Casting markets and more, July 25, 2014

The casting market in a roundabout way

I love this skit from Monty Python about the man who says things in a roundabout way. Believe it or not I have been guilty of this. Unfortunately, when looking at casting markets sometimes you have to look at things in a roundabout way as well.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) sends out news releases like this one. This is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you can look at the Weekly Railroad Traffic report the strength of the overall economy (Yikes! Motor Vehicles and Parts!). This report validates what we see elsewhere, which is that the economy is producing more in 2014 than in 2013. Except for coal. And we knew that. A growing economy is good for casting producers, even if we are dissatisfied with the pace of growth. Second, more parts being carried by rail means more railroad castings will need replaced sooner instead of later. That’s good for makers of steel and iron castings.

Similarly, news from the world of heavy trucks further illustrates this trend. Truck Tonnage dipped a bit in June but is still trending up. The same conclusions apply.

On the flipside we have this piece from Farm Equipment Magazine. Farm Equipment is still moving slowly, especially big-ticket stuff like combines (a small bird says combines will pick up again in early 2015). I think this is not so much from regular market conditions but rather from late 2013 tax legislation that we have discussed in this space before.

Castings in Tourism

Ok, I am a nerd for castings. I love this part from a steamship engine that wrecked off of Virginia Beach in 1904. The old-time foundry workers knew their stuff.

I also love this “black steel fish pan” on display at the Smithsonian. Notice that the handle is welded on. This is easy and appropriate because it is steel.

My own Lodge Cast Iron 12” skillet is made in one piece because it is gray cast iron. If you do not already have one, get one. They are made in USA, of course. Henry Lodge is President and COO of Lodge Manufacturing Co. and he is a really nice person. I had the honor to give a presentation at the AFS Southeast Regional Conference in Birmingham a few years ago. I spoke with Mr. Lodge after my talk and he was very gracious. I am sure he does not remember me, but I certainly remember the impression he made.

Things That Need to be Taught to Humans #5

I waited tables and tended bar for years and years so I offer these specific suggestions to humans in those trades:

1. Nobody wants to wait for the check. Ever. Just drop it off politely when it looks like things are winding down.

2. When someone asks “what’s good on the menu?” the correct thing to do is answer them. Nobody wants to hear “everything is good!” –they want guidance on limiting choices. You can always say something like “I like the pastrami but the Reuben is the top seller.” In Milwaukee once I was actually told “I don’t know … I am a vegetarian and I do not eat here.” Double yikes!

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