> I have heard this story told about Charles Proteus Steinmetz (April 9, 1865 – October 26, 1923).  Unfortunately I do not remember the source.
>> When reading the story below, I immediately asked myself "Did that machinist sabotage the machine so that he would be rehired?"
>> - Jim Landau
>> On Fri, 3 Mar 2017 12:13:16 Zone - 0500 ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote
>> A popular tale extols the value of expert knowledge, and I was asked
>> to explore its provenance.
>> Summary: An expert is able to perform a simple action to solve a
>> recalcitrant problem. The large bill sent by the expert is challenged.
>> A subsequent itemized bill displays a small fee for the simple action
>> and a large fee for knowing which simple action to perform.
>> Below is an instance of the anecdote in 1908. An earlier citation or
>> other pertinent information would be welcome.
>> Date: February 1, 1908
>> Periodical: The Journal of the Society of Estate Clerks of Works
>> Volume 21
>> Article: A Moral with an Ending
>> Quote Page 30
>> Publisher: Printed and Published for the Society of Estate Clerks of
>> Works at the "Hampshire Observer" Printing Works, Winchester, England
>> Database: Google Books Full View
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=w-nVAAAAIAAJ&q=%22tap-tap%22#v=snippet&
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> He was the best machinist in the district, and it was for that reason
>> that the manager had overlooked his private delinquencies. But at last
>> even his patience was exhausted, and he was told to go, and another
>> man reigned in his stead at the end of the room.
>> And then the machine, as though in protest, refused to budge an inch,
>> and all the factory hands were idle. Everyone who knew the difference
>> between a machine and a turnip tried his hand at the inert mass of
>> iron. But the machine, metaphorically speaking, laughed at them, and
>> the manager sent for the discharged employee. And he left the comfort
>> of the "Bull" parlour and came.
>> He looked at the machine for some moments, and talked to it as a man
>> talks to a horse, and then climbed into its vitals and called for a
>> hammer. There was the sound of a "tap-tap-tap," and in a moment the
>> wheels were spinning, and the man was returning to the "Bull" parlour.
>> And in the course of time the mill-owner had a bill:--"To mending
>> machine, £10. 10s." And the owner of the works, being as owners go, a
>> poor man, sent a polite note to the man, in which he asked him if he
>> thought tapping a machine with a hammer worth ten guineas. And then he
>> had another bill:--"To tapping machine with hammer, 10s.; to knowing
>> where to tap it, £10; total, £10. 10s."
>> And the man was reinstated in his position, and was so grateful that
>> he turned teetotaller and lived a great and virtuous old age. And the
>> moral is that a little knowledge is worth a deal of labour.
>> [End excerpt]
>> Below is a version from 1922:
>> Date: March 24, 1922
>> Newspaper: Minnesota Daily Star (The Minneapolis Star)
>> Newspaper Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
>> Short Article: Knowledge Is Power
>> Quote Page 17, Column 7
>> Database: Newspapers.com
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Knowledge Is Power
>> In a factory one of the huge machines stopped suddenly. In spite of
>> exhortation, language, oil and general tinkering it refused to budge.
>> Production slowed down and the management tore its hair.
>> At last an expert was called in. He examined the machine for a few
>> minutes and then asked for a hammer. After tapping here and there for
>> about 10 minutes, he announced that the machine was ready to move. It
>> did.
>> Two days later the management received a bill for $250—the expert's
>> fee. The management demanded a detailed statement of the account.
>> He received this:
>> To tapping machine with hammer. $25
>> Knowing where to tap .......... 225
>> [End excerpt]
>> Garson
>> _____________________________________________________________
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