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Thread: Abandoned maine machine shop
11-21-2010, 05:45 PM #1
Abandoned maine machine shop
I first spotted this abandoned machine shop about 20 years ago while traveling a rural rout in Maine. Under a small clump of immature trees in the middle of a neglected farm field stood this open air museum of rusting iron which if not for glimpses of a concrete slab under sod and leaves I may have confused for a dumping ground. There was no home in the background at the time and I thought it would be fun to take a tongue in cheek photo with a little ‘gone to lunch will return soon’ sign hanging on the iron planer but never did. I thought I knew the spot and tried to find it again but was several towns off target. I decided to try again and with a little asking around was able to find it this past weekend. The dwelling is new and belongs to the niece of the gentleman whose shop it was and used it productively during the war years. She believes it just rotted away rather than burned.
NO the stuff is not for sale! They value it as family history and are incorporating it as the centerpiece of a future garden. The drill press looks like it may be a Putnam and I have no idea who made the iron planer or the two lathes both of which have been liberated of their tailstocks. Looks like it was a nice little shop in its day.
ABANDONDED MACHINES pictures by BENJAMINCAMPBELL5 - Photobucket
11-21-2010, 06:27 PM #2
thank you for sharing those pictures. Just my two cents, but that equipment does look like it was in a fire. no oil or old grease anywhere. I guess the only way to really tell would be to see if the babbitt was melted out of the bearings.
11-21-2010, 06:45 PM #3
I agree about a fire.....I've seen a lot of iron over the years that was involved in fires and that equipment has all the earmarks.
What a pity it's all going to be "yard art". There is some consolation that the family honors their history though.
11-21-2010, 06:45 PM #4
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11-21-2010, 06:59 PM #5
Not sure I agree about the fire. No charcoal fragments on the ground and note the wood pulley remnants on the line shaft. No sign of charcoal on them and they would have been where the heat was most intense. I found this place 20 years ago and it could have easily been abandoned for 20 or more years before that. All but the thickest of thick grease would be long gone in 40 years. The drillpress is nicer than average so I looked it over fairly well assessing its restorability. I think the babbit was all there. I have a hunch that the building was removed as it started to cave in but the machinery was left in place.
11-21-2010, 08:59 PM #6
It is nice that the family is not going to scrap the machines, but I hope the machines would be put under cover and the drill stood up. If the machines are to be part of a garden this will probably not happen. What a shame. I would love to have the planer and drill.
The drill does look like a Putnam(a later one than Peter's). One lathe is a later Fox brass turners lathe. The planer looks to be 1850's or earlier.
11-21-2010, 09:45 PM #7
shame they will rust away in the dirt, it would be very cool to restore all those machines and rebuild the shop, perhaps the better term would be to restore the shop! it would take years but very cool, I wonder how the place was powered, I don't notice any evidence of a steam engine or hit&miss laying about, just the one line shaft which probably once ran the whole place
11-22-2010, 01:57 AM #8
The drill may indeed be a Putnam. I cannot be certain, but it is a good one. The planer is a real oldie and something of a work of art. Nice!
Any on care to speculate on the builder of the planer?
((I see these posts were all from 1am to 4am-early birds or night owls!))
You did well. to find that after 20 years! its too bad about the garden plans, How little it would cost to toss up a rough saw wood building on the old slab. But interests vary and at least it has been appreciated enough to be saved all these years. I guess it will potentially be a heck of an interesting garden.
Do you plan too check back in 2020
11-22-2010, 02:15 AM #9
I forgot to say thank for another very interesting post.
11-22-2010, 03:29 AM #10
I'm thinking Chamberlain on the planer, but only because the platen is EXACTLY like mine (with the horns on each end, one for the t-slot & dog to limit table travel, the other for the rack. Like mine this one is missing the chip tray at either end of the platen.) The dogs could fit mine directly.
If it's a chamberlain, it's the earliest one yet seen. Probably early 1850s before everyone started to "gussy up" their castings with embellishments.
But I will admit that the uprights and "upperworks" differs from mine. Robert Lang might check his Henry Ford Museum Pix of a larger Chamberlain planer and see if there is any resemblance. Particularly check the "stands" that the height adjusting shaft turns in.
The trouble with machinery this early is that there is little standard except the "style" to which parts of the machine were made. D. Chamberlain was likely a one man shop and he existed primarily in the world of handwork with each machine an individual and the distinctive product of a creative and talented mind/hand. My chamberlain differs from the HFM museum machine, which differs from that other Chamberlain that showed up on Ebay (Although that one is closer to mine. Where did that end up?)
The "non-putnam" lathe is most certainly a Geo. Fox production. This is a true brassworkers lathe and includes the rear swinging "arm" and even a shelf, probably with holes drilled in it to hang one's hand tools.
The Putnam lathe is late 1860s -pre new shop which was before 1868 (1868 coincides with the hole in the cross stretcher of the leg.)
DP is definitely Putnam.
Don't think the shop went through a fire, although the building must have been taken away in pieces.
Quite a treat to see this. One wonders what might be found under the pine needles. Probably not much good, but still....
11-22-2010, 03:55 AM #11
Peter—the drill press appears to have the same hand wheel design as your Putnam and the gear rack appears similar as well and has some lost teeth. I love its large yet manageable size and the overall aesthetic. Restoring the drill would seem much easier than bringing the planer back to working order.
I talked with the husband of the woman whose family had used the shop so I’m not sure how accurate his info was. He believed it had been powered by a gas engine.
It is sad to see it rusting away but at least it survives. The tailstocks and bearing hangers and jack shafts and presumably a lot of other things seem to have ‘walked away’ over the years. The soil is not that thick over the slab so I don’t think there is much hiding down there. I’d liked to have poked more and stayed longer but didn’t want to overstay my welcome.
11-22-2010, 09:23 AM #12
Personally, I think the grandfather would be sick that the family had allowed his prize machinery to rust away like this.
That's not honoring him at all.
11-22-2010, 04:26 PM #13
That planer has cosmetic similarities to the Whitcomb at Tuckahoe and the Chamberlain at the Henry Ford machine. Here again, a machine that looks like both Chamberlain and a Worcester builder.
So; being a dumb ohkie from the stokie, I gots to ask (again): Was Chamberlain re-badging machines? Keep in mined we have Chamberlain that looks like a Samual Flagg of Worcester. Another pair, those with the rosetts on the side, that look like a 3rd style. Those look kinda Worcester like to me. I dont know the level of certainty on the third pair, but it plays into my theory dejour.
Nothing I am married to, just taking the opportunity to toss this back out.
11-22-2010, 07:21 PM #14
I noticed the similarity with the Tuckahoe planer also. But there is an interesting difference. The V-ways are up on the Tuckahoe machine, and inverted on the rusted one. I'm guessing, but I think it makes the rusting one older.
11-22-2010, 08:05 PM #15
I was thinking Whitcomb like Peter, but looking closer it does not match what is known about early Whitcomb planers. At first glance the legs look like Whitcomb, but again looking closer they are different.
I agree with Mel in WA
11-24-2010, 03:29 AM #16
WHAT LEVEL OF RESTORATION IS APPROPRIATE? I may have wore out my appetite for restoring heavily rusted machinery on several old woodworking machines so even if this planer were for sale I’m not sure that I would want to tackle the restoration of such a rusty precision machine yet I’m curious what your thoughts are regarding replacing heavily pitted parts for aesthetic reasons verse leaving them to keep the historic ‘fabric’ of the machine intact. The feed screws etc on a machine which has been fully exposed to the elements for over forty years are going to be heavily pitted at best. Does one merely wire brush them and live with the pitting or do you turn new parts and keep the old as a record?
I think I’d be far happier with the results of restoring the drillpress given its fewer polished surfaces. Assuming the cone pulley shafts are in one piece integral bearings they’d probably be a real trick to fee up and extricate.
02-08-2012, 08:01 PM #17
02-09-2012, 04:57 PM #18
Nice find Rob. I’d be happy with the drill on the right as seen in the advertisement!
02-09-2012, 07:27 PM #19
My thoughts on the drill too.
02-09-2012, 07:34 PM #20
Criminy, I hate seeing machinery purposely abused like this.
Worse yet, some scrapper might send it off to China.
It needs to get indoors.