AS molten metal is poured from the crucible into moulds of sand, Jon Downing supervises a process that has varied little from when his grandfather started a brass foundry in Warrnambool 114 years ago.
Although modern technology has made many trades redundant and caused countless businesses to fold, the skills of smelting metal components have survived.
Alderdice Brass Founders in Henna Street still churns out components for rural water systems around Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea against a tide of cheaper alternatives from China and India.
The Downing family industry is likely to continue into a fourth generation with Jon's son Tom recently starting his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner to learn the skills first brought to Warrnambool in 1898 by his great-grandfather William Evan (Bill) Downing and his brother Charles, who left Melbourne for the fledgling south-west rural town.
It's a business that survived two world wars, the Depression, droughts and global economic crashes.
In the Second World War the foundry was commissioned to make artillery shells.
"Our products are made to last and withstand harsh Australian conditions," Mr Downing said.
"Our reputation is built on good quality and good service. Customers want to buy once, put the component into the water system and leave it without further trouble."
There haven't been many changes to technique since the early days except to switch from brass to gunmetal bronze and add a computerised lathe to the manual machines.
The skilled metal tradesmen still wear their thick protective overalls on the factory floor, even when the temperature outside is sweltering in the 40s.
Gunmetal bronze was introduced in the 1970s when it proved more resistant to corrosion.
Components are hand-poured into the moulds, cooled, fettled and individually checked for flaws before being bagged for delivery.
Each casting bears the Alderdice Warrnambool stamp.
"We prefer to be low-technology because of the cost and quality control," Mr Downing said.
"A skilled employee can pick faults better than a computer."
Jon Downing has a long family tradition in the industry to follow.
His father Ean worked in the foundry for more than 50 years in the footsteps of his father Bill who worked there for 50 years.
"I became manager in 1995 when dad retired," he said.
"Our customer base used to be just around Warrnambool district, but we've expanded far and wide.
"The big expansion came after World War Two when soldier settler blocks were developed with the need for windmills, troughs, valves and other gear.
"At one stage we made cistern valves for toilets."
Underneath the factory floor is a large cellar which is more like a museum room with old patterns for components and books itemising orders and sales back to the very early days.
Even the original electrical switchboard is still intact, although not working. Sometimes there are unusual orders for one-off items like vintage car parts, boat propellers and handrails.
An example of how long the Alderdice brand has helped quench the thirst of local livestock came to light during a recent visit to the foundry by an elderly Allansford district farmer.
"He jokingly came up to me and asked if there was still warranty on the old bore pump he brought in," Mr Downing recalled.
"He said he could remember when his grandfather put the pump down into the ground.
"I replied, sorry, the warranty ran out yesterday."
With more imported components on the market and the high Aussie dollar Alderdice faces an increasingly tough market.
But Mr Downing is confident Aussies will still look for the locally-made stamp for watering systems.