Beer cans and other stuff

Andrew’s Lead Soldiers’ Collection and JFWK’s  8th most important collection of sugar cube wrappers have given me an idea for a bit of a story about collecting things. Some of you may have read about this before.

Many years ago when I was a lot younger I was in the Royal Australian Army Education Corps. I had just transferred to a base in northern Victoria and had a class of Mechanical Engineers all of whom needed an upgrading of their Science qualifications. The thing about teaching in the Army is that your students are all older than school age and some could well be older than their instructor. But they are always very enthusiastic students because an upgrade in qualifications means and increase in pay. The main difference between being in the Education Corps and not one of the more gungho warrior types of Corps is that the relation between soldier and officer is a bit more friendly – there is still the saluting and standing to attention but none of the shouting and screaming you might see on an American army movie.


It was a hot and stormy night with the temperature well above pleasant and my wife at the time was adjusting to the move from Melbourne. I had come home from the base and torn my uniform off, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, turned on the TV set and opened a beer.

Hence there ensued a discussion between she and me in which I played little active rôle apart from being the subject of the discussion. This discussion ended with an exhortation to ‘find something useful to do – perhaps get a hobby’.

The next morning when I went in to take my 1/78 F&T 1978 Physics class a young corporal said, “You look a bit down in the mouth today, Sir. What’s the problem?”

I replied that my wife had… . That was enough. All the married men said they understood. I explained that it wasn’t their problem and we got on with the study of the ‘Differential Wheel and Axle’ and its Velocity Ratio and Mechanical Advantage.

I had just got the point of explaining why the axle has two different diameters when the oldest bloke in the class put up his hand. I asked the Sergeant what his question was.

“Not a question, Sir. But I think I might have an answer to your problem vis-à-vis getting a hobby and having a beer when you get home at night.”

“This isn’t quite the most appropriate part of the lesson to bring that up, but go ahead anyway.”

He went ahead and explained that a friend of his back home in Queensland collected beer cans. Beer can collecting was a legitimate hobby and there was even a regular magazine published. One of the problems that I opined was that in Australia the various states had a restricted licensing regime and only beer produced in any state could be sold in that state. I would therefore be restricted to collecting only Victorian beers. But the base we were on is on the Murray River and across the river is New South Wales. Therefore, he went on to explain, I could drive across the river after work and and buy a half a dozen NSW beers and go home and start my collection.

The class erupted with comments like. “I’m from Perth, Sir so next time we get weekend leave I’ll bring you back some Swan lager and some Hahns beer.” “Yeah and I’ll get you some Tassie Beer, Sir.” And so on and so on.

So that’s what I did. That afternoon after knock off I went across to Albury and bought some NSW beer. Then I went home, and torn my uniform off, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, turned on the TV set and opened a beer. I called out to my wife, who was in the garden, that I had considered her suggestion and that I was starting a hobby. What sort of hobby? A collecting hobby. And I’m starting straight away. She came in to congratulate me, looked at the switched on TV set and the open can of beer and expressed a certain disappointment. But in the end everything worked out.

I didn’t become the Australian champion collector but I did get at least one example of every beer produced in Australia at that time.

This is not mine but it is an example of someone’s South African collection or part thereof. Then there is the link to the ABCCA website.  You will need to go and look if you want to know what that means.

The next two shots are of the model Differential Wheel and Axle that the class made for me and presented at the end of the course. It is solid brass and a prized possession.

You can just make out the inscription. Made by the 1/78 F&T 1978.

Below is a close up showing the different diameters on the axle.The larger diameter is 10mm, the smaller is 8mm and the wheel is 50mm.

The wheel is the one with the handle – it isn’t the one you can see in the bottom photograph – that is just the divider to stop the cord from slipping from the 10mm to the 8mm.


16 thoughts on “Beer cans and other stuff

  1. I met a chap once who wanted to drive every car made by Volvo. And every variation thereof, such as the 240, 240GL, 264, 264GL, 264GLE and so on (I made some of those up, but you probably get the idea)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do so love reading your posts. I’ll be visiting more often because… I do so love reading. Thanks for this exposition on differential wheel and axle. Most enlightening, as is the ABCCA. LOL! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Covid has not affected us directly, but life and what we can do has shrunk. No swimming or horseriding for me, for the foreseeable future. What with less exercise and more eating – we oldies are putting on weight. I’m resigned…

        How are you keeping?

        Liked by 1 person

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