History of Machine Tools

Hi, - I see you are sort of close to me, I'm in NY. Rutland, VT is about a four hour drive for me. I think Windsor was 5 hours over fromGlens Falls, NY. I was there about 1990 and then it was just a collection of machines like Ferdinand Snow's place of used machinery over in Westwood, NJ, that spanned a few generations. There was a minature machine shop to a very small scale, all working models, made by hand by an old retired machinist/toolmaker they had on display there. I was impressed! The display said it was ALL done by hand files in this guys spare time until he died!! But when I was there, there wasn'tmuch of a paper trail of history on display, just old machines to look at and a bit of a mess. =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
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=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D The 1st computer run lathe I ran had a blinking idiot lights display like "Robbie-the-Robot," run by a binary computer---a SOB of a big ass turret lathe made by Pratt Whitney, the PJ400. This was 1975 for me, that lathe had to be 1950's era. We used it to turn cast iron actuator housings for Kieley and Mueller automatic control valves. I think the PJ designation was a merger of Potter & Johnson, but just a guess. =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D Off Topic: =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D The oldest automatic turret lathe I ran was a Potter & Johnson 3JU Speedflex, probably at least WWII or before. It was basicly a glorified clock with electrical relays. Dogs on a rotating drum that engaged levers that engaged the relays. You'd start out cold in the morning, especialy in the winter, then adjust tooling accordingly as it warmed up, a real art to work tight tolerances and still keep daily quota. And of course I was running two of 'em simultaneosly! =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D The 1st NC tape lathe I ran was the Warner & Swasey 1 SC, both chuckers and bar stock machines that ran off perforated paper tape encoded identical to the stock market ticker tapes of that era, supposedly built early 1960's. I got on those in 1987! The back panel was just loaded with circuit boards which overheated in the summerime and it had heat safeties built in and would trip off. So I would open the rear circuit board housing and aim a big floor fan in there to keep it cool and keep working. (DUST?) Ideally suited to an air conditioned environment, but bosses will be bosses!! A photoelectric eye read the code, BUT it also read dust specks, and paper wrinkles---and BOY could that sucker MOVE---and where you didn't want it to go! One tended to develop lightning quick reflexes. When I was working these we used a flexible plastic perforated tape, but stll the dust and wrinkles! - I would think some university, maybe MIT, developed these early computer controlled machines as a research project as to the fundamental concept and I would think the reason was for aerospace/Air Force purposes. Wonder if MIT has a museum? - The 1st TV screened CNC I saw in our shop was a German made lathe that came in new about 1977. =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D Other Stuff: =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D I was to Henry Ford's Museum near Detroit about 1961, I was about nine years old. I still remember an old fashioned machine shop display there. ~~~~~~~~~~~ Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford
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=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D In 1980 I was to Washington, D.C. and one of the Smithonian Museums had a mid-1800's machine shop on display fired by a steam engine. I'd go nuts if I was allowed access to their archive areas! =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D The Workbench Book
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Within this Workbench Book, I think this is the book I read, there is a description how the 1st WOOD helical leadscrews were made---sawn and chiseled, then refined. Then from a rudimentary wood lathe with screwcutting capabilities the first metal leadscrews were made, then refined. And over time, eventually, the guy that made the Moore Jig Borer got it down to millionths of an inch refinement to work accurately to fifty millionths off hand wheeled controlled machines. Moore was in Bridgeport, CT at one time, maybe still?. Maybe they got a museum? =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D Some stuff from my stash: =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D Medieval and Renaissance Lathes
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Photos - View Photo
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Live Steam
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=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D I found ALL this stuff off GOOGLE initially, then searches within MSN.com and Yahoo.com Some of my searches (not necessarily machine shop) are rather intense, instead of watching a game on the TV, I go find something. - Oh, yeah---used bookstores in Maine got some interesting finds, if not to buy, just read. There is one place in Wells, ME out on the main road just south of "The Lighthouse Depot" (a store) that had a $200 big pictorial book on how steam engines were made. - I think finding a chronological history of machining may be difficult as to who or what was 1st as to the needs of the marketplace or just the fact that people were interested in working, not necessarily interested in keeping an accurate record of it. Kind of like asking who the 1st blacksmith was and who invented the hammer? - My father-in-law told me some interesting stories what went on to Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, NY during WWII. Try finding history on that or the entire factory full of old machines buried somewhere under the production floor there and sealed over in concrete to justify buying all new! - Take care, - Kurt {:{ =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D re:
History of Machine Tools Group: rec.crafts.metalworking Date: Sat, Oct 25, 2003, 8:31pm (EST+5) From: snipped-for-privacy@snet.net (Errol=A0Groff) I am preparing a research assignment for my students on this subject. Looking for suggestions as to names which might be used as search terms or links to sites that would be appropriate. Also, I am not remembering the names that were involved in the creation of the first NC machines back in the late forties/early fifties. I know that the info is back in my head somewhere but it is not coming forward. Help would be appreciated! I don't want togfive the kids everything obviously but I do need to give them enough to get started It is tough to do research on a subject when you don't know enough about it to even know what questions to ask. Thanks for your help! Errol Groff Instructor, Machine Tool Department H.H. Ellis Tech 613 Upper Maple Street Danielson, CT 06239 860 774 8511 x1811
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Reply to
Kurt {:{
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You might also try to contact Cincinnati Machine. In 1986 they published a really great 100th-anniversary history of what was then Cincinnati-Milacron. It's a little Cincinnati-centric but has a lot of general info as well, plus it makes the human side of manufacturing more interesting. Stephen Heald was a wacko ...
Reply to
Excitable Boy
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In westwood? Where in westwood? Is there any of that still left?
Jim
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Reply to
jim rozen
Hi Jim, - This was awhile back, probably 10 to 15 years ago. The guy's place was Ferdinand Snow used machinery. Coming down from Mahwah, before Paramus, over off Rt.17, coming east, cross the RXR tracks, thru town, on the main drag on the right, a couple miles. Maybe do a PHONEBOOK via computer to see if he is still around? Or maybe somebody else has it. At the time, most shops I knew about, knew this guy. Do you have anybody in here from Bergen County, NJ? Maybe they got the scoop. - Kurt {:{
Reply to
Kurt {:{
I missed the OP about learning other things instead of just the practical side of machining... I have to throw in my two cents, FWIW. I'm taking an 8-9 month machining course. In addition to the practical, hands-on stuff we also have: -8 full days of CAD - spread out over a month -half a day of math per week - our book is Mathematics for Machine Technology, so we're actually learning things we'll be applying in the shop -half a day of communications class per week. This is the one that a lot of the people in our class have trouble realizing the value of. We've been covering positive attitudes, teamwork, time management, presentations, and computer skills (email, word processing, etc. CAD and CNC programming aren't covered in communications). Not really anything you need to be a good (or even excellent) machinist, but I've met a few machinists before I started school who would have been easier to work with if they'd learned a few of those things and followed them. (I hope it goes without saying - that's not just limited to machinists... there are difficult people everywhere) -We also have a machining textbook that we're supposed to work through and videos to watch. We spend a couple of hours a week of classroom time on this, working at our own pace.
CAD, math, and the textbook I've been having no troubles with. Communications class is driving me nuts. I understand the usefulness of it all, and I appreciate having the chance to learn the things we're covering. I'm just feeling a bit down on it because I've got an oral presentation coming up tomorrow.
Yeah, and I wish we'd had a shop program in high school too. Guess it wouldn't have mattered much for me anyway because I had no idea what a machine shop even was until i'd been out of high school for a few years.
chem
j>>that topic could be covered in another class. Maybe make
Reply to
chem
LOL. That would be me. I grew up in closter, that same town with Sobel's. My first job was working at the schwinn shop in westwood.
I'm aware of Sobel's, and also there's the Tool Chest in Emerson NJ just down the road. But I never saw Ferdinand Snows, I'll check into it. By your directions it would be out beyond the main part of town, past 5 corners.
Jim
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Reply to
jim rozen
Ah, looks like he's now *in* Mahwah:
Snow Ferdinand J Inc
63 Ramapo Valley Rd Mahwah, NJ 07430-1133 Phone: (201) 512-9499
Maybe Ed Huntress knows this place?
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Reply to
jim rozen
Sounds like a very aggressive program. Where's the school?
Actually the oral presentations can be fun if you don't take them too seriously. They say the best way is to imagine your audience with no clothes on.
=8-O
Works best only with certain audiences.
Don't over-prepare.
Jim
================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================
Reply to
jim rozen
Yeah, it's a lie. The beginnings of NC/CNC were done by a couple guys in a tool shop in Traverse City, Michigan. They made charts of X/Y coordinates for movements on a Bridgeport mill. Then one guy stood in front of the machine with the saddle handle (Y axis), while another stood at the side of the machine with the table handle (X axis), and they made simultaneous moves in a step by step fashion.'
This wasn't NC machining, of course; but it was a beginning. The two guys in the tool shop (Parsons might have been one of them; but the names escape me at the moment), showed their idea to the defense department as a way to improve and streamline the manufacture of military stuff. That led to the idea being taken up by MIT, with DOD funding, where the two guys with charts and handles were replaced by punched cards, crude calculating machines with relays and vacuum tubes, and electric motors. THAT was the first NC machine.
If the iron that this idea was first applied to happened to be a G&L, or a Bridgeport, or whatever, it seems to me that that was totally incidendtal. G&L not only didn't invent it; but they were actually pretty slow to do anything that ended up being sold as a useful machine.
Based on what I've read, heard, looked at in museums, and seen with my own eyes (I'm old, you know), G&L didn't invent NC or CNC machining any more than Al Gore invented the internet.
KG
Reply to
Kirk Gordon
That was Parsons Corp., Traverse City. They were producing helicopter-blade templets with the aid of an IBM 602A Multiplier, calculating positions and then setting the machine to those positions by hand.
A Swiss jig borer, actually.
Integral-rib wing skins were the items that provoked the whole idea of using electronic control, but the original Air Force demonstrations were on a helicopter blade. Then demos were done in late 1948 on a 16-in.-wingspan wing model with a tapered chord. The demos were done at Snyder Corp. in Detroit. The Air Force granted the contract on June 15, 1949.
That's pretty much it. It should be pointed out that it was controlled by a computer, not by a simple logic controller, so it was also the first CNC machine.
Reply to
Ed Huntress
I sort of agree with you, BB, if you take only the short view, and if your only concern is to make chips in the near future. But if you really want a healthy industry, and skilled people to keep it healthy, then you need to have some traditions, some famous names, and some sense of perspective, in the minds of people who are trying to learn to be machinists.
There are already too many people in our business who think that the whole thing starts and ends with their own machines, their own narrow bits of knowledge, and their own ideas about how smart and skilled they are. To understand the history of an entire business, and to know the names of some of the people who changed and drove it, and some of the innovations that have made it what it is, is to have a better sense of one's own small place in the overall scheme of things, and of how MUCH there is to learn, and how much room there is for growth, innovation, and individual accomplishment.
Equally important, IMHO, is the fact that many people seem to learn more eagerly, and more effectively, when the knowledge they're offered comes with some kind of context that makes sense to them. If you're attending a class and paying attention only because it's a way to get a job in a machine shop, or because you can't get a certificate unless you put up with whatever the teacher tells you, then you're not really getting all you can out of the learning opportunity. If you're taught, however, that there's a whole world full of innovative, productive, important, and sometimes very wealthy people, and that it can be an honor, a challenge, and even a privilege to earn your way into that world, then everything else might have much more meaning, and might become something a student WANTS to learn, rather than just needing to.
Future lawyers, I suspect, can be energized, and given a sense of the gravity of their work and profession, if they're taught about a dirt-poor country boy named Lincoln, who turned his love for books and law into one of the most important presidencies in the history of the United States. Doctors take an oath that was written, for the most part, 2,500 years ago. It's a way of teaching them about the traditions and history that guide the practice of medicine, and about standards of conduct that they're responsible to uphold and perpetuate. Those things don't always work, of course; but I can't believe that either the legal world, or the medical profession, would be better off without some clear and constant contact with their histories.
Cadets at West Point are expected to learn about "The Chain", and about a million other pieces of military history, before they're considered true candidates for commissions in the US Army. Knowing all that stuff won't make the cadets into better marksmen, or better tank-drivers, or better bridge-builders; but it might help them try a bit harder, if they know something about how hard others have tried in the past, and for what purposes, and with what results. It might also give them a better sense of the reasons for command structures, and for military codes of conduct; and help them have more trust in their commanders, teachers, and other mentors, as they move through all the steps that might one day lead to their own place in history.
People can be awed, motivated, challenged, and even impelled to excellence, when they're shown something about what others have accomplished in the past, and about how, and why, accomplishment really happens. A machinist who's never heard of "The Arsenal of Democracy" might not realize that it was people just like himself, reading prints and making chips, who once made such a difference in the entire history of the world. Someone who lacks that knowledge, and that sense of perspective, might think "it's just a job" and might treat it accordingly, and might therefore miss out on the excitement, the energy, and the opportunities for achievement, that could end up helping to change history again, tomorrow. Someone who doesn't know that it was machinists - and the sons of machinists who went to engineering school - who once, literally, put the whole world on wheels, might miss a chance to dream of greatness for himself in the future, or to work toward his dreams with commitment and zeal.
It may seem childish or naive for a student to imagine himself (or herself) becomming the next Henry Ford, or the next Wilbur Wright, or the next Frank Landis, or Ralph Cross, or Charles DeVlieg... But where will the future leaders of industry come from, if not from the dreams of those just starting out today? Will people who learn only because they're required to, ever have visions that reach beyond their next paycheck? Will those who think it's only a job, and that they only do it because they didn't get a scholarship to business school, ever realize that it can be more than a job, and that you can get out of a profession - any profession - as much as you put into it?
Will people who know nothing about the history of the industry be capable of understanding - in context, and with depth and insight - the current state of our business, or problems that have roots in prior generations? Will they be able to solve those problems, to compete with Chinese and Indian companies, to protect and strengthen America's industrial economy, if they don't even know that there is such a thing, or where it came from, or how it got to the point of needing to be protected?
Are we really willing to demote our profession to something that has no history worth teaching, and no traditions worth learning, and no depth or importance that we expect future machinists to understand and protect and propagate?
I agree that history lessons won't make people better able to solve trig problems, or to remember which G code is for clockwise circles, or to figure out why a surface finish is so rough and nasty...
But the reason WHY anyone would want to learn those things, and would keep learning, and keep growing, and keep improving, every single day, is something that happens deep inside a human being. And it's often something that happens best, most fully, and most succesfully, when there's a history, and a community, and a sense of pride and purpose, that a student can aspire to be part of.
We all like to belong to something. We all need and enjoy the benefits of membership in families, communities, churches, fraternities, bowling leagues, or whatever. It's part of human nature. If we're going to train the machinists of the future, then why WOULDN'T we show them just how big, and how old, and how awesome our particular club really is? Why wouldn't we offer them something to look forward to, and some kind of membership that deserves their effort, and their concentration, and in which they might earn rewards that they've never thought of? Why wouldn't we want them to learn and think about things that go far beyond immediate concerns like passing a paper test in a classroom, or reaming a hole to size in the shop?
We don't need more or better button-pushers, BB. We need more people who see the metal cutting world as a career, as a globe-spanning imperative, as a vital part of economic and political and military history... in the past AND the future.
Any Chinese peasant with an index finger can press the start button on a CNC machine. But how many of todays young students can we truly prepare to invent the machinery, and to develop the methods, and to make the decisions, which will determine whether there even IS a metal cutting industry in the US, half a generation from now? And what can we do to improve their chances?
In my mind, teaching them where they're starting from, and how/why we got here, is an important part of the answer.
Respectfully, KG
Reply to
Kirk Gordon
One of my favorite books is "When the Machine Stopped - A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America" by Max Holland, Harvard Business School Press 1989, ISBN 0-87584-244-5
It is a history of the rise and fall of the Burgmaster Corporation, and includes their attempts to break into the NC market, and compete with Giddings and Lewis.
Although it is an economics text, it reads quite well and contains the full history of the company.
Nick
Reply to
Nicholas Carter
You might want to look at
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There's a forum for people actually interested in machine-tool history, archives of past articles from the museum's magazine, and also a machine tool "Hall of Fame". The hall of fame is a list of names, including John Parsons, with good but brief articles about some key people, and their contributions to the state of the art.
Other links from the site ought to lead your students as far and wide as their curiosity cares to go.
Hope this helps!
KG
Reply to
Kirk Gordon
Hi Jim, - I still owe you lunch for those tubes you sent me for my intercom. - I was only to Westwood once. I was on a mission with my boss looking at some used equipment. This place was a fairly good sized concrete block building, looked to be built 1950's era,on the south side of the Blvd. This guy bought stuff used, fixed it up, then resold it. I know when I was working to Grant Hardware in West Nyack, some of our stuff came from him. - I contacted Sobel personally a couple of times over the years, but to me, he was always gruffy (prima donna die maker mentality), and I didn't like his attitude, so I never did business with him. I have talked to the guy to
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and bought some stuff. He knows/knew Sobel as a machinery source and both these guys have done Cabin Fever Expo. He's down on Long Island around the Freeport area. - I did carpentry for awhile, pre-machine shop days. During the 1974 Oil Embargo I signed up for 6 years Navy Reserve Seabees as work was a wee bit scarce. I was gone 6 months doing Basic, schools and some combat training. If you ever get up to Beacon, NY, just below the hospital there, is a 4 bay ambulance HQ & rec hall, RNMCB13 built, my claim to fame. Nice thing about building things, testaments that I was there once upon a time. On winter carpenter layoff in 1975 I took a 165 hour turret lathe course here in Middletown at Kieley and Mueller, Inc. to run automatic turret lathes funded by a government program to get off unemployment and my one year drafting program under Mr. Vizvary (also the soccer coach) in tool design training I got to Ulster County Community College came in handy and that's how I got into machining, a hell of lot easier than swinging a hammer! I worked around learning on the job and a few years later kind of apprenticed under a prick (read SOB) tool maker and worked in a couple different shops doing tooling work, then I hurt my back on a part time construction job, and that was that. I got over twenty years in the machine shop trade and can't do the standing anymore. Well, I supose I could do it, but I wouldn't be a happy camper (read PAIN!!). Any shop I ever worked in, SITTING was not allowed. Really funny. I'm thinking about the real estate racket for these tired old bones. - Well, I have fun reminscing (sp?) (remembering) with you guys. I must say you guys are intimidating or else you all got the gift of gab. Most of the bull sh*t artists I knew weren't too good at doing anything. The really good guys weren't too good at the gabbing. And I've seen high school drop outs, close to genius level in the mechanical trades as to practical know how. Higher education doesn't necessarily mean poo! Though I think the engineering studies would be fun. Well, you guys at least are entertaining and seem to be very in the know. This is my favorite site on the WWW . - Kurt {:{ - Can't shut this guy up! (I change e-mail addies frequently to stay ahead of the spammers, but the {:{ is always me. Wish I had that much hair! I think somebody here ain't too fond of WEBTVers and lately quite a bit of spam, but changes to MSNTV lately should curtail most of it. If I ever get jury duty to some SOB spammer, I'll show NO mecy!) =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D re:
Re: History of Machine Tools =8BErrol Groff=9B =8BJim R.=9B Group: rec.crafts.metalworking Date: Mon, Oct 27, 2003, 4:54am (EST-3) From: jim snipped-for-privacy@newsguy.com (jim=A0rozen) Hi Jim, - This was awhile back, probably 10 to 15 years ago. The guy's place was Ferdinand Snow used machinery. Coming down from Mahwah, before Paramus, over off Rt.17, coming east, cross the RXR tracks, thru town, on the main drag on the right, a couple miles. Maybe do a PHONEBOOK via computer to see if he is still around? Or maybe somebody else has it. At the time, most shops I knew about, knew this guy. Do you have anybody in here from Bergen County, NJ? Maybe they got the scoop. LOL. That would be me. I grew up in closter, that same town with Sobel's. My first job was working at the schwinn shop in westwood. I'm aware of Sobel's, and also there's the Tool Chest in Emerson NJ just down the road. But I never saw Ferdinand Snows, I'll check into it. By your directions it would be out beyond the main part of town, past 5 corners. Jim =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= =A0please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
Reply to
Kurt {:{
Hi there Kirk..
That's the exact story I've read in MMS yearly "Thick" magazine. I don't remember what MMS calls it's yearly offering.
Regards,
Stan-
Reply to
Stanley Dornfeld
A side to the machine tool industry is the development of cutting tools and how it changed the way parts were manufactured. Muntz metal, carbon steel, stelite and all the newer material used to make the cutting tools. A job that took a whole day 100 years ago takes 10 minutes today. Machine tools would not do what they do without the development of the cutters themselves.
John
Reply to
john

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