Introducing The LeBlond Heavy Duty Lathes
I recently picked up a September 1909 issue of Machinery on ebay, and by pure luck, there's a quick two page article in it announcing the new Heavy Duty series lathes from the R. K. LeBlond company. It describes the new features, including the heavy angled front way. So, now we know when the line was started.
From reading these old Machinery issues of that era, I get the impression that LeBlond was just another small struggling machine tool company at that time. They didn't do much advertising, and there are very few articles about them.
Here's the article. The issue is very fragile, so I couldn't get a real good scan, but it's readable:
Thanks for the post Bruce. Very interesting. Jeff
Bruce, I think you are right on about the 1909 RK LeBlond Machine Tool Company.
In 1898, the Company had moved from a three story factory in downtown Cincinnati to the Eastern Avenue address noted in your article.
LeBlond developed their crankshaft lathe in 1905, primarily to produce bicycle cranks. Shortly after, the automotive industy bloomed and crankshaft lathes and manufacturing lathes were good business. WWI came along and gun boring lathes and manufacturing lathes were again good business. There were many expansions and additions to the Linwood factory, as it was called. Linwood was a small community/eastern suburb of Cincinnati. FYI, RK LeBlond was born in Linwood, Ohio on April 23, 1864.
At some time during the 1910~1920s period, LeBlond also produced milling machines; supposedly shipping more units than the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company. Local lore says that a gentlemen's agreement between RK LeBlond and FA Geier aligned their businesses so that LeBlond focused on lathes and CMMCo focused on millers. Perhaps true...perhaps not.
The new, modern RK LeBlond Machine Tool plant and powerhouse were built "up the hill" in Norwood during 1917~1918 when war production was at its height.
The Company really boomed until WWI ended, experienced a period of inflation-deflation, then rebounded to previous levels from 1925~1930. Sometime in the '20s, LeBlond produced radial aircraft engines in their Norwood plant and owned the Schacht truck company. Then the Depression took hold and 1930~1933 were dismal years. By 1935, business was again "good." WWII commenced in 1939 and war production orders flooded the shop.
By 1940 or so, The RK LeBlond MTCo was known as "the largest manufacturer of a complete line of lathes." Their product line included Engine Lathes, Super Regal Lathes, Gun Boring Lathes, Rapid Production Lathes, Gap Lathes and Sliding Bed Gap Lathes, Cutter Grinders, Hollow Spindle Lathes, Multi-Cut Lathes, Tool Room Lathes, and Crankshaft Lathes.
Great scans Bruce! Thanks, Gary P. Hansen
Hi, great scans thanks. This may clear up a few questions I have about the Leblond I have (18 inch). When I called Leblond and told them the serial number they said it was a heavy duty, was made in March 1910 and was one of the last ones of that model made. The only trouble is it does not have the heavy angled front way, but is built very solidly, much heavier casting than regular Leblonds that I have seen pictures of but like the heavy duty except for the front way. I'm now wondering if they did call this an earlier type of heavy duty, something else or is there confusion due to its manufacture date/end of a model. Thanks again, Dave.
That's very interesting. Does your lathe actually say Heavy Duty on the side of the headstock? It may have been a transitional model.
Has anyone seen any magazine ads or references to the Heavy Duty series prior to 1909?
That's a good concise history of LeBlond. Did you pull that from one source, or put it together from a variety of sources? The various old LeBlond catalogs that I have each have some of the company's history, but not a lot.
About the horizontal mills: From my research, I believe that they were introduced about 1904 and manufactured up until about 1920. I have a photocopy of the 1905 horizontal mill catalog, which is the only catalog I know of so far.
I recently found out that LeBlond even had a Heavy Duty series of the horizontal mills. I had never seen anything about them, until an owner sent me pictures of his, a No.3 Heavy Duty mill. It's not too much different from the standard No.3 mill, but it has an extra back gear shaft and somewhat heavier features on the main frame casting. Heavy Duty is cast right into the side of the frame, just like on the lathes. I'm guessing that these were offered after 1910, as they were promoting the lathes.
I keep thinking about that 36" Heavy Duty sitting in the field, from that recent thread. What a monster that must be! In the article I posted here, you'll notice that 30" is the largest that they offered at the introduction. If only I had a big building, and some money and time.... Someday I'd like to find an 18" or 24" Heavy Duty to complete my collection.
Hi Bruce, no such luck. It only says Leblond 18 inch...not heavy duty. Part of the reason why I began to wonder after your scan articles is that the fellow at Leblond said that the last lathe in that series was made in March of 1910 and my serial number was the fourth one from the end. It looks alot like the picture of Old rusty in Arizona or the Leblond in the worth saving category, except for the front way and possibly the width across the ways. I also have an 18 inch McGregor Gourlay about the same age and it looks very similar as far as casting size etc. to your lathe Gary. In comparison the Leblond looks like it is on steroids. I'm pretty sure my Leblond's serial number is E 1814, I'll try to check it out today. I guess pictures would help, I'll try to get some posted when I can. There are probably some other Leblond owners who have some answers. Thanks, Dave
There is a 25" Heavy Duty near Mike Powell - unless the port authority guy scrapped it. It was in an old RR shop.
I haven't been following LeBlond history too much but I do have a seventy-eight page June, 1913 'LeBlond Heavy Duty Single Pulley Drive Millers' catalog that one of the PM corresponders sold me within the last year. (I've forgotten who, and I apologize for that.)
If any of you would like to know more about LeBlond's mills of that time I might be able to help--this catalog is a pretty thourough document.
There is a fine full page illustraion 'Plant at Linwood Station, pennsylvania R.R., Cincinnati, Ohio. 250,000 square feet of floor space.' pretty handsome buildings, obviously built in stages.
As for Le Blond millers, there's a rather nice illustration of one in this 1906 book (page 100)
Would the heavy lathes have been referred to as "roughing lathes" or "rapid reduction" back then? I found a reference to Le Blond 18, 21 and 24" lathes with a heavier carriage in this "Lathe Design and Construction" book from 1919. There's an illustration of an 18 inch Le Blond.
Nice picture from 1916 of a fellow using the safety belt shifter on a Le Blond lathe:
Wow, I'm glad that you spoke up! Is there any way that I could pay you for a photocopy of that whole catalog? Or, I could trade you a copy of my 1905 LeBlond Mills catalog (about 60 pages). I'd really like to see that.
That illustration is of a No.3 Plain Mill, and is similar to the one in the 1905 catalog. However, it's slightly squashed in height (vertically challenged?).
LeBlond made a lot of different lathe models in the 1910-1920 decade. The Rapid Production series is different from the Heavy Duty, the Standard Pattern , the Turret lathes, Gap bed lathes, Crankshaft lathes, etc. I haven't counted them, but there are probably 50 models and sizes of lathes listed in the 1916 catalog.
That Roughing Lathe illustration is interesting. I looks to be pre-1910, by the saddle and headstock design, but it has some features that ended up on the Heavy Duty series. Note the oversized bed and shallow angle ways. Maybe that's what Dave D's Leblond is?
Duh! I just found a picture of a Heavy Duty Single Pulley Drive (that is, geared headstock) Universal Miller tucked in the back pages of the 1916 lathe catalog. I had never noticed it before. There's no mention of any non-Heavy Duty Millers. So, they may have just beefed up the whole milling machine line to Heavy Duty level around 1913?
Bruce, I'm glad you're trying to learn about LeBlond history and I'll look into having it photocopied.
Meanwhile here is the front cover:
And here is a nice catalog cut:
Most of my early LeBlond history came from this 1941 copy of "LeBlond News." It's a very special leather bound edition commerating RK LeBlond's 54th year in the machine tool business. It contains a good deal of information about RK, his family and the Company. This booklet is rare; I know of only four other copies.
The LeBlond News was printed six times per year (at least, in the latter years that I'm familiar with) and contained some factory and product news, but mostly covered the personal stuff: softball & bowling teams, births, deaths, military service, etc. I'm unsure when the LeBlond News started, but it's predecessor "The Fleur de Lis; LeBlond Shop Tidings" Volume 1 was first printed in 1917. LeBlond News was cancelled sometime around 1970.
Since you are a LeBlond milling machine maven, I thought you might like to know about these:
LeBlond's April 1914 Treatise on Milling, 220 pages; similar to the Cincinnati Milling Machine's " A Treatise on Milling and Milling Machines" book. LeBlond also published a separate treatise on cutter grinding. I've seen only one copy of this cutter grinding book from the early 'teens and that was at a used machinery dealer in the 1980s.
and the LeBlond 1919 Heavy Duty Milling Machines Catalog, 113 pages. The miller on the front cover is a reversed heavy embossing so that the image is proud of the catalog surface...very cool!
Northernsinger's 1916 LeBlond Millers Catalog is interesting in that the cover closely resembles the Cincinnati Millers catalogs from the same period. The LeBlond and CMMCo factories were only two miles apart.
I've enjoyed this thread even though I don't have a LeBlond lathe. Yesterday my Dad and I were visting a friend and he gave me this book.
I think the print date is 1946.
Lots of nice LeBlond information and images, thanks. I'll hope to find some more some time, too.
The Cincinnati Millers catalog from 1920 closely resembles northernsingers 1916 LeBlond Millers catalog.
I have a Cincinnati Millers catalog from 1913 and the only change is the date.
I suppose the same firm could have printed many of these early catalogs, hence the similar appearance.
Cinci fans might want to download this book, A Treatise on Milling and Milling Machines
By Cincinnati Milling Machine Company, 1919
My local independent office services shop made a couple of pretty nice copies of the 1913 LeBlond HD geared head miller catalog whose cover I showed above. Here is a scan of the title page (for some reason they did not make copy the cover):
If anyone would like one of these please private message me.
I have a 12" LeBlonde Heavy duty lathe which the factory has told me was shiped is 1913. #B1248. What more can I know about this machine? It is in daly use in my race car shop.
Don - private message me your email address for a high speed connection and I'll email the 1911 catalog scan. Its about 8Mb. Thanks to mister honey for letting me scan it.