Rising machine tool prices

Hi folks,
I was just looking at some old Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogues from the early 1900s. Here's an example of a page:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13849392@N03/32336103215/in/dateposted-public/
That 20" bandsaw costs $31.65. If you figure out a current equivalent price (multiplier of 27), it comes to around $855. Seems cheap for a 300 lb cast iron machine to me, as do the other machine tools. A Jet 20" bandsaw now costs $3556.00: http://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/93252591
Equivalents to the other manufactured products in the catalogue are mostly cheaper today (this guy has some interesting examples from the 1970s: http://cafehayek.com/2006/01/working_for_sea.html )
But what about machine tools? If they are more expensive, what's the cause? A rise in the cost of skilled labour, or less local competition among small foundries and machine shops? What do you think?
Chris
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On Sun, 15 Jan 2017 17:51:21 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@cantab.net wrote:

Please trim your lines to 72 characters. My word wrap is turned on but your lines all go off the page into the 3rd screen.

Yes, your reasons, then add in unions, branding, and corporate greed (possibly caused by attorneys who are pawning it off as feeding shareholders). These aren't just price hikes, they're multipliers.
When the Chiwanese knockoffs can be sold for 1/4 the price of domestic units, it isn't just quality of materials.
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On Monday, January 16, 2017 at 9:42:20 AM UTC-5, Larry Jaques wrote:

Baloney. Look at that Sears bandsaw. It's a frail skeleton of a frame that probably couldn't deliver 1/2 hp -- if it had a motor, which it doesn't. It even has a wooden table.
The Jet has a 3 hp motor and the rigidity to deliver it. Its NET weight is 550 lb. The Sears saw has a SHIPPING weight of 300 lb -- of which 100 lb probably was a wooden crate.
If you want to make a fair comparison, compare the Sears saw with this:
http://tinyurl.com/z47rd7b
Then take off the motor and put bigger pulley wheels on it.
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Am Montag, 16. Januar 2017 15:56:40 UTC+1 schrieb snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com:

Ed, this is interesting. Maybe I'm not comparing like with like. Does anyone know where I could find prices for the best machine tools from the same era?
Chris
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On Monday, January 16, 2017 at 12:52:06 PM UTC-5, Christopher Tidy wrote:

hat probably couldn't deliver 1/2 hp -- if it had a motor, which it doesn't . It even has a wooden table.

is 550 lb. The Sears saw has a SHIPPING weight of 300 lb -- of which 100 l b probably was a wooden crate.

one know where I could find prices for the best machine tools from the same era?

Hmmm. Try this one:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/WEN-10-Two-Speed-Band-Saw-with-Stand-and-Worklig ht/47348845
Or, for a closer size, try this:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/WEN-9-5-Amp-14-in-2-Speed-Band-Saw-with-Stand-an d-Worklight-3966/206926978
These are low-end woodworking bandsaws, Chris. But they're probably better than the Sears machine in that catalog.
The Sears machine is framed with decorative but flimsy castings. Consider t he resolution of forces from the wheels and the blade guide; they're transm itted through a circuitous and flexible route. A lot of machines were engin eered like that in those days. They were crap in comparison with what we ha ve today.
Individual on-machine motors were a novelty in 1902. A one-half horsepower motor was huge. I have a GE Century motor from the late 1920s or early '30s on my home made bench sander; one horsepower, and as big as a small microw ave oven. Lifting it would give you a hernia. <g>).
Two years ago I scrapped my 1917 Taylor & Fenn C-frame knee mill. The scrap yard said it weighed 840 lb. It had a really massive C-frame, which was ri gid as hell. But the knee was not. It was more flexible than a Series I Bri dgeport.
When I tried to gift my knee mill to the American Precision Museum in VT, t hey politely refused it, telling me there probably were between 100 and 200 milling machine builders at the time. Many of them were poorly engineered. All of the Sears machines on that catalog page look flexible as hell. Some were foot-powered; others ran from overhead belts or, in today's terms, fe eble sub-horsepower motors. They could get away with it when they had littl e power and weak tools, which is what they had. Today's machines can hardly be compared with them.
As for the prices for good commercial machine tools of the 1900 era, look f or online copies of old issues of _American Machinist_. They're available o nline. FWIW, I was an editor at _AM_ once upon a time, but I don't go back quire that far. d8-)
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Am Montag, 16. Januar 2017 19:47:22 UTC+1 schrieb snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com:

ap yard said it weighed 840 lb. It had a really massive C-frame, which was rigid as hell. But the knee was not. It was more flexible than a Series I B ridgeport.
Interesting. Doesn't a Bridgeport weigh close to 2000 lb?

they politely refused it, telling me there probably were between 100 and 2 00 milling machine builders at the time. Many of them were poorly engineere d. All of the Sears machines on that catalog page look flexible as hell. So me were foot-powered; others ran from overhead belts or, in today's terms, feeble sub-horsepower motors. They could get away with it when they had lit tle power and weak tools, which is what they had. Today's machines can hard ly be compared with them.
Maybe I'm misinformed about the quality of the old Sears, Roebuck stuff. I have a few manual machine tools from the 1960s and '70s which match or bett er any new machine I've seen (drill press, power hacksaw, bench grinder), b ut it's a different period of time and I chose those machines carefully.
Actually, I'm ogling that Jet bandsaw now. That looks nice.

for online copies of old issues of _American Machinist_. They're available online. FWIW, I was an editor at _AM_ once upon a time, but I don't go bac k quire that far. d8-)
You remember any of the names of the best machine tool brands from that era ?
Chris
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On Monday, January 16, 2017 at 2:09:39 PM UTC-5, Christopher Tidy wrote:

crap yard said it weighed 840 lb. It had a really massive C-frame, which wa s rigid as hell. But the knee was not. It was more flexible than a Series I Bridgeport.

Yes. A Series I weighs 1930 lb. However, it has a lot more weight up high a nd a broader base, with angle-head capability, multi-speed pulleys, and a m otor, than my simple C-frame machine. My machine was somewhat smaller, whic h is why I got my hands on it. We had it re-scraped in 1968 and I used it i n the shop of which I was a co-owner in the 1970s.
The Series I was a brilliant machine but the knee and table setup are prett y flimsy compared to a production machine. They had data tables to allow fo r compensation of end-to-end table sag with different workpiece weights.

T, they politely refused it, telling me there probably were between 100 and 200 milling machine builders at the time. Many of them were poorly enginee red. All of the Sears machines on that catalog page look flexible as hell. Some were foot-powered; others ran from overhead belts or, in today's terms , feeble sub-horsepower motors. They could get away with it when they had l ittle power and weak tools, which is what they had. Today's machines can ha rdly be compared with them.

I have a few manual machine tools from the 1960s and '70s which match or be tter any new machine I've seen (drill press, power hacksaw, bench grinder), but it's a different period of time and I chose those machines carefully.
Sears made a good 10-in. flat-way lathe, built by Atlas, and a smaller, 6-i n. machine that Jim mentioned. I had one. Like many others, I bent the spin dle and had to turn a new one in my 10-in South Bend. <g>
Some were good. Others were not.
Comparing US-built commercial machines from the '60s with today's hobby-mac hine imports is not a very fair comparison. My Walker-Turner drill press an d Delta bandsaw are better than any of the Asian imports I've seen, except for the high-end Jet and Japanese machines.

ok for online copies of old issues of _American Machinist_. They're availab le online. FWIW, I was an editor at _AM_ once upon a time, but I don't go b ack quire that far. d8-)

ra?
No, not many from that far back. Sorry. Brown & Sharp was around then. So w as LeBlond. Maybe I'll think of some more.
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    [ ... ]

    Actually -- there were *two* Sears 6" lathes. The one which had an easily bent spindle was the AA brand, the other was a flat-bed Atlas with a somewhat sturdier spindle. The weak point on that (I had one) was the T-slot in the compound. A parting tool caught in some square stock and snapped off the inboard half of the T-slot. I wound up making a much sturdier replacement for that. :-)
    Later versions of the Atlas lathe had roller bearings, mine was old enough to have bronze bearings -- and rather worn when I got it.

    Agreed.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On Monday, January 16, 2017 at 7:07:19 PM UTC-5, DoN. Nichols wrote:

Oh yeah, I've heard that one mentioned here on RCM, but I never saw one. I've seen the 10" Atlas and the AA that I owned.
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>The weak point on that (I had one)
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On Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:09:35 -0800 (PST)

You can find a lot of old catalogs on archive.com Like:
https://archive.org/details/generalcatalogof00toleuoft
https://archive.org/details/illustratedcatal00sell
https://archive.org/details/cataloguepriceli00frasrich
there are a lot more if you want to search...
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Am Montag, 16. Januar 2017 20:33:05 UTC+1 schrieb Leon Fisk:

Interesting. The prices of vices in the Frasse catalogue correspond roughly to what I'd expect to pay today (when you take inflation into account). Thanks for the links!
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On Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:15:17 -0800 (PST)
<snip> >Interesting. The prices of vices in the Frasse catalogue

These may not be as old, but should keep you busy for some time:
http://www.alaskawoodworker.com/old-tool-catalogs-and-manuals/
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People, anyone who is complaining about rising prices on anything is totally missing the point.
We live in an era of continuing and accelerating progress. Everything is becoming much better, more powerful, convenient and functional and safe.
Even cars are becoming better. I have a chevy 2500 pickup with 160k miles on it and it still drives like new. A couple things had to be fixed (transmission and starter) but aside from that, this truck is by far better than anything that existed before. I have cell phones, internet, facebook, safe to use drill presses, CNC machinery that costs a fraction of manual machinery to operate, etc.
I am delighted that I live in 2016 and not in 1916.
i
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wrote:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/
Pratt and Whitney machine tools were very highly regarded. They weren't really aero engine makers, they rented Frederick Rentschler some unused space to build his after he left Wright.
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On Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:33:07 -0400, Leon Fisk

Those are great. The cold saw on page 130 is a hoot. OSHA trembles.

Treadle machines!
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Amazing catalog, I am most impressed.
I would be too scared to be int he vicinity of that cold saw.
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On Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:41:28 -0600, Ignoramus24879

I think I just might make a guard for the blade, y'know?
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wrote:

Out of curiosity, have you ever made anything out of steel plate that's too thick to bend with hand tools?
My limited facilities for cutting and bending it strongly restrict what I can design and build. The blade guard for my bandsaw lumber mill is wood. This is the only inexpensive flat stock bending tool I've found and it's limited to 4" width: http://www.eastwood.com/4-inch-metal-bender.html
1/8" steel appears to be the limit for the Enco 8" bench shear, and it distorts one side. If you are shearing a strip from a large sheet the strip may have to be on the distorted side.
-jsw
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wrote:

I bought a hand held nibbler that has a 1/4" capacity (mild steel) on ebay back in the day when they were cheap. I made an adaptor to attach a couple of 1" linear bearings to the nibbler, kinda looks like a radial arm saw setup but for steel. I get nice cuts that with little edge distortion. I can zip thru 8 foot of 1/4" plate in a few minutes. Takes up a lot less room than a wysong shear, less noisy to. When not in use it breaks down for easy storage and takes up little room.
Best Regards Tom.
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On 1/18/2017 8:39 AM, Howard Beel wrote:

I have a nibbler that won't get anywhere near 1/4". Just to be sure that it's the same thing - a "nibbler" cuts by punching crescent-shaped chips, yes?
Your setup sounds interesting - any chance of your putting up some pictures? I thought that I had the idea until you mentioned the 8' sheet & I don't see how that would work.
Bob
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