I own an “Ohio” shaper, built in Kenton, Ohio. This week I had some extra time and I was near Kenton, so I did some legwork to see what I could find out about the Ohio Machine Tool Company.
The local library had a 1933 book of city history, which gave me some info on the early roots of the company. From there I went to the Historical Museum, which has no curator now and is in complete disarray. They sent me to the local Genealogical Society, where I met a group of local long-timers who had a lot of memories, and who set me up with several old-timers who I interviewed by phone. I also drove by the old plant and talked to one of its occupants.
The company was founded in 1890 by two men: Mr. Silk and Mr. Smith. It was originally known as the Smith and Silk Tool Company. At some point Smith bought out Silk. In 1895 the name was changed to the Ohio Machine Tool Company. A large building was erected, which burned in 1903 and was replaced by a new structure which still stands. Sometime before WWII, the company was purchased by a Mr. Swift, owner of the Swift Welder Company, and became the Swift-Ohio company. Operations were ended in the mid-1960’s.
The best info I got was from Paul Sloan, who hired on there in 1928 and retired from Ohio Machine Tool in 1960. Mr. Sloan worked “in the office” in some indeterminate capacity. He will be 92 years old on Jan 17th next year and is more lucid than I am.
Ohio Machine Tool primarily produced shapers and planers, and at one time produced a milling machine. They also manufactured machinery for other machine tool builders. They built the first DeVlieg mills. They built the Ryerson HBM for a company in Chicago. They built woodworking machinery for a company in Holland MI. They built some drilling machinery for the Defiance Machine Company of Defiance Ohio (another long-gone company). They built a batch of lathes for the American Tool Works for export to Europe which, due to the outbreak of WWII, were never shipped, and were returned, converted to English graduated machines, and sold domestically. During WWII shaper production peaked at 10 machines per month, including 16, 20, 24 inch regular shapers and 32 inch “Super Dreadnaught” shapers. After WWII the Ohio Machine Tool attempted to get into the special machine market. One machine was built for DeVilbiss spray equipment in Toledo. It was a disaster and the company lost a “ton” of money. During its final years the company experimented with “electrical controls” on some machines (unable to determine what machines this was done on). The Ohio Machine Tool Company ceased operations in the mid-60's.
Their building is now occupied by a rigger, Lowe Rigging Co. A social service charity occupies part of the offices. I was unable to contact Lowe Rigging, but several people told me that there’s nothing of the Ohio Machine Tool Company left in there.
No one knows what happened to all the company’s documentation, such as records, blueprints, and sales material. It is probably all lost, except a few brochures tucked away in attics around town. Just recently, Paul Sloan sent the last brochure he had to his son in Texas.
And that is what I found about the Ohio Machine Tool Company.
Thanks a lot for the great info owen. I am in the final stages of returning a 32" Ohio universal shaper (pocket dreadnaught) to active service. It is a great machine and I never fail to be impressed with the workmanship and quality of these older monsters. Just moving them brings to mind many hair raising stories. Sorry I am not regestered, I dont own a computer (CPU challenged) and mostly just lurk in the corner. Also sorry about the lack of documentation on these machines. I would really like to get more info on the shaper. Would love to have a Ohio or Gray planer but just dont have the room. Keep up the good informative posts.
Hi guys, and wow thats great info about the research and wow WOW about the "pocket" dreadnaught 32" WHEW
Whose how what why pocket ?
sure would like to see pic of that instrument