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Thread: Brainerd Milling Machines
03-24-2008, 04:14 AM #1
Brainerd Milling Machines
I was wondering if any forum members have had any experience working on Brainerd
Universal Milling Machines (Circa 1890). I would like to get copies of any literature that
maybe available regarding the machines and the accessories. These machines have a
table constructed similar to a standard plain milling machine, the tables are not capable of
being rotated. It would appear that all angular work is handled by positioning the accessor-
ies. I am curious about the application of the accessories. The main reason for this request
is the fact that I recently acquired one of these millers, along with a 16 inch Smith and Mills
shaper (circa 1920). I was asked to remove these from an old building by the new owner, who wanted this "junk" hauled away. I had to pay him less than scrap for this privilege.
Every now and again, we preservationist get a break.
PS: At a later date Becker and Brainerd merged.
03-24-2008, 10:39 AM #2
I have some literature on Brainard mills and their accessories. If you could send a picture of your mill it would help to narrow it down to the year and model.
03-24-2008, 10:47 PM #3
Hendyman, you sound like you're describing mine.
Here's the thread on mine:
Brainard Mill rescued
The pics are missing due to broken links, but I've attached a couple.
Mine was made prior to the merger with Becker.
If anyone has any literature, I'd be interested too.
You can find some scans of early Brainard literature here:
The information is listed as from an 1888 catalog, but these look nothing like mine. There is a patent date of 1888 on mine, and I have seen one dated 1898 that had Becker on it, so I'm figuring that brackets mine.
03-25-2008, 04:41 AM #4
Thank you for your offer regarding the Brainard material in your collection. I don't
have a camera, but if you will go to the Shopswarf site and examine the No. 3 Standard
Universal Milling Machine, you will see the exact model machine that I have. I plan to
put this miller back on the belts and use it. I would expect that finding any accessories
for this brand of universal will prove to be very difficult.
One bit of irony. I have all the surviving drawings and material on the Hendey Milling
Machines, yet I don't own a Hendey Miller. Now I own an esoteric Brainard Miller and I
don't have any technical drawings for it.
Thank you for the information regarding the Shopswarf site, it was most helpful. As
you will notice, your miller is the next generation after mine. My machine also has the
April 24, 1888 patent date and this could be applied to any machines built over the next
seventeen years. I would be most interested to learn how long after this date they con-
tinued to build millers with this "I Beam" arch construction. I would say not very long.
I have a Becker Milling Machine of about the same size and circa, that features some of
the construction details shown on your machine. Also, thank you for posting the pictures
of your Brainard, they were very interesting.
03-25-2008, 09:30 AM #5
Mine appears to be the next model to the number 4, which is smaller than your number 3.
I don't know why they made them with the short overarm - the full-length overam has got to have a lot more rigidity, although the older machines are a lot more elegant looking.
How are you going to drive the cone pulley?
BTW, Tony Griffiths has no documentaiton on these mills at all, so whatever we get, we should forward to him as well, and we should take pictures of our machines to send to him.
03-25-2008, 03:17 PM #6
The 1888 catalog shows a picture of the countershaft and also furnishes the dimen-
sions and the operating speed. I have a friend who is a retired pattern maker. So, the
plan is to make a replica of the countershaft and run the miller from the shopline shaft.
I am relocating the main shaft so that I have more room to install the flat belt equipment
that I have. I am trying to keep the belt driven stuff separated from the motor driven
machines. Also, the pattern maker wants me to put all of the belt driven woodworking
machines back in operation, hence all of the relocating of the main shaft.
I agree with your idea on making the information about Brainard miling machines more accessable. I plan to buy a copy of Ken Cope's book on milling machine builders, it
should have some usefull information.
03-25-2008, 11:53 PM #7
Sorry to say, the only info I have on the No.3 of that vintage is the same as what Shopswarf has. Accessories will be hard to find. The only one I have found for my Brainard mill is the dividing head. Brainard used the early overarm for about 20 years. They changed to the new style around the early 1890's. Cope's book has some good info.
John Becker and Brainard merged in 1899. Before the merger Becker made only vertical mills and Brainard made only horizontal mills. After the merger they were said to be the largest maker of mills in the world. My Brainard mill is a No.2 with only the 1872 pat. date.
Your mill dates to the mid to late 1890's. Cope's mill book shows a No.4 1/2 on page 36(slightly older than yours). I have a few pages of info on the Brainard mills of your vintage(no pic. of the 4 1/2, but has the specs on it). If you send me your email I can send scans of it.
03-26-2008, 01:32 AM #8
Many thanks for the information regarding Becker and Brainard. I knew that Becker
had made a speciality of making vertical milling machines, but I also knew that they
built a line of horizontals, but when and for how long, I had no idea. I thought that
Mr Cope's book would be able to shed some light on this problem, that's why I sent for
a copy. The reason that I am sure about the line of horizontals, is the fact that I have
been using a No. 25 Becker plain horizontal mill for about twenty years. It was made
at the Hyde Park plant and carries a patent date of April 24, 1888, cast into the door.
It would interesting to find out if they made universal millers as well as plain.
Rob, I sent you an e-mail earlier this evening regarding planers.
03-26-2008, 12:02 PM #9
There is often some confusion about the two companies. John Becker Mfg. Co. made only vertical mills. Brainard Milling Machine Co. only made horizontal mills. They merged in 1899(Becker Brainard Milling Machine Co.). Brainard retired around 1901 and John Becker came back in around 1903. The company was renamed Becker Milling Machine Co. (this is where your No. 25 Becker comes from).