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During my days as a metallurgical student, I devoted a fair amount of time to reading the many books and journals made available to students by the college library. While this activity contributed to my knowledge of metallurgy, I began to worry that I might be overburdening myself with too much disjointed information. At about that time, I purchased two books on the Production of Iron and Steel by Reginald Bashforth. These books impressed me because Bashforth had referenced hundreds of published works and provided the information in a manner that was easy to read and understand. It then dawned on me what I was doing wrong. I was collecting information in a random fashion when I should have been targeting one thing at a time. Further, I was stopping short by not assessing what the notes on a particular subject were collectively telling me. From then on, influenced by Bashforth, I would choose a topic for study, raid the library to find as much information as I could on that subject, then write myself an article with illustrations and references. That done, I would choose another topic and start all over again. It was hard work, and it was time consuming. It paid off when examinations approached. Because the articles were written earlier, one read through was all that was needed to bring that information back to the surface; pre-exam cramming was not necessary anymore.

I continued writing myself mini reviews as deemed necessary, long after I had qualified; it had become a habit.

In 1965 I joined the research and development department of David Brown Gear Industries Ltd., a leading U.K. gear manufacturing company. To a large extent, my work focused on the surface hardening of gear teeth (carbon case hardening, induction hardening, and nitride case-hardening processes; materials and properties). By about 1974, I had amassed a drawer full of journal articles relating to surface hardening and properties. Therefore, I set to out write myself a set of mini reviews concentrating on carbon case hardening; that is on the same lines as when I was a student. I did the work in my own time, and progress was not too quick. Even so, by mid-1975, I had four parts approximately complete and another four well on their way. During that summer, the department received a visit by Harry Child of the Wolfson Heat Treatment Centre, who among other things, asked if we had any information pertaining to the internal oxidation of case-hardened surfaces. I handed over a copy of my review on internal oxidation; being able to do so seemed to justify all the earlier effort and was very satisfying. Harry studied the article for a few minutes and asked if I would allow his organization to publish it in their journal, Heat Treatment of Metals. I pointed out that I had not really thought about publishing, and that the article was one of eight written for my own use and, therefore, hardly good enough for publishing. However, I agreed, and the eight parts were published during 1976 and 1977 with the title “The Influence of Microstructure on the Properties of Case-Carburized Components.” Then during 1979, Alan Hick, the editor of Heat Treatment of Metals negotiated with the American Society for Metals for the work to be reissued in book form; in 1980 The Influence of Microstructure on the Properties of Case-Carburized Components was published.

More than twenty years after publication, I still receive an occasional compliment. Perhaps the most surprising one is that by Robert Errichello, who in Gear Technology (May/June 1992), listed the ASM version in “The Top Ten Books for Gear Engineers.” However, the greatest compliment came in September 1996 when I was asked by ASM International to have another go at it. It is nice to see your name on a published work, but by far the greatest satisfaction, the greatest reward, comes from knowing that you have been of some use to the engineering community. To have another opportunity to do it again is especially gratifying and fortunate.

Geoffrey Parrish
March 1999

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