Cincinnati Machine Tool Factories 1909-1912
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    Default Cincinnati Machine Tool Factories 1909-1912

    Here are some interesting articles on Cincinnati Machine Tool factories from Machinery magazines from 1909 to 1912.
    Here are a few. Some of these may have been posted on the PM before.

    R. K. Le Blond Machine Tool Co., 1909.

    Machinery. v.16 1909-1910. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library | HathiTrust Digital Library

    Lodge & Shipley Machine Tool Co., 1909.

    Machinery. v.16 1909-1910. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library | HathiTrust Digital Library

    G. A. Gray Co., 1910.

    Machinery. v.16 1909-1910. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library | HathiTrust Digital Library

    Cincinnati Shaper Co., 1910.

    Machinery. v.16 1909-1910. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library | HathiTrust Digital Library

    The American Tool Works Co., 1911.

    Machinery. v.17 1910-1911. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library | HathiTrust Digital Library

    The Cincinnati Planer Co., 1911.

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...ew=1up;seq=582

    Cincinnati Bickford Tool Co., 1911.

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...ew=1up;seq=921

    Cincinnati Milling Machine Co., 1912.

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...ew=1up;seq=573

    Rob

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    L&S and Gray are still occupied (though it may not be the same Gray plant as that which the article shows). Not sure about the others.

    Andy

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    The Cincinnati Milling Machine, Cincinnati Bickford and Cincinnati Planer facilities are gone, replaced by condos and a shopping center, a cinema and restaurants.

    The Lodge & Shipley buildings are now occupied by Meyer Tool.

    The RK LeBlond facility from 1909-1910 is still standing and in use. The subsequent RK LeBlond factory from 1917 is razed and replaced by a shopping mall. The clock tower and power plant remain.

    The American Tool Works facility has been converted into office space.

    GA Gray now houses Dynamic Industries, a large machining contract shop.

    The Cincinnati Shapers facility of 1909-1910 remains today and is a warehouse for Hosea Project Movers. The newer Cincinnati Shapers facility built near Harrision, Ohio in 1953, is now Cincinnati. Inc.

    Mike

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  5. Likes Jim Christie, TedinNorfolk liked this post
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    Pictures of Bickford's factory at E. Front St. and Pike St.
    I had always thought this was the factory building that H. Bickford moved into from his old location,
    at 179 E. Front St., which is just across the street.
    Turns out this is a new building put up in 1896 on the same site.

    Rob
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails bickford-factory-1909-3.jpg   bickford-factory-1909-4.jpg   bickford-factory-1911-6a_li.jpg   bickford-factory-1884-5.jpg   bickford-factory-1896_li.jpg  


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    I appreciate seeing these posts showing the old Cincinnati machine tool builders' plants and tooling. As I looked at the various pictures and read the articles, I recognized familiar parts of the LeBlond lathes. Owning a Cincinnati-Bickford 25" "camelback" drill, I was always curious as to the plant it came out of. I learned that according to Cincinnati-Bickford, a 25" camelback drill was classified as a "light" drill.

    Also of note is the mention in the writeup of the Lodge & Shipley plant of a "teaming" yard, and "ample space for teams to turn" (or similar words). In 1909, most of the local overland haulage of machine tools (such as within the works from one building to another, or from the "railheads" to a purchaser's plant) was still done with draft horses. The term "drayage" would probably apply.

    In looking over the plans published with some of the articles, the "blacksmith shop" is shown in at least one plant. The blacksmith was not to shoe the draft horses, but to forge and heat treat cutting tools (or reforge/re heat treat them), as well as to forge any special hardware for holding jobs on planers and boring mills, or to forge wrenches along with making up chains for rigging loads (forge welding hooks or oval or "pear" links into chain, or similar work).

    The bigger plants doubtless had stables on the property for the draft horses. In bigger plants and on construction sites, it was (and may still be) common to keep an older truck-tractor for jockeying semi trailers around the plant property or jobsite. This truck-tractor never went too far and often was not even registered to go on the public roads. It was commonly called the "yard horse"- a carryover from the days when places like these machine tool plants kept a team or two of draft horses to move loads around the property.

    Also interesting to note is the attention paid to the locker rooms and facilities for the men. Mention being made of marble shower and toilet stalls, instant hot water heating (steam coil in a storage tank of water ?), and of employee benefit organizations. I wonder if, in the era the article were written, this was "enlightened thinking" for management: a revelation that if they treated the workforce well and acted paternally, the workforce would be loyal and turn out consistently fine work and stick with the firm through lean times. I believe the machine tool industry has always been a cyclical thing, and it tended to have booms and busts, aside from bank panics (such as happened in the latter part of the 19th century). Getting a highly skilled and loyal workforce was key, as a lot of the work called for not just skill and care as a machine tool operator, but the matters of scraping and fitting to build highly accurate machine tools.

    No power scrapers in those days, and no carbide cutting edges on the scrapers. Mention is made of a portable motor driven set of oil stones for dressing the cutting edges on the scrapers. Mention is also made of the use of portable electric drills (monster man killers) and some specialized portable machine tools to do certain operations in place on the partially assembled machine tools. We take the availability and use of hand-held portable power tools for granted, and now, many of us expect to use cordless tools instead of the old "corded" power tools. Back in 1909, something like a "portable" electric drill (never mind that it had to be mounted on a stand for use) was "cutting edge" technology.

    Many of us are old enough to remember and have lived through the days of doing shop math on a pad of paper without benefit of a pocket calculator. We've come up in the era of high speed steel cutting tools and had to grind our own tools. We've come up in the era where digital readout was not even something anyone was talking about as the coming thing. We've come up in the era where some lineshaft shops were still in use, and in many of the shops, we worked on former lineshaft driven machine tools retro fitted with motor drives. To some of us, seeing what the CNC machine tools are capable of is equivalent to seeing "Star Wars" as a reality.

    The old shops where the machine tools were built were likely somewhat paternal, and you probably had to either know someone working there, or have a relative or two working there to get hired on. I suspect Cincinnati and the machine tool industry was a kind of clannish thing, and if a man was a good hand in the shops, his name preceded him. If he was a poor workman or source of trouble on the shop floor, that reputation also got around. I suspect the shop floors were hard places to work as, aside from a lot resting with the men to turn out good work, there were likely production based pay scales and jobs were analyzed in terms of how long it ought to take a man to do them and what tool life ought to be. I imagine the toolmakers and the scrapers may well have been the top of the heap on the shop floors while a lot of the other work was either done on production machine tools or with production tooling, or was repetitive (such as planing a run of lathe beds). I am sure in those years there was a kind of social strata based on ethnicity and skill level. Ethnicity might well limit a man, or it might guarantee another a limitless future in those days.

    Some years back, another fellow and myself went to Cincinnati to look for a used heavy LeBlond lathe for a job out employer was tooling up for. I expected to find a Cincinnati with some influence of the old machine tool industry and with a German influence, hoping to find a neighborhood mom-and-pop place to get a plate of wurst or sauerbraten. No such luck. Cincinnati was anything but. We went to Mohawk Machinery to look at some used lathes (did not buy them), and it was ironic that we saw an older LeBlond wide bed/big swing lathe that had originated in Cincinnati, went to Watervliet Arsenal (right near our powerplant in NY State), and come home to Cincinnati as a used machine for resale. The building Mohawk had was once a machine tool builder's plant, but it was all just storage/showroom for acres of used machine tools. We could not find any of the mom-and-pop neighborhood type places, let alone a German restaurant or tavern, in downtown Cincinnati. It was like the machine tool industry never happened from the feel and appearance of what downtown Cincinnati had become. We wound up eating in some "chain" restaurant the fellow I was travelling with knew, and it featured New Orleans type food. Go figure.

    I know that the CNC machine tools were a complete game changer in so many ways, but still find it hard to imagine how Cincinnati and the USA- once the machine tool builders to the rest of the world- wound up pretty much in the same league as the dinosaurs. Extinct and from another era. The machine tool builders of Cincinnati were numerous and the machine tools they produced were exported all over the world. The US Machine Tool Industry seems to have started in New England and moved primarily to Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, the US machine tool industry really blossomed and grew and reached its peak. I am sure in the heydays of the great machine tool builders in Cincinnati, there must have been at least a dozen "name" machine tool builders, and countless smaller shops doing contract work for the big "name" shops. I look at the old machine tools and know that behind those tools there were legions of people- engineers, draftsmen who worked on acres of drawings, tracing them in ink for blue printing and storing the drawings in flat files in vaults (fireproof storage rooms). There were wood and metal patternmakers, and with them came fireproof storage for all the patterns and core-boxes. There were foundrymen in the form of molders and melters or furnacemen who knew the black art of firing a cupola and getting consistent runs of iron or semi steel without benefit of any sort of automatic controls- break a test bar, look at the fracture and see if it looked right and judge the carbon content and nature of the iron from it. There were laborers in the mill yards to bust up and feed scrap to the cupolas, to knock the sand molds apart after a run of castings, and to do the heavy drudge work. There were teamsters to work the draft teams to move loads in and around the plant. Then there were production machine tool operators, and machinists on the floor, and "hands"- men who were experienced with one or two types of machine tools such as planers or boring mills. There were the scrapers- hard to imagine spending one's working days with a scraper bedded into one's shoulder and pushing or bumping the scraper day in and day out, reading the bluing or red-lead and scraping endlessly. The toolmakers had the most diversity in the work, I think , and had the nicer and cleaner job of it. There were stationary engineers, firemen, and oilers in the boiler and power houses, and there were in house maintenance crews- plumbers and steamfitters, electricians, millwrights, carpenters and painters. The office had its own legions of people, accounting filled ledge books or journals- people in white shirts with sleeve or cuff protectors and eyeshades who spent their days poring over financial records and using huge mechanical adding machines and ink pens to make their journal entries. There were tool designers, engineers, and numerous draftsmen. They produced acres of drawings using their own skills, no CAD. Esch firm doubtlessly had their own "graphic standards" as far as lettering, line work, borders on each sheet drawn, and title block aside from systems for numbering and tracking the drawings.

    Each machine tool was a work in its own right if we consider the legions of people and their skills that went into taking that machine tool from a basic concept to the finished machine tool. Now, the wood foundry patterns turn up at antique flea markets or wind up on the walls of people's homes or in restaurants or similar as decorator items. The drawings and the endless records kept in neat inked hand-entries area long gone to either fires or the landfill (no shredders when those plants closed). The old engineering drawings were often works of art in their own right, but were so commonplace as to be expected. Shading, good distinct line work, and excellent lettering all made a good drawing and it all rested with the draftsmen's skills. CAD completely obliterated any of that, and while each machine tool likely had a sizeable roll or two of drawings, those drawings could now be stored on a CD or flashdrive- assuming the drawings even existed at this point in time.

    So much went into building the classic machine tools, especially in Cincinnati. For all practical purposes, the machine tool industry in Cincinnati, at least in the "classic" sense, is extinct. Those of us who own and use old machine tools built by the old names in Cincinnati are, in a sense, "the keepers of the flame"- a weak and flickering flame that is hardly seen by most people in today's world. I enjoyed browsing these articles and find myself returning to them.

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    I may have posted these photos previously... I don't recall.

    This is the Lodge & Shipley facility (now Meyer Tool and Hosea Project Movers) today. The North Shop is the original L&S factory building while the South Shop was the Cincinnati Shapers facility. L&S occupied the South Shop when Cincinnati Shapers moved into their new Whitewater facility near Harrison, Ohio circa 1953. The Climax building is a packaging machinery business, which L&S acquired.

    In the lower left of this photo is the Carlton Machine Tool Company (radial drill and horizontal boring mills) which is now a warehouse.

    A couple of blocks north of L&S was the Oesterlein Machine Company, makers of milling machines and grinders. Today, that shop space is the American Sign Museum and the office building houses apartments.

    lodge-shipley-camp-washington.jpg

    This is the GA Gray facility as it stands today, the home of Dynamic Industries.

    Just for fun, one of the small buildings at the bottom of this photo was the location of Sid Nathan's King Records, a recording studio and record pressing plant for many country & western, bluegrass and R&B musicians of the 40s, 50s and 60s. The building is now a preservation site and under renovation (funds pending) by the City of Cincinnati.

    ga_gray_3611_woodburn.jpg

    Lastly, the Fosdick Machine Tool Company, maker of radial drills and jig borers and jig grinders. Fosdick was eventually purchased by and relocated to the RK LeBlond factory. This building now houses Ace Doran Trucking & Rigging, as I recall.

    fosdick_machine_tool_1638_blue_rock.jpg

    Mike

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    So true Joe. A very sad truth. Re-Leeds,where I spent a very happy year in my youth working in the last part of the old McLaren works next door to John Fowler-to listen to modern commentaries on Leeds one would think these firms had never existed much less Greenwood Batley,Hunslet engine Works,Hudswell Clarke,T Green etc etc. The famous Round Foundry is some jazzed up complex. Google it and some p..y chef will get more space than Matt Murray.

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