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Is history wrong about Henry Maudslay, Palmer etc. ?

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
I think so..

After pondering over about a half-dozen books on Maudslay written close to his time, I find myself in strong disagreement with the present common historical evaluation of Maueslay's effect on the advancement of industrial technology. Same with Palmer and some others.

Some typical examples in the common reference literature on Maudslay :

1. Wiki : "Henry Maudslay (pronunciation and spelling) (22 August 1771 – 14 February 1831) was a British machine tool innovator, tool and die maker, and inventor. He is considered a founding father of machine tool technology."

2. Henry Maudslay Facts from :
http://biography.yourdictionary.com/henry-maudslay = "British mechanical engineer Henry Maudslay (1771-1831), known as the father of the machine-tool industry, laid an important foundation for the Industrial Revolution by improving interchangeability and precision in tool-making. ..."

3. Encyclopædia Britannica : "... British engineer and inventor of the metal lathe and other devices."

Item 1a : There was no tool and die industry (as we understand the term) in 1831 !
1b : What evidence is there for this ? The machine tool industry was not (imo) established until at least 40 years after his death.
2a. : This would mean to me, that all further developments were descended from his initiations.
3a : preposterous ! Do they intend to convey the meaning of a lathe made entirely of metal ?

These are typical inaccurate comments written by those with little actual familiarity with the topic; and have repeated what a long list of previous repeating writers have written, with each transmission of writing introducing additional inaccuracies. Early writers do not have the benefit of our hindsight from a century of later developments.

Our reference per practicalmachinist is to an historical event that significantly advanced technical progress in the metal-working machine-tool industry. I suggest that historical progress might be compared to a stair-case winding up a tall building. Each step on the stair-way could then symbolize advancements in progress, with every pause on the landings going up, as a place for re-evaluations and dead-ends in technological progress.

Maudslay was a dead-end. So was Palmer.

There are considerations often overlooked, that determine or affect the acceptance of new developments and consequent adoption of the new concepts into progress.

We often hear of who invented or first introduced a new concept.

In itself, this is historically irrelevant.

If I may, an example : there has been quite a lot written about an Indian tribe living in the South-American desert, whom supposedly invented the Jet-Airplane (or rocket) a very long time ago. If they did.. ( I don't believe they did ) it is historically irrelevant, since there is no continuity with the development of our present air-transport. No-one now - has directly incorporated or built on - any of their (supposed by some) technology into the aircraft industry.

So with Maudslay and Palmer. If B&S stole outright Palmer's concept for a pocket measuring device ( which is not out of the question ) or otoh, paid Palmer's widow double what the business was worth - is still historically irrelevant for the acceptance of the micrometer into wide-spread industrial adoption. It took B&S's distributive capability for this to happen. Further - even the up to 20 or 25 mm range for Palmer's micrometer had little pertinence for industry outside France at that time - the incorporation of one inch measurement capability was the deciding factor in wide-spread adoption by the manufacturing industry. B&S gets credit for the micrometer. Starrett's subtle improvements, ergonomic design, and above all - lower price, was the next step in evolvement.

If France needs recognition for the invention of a precision pocket measuring device, I suggest the 6"(!!) straight-bar vernier-caliper be given precedence over Palmer's fraction of an inch wire-measuring device.

In the case of Maudslay's (supposed) screw-cutting lathe, I can find NO feature innovated by him, incorporated into further lathe development. No-one took up his concept of sharp-angled un-reinforced ways. Making a double set of change gears for every thread-pitch is impractical. I am pretty sure I came across two direct descendants of Maudslay's thread cutting paraphernalia on two occasions. They followed exactly the description given by James Nasmyth. The mechanism did NOT incorporate gearing; and floated along the shaft to be threaded, as best I can describe it (because of my disgust for being asked to try it) in my mind resembling a "Ridged" pipe-threader. The pitch settings were as Nasmyth described - protractor principle - with the pitch-settings cast into the "protractor-dial", and as the thread-pitch got smaller, the numbers on the "protractor-dial" got progressively closer together. An impression of total inaccuracy. A knife blade set at an angle scored the shaft which was then followed in a second operation with a miniature standard shaped threading tool cutting a thousandth of an inch or so deep. After multiple repeat operations, a standard size threading tool was replaced in the device, still continuing with the few thousandths cut per pass, and still floating on the carriage. To my surprise, when I measured the threads over an 8' length, they were accurate to within .010". If this is... the Maudslay system, then; all I have for it is disgust. I think the examples I saw, were sold in the late 1940s for a market that was not capable of calculating thread-pitch settings on the change-gear-box.

Maudslay was quite likely the leading progressive in his time; but that in itself hardly qualifies his as the great innovator. There were many progressives in Great-Britain at the time; some close to Maudslay in quality.

I would substitute in his place for influence in technological development - James Nasmyth and the steam-hammer which produced the economical steel as raw-material for machine-tool processing. Per a thread-cutting lathe, I would think Roberts would have preeminence over Maudslay.

I would also like to see the entity that crucially introduced the quick-change gear-box into the front of the engine-lathe, given credit; and especially the American mathematician whom introduced the formulas and calculations for gearing be credited for his MAJOR contribution for technological progression. In the back of my mind, I think it was Biggs; but was unable to find out exactly who - even after several day's search on the Inet.

Ref : Bill/rivett608 posted - Exceptionally Rare & Historically Important Micrometer by PALMER on 02-19-2011, 10:06 PM
http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-and-history/exceptionally-rare-historically-important-micrometer-palmer-220198/

George, keeping my word to Stephen Thomas:skep:
 

DMF_TomB

Diamond
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
Maudslay

I think so..

After pondering over about a half-dozen books on Maudslay written close to his time, I find myself in strong disagreement with the present common historical evaluation of Maueslay's effect on the advancement of industrial technology. Same with Palmer and some others.

Some typical examples in the common reference literature on Maudslay :

1. Wiki : "Henry Maudslay (pronunciation and spelling) (22 August 1771 – 14 February 1831) was a British machine tool innovator, tool and die maker, and inventor. He is considered a founding father of machine tool technology."

2. Henry Maudslay Facts from :
http://biography.yourdictionary.com/henry-maudslay = "British mechanical engineer Henry Maudslay (1771-1831), known as the father of the machine-tool industry, laid an important foundation for the Industrial Revolution by improving interchangeability and precision in tool-making. ..."

3. Encyclopædia Britannica : "... British engineer and inventor of the metal lathe and other devices."

Item 1a : There was no tool and die industry (as we understand the term) in 1831 !
1b : What evidence is there for this ? The machine tool industry was not (imo) established until at least 40 years after his death.
2a. : This would mean to me, that all further developments were descended from his initiations.
3a : preposterous ! Do they intend to convey the meaning of a lathe made entirely of metal ?

These are typical inaccurate comments written by those with little actual familiarity with the topic; and have repeated what a long list of previous repeating writers have written, with each transmission of writing introducing additional inaccuracies. Early writers do not have the benefit of our hindsight from a century of later developments.

Our reference per practicalmachinist is to an historical event that significantly advanced technical progress in the metal-working machine-tool industry. I suggest that historical progress might be compared to a stair-case winding up a tall building. Each step on the stair-way could then symbolize advancements in progress, with every pause on the landings going up, as a place for re-evaluations and dead-ends in technological progress.

Maudslay was a dead-end. So was Palmer.

There are considerations often overlooked, that determine or affect the acceptance of new developments and consequent adoption of the new concepts into progress.

We often hear of who invented or first introduced a new concept.

In itself, this is historically irrelevant.

If I may, an example : there has been quite a lot written about an Indian tribe living in the South-American desert, whom supposedly invented the Jet-Airplane (or rocket) a very long time ago. If they did.. ( I don't believe they did ) it is historically irrelevant, since there is no continuity with the development of our present air-transport. No-one now - has directly incorporated or built on - any of their (supposed by some) technology into the aircraft industry.

So with Maudslay and Palmer. If B&S stole outright Palmer's concept for a pocket measuring device ( which is not out of the question ) or otoh, paid Palmer's widow double what the business was worth - is still historically irrelevant for the acceptance of the micrometer into wide-spread industrial adoption. It took B&S's distributive capability for this to happen. Further - even the up to 20 or 25 mm range for Palmer's micrometer had little pertinence for industry outside France at that time - the incorporation of one inch measurement capability was the deciding factor in wide-spread adoption by the manufacturing industry. B&S gets credit for the micrometer. Starrett's subtle improvements, ergonomic design, and above all - lower price, was the next step in evolvement.

If France needs recognition for the invention of a precision pocket measuring device, I suggest the 6"(!!) straight-bar vernier-caliper be given precedence over Palmer's fraction of an inch wire-measuring device.

In the case of Maudslay's (supposed) screw-cutting lathe, I can find NO feature innovated by him, incorporated into further lathe development. No-one took up his concept of sharp-angled un-reinforced ways. Making a double set of change gears for every thread-pitch is impractical. I am pretty sure I came across two direct descendants of Maudslay's thread cutting paraphernalia on two occasions. They followed exactly the description given by James Nasmyth. The mechanism did NOT incorporate gearing; and floated along the shaft to be threaded, as best I can describe it (because of my disgust for being asked to try it) in my mind resembling a "Ridged" pipe-threader. The pitch settings were as Nasmyth described - protractor principle - with the pitch-settings cast into the "protractor-dial", and as the thread-pitch got smaller, the numbers on the "protractor-dial" got progressively closer together. An impression of total inaccuracy. A knife blade set at an angle scored the shaft which was then followed in a second operation with a miniature standard shaped threading tool cutting a thousandth of an inch or so deep. After multiple repeat operations, a standard size threading tool was replaced in the device, still continuing with the few thousandths cut per pass, and still floating on the carriage. To my surprise, when I measured the threads over an 8' length, they were accurate to within .010". If this is... the Maudslay system, then; all I have for it is disgust. I think the examples I saw, were sold in the late 1940s for a market that was not capable of calculating thread-pitch settings on the change-gear-box.

Maudslay was quite likely the leading progressive in his time; but that in itself hardly qualifies his as the great innovator. There were many progressives in Great-Britain at the time; some close to Maudslay in quality.

I would substitute in his place for influence in technological development - James Nasmyth and the steam-hammer which produced the economical steel as raw-material for machine-tool processing. Per a thread-cutting lathe, I would think Roberts would have preeminence over Maudslay.

I would also like to see the entity that crucially introduced the quick-change gear-box into the front of the engine-lathe, given credit; and especially the American mathematician whom introduced the formulas and calculations for gearing be credited for his MAJOR contribution for technological progression. In the back of my mind, I think it was Biggs; but was unable to find out exactly who - even after several day's search on the Inet.

Ref : Bill/rivett608 posted - Exceptionally Rare & Historically Important Micrometer by PALMER on 02-19-2011, 10:06 PM
http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-and-history/exceptionally-rare-historically-important-micrometer-palmer-220198/

George, keeping my word to Stephen Thomas:skep:
.
Maudslay was a man of his time. he was a very talented blacksmith. he improved or tried new things (new to him) to help solve problems. a lathe at the time usually had hand held tools. the slide rest which he was not the first to use he did make and add to his lathe. screw threads at the time were made by crude methods. all he did was try to substitute machine controlled or guided tools and less hand methods. in Maudslay shop were many other workers who learned and adapted the methods he used. trying to create flat surface by using 3 "flat" plates and check one to the others and using abrasion and scraping to improve flatness, much of that was new to machinist still using carpenter methods of saw, hand plane, chisel, file.
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as anybody who has worked in a shop before knows. you often think up ways to create parts but also see how others do things even if they are not the same rank but a helper or apprentice and adapt and try them yourself.
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i believe the average person put in the same situation as Maudslay with the same common tools and technology and no schools or books easily available to learn things most would not do as well as Maudslay. What many people do not realize fully is many people of the time could not read or write or if they did only minimal. books at the time were expensive and hard to get. probably closer to over $1000 for one book and there were not exactly any large bookstores nearby any areas were tradesman lived who often were not exactly rich but closer to being middle class at best. people on average did not own any books other than a bible. often other tradesman did not share ideals. without patent protection they hid as much as possible trade secrets. if you were not a apprentice to a master of a trade learning his methods if he was willing to share all he knew, the ability to learn what somebody else did or their trade secrets who did not work in the same shop was very rare.
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much of technology and machine improvements came from bigger shops with more trades people working closely together on bigger projects and jobs. this was starting to happen in Maudslays time, Cannon making, block making for ship rigging, steam engine making for pumping water out of mines, etc. these were not normal one lone blacksmith projects
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Maudslays time there was no lathes as we think of them now to buy even if you wanted or could buy. there was no hardware store to buy nuts and bolts that were interchangeable as nuts and bolts were sold as a set as they did not fit others that were often quite different size and thread pitch. there was no taps and dies made exactly as most were crude made by forging and filing and other crude methods. even just drilling a hole into a piece of steel was and still is considered a big job without power tools. ever drill a hole with a hand drill ? you wanted a file you often hand to hand forge the file and cut file teeth with a chisel. a hand file might be worth easily over $200 as one tool steel was expensive and if it took 4 to 8 hours to make something it was expensive to buy. most blacksmith made their own files at that time. you try that and then complain about Maudslay's crude lathe. you wanted a machine part usually you made a pattern out of wood as close as possible and sand casted it and filed it to fit.
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to fully appreciate Maudlsay you have to understand what he had around to use, learn from, etc. quoting what somebody was using 1000 miles away and was hiding as a trade secret or saying a book was available in France showing a technology already invented is missing the point. books that cost over $1000 and were in a different language and only seen 1000 miles away were not known in a area where people rarely travel more than 20 miles from home in their life time. i was in a library in China in a old factory where thousands of books were on the floor. why. average not college educated person looks at books and if in a different language and few pictures and subject like calculus considers the book useless and looks at the other books. you can easily have 10,000 books but if in Russian or Japanese, or French and you do not read those languages they are not understandable. even if technology was known 1000 miles away usually it was not known by others. you try learning a technology just from a book in a different language that cost the equivalent of over $1000. in todays money. 99.9999% of the trades people at the time like blacksmith did not learn from books.
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even if in the army and you went to another country and saw people working at something. you ever see somebody do something complicated once and try it your self? i have often been shown as a apprentice how to do something once and failed multiple times to do it myself without help. standard thing a master of a trade does to teach humility or to humble a arrogant apprentice. one does not ordinarily learn any thing difficult to do by watching it done once 99% of the time. it is arrogant to even thing think it could be done. go get some tool steel and make a hand file and your own taps and dies to make nuts and bolts that are precise enough to interchange close with off the shelf 1/4-20 screws and nuts from a hardware store. after a week of hard labor you see if you can make even one screw and nut accurate to .005"......... of course first you have to make your own blacksmith forge and bellows. you lucky to make one nut and screw in 2 weeks
 

Asquith

Diamond
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Location
Somerset, UK
To address these questions adequately needs several hours consideration. As an experienced thread killer, I've learned the lesson that the life of a topic is inversely proportional to the time I invest in it!

You have selected examples of misleading statements. There are plenty of others which provide a more accurate assessment. With Wikipedia you get what you pay for. I would, though, have expected better from Britannica.

You say that Maudslay was a dead-end. You might say the same about the Wright brothers. The airline industry doesn't use fabric covered piston-engined planes much nowadays. Maudslay’s triangular beds were fit for purpose at the time – just two surfaces to be filed and scraped to give good tool guidance.

Some may quote examples of superior lathes of earlier date. These had no known influence on industrial development. Maudslay had a pivotal influence on engineering manufacture, both directly and through his ‘pupils’ – Roberts, Clement, Whitworth, Nasmyth, and others.

If you want different historical viewpoints: 'During the period from 1800 to 1810, Mr Maudslay effected nearly the entire change from the old, imperfect, and accidental practice of screw-making … to the modern, exact and systematic mode now generally followed by engineers.' Charles Holtzapffel, 1846.

‘..like the inventions of his compatriot Vaucanson, those of Senot remained practically unknown, while Maudsley’s invention rapidly became known and used. Mechanicians trained by Maudsley became in their turn brilliant innovators….’ Maurice Daumas, 'Scientific Instruments of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries and their Makers' translated from the French by Dr M Holbrook, 1972.

As for Nasmyth, while his autobiography is interesting, it is very far from being a reliable history. For a masterly assessment, see 'James Nasmyth and the Bridgewater Foundry' by J A Cantrell, Chetham Society, 194.
 
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DMF_TomB

Diamond
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
i get a kick out of some college educated people who think it is so easy to learn or make things.
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again thats why masters of a trade show apprentices how to do something once and let the apprentice fail badly trying at least 10 times and only after they admit they cannot do it and only after asking for help will they train the apprentice.
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bursting pride bubbles of people who think it is easy to do stuff is one of the most enjoyable things of being a master of any trade
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
....
You say that Maudslay was a dead-end. You might say the same about the Wright brothers. The airline industry doesn't use fabric covered piston-engined planes much nowadays. Maudslay’s triangular beds were fit for purpose at the time – just two surfaces to be filed and scraped to give good tool guidance.
....
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One might say fairly that a Southbend lathe is a direct descendant of Mauslay's machine. All the Southbend folks did (in imitation of others who were closer to Maudslay's time) was to knock off the tip of the triangles, change the angle a bit, and connect the two ways with some more material. They still guide the carriage with two triangular guides, and they still use a leadscrew with gearing, etc.

It's awfully easy, when you already know the answer, to go back and laugh at the folks who were slowly developing partial answers, and claim they really didn't invent the thing/process/concept. If you have ever actually invented anything, it is even MORE ludicrous to imagine that it all pops out of your head in one instant and works. That DOES sometimes happen, but more often the idea appears, and the physical way to actually make the thing takes some serious time,and involves abandoned approaches, modifications, changes due to current technology not supporting what you want to do, etc, etc.

In a time of slow communication, it might take more than one lifetime for the device or idea etc to get much distribution. And there might be active opposition to new ideas.

Going back further than Maudslay's time, there is the story of a guild worker who invented a better lathe. The other guild members came to him, destroyed the newfangled thing that they thought threatened their livelihoods, and forced the inventor to abandon it. The story may be nothing more that a story, but it is perfectly in tune with the time.
 

rivett608

Diamond
Joined
Oct 25, 2002
Location
Kansas City, Mo.
I will agree that the books written about these early engineers or machinists often repeat the same phrases over again without regard to what they are really saying.

I don't have time right now to get into Maudslay and defend what he did but on Palmer if you look at the entire patent and read it you will see he was way ahead of his time. He saw forms of the micrometer like inside and depth that didn't appear for decades. He also knew what he was inventing did put the ability to measure with that accuracy in the hands of the workmen on the shop floor. Why it didn't take off when he showed it at the Crystal Palace in 1851 we will never know. Brown and Sharpe did help it become popular, was it because they did something or was it just they did it at the right time? Maybe Palmer was way ahead of his time in this way. One thing kind of ironic is Palmer was in the wire drawing business and hence had no reason for a longer range (20-25mm) yet that is the way they made them. B & S were in the tool making business but could not see a use for the micrometer other than measuring wire for the first 9 years they made them. They came out with the pocket sheet metal gauge in 1868 and it took till 1877 to lengthen it to 1".

In some ways this is like the invention of the car, Henry Ford did not invent the car, but he did make it popular. Just as B & S did not invent the micrometer, they even admitted this, but they did make it popular.
 

DMF_TomB

Diamond
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
I will agree that the books written about these early engineers or machinists often repeat the same phrases over again without regard to what they are really saying.

I don't have time right now to get into Maudslay and defend what he did but on Palmer if you look at the entire patent and read it you will see he was way ahead of his time. He saw forms of the micrometer like inside and depth that didn't appear for decades. He also knew what he was inventing did put the ability to measure with that accuracy in the hands of the workmen on the shop floor. Why it didn't take off when he showed it at the Crystal Palace in 1851 we will never know. Brown and Sharpe did help it become popular, was it because they did something or was it just they did it at the right time? Maybe Palmer was way ahead of his time in this way. One thing kind of ironic is Palmer was in the wire drawing business and hence had no reason for a longer range (20-25mm) yet that is the way they made them. B & S were in the tool making business but could not see a use for the micrometer other than measuring wire for the first 9 years they made them. They came out with the pocket sheet metal gauge in 1868 and it took till 1877 to lengthen it to 1".

In some ways this is like the invention of the car, Henry Ford did not invent the car, but he did make it popular. Just as B & S did not invent the micrometer, they even admitted this, but they did make it popular.
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many new inventions or tools come out but at a very high price. when the price comes down more are sold. often original inventor could not manufacture a product for a price that others were willing to pay.
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how many $2000 digital calipers are sold compared to $20 digital calipers. my guess is a lot more $20 ones even if the $2000 is more accurate or better somehow.
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how many $100,000 Tesla electric cars are sold compared to $20,000 gas engine cars? price determines a lot of what people buy
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if you see old tool catalog and tool was listed as $5 remember people often made only $1 to $2 all days labor equivalent to $100 to $250 so $5 tool is over $500 - $1200. todays money
 

DMF_TomB

Diamond
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
we got many $2,000,000 cnc machines and we have a problem where electronic chip that goes in each tool is no longer made.
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even if we had chip specifications is could easily cost over $10,000 to get somebody to setup and make just one electronic chip assuming there is anybody in 2000 miles that has the equipment and expertise. recreating technology is much more difficult than most people realize.
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Polaroid shut their instant film making factory down for many years. when the former employees wanted to restart the factory they called it the impossible project. many procedures are not fully documented, one of a kind machines needed to be remade, one of a kind machines often need very very rare skilled people to maintain equipment. it is far harder than most people realize to recreate technology
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even if you had the US patent in front of you and much is not patented, reading a patent and recreating a technology is definitely not easy even when it is explained in a patent
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often and i mean too often a machinist tries to create a part that a retired machinist made years ago. when there is no work procedure part often cannot be made or if made requires 10 times more time to make, and this is cause of a retired machinist who did not write stuff down in the same factory where parts were originally made.
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even operating complicated machines requires training and skill. i am not talking a simple bridgeport mill. machines 10 times larger with far more buttons and levers with often labels worn off so average person has no clue what does what can be impossible to figure out without help.
..... like a cnc where if a button is pressed once quickly and then pressed and held in for 3 seconds then control acts or does different things. i see this all the time. again without the 2000 page manual or somebody to train you it can be impossible to just figure out unaided machines or how to recreate technology or methods
 

Smoothbore

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 17, 2011
Location
PA, USA
Item 1a : There was no tool and die industry (as we understand the term) in 1831 !

1b : What evidence is there for this ? The machine tool industry was not (imo) established until at least 40 years after his death.

This sort of question has long been an area of interest to me.

We know, ... in modern times, ... it requires precision machinery, to build precision machinery.

So, ... how was that very first precision machine created ?

It's sort of a "chicken & egg" conundrum.


Of course, we understand that the technology to create precision machinery evolved over a period of time, ... and therefore, it's impossible to assign an exact date to those landmark events.


I think the more pertinent question, ... is not about the arbitrary date-in-time of a specific "Eureka" moment, ... but perhaps ... "When did available technology, and market conditions merge, to make a particular development historically significant ?"


Guns were probably the first "precision machines" to gain widespread popularity, ... followed closely by Timepieces.


Surely there are dozens of examples of other, equally sophisticated devices that existed in the same period of time, ... but the demand for those things was relatively small.

This is true of time-keeping devices, ... which existed for centuries, before the shift from predominantly Agrarian lifestyles, to Manufacturing based pursuits, ... made accurate time-keeping necessary to a broad segment of the population.


While it's true the Industrial Revolution created a widespread demand for Machine Tools, ... it's fallacious to assume that the technology was created to meet that particular demand.


.
 

Rivett

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 20, 2010
Location
BC
And who built this, what tools did they use or create to build it?

The minds that devised this; what else did they devise?

We don't even know how much we don't know.

 

hermetic

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jul 5, 2011
Location
East Yorkshire UK
Not a conundrum at all, and you can still see the first three threaded leadscrews made by Maudslay in the science museum in London. The first was cut with hammer and chisel on a marked out round bar, and then filed to shape it as near perfect as possible. That was then fitted to Maudslays lathe (also in the Science Museum) and the most error free part of it used to cut a second lead screw, which was then used to cut a third . Friend of mine used to have a large, old Societe Genevoise, jig borer made in the 1930s. The lead screws on it were probably the most accurately machined screws it was possible to make in those days, but they also had a knife edge bar with slight indentations on it, and an arm and roller that followed the bar, adjusting the nut that ran on the thread as the machine moved. The indentations in the bar matched the imperfections in the threads. Today a ball screw would be more accurate, and cheaper to make, but in those days, labour was cheap, and skilled men like Maudslay had no option but to make the first parts by hand. There is little doubt that maudslat was the first to bring together the sliding tool rest, controlled by a lead screw, with gears to change the pitch.
Phil
 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
Palmer's part in the introduction of the micrometer

On 10-30-2015, 11:39 AM Post #6 rivett608 wrote :

"I don't have time right now to get into Maudslay and defend what he did but on Palmer if you look at the entire patent and read it you will see he was way ahead of his time. He saw forms of the micrometer like inside and depth that didn't appear for decades. He also knew what he was inventing did put the ability to measure with that accuracy in the hands of the workmen on the shop floor.

Why it didn't take off when he showed it at the Crystal Palace in 1851 we will never know."
George in red : It seems obvious that the mike Palmer displayed at the exposition was his "wire gauge". He may have had the foresight to recognize it's full potential, but obviously that was not transmitted to B&S... - nor - anyone else in a position to exploit-distribute-sell-disseminate the product.

Bill : "Brown and Sharpe did help [emphasis Geo.] it become popular, was it because they did something or was it just they did it at the right time? Maybe Palmer was way ahead of his time in this way. One thing kind of ironic is Palmer was in the wire drawing business and hence had no reason for a longer range (20-25mm) yet that is the way they made them. B & S were in the tool making business but could not see a use for the micrometer other than measuring wire for the first 9 years they made them. They came out with the pocket sheet metal gauge in 1868 and it took till 1877 to lengthen it to 1". "
Geo : Life is often not fair.. B&S apparently contributed nothing to the technical development of the micrometer itself, including the later development of the 1" range; which was probably the idea of Victor. What they did do was continually increase the accuracy, and hence the quality, usefulness, and significance within the technological progress of the following century - but above all - they had the means to buy up other progressive micrometer visionaries, (e.g. Victor) and manufacture, and distribute through their major sales network, to the industry at large. These facts resulted in the indispensable integration of the micrometer into the advance of technology.

Palmer lacked this.

He was like so many other brilliant minds in history, who without the capability of a B&S, languish unrecognized, until someone later comes along and "reinvents the (his) wheel". (and make it a smashing success.)

As the saying goes, "close only counts in the game of horseshoe pitching"; Palmer was close - but - Brown & Sharpe get credit for the micrometer.

George




 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
Maudslay's status in the Historical report of technological progress

To address these questions adequately needs several hours consideration. As an experienced thread killer, I've learned the lesson that the life of a topic is inversely proportional to the time I invest in it!

You have selected examples of misleading statements. There are plenty of others which provide a more accurate assessment. With Wikipedia you get what you pay for. I would, though, have expected better from Britannica.

You say that Maudslay was a dead-end. You might say the same about the Wright brothers. The airline industry doesn't use fabric covered piston-engined planes much nowadays. Maudslay’s triangular beds were fit for purpose at the time – just two surfaces to be filed and scraped to give good tool guidance.

Some may quote examples of superior lathes of earlier date. These had no known influence on industrial development. Maudslay had a pivotal influence on engineering manufacture, both directly and through his ‘pupils’ – Roberts, Clement, Whitworth, Nasmyth, and others.

If you want different historical viewpoints: 'During the period from 1800 to 1810, Mr Maudslay effected nearly the entire change from the old, imperfect, and accidental practice of screw-making … to the modern, exact and systematic mode now generally followed by engineers.' Charles Holtzapffel, 1846.

‘..like the inventions of his compatriot Vaucanson, those of Senot remained practically unknown, while Maudsley’s invention rapidly became known and used. Mechanicians trained by Maudsley became in their turn brilliant innovators….’ Maurice Daumas, 'Scientific Instruments of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries and their Makers' translated from the French by Dr M Holbrook, 1972.

As for Nasmyth, while his autobiography is interesting, it is very far from being a reliable history. For a masterly assessment, see 'James Nasmyth and the Bridgewater Foundry' by J A Cantrell, Chetham Society, 194.

Asquith :
"To address these questions adequately needs several hours consideration. As an experienced thread killer, I've learned the lesson that the life of a topic is inversely proportional to the time I invest in it! "

Hi Asquith, on the above that you wrote, I think you are "an experienced thread killer" because you usually have the final word on a matter. This is good, because it is beneficial to humanity to have a more correct understanding of any matter. I for one, appreciate the quality of your posts. :)

Asquith more : "Some may quote examples of superior lathes of earlier date. These had no known influence on industrial development. Maudslay had a pivotal influence [emphasis Geo] on engineering manufacture, both directly and through his ‘pupils’ – Roberts, Clement, Whitworth, Nasmyth, and others."

Geo : yes, agreed completely. Maudslay was a signpost. A signpost with a spot-light shining on it. Even, with a band loudly touting his virtues; and the way to technological progress, transitioning technology from top blacksmithing quality, into the progress of precision machine-metalwork craftsmanship. He was the consummate forerunner - visionary - teacher - pointer...

What he was not - was just about everything else historical comments on him, present as fact - but, as I have written; are grossly in error.

What Maudslay did do - was introduce by engineering, the concept of high-precision; integral to the lathe.

Roberts for one, took that concept into a practical form; and with the supplement of the unknown (by myself) mechanic that engineered the spur-gear interchangeable gear-mechanism connecting the spindle to the lead-screw and engaged and dis-engaged by the half-nut, consequently evolving into the final form of the true engine-lathe; should be given the credit for precision threading utilized by the industrial revolution for great progress. Not Maudslay..

imo

George
 

jim rozen

Diamond
Joined
Feb 26, 2004
Location
peekskill, NY
To really understand the comment about maudsly being the 'inventor" of the metal lathe you need to
understand the statement:

"I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_on_the_shoulders_of_giants

Maudsley did not invent the concept of a lathe.
But he did introduce specific innovations so much that what he created
was nearly indistinquishable from previous 'lathe.' And had so much more
capability that they permitted concurrent advances in *other* fields which
required mechanical precision.

The Wrights did not invent the concept of air travel. But their machine
incorporated so many new incremental inventions it is said they did.

They invented specific control surface designs.
They invented a means to correctly measure lift/drag for airfoil sections.
They invented a propeller that incorporated correct airfoil shapes.
They invented a system of incremental testing of components and integrating
the tested concepts into a new machine.
 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
To really understand the comment about maudsly being the 'inventor" of the metal lathe you need to
understand the statement:

"I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_on_the_shoulders_of_giants

Maudsley did not invent the concept of a lathe.
But he did introduce specific innovations so much that what he created
was nearly indistinquishable from previous 'lathe.' And had so much more
capability that they permitted concurrent advances in *other* fields which
required mechanical precision....<clipped>

Hi Jim,

Good to hear from you :)

ref : "shoulders of giants"

all well and good Jim, but..

After 60 some years of studying business, I tend to take more than a sentimental view of business.

Maudslay was without doubt, considered a "giant" in his time. But not in my time...

His lathe was nothing more than a fancy device to be used for making wealthy men's mechanical toys. A step up from the then clock-maker's lathe.

As I've written, no specific innovations of his, were to be found on later lathes.

When lathes make their appearance into the technological progress of the following centuries - they incorporate none of the features unique to Maudslay's lathe ..

Neither does technology build on any item that was an innovation of Maudslay..

Maybe you can correct me.. Best wishes, George
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
G&L4nahalf;2646119[I said:
]
[/I]
As I've written, no specific innovations of his, were to be found on later lathes.

When lathes make their appearance into the technological progress of the following centuries - they incorporate none of the features unique to Maudslay's lathe ..

Neither does technology build on any item that was an innovation of Maudslay..

Maybe you can correct me.. Best wishes, George

So nobody is using ways with a v-form? Nobody is using a leadscrew with changeable gears?

Those are two items generally claimed to be his innovations.

Now, if you demand that today's machines must be identical, nothing added nor taken away, I suppose you could consider that as different enough to discount it, but you'd be wrong in many ways.

I'd say a Southbend of the 50's is recognizably derived from the Maudslay unit. Obviously you violently deny it.
 

Asquith

Diamond
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Location
Somerset, UK
George,

Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, even when machine tool history comes from reputable sources, there is only a limited amount of information available about early work, and precise dates are often unknown. Therefore it is very difficult to assign priority to any ‘inventor’ in this field.

On the subject of leadscrews and split nuts and quick change gears and whatnot……

One of the most important machine tool makers in the post-Maudslay generation was James Fox of Derby. We don’t have very reliable dates for his early machines, and unfortunately his successors (his sons) carried on with the same designs for years. An error of ten years in an early 19thC machine’s date is very significant, given the pace of development. Two surviving Fox machines – a lathe and a planer – were officially dated at 1817, but it seems more likely that they are a bit older. Any difference would devalue the machines from astonishing to merely amazing!

Fox made some lathes which had a sliding cluster of spur gears, on a swinging bracket, complete with reversing gears. Vaguely reminiscent of a Norton screwcutting gearbox, except that they provided offered three ratios! An example is illustrated in W Steeds’ A History of Machine Tools 1700-1910 (Plate 26a), dated at c.1830. It is in the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris, but in fact I think it is a model of a larger lathe. In the thread below there are links in post #7 to drawings of the lathe from an article published in 1842.

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-and-history/advanced-c-1820s-machine-tools-close-up-271737/

A full-sized example is preserved in Poland.

A James Fox lathe at Wortley Top Forge, thought to date from the 1820s, has what may be a split nut on the apron to engage the leadscrew. I say ‘may’ because it is housed in a box, so the mechanism, worked by a small lever, cannot be seen. A very different arrangement of split nut was used on the lathe described in the 1842 French article.

Going back to ‘quick change’ gears, Joseph Clement came up with an ingenious arrangement on his remarkable facing lathe of 1825. The lathe spindle had a wormwheel which engaged with one of four wheels grouped together on a sliding cluster on a cross-shaft which ran beneath the lathe spindle. This shaft was pivoted at one end, and a bevel gear at this end drove the leadscrew of the lathe’s cross slide. This is illustrated in W Steeds’ book, Plates 27 & 28, and in L T C Rolt’s Tools for the Job.

Joseph Clement was a brilliant inventor and a perfectionist craftsman and draughtsman. It was he who got the contract to build Babbage’s Difference Engine, and, incidentally, employed Joseph Whitworth on the work. Both men had also worked for Henry Maudslay. James Fox, on the other hand, had no involvement with Maudslay, and may not have been influenced by anybody in the machine tool line. However, like Clement and Whitworth and Richard Roberts, he was much involved in textile machinery, which must have made machine design like child’s play!

Returning to Henry Maudslay, I only recently noticed that his earliest screwcutting lathes had a micrometer dial on the cross slides. I don't know what the graduations' increments were.
 








 
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