The Early Years:
I grew up in Cape Town and graduated through all the teenage shenanigans that most boys do (and then some), dropped out of school at a young age and started work. Spent the following 10 years catching up on the education I’d missed by attending night school and engineering colleges. The company I worked for was largely an engineering company manufacturing machines for the can making industry.
I have been enjoying retirement for a number of years now, spending most of my time in my workshop. The shed that has grown exponentially since I was about 15 years old.
The Working Years brought many obsessions along the way. While working for the man the emphasis was on Electrical Engineering and the needs of the Corporation (the man) ranging from HV & MV reticulation, Electronic & Computer Systems, Automation, Training and Technical Support for all these disciplines - a challenging & rewarding journey.
I became obsessed with each discipline in turn ranging from Microprocessor Development, Electronics, Computer Programming and Industrial Automation Systems. Together with my various teams we completed many gratifying projects along the way, some big budget ones too.
Subsequently being self-employed allowed a little self-indulgence and the development of all sorts of cool industrial toys and systems which we tried to sell. These weren’t financially successful but we sure had fun. If I had $1 for each window of opportunity dreamt up I would be pretty rich by now.
Some more studying followed by 12 years or so in corporate life when I decided to start my own business (www.cimsystems.co.za). With 3 children and one on the way it was a bit of a challenge adapting to the real world and learning the meaning of a new word, cash-flow. After 20 odd years of building up the business I retired quietly to my shed.
I was exposed to all the disciplines of precision mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering. After qualifying and a few years in the design office I was selected for overseas training in UK & USA for a new project in Pretoria - the first “2 piece” can lines in South Africa needed an Electrical Engineer for the project. What a wonderful experience that was, after 4 years I was transferred back to Cape Town to a more senior position now with a wife and young family in tow.
The Obsessions Each period of my life seems to have been punctuated by these obsessions that take hold of my very being to the exclusion of all else. One of the first was diving around the coast of Cape Town. With a group of mates we started our own diving club - South Point Underwater Club. Every available moment was devoted to either spearfishing, scuba diving, underwater photography, girls/parties or both.
Ed's Shed With the arrival of my first Milling Machine I tackled my first machining project - manufacturing a Quorn Tool and Cutter Grinder from castings and plans from the UK. The project lasted about 2 years due to having to build other toys like dividing heads, ball & taper turning attachments, boring heads and a host of other sub obsessions. Enjoyed the journey immensely, learning new skills along the way.
Sailing in Cape Town started casually at first along the west coast of South Africa becoming an obsession on the purchase of Fancy Free, a Sadler monohull. We spent many happy hours together sailing from Port Owen on the west coast to Gordons Bay on the east coast of Cape Town and in Table Bay and surrounds for about 16 years. She was a social cruiser of note, sundowners and fun being the key pastimes. The opening cruise each sailing season was a highlight with many prizes in various categories being won. The regular Wednesday evening racing in the bay was always a lot of fun, I managed to crew on various racing yachts for many years with friends.
Suzuki Violin School - At the tender age of 57 I became obsessed with learning the violin. I had not played any musical instrument prior to this and had little knowledge of music theory. I was encouraged after reading Never Too Late the story of John Holt learning the Cello at the age of 40. I enjoyed classical music from an early age and love opera, Puccini being one of my favourite composers. With a lot of encouragement & support from Tricia (Dear Tricia) I purchased a violin and joined the local violin school and was surrounded by students with an average age of 12. We persevered together and were eventually able to produce a pleasing sound. Our first concert at the local school (for parents of the students) with lots of squeaks was interesting.
After about 3 years of lessons and obsessive practice I joined a local group of friends Pete, Ken & Ed who played casually together in Pete’s garage. The 2 guitars a piano and my violin met each week and played classical, blues, jazz and consumed loads of red wine. Sadly with the passing of Pete and a few years later loosing Ed as well we lost the plot too. With the onset of arthritis in my thumbs it became increasingly difficult for me to play in tune and this obsession has sadly waned.
And so it started .... adding machines and tools to 'The Shed' that were absolutely necessary & required to sustain life.