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Stock Taking

Each year, volunteers would be sought to assist with the stock-taking exercise. This happened over a weekend in March and all the stock in stores, on the shopfloor and in outside yards would be checked and counted. Of course, these were the days before 'Just In Time' and the quantity and variety of items were vast. Volunteers would assemble early on the Saturday morning to receive their instructions, paperwork and allotted area. All office staff who volunteered also received a free pair of safety boots as some of the areas could present hazards. Some experience of Mather and Plattís products was useful where identification of bare castings was required in the stock yard.

Small fasteners, springs and other large volume items were often stored in galvanised dustbins. A small sample of about a hundred would be weighed and then the quantity in the dustbin calculated by weighing it. This wasnít an easy as it might first appear. Sometimes the bin was so full that it couldnít be lifted on to the scales, so it had to be emptied with a shovel until it was light enough to be lifted and tipped. This was one of the more tedious tasks. The variety of fasteners was mind-boggling because these were the days before metrication and so BSF, Whitworth, BA and UNC were abundant in all sizes and types. These were also the days before 'design for economy' and so brass, chromed plated and stainless steel components were popular. After all, why use a plain steel nut when a brass acorn nut would do?

More interesting was the pump stores where obscure parts could be found. In many cases these were held as spares for machines no longer made and frequently the quantities in stock had not varied since the previous stock-take, and often the one prior to that. A particularly lonesome item that was on its own year after year was a very nice Michell thrust bearing. It's sad to think that this probably ended up in a skip or as an unidentifiable item on a junk stall. However, all stock was tagged with its part number, description and quantity in stock. A carbon copy was returned to the stock-take administrator.

One of the worst areas was the bar stores where all material had to be measured. Locating the furthest end of a bar wasn't as easy as it might sound since the top-most items were usually odd lengths. Stock included the usual round, square, hexagon, angle, channel and Z sections. One of the more popular sizes of roller chain (5/8" pitch) was never stocked at M+P. This was because it was the same size as that used on motorcycles and would have been too convenient a source for employees.