Roy Gasson MCQI CQP I.Eng
Monday 7 January 2008, by Roy Gasson
I am at present the Trusts Honorary Chairman and one of the websites Authors.
Before starting my apprenticeship I was invited to the annual apprentice camp on the Isle of Wight, these were great fun and very enjoyable, I attended three in total, for the third year I was asked if I would be willing to work for the ten days which I did and was paid flat rate, which turned into a nice holiday as I was only required to do one on and two off, as there was three of us and we had our own tent.
On leaving school in 1959 I was apprenticed with D Napier & Son of Acton, starting in the Service Department at Acton 2 as the office boy. I Played Rugby at school at second row or number 8 and while I was doing the office boy stint I was asked to play for the Napier apprentices and then the Company’s 2nd team, but I was only big enough to be a wing forward, we had some good fixtures, and great games, until a knee injury stopped my involvement with the game in 1964.
All Fitter/Turner apprentices did 6 months basic training 3 months hand tools and then 3 months machine tools, each ended with a test piece which were not easy to pass. After successfully passing out of the park Royal training school, I spent some months on different machine tool sections in the main machine shops at Acton 1, followed a stint in the Engine build shop, working on Gazelle gas turbines and the Deltic diesel.
Having had an interview with Mr Bonney the apprentice supervisor, I was transferred to the research machine shop. A marvellous place which under took all work which the tool room refused, we had many jobs that were difficult to make or in some exotic materials for mostly research projects, it was also good place to be for homers as a Motorcyclists with an urge for engine tuning.
Unfortunately due the Government of the day reducing Research budgets and deciding there would be only one Engine manufacturer (who we called “them up the Road”), I had to complete my apprenticeship with a Company in Boreham Wood that made Lift winding gear.
On the successful completion of my apprenticeship I moved to Battersea College of technology as the machine shop Technician in the Mechanical Engineering department, which involved making anything that was required by the teaching staff and students for their projects. I transferred on promotion to Senior Technician in to the Bio-engineering Laboratory, this involved interesting work on a number of artificial limb projects, and film making of projects for BA, BSc’s etc, the College became Surrey University and moved to Guilford, I decided not to move with them.
Onward and upward I secured a post with the Civil Service in 1968 in the A.I.D Laboratory’s at Harefield, in the Metrology Lab, I transferred in 1972 to RR Leavesden (small engines) to the Resident A.I.D office dealing with the inspection of the Engines in current production and the overhaul of in service engines, I also controlled the MoD embodiment store, I then did 3 months detached duty at Westland’s Yeovil, in the A.I.D engine office, then back to Leavesden, spent time on the Gem (Lynx Helicopter engine). during its 600hr assessment, during this period I become a member of The Quality Institute.
My next move in 1989 was to RR Bristol AQD Resident Office, I dealt with Defect investigations of in-service engines, Pegasus Build, and Olympus overhaul for Concord.
After a couple of years, due to department shuffles I found myself back at Harefield in the AQD north London District Office, visiting a multitude of mechanical and electrical suppliers to MOD, which was a very interesting time.
The next move was to St Giles Court in 1983, where I worked on Engine Defect investigations coordinating the paperwork from the armed forces and the responses from the manufactures.
In 1985 on a Friday my Assistant Director decided that I would become an airframe expert on the following Monday, that was interesting, and resulted in my QA involvement with the following Project Offices Harrier all Mk’s (RAF/Navy), Nimrod’s, The Navy Historic Flight Fairy Swordfish, Shackleton AEW, The Queens Flight BAe 146, The BBMF Lancaster and the Boeing AWACS.
I was not expecting to be commuting for 13 years on London underground luckily, I was not in the office every day.
When it was decided in that each Project Office would have its own QA member in 1995, I managed to secure a post with the Resident Project team at Lockheed Atlanta, procuring the new Hercules C130J, in the deep south of the USA, (little did I realise this would be my retirement posting). I had the responsibility for the QA of the total package at the factory and at their subcontractors quite a task, but very enjoyable. I think we quite surprised the company with our requirement for them to build to print as they were used to dealing with the US DoD, who would sign concessions more easily than we did.
They got used to it although there was a lot of muttering in the early days, we got a good working relationship after they adjusted to our ways and Contract requirements, and got used to my peculiar sense of humour. In 1999 when it was decreed my tour would end I decided I would take the early retirement package that was on offer, as I did not fancy living out of a suitcase in the Bristol area for the next three years, I had visited Bristol Officies for meetings whilst. in the US and the office setup did not impress me so I ended my Civil Service career in January 2000 taking early retirement.
I spent the first couple of years of retirement driving the school bus for the local school for disabled which was very rewarding, and in my own time I used to take a number of the children to the local riding for Disabled and on their day trips.
My main hobby now is the Napier Power Heritage Trust, which can be time consuming, we are trying to get as much of our archives digitised as possible, which seems to be a never ending task.
A lot of effort is being put in to keeping the Companies name alive and we have got our own website any constructive comments and offers of help would be appreciated.