In defferent parts of the university are machines and mechanics able to construct anything from high-power electro magnets to the smallest of glass tubing. The Maintenance Ships next to Dunster House contain all the equipment needed to keep up the University, while out of their own resources the scientific departments build some of the finest and most complicated devices found anywheres.
During the winter months about 150 men are constantly at work repairing the building and furniture. Blacksmiths, carpenters, electricians, painters, plumbers, metal-workers, and mechanics are in demand. Besides the customary machines the Maintenance Shops have engines that drill square holes, air pumps which suck away shavings, steam heaters to soften lumber, and knife-edge power wood cutters which, if misrun, could hurl a razor-like slug of tool steel right through the operator. Roofing, metal shaping, forging, pipe drilling, and key making, are some of the activities at the river-front shops. In the familiar yellow building can be done anything from covering shades to making cardboard pillars for Fogg.
More interesting and difficult work, however, is done by the mechanics in the scientific departments. Besides having to perform incredibly delicate and elaborate jobs the craftsmen must know enough engineering and science to be able to tell the researchers whether or not and in what way a projected machine will run. Professors and mechanics work together closely on the design and construction of aporata and the mechanics have a high degree of skill and esprit de corps.
Each division has its own shops. Physics and communication engineering equipment are built in Crufts and the T. Jefferson Coolidge Laboratory. Pierce Hall and the McKay Engineering Laboratory do construction for the Engineering School, while Rotch Hall specializes in metallurgy. Other machine work is in the Biological Laboratories and in Mallinckrodt and at the Medical School.
The correct way to estimate the capacity of the shops is to examine their products. In Pierce Hall is a Cathode Ray Oscillograph machine which measures a movement taking place in forty-millionths of a second, the first high-voltage transmitter in the country, and massive soil testing engines whose four foot beams are knife-edged to the accuracy of a thousandth of an inch.
Cruft boasts that with no outside aid its eight machanics have built a ten ton water-cooled magnet, a hydraulic press exerting a force of 70,000 atmospheres, a battery of 100,000 volts, hugh switch boards, five foot vacuum tubes and a unique short-wave radio station, WIZJ. A ninety-two ton magnet for unclear physics investigation is contemplated. The shops work all summer and have over 2000 parts in stock. Some eighty research men work with the Cruft and Coolidge machinery and mechanics, among whom are two expert glass-blowers.