<http://puzzlephotos.blogspot.com/> for Rob's blog.
Hey Ed, any idea how old Don is? I'm guessing late 80's.
It looks like Automatic Machining has had a recent redo to their web site.
I didn't think it was possible, but they appear to have less content than
before. Pretty soon it will be a single page with a phone number. Which is
a shame, as Don has a treasure trove of photographs, machine manuals, job
layouts, and history. It would be nice to see some of that posted on the
At least you used to be able to D/L the pdf in question from the old site.
He must be. I haven't seen him for 20 years, and he was no youngster then.
I've always been amazed that Automatic Machining survived tha various
shakeouts in the metalworking magazine marketplace. They're what's called a
"splinter" magazine, with an exceedingly narrow focus, which limits their
income. Still, if you have a following and if your costs are low, you can
run such magazines at a profit. They just tend to be very vulnerable to
small changes in the market.
I bought some advertising space from them when I was marketing manager at
Wasino. It was good circulation for us, but there wasn't enough of it.
I had lunch with him at a PMPA event not too long ago. He moves a lot
slower but he's still pretty sharp.
True enough. But they have competition for their "splinter" these days.
I've been reading Automatic Machining for somewhere around 25 years. I
suppose I'll read it until it folds. It's just one of those things that
have become a comfortable part of the routine. Plus Don has always been
good at writing "pep talk" editorials. A little corn ball most of the
time, but you usually feel a little better about the industry after
I wonder how Lloyd Graff's rag is doing?
I find it hard to believe it's making any money with it, but you never
know. Same with Production Machining which is a mag that I really like.
Not just because they've published a couple of things that I've written,
well, maybe just a little. But PM has decent technical content, plus they
get out and interview real life people, which is becoming exceedingly
rare these days.
Same here. We still advertise in it a few times per year but it's not a
big part of the budget. It's a tough call. Our customers and distributors
complain when we don't advertise in it and our competitors do. Honestly
we don't get much in the way of leads so I suppose you could look at it
as brand building.
I don't know anything about it, but he looks like he's having fun. I don't
know any of those people there, either--except, possibly, Barbara Donahue,
who may have been a PR writer in the CAD/CAM field. At least, her name and
location sound familiar.
'Hope it works. What the field needs now is some really good readership
studies. It's hard to tell who's reading what, and what kind of attention
they're paying to it. I was spoiled on that by big budgets and professional
admen in the machine tool field, back in the mid-'70s, before they were all
"right-sized" out of the business. We did some good studies at McGraw-Hill,
for Cincinnati, Warner & Swasey, and so on.
It could be that they don't want us to know the reality about the
readership. It might be grim news for them. The internet seems to be the
preferred source for info these days. Although I still read a half dozen or
more metal mags every month.
If it were up to me, I would give our web site a radical makeover. I would
put a lot more info on there and it would be free for the looking. We are
taking some baby steps in that direction. In addition to that I've finally
convinced them that videos are a good thing. Even if the competition can
Oh, yeah, there's always been some of that. Back when American Machinist was
riding high, it was AM that pushed advertisers to do readership studies. The
other magazines tended to ignore them. <g>
Yes, and it's not just the Internet. It's also trade shows and somewhat
better communication between vendors and customers, at least among the
larger customers who run sophisticated supply-chain operations.
The first screw cutting lathe was made by Besson in 1569.
Maudslay built the first all metal screw cutting lathe with a master screw.
There were loads of metal lathes before Maudslay's, but not capable of
single point threading. Before Maudslay, screws were cut on metal lathes by
hand by skilled craftsman using hand held chasers.
In any case Maudslay's lathe was not automatic. That was Spencer's
contribution. You could start it up and walk away and it would churn out
precision parts without a skilled craftsman standing there.
FWIW, the button work tended to be very precise; the equivalent of common
milling work was done on a faceplate, but they used a prick-punch to mark
the spot and a wiggler to center it.
The really precise button work was toolmaking, particularly jig-making, with
the highest end of that work being the making of master watch plates. That
was the business that stimulated Richard Moore to create the Moore Jig
Borer, and a few years later, the Jig Grinder.
Another interesting history of American manufacturing and machine tools was
published as the 100th Anniversary Issue of _American Machinist_. It was
published in 1977. I've seen it in a couple of engineering libraries but it
is not common. Also FWIW, I wrote a few parts of it.
Not specifically. There was a large section titled "Toolmaking Becomes a
Business," which covered certain events of the period roughly from 1820 -
1880, but the tools we were talking about were machine tools.
There were several discussions of precision machining, starting with watch-
The AM history was based on the development of the "American System" of
manufacturing, which was distinct from what was going on in Europe at the
time. It culminated in WWII, in which our high-volume production orientation
out-produced the enemy.
The most important point that I got from that article was the the
biggest problem was the lack of a tool material that was harder and
tougher than the metal they were cutting. What took all day in the late
seventeen hundreds, now takes about five minutes to do with todays
Oh, yeah, and that was true until T1 HSS was developed, shortly after 1900.
Forged carbon- and alloy-steel tools were used for cutting tools through the
first few decades of the last century, and they could only handle a maximum
temperature of around 400 deg. F. HSS quickly got it up to 1000 deg. F. Then
tungsten carbide came along, for another qualitative jump.
It all happened in a relatively short period of time.
I use a lot of cbn inserts. The first time I saw one of them cut a
bearing race like butter and leave an 8 finish. I was impressed. What
is even more impressive is when they run at 1100 ft /min and spray off
white hot chips. The only problem is that I get a lot of sand and
carbides in the castings and that stuff destroys the insert.
Yeah, they're impressive, and hard-milling and hard-turning are impressive.
CBN has been a major factor in making hard-machining possible.
I have a warm spot in my heart for CBN, because I remember General
Electric's press luncheon at which they announced the product (1978?). It
was at the 21 Club in New York, and it was one hell of a lunch. <g>
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