I've seen them in a blackmith shop but never in the New England
museums or used machinery stores I've visited. That may only mean they
sell quickly, like anvils and other desirable small-shop machinery.
The blacksmith had custom forging dies in them to leave his power
hammer free for general work.
On Friday, February 1, 2019 at 1:11:19 AM UTC-5, Cydrome Leader wrote:
That's a "fly press": a flywheel screw press. No, they aren't common in the US. Apparently they've been around for a long time in forge shops in other parts of the world, including Europe.
I never saw one but I remember seeing photos when I was an editor at American Machinist, back in the '70s.
Are there other regional variations of "basic" machines like presses that
still do the same job in the end?
Sort of like how germans were obsessed with slotted screws for absolutely
On Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 8:20:35 PM UTC-5, Cydrome Leader wrote:
the US. Apparently they've been around for a long time in forge shops in o
ther parts of the world, including Europe.
erican Machinist, back in the '70s.
I can't think of anything in particular. There are some cases of machine ty
pes being associated with the products they make, and the regional emphasis
on those products. For example, horological lathes initially were associat
ed with the UK, IIRC, and then Switzerland dominated that business. From wh
at I saw years ago, Switzerland seemed to have an overwhelming number of th
ose little lathes. Lens grinding and polishing machines in Germmany, then i
n Japan, etc.
I can't think of anything in particular. There are some cases of
machine types being associated with the products they make, and the
regional emphasis on those products. For example, horological lathes
initially were associated with the UK, IIRC, and then Switzerland
dominated that business. From what I saw years ago, Switzerland seemed
to have an overwhelming number of those little lathes. Lens grinding
and polishing machines in Germmany, then in Japan, etc.
That's because Andrew has been hoarding them all in Texas:
Seriously though, he would be a good one to call if you want one. He
seems to come across them pretty often...
Looks like a stamping press. In this case, knocking out 'flatware.
Put the blank in it,down comes the die, up goes the die, out comes the
spoon / fork. FWIW, Krupp Steel started out supplying those dies.
"With Age comes Wisdom. Although far too often, Age travels alone."
But when he started, Herr Krupp wasn't the Industrial Powerhouse.
Rather a bit of the opposite. E.G., his first mill used water wheels
to power the drop hammer (SOP at the time). Which he put on a stream
which didn't have enough flow year round.
"With Age comes Wisdom. Although far too often, Age travels alone."
New England has preserved some of that history. We took a school trip
to this place not long after it was restored and they demonstrated the
waterwheels and trip hammer and explained the tedious process of
squeezing the slag out of a bloom of iron, one of which they had on
When I was little my father bought lumber to repair our 1830 house at
a water-powered sawmill.
The house I was raised in, was built with exterior walls of two layers
of white pine planks on end. these planks were 24 to 36 inches wide, 2
1/2 inches thick and up to 20 feet long. The trees were cut on the
property and floated down the river to a water powered mill much like
the Taylor Mill with the vertical saw powered by an undershot wheel.
This mill combined the saw mill, a planing mill and a grist mill. I
never saw the mill but remember well the stone fillled cribs of the
dam and flume. We used to use the cast grinding plates from the grist
mill as a boat anchor.
The site was washed away in the early '50's when an ice jam combined
with driftwood in the forebay of the dam gave way and spread
This private NH Christian high school teaches both male and female
students the skills needed to restore or duplicate New England
structures from the 1700 and 1800's in their original style.
Last fall the fair had an exhibit of cutting pine planks as large as
yours with a chainsaw running on guides, like the Alaskan mill that
Northern sells but bigger. A couple of huge planks were still there
during the ham radio flea market a few weeks later.
My sister and her husband have repaired and extended their 17xx Maine
farm house using pegged post and beam construction, though not with
timbers that large.
I sized the bandsaw mill I built for 20" logs based on the largest
trees left in the neighborhood and have had to chainsaw slabs off the
stump end of oaks that had been leaning over the house to fit it.
Instead of full width planks I've been cutting each log section into
two 6" x 12" by 12' beams to store the wood in the form of shed
frames. The logs and rough cut beams (cants) dry evenly without
cracking too much if the ends are painted with melted toilet ring wax,
which unlike paraffin wax is flexible enough to not crack open as the
The sawmill was a commercial operation. I didn't realize it was
powered by water until they opened a hatch in the floor and showed me
the Francis turbine in the stream under the building. The dam, pond
and an ice house were on the other side of the road.
Unlike a vertical wooden water wheel, a Francis turbine in operation
is as picturesque as a garbage disposal. There are others still
generating micro-hydro electricity around here, including one under
the mill building space the blacksmith rents.
Notice how many small dams are or were a hydropower generating
The Saugus Ironworks is really cool. After the American Iron & Steel
Institute paid for the archaeology and restoration, they ran the
blast furnace and finery/chafery at least once. They made a docu
movie which has footage of the furnace running and operating the huge
helve hammer. (Sadly, only about 30 sec. of each.) Then they turned it
over to the US National Park Service which allowed everything to
deteriorate. When I visited, late 80s IIRC, the hammer could be run
but much of the works was inoperable. The water wheels run on water
pumped from the river below because the former mill pond is now a
heavily built up residential area. Big ol' pump concealed in the
restored "coal shed".
As intriguing as the actual site is, the it is equally so that they
could organize it at all when the England, the source of the money,
technology and skills was engaged in a furious and bloody civil war
over religion, politics, regicide and other unpleasantnesses.
In any event, they managed to bring the latest iron-making technology
to the wilderness, a technical success if not a capitalist one.
Our 1860-1880 house has vertical 3" thick hemlock plank walls, cut on
an up-and-down saw. Allegedly there was such a saw in operation in a
nearby village until the 1930s. There is still an oar & handle mill
at the mill pond there. The present owner has hopes of restoring the
head race, repairing the gates and running it on water. The turbine
is still functional as it was in operation as recently as the late
70s. Turbines were far more common here than water wheels because
most mill ponds were in relatively flat country rather than having
numerous deep defiles with streams at the bottom -- low dams, low head
but plenty of head for a vertical shaft cast iron turbine.
I remember thinking the hammer drive didn't seem built to withstand
much use, as I had made toy wooden models of machinery and seen how
fast wood rubbing surfaces wear.
The Taylor mill had more iron reinforcement on its wooden linkages and
much of it had worked loose, making the operation quite clanky. The
operator told me it had been assembled from salvaged mill parts and
wasn't really historically accurate. IIRC the fittings had been cast
instead of forged.
While he watched the saw the operator was splitting wooden shingles
with a ragged excuse for a froe. There was no maintenance fund to buy
a decent one. My first attempt to make them a froe is far below museum
quality. At least I got the parts I'd collected for a heat treating
oven assembled and working.
My father had an old Audel Millwrights and Mechanics Guide from his
time in the cotton mills so I had an idea of the work involved. If you
mastered all the skills in that book you could recreate civilization.
On Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 5:34:54 AM UTC-8, Jim Wilkins wrote:
[about Saugus ironworks ]
In the age of sail, the wood used for rubbing surfaces was lignum vitae
or similar; it wore rather better than one would expect.
And, it's endangered with very little available for modelmaking.
Some old eighteenth-century clocks with lignum vitae bearings
are still telling time.
My family heirloom wooden-geared grandfather clock is still telling
the time every 6:03.
My memory of visiting the Saugus Iron Works some 60 years ago was that
it looked "authentic", ie crude, compared to the structure in our 1830
mill owner's house.
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