Lost art of technical drawing / drafting

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cvairwerks

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Had a little fun and blew the mind of an engineer that supports us mechanics. Quizzed him on the method to generate a batch of dimensions to carve a wooden cavity die to hold a part for welding. He wasn’t comprehending the finished part configuration, so I did a quick, 3d iso sketch for him. He had a hard time fathoming how I did it without drawing tools and not on a computer either.
 

Victor Bravo

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Old model airplane plans are works of art to me. The thick idiot-proof ink lines of the old Jetco models, the familiar dark blue on so many of the Carl Goldberg kits. the little isometric drawings showing the tissue covering steps on the Guillow models. The clarity and character on the Joe Bridi RCM-40 trainer plans... they made enough of an impression on me that even after 44 years I think I remember the Bridi plans were "drawn and inked by Joe DeMarco"

Staring at these old-school drawings and the rush of adrenaline when I "got" how the airplane went together are an important part of who I am. I thank goodness every day for the impact that those old technical drawings had on my life.

My one big HS drafting class project was creating an isometric ink drawing from the original Quickie 500 model airplane plans (Glen Spickler Radiomodels), using the drafting board and a million light pencil "construction lines".
 

Chris In Marshfield

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You should see the lofting plans for the boat hull on my Spencer Aircar plans. Theyre something else. I’d never had to draw or read a lofting plan before, and this is the first time I’d seen one. Very cool idea, and super compact. A lot of information neatly arranged on a single sheet. Spence was a professional draftsman, for sure.
 

Vigilant1

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My dad and his company designed oil refineries and similar projects. I remember visiting his office and seeing what seemed like hundreds of drafting tables and the guys working at them. Even more impressive to me was the huge physical model of their project in the middle of the room. I have no idea how they kept it up to date, changing a valve orientation in the middle of that maze of colored pipes would have required hours. But if you needed to see how a ladder was positioned relative to a platform, etc, it was right there.
I guess the model builders also found other jobs when these (beautiful feats of craftsmanship) went the way of the dodo bird.
 

TFF

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Airplane plans were a great influence on me. When the magazines published small prints of them and sometimes three in each issue, reading them was part of reading for me. In general the art of the person who inked them was almost creating a fan base. RCM plans looked different from MAN which was different from AMA, different from... Throw in the designer doing it all. I still like looking at them. Computer versions do not give the same pleasure.
 

Pops

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Airplane plans were a great influence on me. When the magazines published small prints of them and sometimes three in each issue, reading them was part of reading for me. In general the art of the person who inked them was almost creating a fan base. RCM plans looked different from MAN which was different from AMA, different from... Throw in the designer doing it all. I still like looking at them. Computer versions do not give the same pleasure.
You were looking at the modern version of the drawing. Looking at the model airplane magazines of the 1940's and 1950's the drawing were much better. I gave away my collection of every issue from 1954 including the first issue of RCM, up to about 1990. Truck load. I saved a few issues from before the war.
( Model Airplane News) I had some articles published back in the day. Also one in RCM.
You are correct , You could tell who drew the drawing by the style.
 

Little Scrapper

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Some of the airplane plans have actual art on them, like the Baby Lakes plans. A couple doodles spread throughout. Always thought that was pretty cool.
 

Mcmark

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Nobody has mentioned our own Ed Fisher. I don’t have any of his designs, but have a set of his retouched Mong Sport plans. His skills are amazing. Anybody heard from him lately?
 

Aerowerx

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A somewhat related topic....

Saw a YouTube video a couple of weeks ago. Two teenagers trying to use an old rotary dial telephone. Both comical and sad at the same time.
 

Little Scrapper

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Nobody has mentioned our own Ed Fisher. I don’t have any of his designs, but have a set of his retouched Mong Sport plans. His skills are amazing. Anybody heard from him lately?
I shared emails with him somewhat recently. He's just been busy dealing with life. His drawings are very very nice
 

Jay Kempf

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You were looking at the modern version of the drawing. Looking at the model airplane magazines of the 1940's and 1950's the drawing were much better. I gave away my collection of every issue from 1954 including the first issue of RCM, up to about 1990. Truck load. I saved a few issues from before the war.
( Model Airplane News) I had some articles published back in the day. Also one in RCM.
You are correct , You could tell who drew the drawing by the style.
How did you give them away. Mine are destined for the next bonfire as I purge tons of stuff out of my house and life. Now I need room for more computers and more CNC equipment and faster and safer connections. That is the progression of the world.

I used to take a lot of pride being able to letter in ink on mylar like a machine. Done every type of technical drawing there is from architectural, aerospace, wood and metal shops, cnc, welding fabrication, sheet metal, model airplane, yadda. Used to scale up and copy all the drawings from the old model airplane magazines. That was how I learned. Every time I got sent to my room when I was younger and my parents would come and find out if I learned my lesson I would be doing a drawing and wouldn't want to come back downstairs. "I'm good dad." :)

3D CAD is very quick and consistent and you don't have to create views and sections. Most of that stuff is automated. So complex drawings sets are much faster. But there is no artistry in it. It's vanilla. But what is surprising to me is that the same people that were sloppy on the drawing board are now sloppy in the computer! So it ain't the tool it's the user.
 

proppastie

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I'm the last generation to be taught on both the board and CAD...
Me sort of, learned Cad at McDonnel 4 years in, then back to the board for 8 years till Autocad 9 came out. I do not know how I made it that long, my managers would almost spit when they saw my drawings. Tried every thing and it helped, letter templates, .5mm and .7mm pencils. Only thing saved me was the specialized knowledge my Dad gave me when I started out with him. The one failing of the old system, if you could not make pretty drawings .....find another field kid. Lots of idiots that could draw pretty were in the system and lots of very smart people that could not were not in the system.
 

Monty

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3D CAD is very quick and consistent and you don't have to create views and sections. Most of that stuff is automated. So complex drawings sets are much faster. But there is no artistry in it. It's vanilla. But what is surprising to me is that the same people that were sloppy on the drawing board are now sloppy in the computer! So it ain't the tool it's the user.
THIS!!

There's also no army of draftsmen, pattern makers, model makers, and machinists baby sitting the Engineer! It's all you.... This is one of the hardest things to convey to newbs. You simply MUST go over everything with a fine tooth comb....4 TIMES.

Lord help you if you inherit a bunch of files from somebody who doesn't understand good 3D modeling practice....It's usually faster to just start over.

Monty
 

Monty

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Me sort of, learned Cad at McDonnel 4 years in, then back to the board for 8 years till Autocad 9 came out. I do not know how I made it that long, my managers would almost spit when they saw my drawings. Tried every thing and it helped, letter templates, .5mm and .7mm pencils. Only thing saved me was the specialized knowledge my Dad gave me when I started out with him. The one failing of the old system, if you could not make pretty drawings .....find another field kid. Lots of idiots that could draw pretty were in the system and lots of very smart people that could not were not in the system.
I was extremely fortunate to attend High School before the everybody needs to go to college madness began. Starting in 7th grade we had shop class. leather work, ceramics, wood working, sheet metal, an entire semmester of reading a ruler....down to 64ths, and the metric system. Two years of drafting in High School along with machine shop and welding. In shop class the first two years of HS we made model rockets by constructing the cardboard tubes ourselves from craft paper using a mandrel, and turning the nose cones on the lathe....then we had the metric 500 CO2 car thing that we did in both 8th and 9th grade. This along with working on and building cars was the absolute BEST prep for being an engineer that I can imagine. Sadly now they just teach kids how to use Excel and word ..

Then we had drafting and CAD class in College as part of the engineering curriculum... We still have a CAD class, but they need help with a ruler, pencil and paper. Forget about knowing any rudimentary shop stuff....even a push broom is a mystery these days.
 

ScaleBirdsScott

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I graduated high school in 2006 and took 3 semesters of drafting. Our meager program was still drafting boards with loose parallel bars and worn squares/triangles, and in the back a handful of old IBM machines running AutoCAD 13 or so that were used for the last 2 weeks of the semesters. 4 of the tables had the fancy drafting machine armatures but 1 had been destroyed by some student and the others were first-come first-served.

The fact they were offering the classes were essentially a joke by that point. Many of the students had other ideas for what direction to go in life, maybe one or two might have gone on do be drafter/designers that I met in my time there. For sure, I learned some, but it was almost entirely on the side, with the instructor giving me actual direction while everyone else essentially goofed off. I remember first seeing an iPod in that class while people were choosing what music to play. I also took something like 6 semesters of fine art class in HS, which was more-or-less the same experience. It prepared me for art college, and the rest is history; but certainly both art and drafting classes in my HS were in sorry state. If I ever go back down to that town I might figure out if they have maybe upgraded to Solidworks or similar; or if, like my dayjob, it's still using software from the mid-90's.

The most complicated thing I've done was a 2pt perspective cutaway illustration of a G-36 rifle. I realized halfway though that one of my main dimensions was just off. But no-one would know but me and so it stayed in my portfolio. Somewhere that's rotting away in a folder. So am I a good draftsman or technical artist? Heck no. I can draw for sure, but I don't have the patience or discipline to make the clean crisp lines that would come from actually having done that work in a professional setting. I learned sketching in college, and so my skills with a pen and marker at one point were almost respectable enough that I'd charge for them. But because CAD was so ubiquitous I've kept my sketching skills where they need to be for me to work through my problems before moving to CAD. But did my time on the boards learning how it should be done help with my other work? I like to think it did. As mentioned above, ultimately it's not the tool or the method used, it's the mindset of the user.

Just thought it was funny everyone saying how they felt they were the last to use boards but then I figure out they graduated before I was born.
 

TFF

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CAD is like digital cameras, you can keep clicking away until there is something good. There is something great to that because it does not cost much resources. What it does loose is poise of thought. Shoot real film, you have to try and be good with everything off the bat, or it will cost lots of wasted materials that take time to even see if it was bad. When drafting on paper, the thought has to be complete; the idea done. That world view picture is pretty powerful; you have to have thought of everything. Not that someone is not thinking finished product, but the mistakes can be bigger, longer and even then someone else can clean up your mess on the desktop. T Wolf, "You can't go home again," but there are real losses with advancement. Computers are the same. No need to be a good programer; power of computers just need it to work without bugs. Nothing elegant in modern programming though.
 

Jay Kempf

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CAD is like digital cameras, you can keep clicking away until there is something good. There is something great to that because it does not cost much resources. What it does loose is poise of thought. Shoot real film, you have to try and be good with everything off the bat, or it will cost lots of wasted materials that take time to even see if it was bad. When drafting on paper, the thought has to be complete; the idea done. That world view picture is pretty powerful; you have to have thought of everything. Not that someone is not thinking finished product, but the mistakes can be bigger, longer and even then someone else can clean up your mess on the desktop. T Wolf, "You can't go home again," but there are real losses with advancement. Computers are the same. No need to be a good programer; power of computers just need it to work without bugs. Nothing elegant in modern programming though.
Not even slightly my experience. On the board it was hard to see an entire assembly. You had to keep doing parts, sections, assembly views, layout after layout, zillions of sketches. I was the 3D modeler before there were 3D modelers. You either can visualize or you can't. Always amazed me that people can't see 3D assemblies the way I can. Course I took apart everything I could get my hands on starting before I could walk.

With 3D modelers you can visualize much more complex assemblies with ease. Means you can cycle through a bunch of stuff quickly and eliminate the dead ends quicker. Of course it takes the experience of a design engineer to do that at all. The inexperienced can build things that look like they work but don't or can't be built easily with 3D CAD. Sloppy people will be sloppy people on the board or in the computer which is hard to deal with if you have to manage a project and collaborate. Nothing worse than trying to edit someone else's work and having it just blow up and be useless.
 
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