The day didn’t start off too well. You know those sort of days, when you’ve got an appointment and the alarm doesn’t go off. Well that’s what happened to Gerry this morning. He had planned to get up really early to catch the tram to the hire car company out near the airport. You know once your running late then Murphy’s Law is applied, anything that can go wrong…..will. The trams were slow, he had trouble at the car yard and then got stuck in traffic. By the time he’d got back to the Union Hotel we’d lingered over breakfast for over an hour. By the time we left we were already 30 minutes late and the traffic was heavy. Deb had packed some sandwiches and fruit so at least Gerry sort of had breakfast although he only had time to eat at every light change (Murphy’s Law there were heaps).
When we arrived late at the Bobcat Factory we were greeted by one of the Engineers that Gerry had worked with and issued our safety gear. He wasn’t at all worried that we’d arrived late, he was just happy to see Gerry and Deb again. We started our tour meeting some of the engineers that worked with Gerry before heading into the research and development section. There were refrigerated and heated test centres where machines are tested to see how they perform at different temperatures. Gerry told us how they used to use a refrigerated trailer back in the US to test their machines and how much more advance the Czech factory was. There were all sorts of testing and design areas including a sound proof room (don’t touch the soundproof cones please). It was a really fascinating building and spotlessly clean.
Over the road was the factory where teams of professionals were busy fabricating and assembling Bobcat skid steer loaders and excavators. It was interesting to hear how designs were changed to allow for easier assembly and maintenance. Also of interest was watching a pile of parts transform into that rugged little machine that many of us love to operate. It was even better to have one of the design engineers telling us the stories.
In the foyer of the factory is the Gwinner machine which started it all. A lightweight machine designed for a Turkey farmer to clean out his barn. The current Bobcat might be miles away from the original design but looking at the golden bobcat in the design building there’s still some family likeness. It was a great tour and we really appreciated the opportunity which not many get.
After lunch we headed back to the city and spent the afternoon bumming around town. Prague really is a beautiful city just to walk around enjoying it’s lovely buildings and views on the river. You’ve just got to try and not get lost. It was a great way to enjoy our last day in Prague…
As evening was descending on another beautiful warm day we met up with Gerry’s design engineers for a lovely evening at a local restaurant.
Tomorrow we head to Kutna Hora before two nights at Olomouc.