Insane Hydraulics

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Five Years of Silence

9 July, 2017

My fellow fluid power enthusiasts, I am pleased to announce that after five years of silence IH is restarting its activity! Obviously, after such an "extravagant" amount of time spent "in limbo" with not much as a hint on what was going on, this comeback post will explain why the site I'd put so much effort in froze dead for good five years.

I spent many days thinking about what would be the best way to describe how I got side-tracked, and why for such a long time. I would write a paragraph and then delete it, then write another, and then delete that one as well - over and over and over, until I suddenly realized that, alongside with being my hobby, is also a genuine reflection of what I do for living! Thus a good and earnest explanation may as well be a short summary of my and, consequently, this very blog's "shaky" career. Please bear with my reminiscing.

Part 1 - Before IH

When I started out as a shop hand in a small Portuguese hydraulic company, which, by the way, happened by the purest of chances, my main duties consisted of passing wrenches and cleaning stuff, or cleaning wrenches and passing stuff, or passing clean wrenches and stuff, in fact, now that I think about it, 99 percent of all that I did was somehow related to cleaning... At that point my responsibility was naught (no matter what I did wrong - it was always the guy's-who-told-me-how-to-do-it fault anyway), my pay-check was, well, fairly close to naught, and everybody around me was welcome to boss me around - mechanics, technicians, engineers, salesmen, you name it... Not that I disliked being bossed around by the pretty girls from the accounting department - I was in my early twenties, you know.. But nonetheless life was simple and good...

At that time my cell hone looked like a police walkie and had a green monochrome screen, I didn't own a computer, I didn't have internet connection in my minuscule rental apartment, and I didn't even dream about owning a site, yet less about mastering oil hydraulics.

Part 2 - Early IH

Self-education is a powerful thing, and some three years later, after becoming "fairly hydraulically fit", I got a contract of mechanic slash fitter at a much bigger hydraulic company. My responsibility passed from "naught" to "some", and thenceforth I became at least partially responsible for the stuff I did - which at the time was mostly pump and motor overhauling. Ah... those good old times when I had a fixed work schedule - the most underrated employee benefit there is, if you ask me!

Anyhow - as my experience grew, so did my awareness of how rare was the accurate understanding of even basic oil-hydraulics amongst "common shop and client population", at which point the IH was born, and the stuff that was driving me insane (get it? Insane as in InsaneHydraulics?) transformed into more or less regular blog posts. I had less people to boss me around now, and even (on rare occasions) got other people for me to boss around! I was learning new stuff every day, and life, again, was simple and good...

The pay-check got better, and, yes - the girls in the accounting department of the new company were prettier as well! I think it was about then that my cell phone got a colored screen and stopped requiring a separate belt-clipped holster-like pouch to be carried around.

Part 3 - Growing IH

Read and learn every day! If you want to learn something - read about it! And read I did - all the catalogues and manuals I could get my hands on. Discovering new stuff in the shop every day - checking and applying the knowledge in practice, writing about it in my blog - how cool was that! A shiny update once a week! If only I knew what was over the horizon...

The more you know the more you do - that's one piece of corporate wisdom for you... After several years of "service" I started to get involved with more and more stuff. I began dealing directly with clients, then started elaborating and implementing simple projects, then more complex, and then (I must say here and now that up to this day I honestly don't know exactly how this happened) I found myself moving from Lisbon to the southern Portugal to set up a new hydraulic shop neat the copper mines in the Alentejo region. The official version was - for the company to be able to provide better response to our clients in that area, most of them being directly related to mining industry. My wife, unemployed at the time, got contracted to handle our accounts (I am starting to suspect I may have developed a "thing" for accounting department girls over the years...) and thus the two of us embraced the challenge and went for it with all our hearts. At which point all this "site business" quietly shifted to the next stage

or Part 4, which I will call "Under the radar IH"

As you may have already guessed, it was more or less at that time that InsaneHydraulics flat-lined. We were a long way from the help of the mother office, and improvisation was the key-word when we built a functioning workshop plus a warehouse from the ground up, all at the inevitable cost of free time. Who needs them weekends and holidays anyway, right? The notion of spare time disappeared form my life, and all that's not directly related to physical survival, like for example eating and occasional sleeping, got put aside. It is one thing to run a project through intelligent task delegation, yet quite another to run a project when the salesman, the engineer, the foreman, the mechanic, the hand (and yes, don't forget the welder, the fitter, the turner, the machinist and even the debt-collector..) are, well, your-poor-self, and any type of delegation is impossible by definition... As a result, for the last four and something years my life turned into this never-ending crusade fuelled by raw pride, sense of commitment, and fear of failed challenge.

I can not say how many times I stood at the edge of quitting everything, overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had to do all at the same freaking time, wishing for days with more than 24 hours in them... and some rest... But I did learn a lot (and I mean A LOT!) during this period, and I did expand my skill-set tenfold through countless trials and errors. Just another day at the office you know - business calls in the morning, stick-welding in the afternoon, field troubleshooting in the evening and CAD at night... what's that? Sleep you say? - Will sleep when I'm dead!

Anyway, three years flew by in a flash, we moved from a rented "shed" to a freshly-built warehouse of our own (when I say "we" I mean "the company", and when I say "our own" I mean "the company's own"), and the business, despite the global crisis and copper price dips, finally reached a certain more or less stable volume. And although the shop part is still at best only half complete by my standards, I believe it's time to step back and re-evaluate my priorities, as it's become clear to me that my current lifestyle desperately needs changing, and since my pride and sense of duty are for the greatest part satisfied by now, I feel I can finally take the liberty of devoting more time to my family, hobbies and personal projects.

Which brings me directly to the Part 5 - Present IH

Yes, this is now, and here I am, five years older, with thousands of ideas crying for realization and fighting for the top spot in my head. I feel glad to be going back to creating web content about oil hydraulics - it's something I genuinely enjoy, and there's so much I would like to write out! I definitely changed during these five years, I got older, I got, well, not wiser, but maybe less nervous about stuff around me, especially stuff that's beyond my control, and I am hoping this will be reflected in my "creative output". Time will tell, and only God knows what'll happen. But I'm back! And it feels really good to be back!