History of Machine Tools

i once was faced with the problem as to how the first screws where made--my research into this opened up a whole field of interest--knowing
how this was done made me aware of teh beauty of machines--I suspect that any student who does not appreciate the beauty of metal machines and what goes into them probabvly will just be an automatron--do not interprete this as derogatory just my own observations over the years--i am not a machinist
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ilaboo wrote:

I have seem some very old machines still being used in some shops. One shop has a vertical boring mill from 1881 and anther one just as old. I got some of the bolts I had to replace and you couldn't tell by looking that they were that old except by the fact they had slot heads in stead of hex or allen head. I have an heald internal grinder from 1911 that does the job fine. Its been rescraped in and motors added but it runs fine.
John
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wrote:

Though I agree with the value of learning how to use the tools effectively I also feel that anyone who doesn't wonder about those who came up with the tools is sadly lacking, and would benefit greatly from a study of the self discipline that those great men operated under. Any really well rounded machinist must hold men like Whitworth, Maudslay and Colt in awe, and their workmanship improves as they realize they are following in the footsteps of such great human beings.
Also; Wilkinson, (HBM) Whitney (Milling machine), and many others. I believe we become a little like our heros when we study their lives, and those who discovered how to turn tool paths into data a machine can follow automatically are certainly worthy of the same study. The "drones" are the ones who don't care about such things, in my opinion.
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A very good position to take, Glen
Regards,
Stan-

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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
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On Sat, 25 Oct 2003 20:31:09 +0000, Errol Groff wrote:

You may find this site of interest:
http://www.gsn.uk.com /
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Don't forget "Jacquard" of loom.
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This ought to get you started. *Smile
The question this group has been looking for a definitive answer for is: How did the "Letter" size drills come into being and why?
Now, a number of members in this group have made some good contributions in support of the origin; but I don't think anyone has been able to "rubber stamp" the quest complete.
Maybe one of your students might take up the banner.
These references come from "Metalworking Yesterday and Tomorrow" The 100th Anniversary Issue of American Machinist The book was given to me by Pete Noling ,who sold me my first Hurco in 1/15/'79 Seaboard Machinery Los Angeles --
Also, I'm pleased to see a group member interested in machine tool history. *Smile I hope we have a continuing dialog.
Best regards to you all,
Stanley Dornfeld
******************************
David Wilkinson screw cutting lathe 1794
Eli Whitney Milling 1800
Simeon North pistols Milling Machine 1813
John Hall Machine developer 1813
Robbins & Lawrence American system interchangeable parts Windsor Vermont 1843 Turret lathe
Leighton A. Wilkie Band saw 1933
Sir Joseph Whitworth 1853 thread form
Joseph R Brown of Brown and Sharpe & Lucian Sharpe Brown's apprentice 1850
Frederick W Howe 1847
William Sellers instituted the 60 degree thread form with a flat on top equal to 1/8 the pitch. 1864
Charles H. Norton grinders 1900
Magnus Wahlstrom & Rudolph F. Bannow The Bridgeport Milling Machine 1927 Boring and Facing head
Richard F. Moore Jig Borer 1924 The Moore Special Tool Company The highest accuracy business in the world.
And!
John T. Parsons The Father of Numerical Control 1948 *********************************
A link http://www.americanprecision.org /
end..

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in
100th
Take a look at the masthead, or at back of the issue, and see who the editors were. <g>
I have a couple of copies, which are worth their weight in gold. But I'll let Errol have one for a while, if he wants to copy anything from it. I wrote a number of the items in that history, mostly about the 1930's and 1940's.
Ed Huntress
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VERY, VERY Coooooooooooooool Ed.
Dang! You're past your thirties. *Grin
Best regards,
Stan-

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I was almost into my thirties when I worked on that issue. <g>
Ed Huntress
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I guess I was pretty lucky! My copy is also a hard bound.
Boy! I'm really feeling too cool. *S, Really!
Thanks for the info.
Regards,
Stan-

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Whose name is stamped in gold on the lower right corner of the cover? If there's no name, the publisher may have made another run that we editors didn't know about, for key advertisers or something. The 20 copies (roughly) were for the editorial and publishing staffs.
Ed Huntress
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Hi again Ed..
I guess I have brand 'X.' There is no Gold name on it. *shucks!
Also, I would be interested in which articles you wrote. Would you please list them for me?
You see... You are part of the history as well. *Smile
Best regards,
Stanley Dornfeld

(roughly)
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Aha. Then there were other copies hard-bound, besides the special run made for those of us who worked on it. They probably were presentation issues for advertisers. Andy Ashburn, who was the Editor then, may know. I'll ask him when I get to it.

I'd be interested, too. You're assuming my memory is good for sorting out which items I wrote in an issue written 26 years ago. That's a lot of assumption. <g> I was trying to blend my style with the overall style of the book, so it's a little hard to remember which ones I actually wrote -- especially since I had a hand in editing most of the book, and we tend to forget what we actually wrote versus what we just edited.
I'll take a look this evening and try to remember. I can tell you this, though: Sometime in the mid-'90s, the current owners of American Machinist (Penton Publishing) ran a special issue that, essentially, was a rip of the 100th Anniversary Issue, which had been published by McGraw-Hill, the original owners. They just lifted the pieces verbatim -- including two or three of mine -- without acknowledgment of where they came from or who wrote them. Then they put a new byline (sort of) on them, saying "edited by," and listing some member of their current staff.
They own the material and there was nothing explicitly unethical about it. But it really grated the hell out of those of us who spent a year of our lives researching and writing it.

I realize that every time I look in the mirror...
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Ed:
I would love to have use of the copy! Thanks so much for the offer.
Errol Groff Instructor, Machine Tool Department H.H. Ellis Tech 613 Upper Maple Street Danielson, CT 06239
860 774 8511 x1811
http://pages.cthome.net/errol.groff /
http://newenglandmodelengineeringsociety.org /
On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 03:08:24 GMT, "Ed Huntress"

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wrote:

Ok, Errol. I dug out my well-thumbed hardbound copy, which I'll send to you on Monday. Only about 20 copies were hardbound, so it's a rare one, but it will stand up better than the softbound copies.
You've got it for two months. <g>
Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

I had that issue but some sucker borrowed it and never brought it back. Some kid could plagiarize it for his whole essay.
John
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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 ...
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Ed Huntress wrote:

Damn, Ed!
I think that makes you a certified celebrity around here. Very cool!
KG
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