MRO Magazine

Time to lighten up

We've probably all had a tough year. You get no sympathy for being too busy these days, because it seems that everyone is in the same boat. For us at Machinery & Equipment MRO, this is our final i...

December 1, 2004
By Bill Roebuck, Editor

We’ve probably all had a tough year. You get no sympathy for being too busy these days, because it seems that everyone is in the same boat. For us at Machinery & Equipment MRO, this is our final issue of 2004. It also marks the start of our 20th anniversary year (our first issue was published in December 1985). So we’re feeling light and euphoric, with the holiday season upon us and all.

That’s why we’re doing something we’ve never done before. We’re giving you a page of our best engineering jokes. Sure, we publish original cartoons on a regular basis — I don’t know of any other Canadian trade magazine that does that. But after 20 years, we think it’s time for a joke page, just this once.

We hope you enjoy them and haven’t heard them all before. We’re leaving these ones unattibuted to protect the guilty. And if you’ve got one of your own up your sleeve, send it along to us. If we get enough of them just might make this a regular thing. Here we go.

Maintenance Engineer to the Rescue


There was an maintenance engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for more than 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later, the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million-dollar machines.

They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer, who had solved so many of their problems in the past.

The maintenance man reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small “x” in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, “This is where your problem is.” The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again.

The company received a bill for $50,000 from him for this service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The maintenance man responded briefly:

* One chalk mark: $1.

* Knowing where to put it: $49,999.

It was paid in full and the maintenance engineer retired again in peace.

Engineering vs. Math Majors

A math and engineering convention was being held, and a bunch of students from Queen’s University were attending. On the VIA train out of Kingston, Ont., to the convention, there were both math majors and engineering majors.

Each of the math majors had his/her own train ticket. But the engineers had only one ticket for all of them. The math majors started laughing and snickering. The engineers ignored the laughter.

Then, one of the engineers said, “Here comes the conductor.” All of the engineers piled into the bathroom. The math majors were puzzled. The conductor came aboard and collected tickets from all the math majors. He went to the bathroom, knocked on the door, and said, “Tickets please.”

An engineer stuck their only ticket under the door. The conductor took the ticket and left. A few minutes later, the engineers emerged from the bathroom. The math majors felt really stupid.

On the way back from the convention, the group of math majors had one ticket for their group. They started snickering at the engineers, who had no tickets among them.

When the engineer lookout shouted, “Conductor coming!” all the engineers again piled into a bathroom. All of the math majors went into another bathroom. Then, before the conductor came on board, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said, “Ticket please.”

Artsie vs. an Engineer

An artsie, sick of working at Mickey D’s for what had seemed an eternity, decided to get a job working as a labourer at a construction site. Being an overconfident artsie, he soon began to brag to the other workers about all sorts of things. One day he decided to brag that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of the wiry mechanical engineer on the site. After several minutes, the engineer had had enough.

“Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” said the engineer. “I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.”

“You’re on, little guy!” the braggart replied. “Let’s see what you got.”

The engineer reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right, get in!”

The Sensitivity of the Technical Mind

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, “What’s with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such ineptitude.”

The pastor said, “Hey here comes the greenskeeper. Let’s have a word with him.”

“Hi George. Say, what’s with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”

The greenskeeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”

The group was silent for a moment.

The pastor said, “That’s so sad, I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”

The doctor said, “Good idea. And I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”

The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

Job Joys

Reaching the end of a job interview for an important maintenance management position, the human resources person asked the hot-shot young engineer, fresh out of Queen’s University in Kingston, “And what starting salary were you looking for?” The engineer coolly said, “In the neighbourhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.”

The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every two years — for starters, say, a red Corvette?”

The engineer tried to control his excitement, but sat straight up and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?”

“Yeah,” the interviewer shrugged, “But you started it.”

High-Tech Management Skills

A young maintenance technician was leaving the office at 6 p.m. when he found the president of the company standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the boss, “this is important, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young technician. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” said the boss as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”


Christmas in an Engineer’s Mind

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to about 15% of the total, or 378 million.

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming there is at least one good child in each. Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly di
stributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.7 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second — 3,000 times the speed of sound.

For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (2 lb), the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 lb.

Even granting that the ‘flying’ reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them — Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

A total of roughly 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance — this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vapourized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 miles per second in 0.001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g’s. A 250-lb Santa would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 lb of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s gone now.

Merry Christmas!