Post By Jim Christie
Post By SouthBendModel34
Post By SouthBendModel34
Post By Jim Christie
Post By Jim Christie
Post By Jim Christie
Old Machinist Chest and Machinist Tools
I have been inspired by some recent threads on this forum to try and push a long with a project that has been in the back of my mind for a while so I thought I would share the experience here on this forum with those of you who like these sorts of things.
I am working on cleaning up an old tool chest and and some old shop made machinist tools that belonged to my grandfather and then my father.
[My grandfather served his apprenticeship at Robertson and Orcharís Wallace Foundry in Dundee Scotland from 1906 until 1911 and also worked there after World War 1 .
In 1924 he came to Canada and shortly there after came to work at the Canadian International Paper Co. pulp mill in Hawkesbury until his death in 1952 .
I posted a thread about the Wallace Foundry here Robertson and Orchar a while ago. Some of the links no longer work to Andy Robertsonís site so I have added some of the pictures that he had put up for me to a sub album on my Photobucket album Robertson and Orchar pictures by JEChristie - Photobucket .
I will try and post some more information that I found about the company when time permits but I am going to try and concentrate on the tools in this thread for now.
Iím not sure if my grandfather built this box himself or not.
As far as I know this was his main tool box and I think had a smaller one to take out on repair jobs .
His father was a wood turner so he may have had a hand in making it also.
It is of rather simple construction and looks to me to be made of pine of some kind and nailed rather than dovetailed or screwed together .
From the pictures of the Wallace Foundry shop and what I know of the pulp mill shop Iím not surprised that the box has suffered some over the years.
not to mention that it was stored in a damp basement for another 15 years and spent close to another 40 years in an unheated shed attic .
I will attach a couple of pictures and have posted more in an other Photobucket sub album starting here, Old Tool Chest and Machinist Tools :: DSCF1291-Copy.jpg picture by JEChristie - Photobucket
For the best part of the last 40 years the box has been empty since may father had taken the tools and put them in his larger 1940 s wooden chest that he had made for him when he was starting out in the trade .
While some of the tools have been used occasionally by my father and now myself most of them got quite rusted from sitting unattended so long in the basement and then in the attic.
I am thinking that I wonít try and bring the chest and the tools back to like new condition but rather just clean them up a bit so that they donít look like they were just made but rather try and keep some of the character they have acquired over the years and considering that those that are signed and dated were made when my grandfather was in the early years of his apprenticeship.
I think I would be hard pressed to turn out something as good as that with relatively recent equipment I have let alone working with the machinery in the shop where they were made as you can see in the pictures in the earlier links.
I have posted pictures of the tools as I found them starting here
Old Tool Chest and Machinist Tools :: DSCF1252 picture by JEChristie - Photobucket
Here are a couple of shots taken after I cleaned some of the tools up after first some CLR rust remover and emery cloth for the worst rust and then I tried using some Rust Check a petroleum based product used to spray on automobiles for rust protection in areas where there is a lot of road salt in the winter and some steel wool and just rubbed away at them and worked the caliper joints back and forth until they started moving better.
I may work at them some more with the steel wool but at least for now they are cleand up a bit and the rust Check should stop them from rusting further .
These pictures show what some of them look like now.
If any one would like more detailed pictures of something or has any questions I will try and reply as son as I can but may not always be available in the upcomming weeks.
P/S it looks like I have to rotate my pictures beofre posting them onPhotobucket if I want the thumbnail to look right here but at at least when you click on it the larger picture is OK.
Very nice Jim, thanks for sharing.
The nailed construction of the chest helped it to survive the humidity changes in the basement and the unheated shed. Nails do not constrain the expansion and contraction of the wood and will remain tight in climates that would cause other joints to become unglued or otherwise damaged.
Nice to see how you are preserving your grandfather's tools.
Maynah , John Ruth and the others who have liked this thread,
Thanks for your interest and for posting.
I was a little hesitant to post about the chest since there have been many fine examples posted here before and this one being nailed together seemed like a bit of a poor cousin however special it may be to me.
I never thought about the nailed construction being an advantage but now that you mention it the environment in the pulp mill machine shop where the chest spent that largest part of its working life was far from ideal either ,it was hot and damp in the summer and cold and drafty in the winter.
This one had survived better than the more elaborate laminated an glued chest that my father had made by one one of his mill co workers some time in the 1940-1946 time fame.
I would imagine that the Wallace Foundry shop environment was hardly ideal either for fine wood work.
I may try and post a picture of the newer one later even if it isn’t quite antique yet.
I would suppose that there were far more tool utilitarian tool boxes like this one in use than those of the higher end variety in most places .
If the wooden chest smells musty from damp storage, buy a gallon of white vinegar and gently scrub it inside and out with a soft brush. Rinse well with clear water. Dry with clean rag or paper towels. This has worked for me many times, including de-odorizing a large joiner's chest that had mice living in it. (Phew!) Vinegar does not seem to harm the wood and the steel parts, and does not leave any residue to cause tools to rust. At least not that I can observe.
If something wooden is grimey but you don't want to "clean it too much", then Murphy's (vegetable) Oil Soap seems to be the ticket. If it's really grimey, a wipe-down with mineral spirits and soft towels does minimal harm, although some would say that it's too powerful. We're talking about a work-a-day tool chest here, not Duncan Phyfe's chest.
The most extreme case I've dealt with is a shop-made wooden toolbox that had motor oil spilled in the unfinished interior. I shot the interior with Easy-Off Oven Cleaner (Lye) and let it dry. Repeated this a couple of times. It removed the oily feeling. I have a hunch I should wait a while and then repeat this a few more times as the remaining oil comes out of the wood. (BTW: NEVER do that to anything wooden that's of real value. Far too harsh to be used unless the piece is a basket case.)
Wishing he had more time to fool around with restoring things.
John Ruth ,
Thanks for your suggestions for the chest.
That is the sort of thing I had in mind .
I had thought of trying the Murphy’s Oil Soap in a small area to see what might happen .
I don’t think mold is a problem in this case .
I’m thinking that the close to 40 hot summers in the attic has dried out any liquid remaining in what ever oil was embedded in there and the remaining residue has kind of oxidized into a dusty somewhat sticky substance.
When I first took it out I vacuumed out what dust I could pick up and wiped it over with a damp paper towel and dried it of with a dry one.
When I wipe it with a dry paper towel now it leaves a yellowish mark on the paper or my fingers .
Someone I know from the local heritage committee does furniture restoration and is quite sympathetic to original finishes so I am thinking I may consult with him as to how to proceed or have him do some work on it.
In any case I won’t be doing anything radical to it right away .
Another thought I had was to perhaps find some light colored old style linoleum flooring and cut some pieces to fit in for a lining at least for the bottom and inside the till .
It would help brighten and clean up the inside with out altering the original or historical finish such as it is .
Another aspect to the linoleum is that it is made from flax fibers.
I know that the Wallace foundry mentioned above made made textile machinery for jute and Linen but I don’t know about for linoleum .
I had seen an episode of “This Old House” on American P.B.S . where they had visited an old linoleum factory in Fife a cross the Firth of Tay from Dundee .
I’m not sure if it is till operating but I think there was some discussion about this in another thread some time ago.
That said I ‘m kind of thinking out loud that back when the chest was new, it might not have been unheard of for someone to have used a few remnants of linoleum from a flooring job to protect the bottom of their tool box.
I‘ll keep working at this as I can, adding some pictures of some other tools that I have but can’t necessarily attribute to my grandfather .
I appreciate the input I have received.
That is an honorable way of preserving your grandfather and father’s legacy! Keep up the good work! Good job cleaning the tools.
Thanks Camero 68,
I had hoped to start a thread about the pulp mill where these tools would have seen most of their use some time ago but it hasn’t happened yet.
By posting a little about the place here for now it may help put the tools and the the jobs they were used for a little more into perspective. into .
Louise Sproule the publisher of the Vankleek Hill Review is an avid historian and has posted a few pictures of the C.I.P Hawkesbury Mill on the Review’s website.
There are a couple of pictures of the mill here in this set of pictures
Hawkesbury Scrapbook 5
More local history links can be found here The Review website and click on the History tab at the top.
I don’t have any pictures from inside the mill shop but I have found some online pictures of other mills that I might be able to use to give an Idea.
I’ll try and post some more in a day or two.
I have been occupied with other things since my last post so I haven’t made much progress with this project .
Looking through my files I found that Asquith had sent me some pictures of an article in the Engineer about a linoleum calendering machine
that was made by Robertson and Orchar so using some linoleum to line the bottom of the chest might not be too inappropriate .
the others are here .
Robertson and Orchar pictures by JEChristie - Photobucket
I will try and look into this more when I get back to the R&O thread .
Thanks again to Asquith for his contribution .
As I mentioned earlier I don’t have any photos from inside the pulp mill shop at least in the early years it may have looked a little like this one
Machine shop, Laurentide Pulp Mills, Grand'MŤre, QC, about 1900
VIEW-3500 | Machine shop, Laurentide Pulp Mills, Grand'MŤre, QC, about 1900 | Photograph | Wm. Notman & Son | McCord Museum
As I understand it my grandfather spent much of his time running a J.J.McCabe double spindle Lathe about like this one but with a longer bed.
Here are a few more links I found about these lathes that have been mentioned in a few places on this forum and elsewhere.
J.J. McCabe Lathe - Google Search
J. J. McCabe 2-in-1 Lathe. - YouTube
McCabe Double Spindle Engine Lathes
Big double spindle lathe on CL
J.J. McCabe Lathe
Canadian machinery and metalworking
J.J. McCabe Obituary
I’m not sure what happened to the lathe but it was still there when the mill was closed in the early 1980 s .
This particular lathe had no graduations on the cross slide or the compound so one had to learn to make things fit with the feel of the calipers as compared with a steel rule , plug or ring gage , or the part that fit on the surface you were turning.
The lathe was was well worn at least by the later 1940 s when My father worked on it on the night shift usually doing the roughing on a part and my grandfather would some times finish the part to size on the next shift.
My father used to speak about taking eight hours to take a cut on a long part in the days of blacksmith forged carbon and H.S.S .steel tools .
The ones shown here could be from H.S.S. and be as recent as 1953
I’ll try add some more again before too long .
In regards to old family stuff, I have been forming my own opinions over the last 20 years but here it is-
From my parents before me, to me, we have some pretty old stuff. The common idea with antiques is to keep them original and I was thinking about that in regards to my first 22 rifle, a Stevens Favorite.
My gun is pretty worn, no telling how many kids had it before me and I sure wasn't easy on it either. But all in all, it could have been cleaned up into a somewhat worn but kinda cool example of an old Stevens Favorite.
However, what next? Would I want this rifle to stay as a wall hanger that people could point out that it was their great grandfathers or whatever? Not really, actually Hell no. So I decided that I'm going to rebuild it to better than new. I've already refinished it and rewelded the worn extractor, and rebedded the worn buttstock with Devcon titanium. I'm shooting it on a regular basis with my kids now (they have their own 22's) but in the next winter or 2 I'll install a new liner in the barrel, refinish the wood, and give it a proper rust blue. And eventually it will be someone elses "first rifle" and they will be proud of it too.
Anyway, the purpose of my rambling here is IMHO if you want to keep a family heirloom in the family then keep it in the best condition you can, including things that reduce it's collector value so your grandchild decides to keep it instead of selling it for the antique value, and as a result when your great grandchild decides to start fiddling around with that old machinery stuff he'll have a really cool chest to keep his tools in.
Additionally, one way of getting the oil out of wood is to put cornmeal or sawdust in contact with the oil and stir it around every several days.
Mark W,. Thanks for your suggestions ,
Some of the the next generation that I hope will be the future custodians are getting old enough now that they should maybe have some input as to how I should proceed .
I am working on a thread related to their activities in these pictures that I will post before too long I hope .
I'll get to that thread before too long I hope.
I don’t know if all the machinists at the pulp mill did both millwright and machinist work .
My grandfather and and father certainly did .
They used to have to go out and pack pumps in the bleach , pour Babbitt bearings and scrape them in to fit a shaft that they may have taken a cut off or rebuilt in some way
Given that the old lathes were well worn there was a considerable amount of filing and scraping done to get things to fit and run properly .
Here are some of the old files that were reground for use as scrapers that were from there .
view of them turned over .
This one would have been forged by the blacksmith or perhaps by my grandfather for scraping Babbitt bearings .
I have seen it used and used it my self the odd time but I don’t have a lot of bronze or Babbitt bearings to scrape these days so will likely never be as good at it as my father or grandfather were.
Here are some links to pictures that give an Idea of the types of parts that would have been worked on in the pulp mill shop.
Damaged cylinder roll
Berlin Foundry and Machinery Co.
Broken Journal on a Dryer Roll
If any of you have any experience in pulp and paper mill machinery and can add something your input would be welcome.
I’ll post a little about packing hooks next time .
Last edited by Jim Christie; 07-16-2012 at 06:34 PM.
Thank you, Jim, for the nice discussion of the heirloom tools and the mill in which they were used. Interesting.
By the way my wife's mother's family was from not too far away, also on the Ottawa River, first in Ottawa itself, then in Masson, just down river from Ottawa, on the Quebec side, now called, since a municipal consolidation, Masson-Angers. Despite a fire that destroyed one Masson house--in the 1950's I think--my mother-in-law has many photographs taken there in the 1920's and 1930's.
Thanks northernsinger ,
There were several pulp and paper mills on the Ottawa River .
The one at Masson formerly McLaren is now run by white Birch
Papier Masson sold to White Birch Paper | Pulp and Paper Canada
but like many other paper mills is not doing well these days .
My two nephews shown in the pictures above live on the Cumberland side of the river just across from the Masson mill .
The other McLaren mill at Thurso a few miles east of Masson had its share of troubles lately too but seems to have found a new life.
From Finland to Thurso: barge passes through Ottawa River | The Review
I missed seeing the barge on the way up but did see the tugs and empty barge going back down river to Montreal .
When my father and grandfather worked in the Hawkesbury pulp mill it used to shut down for at least part of the day on Sundays and the men from the shop would go in and do repairs .
My father used to do repairs in the Bleach and would have looked after the bearings and packing on pumps that from his description would have been something like these .
Or perhaps being an older mill they may have been more like this stock pump .
They would have been taken apart and the bronze sleeves where the packing ran against cleaned up in the lathe and shafts and bearings refitted or simply repacked as required .
Some other types of pumps found in paper mills
Here are some pictures of the shop forged packing hooks that were among the old tools .
They would have used to pull out the old packing .
For comparison there are some modern packing hooks as well as the tools for removing the lubricating rings that I have along with a roll of packing and a ring of packing cut to fit a large circulating pump I repacked a few years ago.
Thanks to a link posted by Larry Vanice in this thread
I found some information about modern packing hooks including the threaded pullers for the lubrication rings or if I am correct my father referred to them as lantern rings .
Packing Extractor and Packing Extractor Tools & Hooks by C.S. OSBORNE & CO.
Flexible & Rigid Packing Tool Sets by C.S. OSBORNE & CO.
Iíve only done a little of this type of work and had my father around for advise at the time .
I think that there are others on this forum who have a lot more experience in this field than myself so I wonít go into any more details about it at the moment .
Last edited by Jim Christie; 07-16-2012 at 10:18 PM.
You have done well, and I am sure earned the respect of many on PM.
I must respectfully disagree with Mark W.'s position on bringing heirloom tools back. Age-related deterioration that is not the result of callous disregard is not a defect, it is part of a continuously ongoing and in a sense inescapable normal process. In my view, to do what you have done -- that is, to simply try to slow the worst of it and remove superficial marks in a minimal, non-invasive way -- is to best preserve what is clearly important to you, the character of the equipment your father's hands used in the everyday making of his living. If what is more important is to put a correctly working tool in a youngster's hands, whether it is a pair of calipers or a .22 rifle, then go out and buy him the best one you can. But to give him an old tool used by his forebears that you have fixed up with new parts or shined up to look like new, and tell him that "this was grandpa's" is to tell him a half-truth. He may not realize that now, but one day he might. An old person who succumbs to all the measures that he or she imagines are youngifying, like hair dyes, cool outfits, and the rest, becomes, I think, just a bit less appealing and genuine. An old lobster boat that has had 80% of its planks replaced isn't any longer quite as admirable as a real old lobster boat. There is nothing wrong and a lot right about an old person being impaired, or an old lobster boat that has become too leaky to go out and earn its keep.
Thanks Marty ,
At this point I don’t have any plans to do much more to the tools but to take them out and handle them occasionally to keep the moving parts working , spray them with a little Rust Check and give them a few rubs with some fine steel wool just or a rag just about the way I would if I were using them on a regular basis .
Who knows they may even get pressed back into service once in a while if I don’t have any other way of getting the job done .
They were made to be used and I would imagine that the previous owners would be more pleased if I did use them to get a job done than to leave them in all shinned up in the box , even if they did suffer some unintentional battle scars.
Part of the reason I decided to write about this project here on the forum is that it gives me an incentive to write a little history about the box and the tools for who ever the next custodian may be .
Thanks to the input I have received from the folks here they will have the benefit of the knowledge you have shared here as well when I print the pages and store a copy in the chest with the tools.
It will show them what was taken into consideration as to the maintenance or improvement of their condition .
It may be wishful thinking but we might hope that in another hundred years that some one will be able to go on their electronic devise and still be able to access all the knowledge that has been shared on this forum .
Also among my grandfather’s tool were two old Armstrong style tool holders for use with a lantern style tool post.
These were given to him by a friend here in Canada.
I don’t know how old they are.
I only have one now since I gave one of them back to the grandson or great grandson of the former owner who’s name was stamped on it and may have made them .
The fellow I gave it to was a grade school history teacher of mine about 1970 and quite active in the local history groups so he was glad to have it .
I don’t remember if he had a lathe of his own but he was quite handy with tools doing wood working and furniture repairs .
Unfortunately de died rather suddenly a couple of years ago so I can’t call him up to ask him any more about his ancestor
The one I have may also have had the name on it but it was ground down to fit the lantern style tool holder that my father had for his lathe.
I only remember my father using this tool once to reach over the gap on a 13” lathe to trepan and bore a larger hole in a 16 inch circular saw mounted on the face plate .
I had always assumed that this had been machined on a shaper because of the straight tool mark like lines on the surfaces .
I now think that this was probably forged and then finished by draw filing since I used a scale s a straight edge and could see that the surface while smooth looks too uneven to have been made on even a well worn machine .
You can see the makeshift lantern tool post that the tool was ground to fit into .
A bit oversize for a 13 inch lathe but it was all that was available at the time 30 some years ago and it got the job done .
I’m thinking someday if I feel the need to practice my draw filing skills I might try and remove the grinding marks from the one side and let it rust a little try and restore the look of the thing, but if it is turned the right way and put on display on a high shelf you can’t tell there is anything wrong with it .
Also I found the collection of old tool bits with some forged tools among them that I couldn’t find for my earlier post .
They were hiding in the back of a drawer I hadn’t looked in for a long time .
Among my fatherís things that may have been his or my grandfatherís was this cardboard Derckís Gauge Dial .
I uncovered this when Rivett 608 was looking for an old fraction / decimal equivalent chart to copy for his miniature tool chest.
I had taken a look to see if there was anything among my things that would have been suitable for him.
Given that the numbers on some parts of this are barely readable in full size and perhaps only .010 high in the size Rivett was working with I didnít post anything then.
I searched and did find this link to one that is probably newer than mine because on mine the price while blocked out is in cents where as the one shown in the link is a slightly different version from 1943 and has a price of one dollar marked on it and in considerably better condition than mine .
Dull Tool Dim Bulb: Holiday Rush got you Down? Try Derck's Simple-Fyer
I suppose there were many thousands of these made so I wouldnít be surprised if there are some more survivors in the hands of some of you reading this.
If mine dates before 1940 it would likely have been my grandfatherís because my father didnít start working in the trade until then.
Since I have never seen another one other than in the link above I would be interested to see other examples or to hear from someone who can tell us more about Derckís Guage Dial history .