machining 8" shells, 1917 canada
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  1. #1
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    Default machining 8" shells, 1917 canada

    my apologies in advance if this has been posted before, but it's a really interesting video.
    at 9:51, "sharpening" a tool bit with a hammer?


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    Very good cyanide, ……….sort of illustrates what makes war so expensive!


    FWIW I think the ''sharpening with a hammer'' might be removing built up edge, ……...something I saw as a kid, but can only be done on roughing.

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    thanks Limey, yes and it only so lightly foreshadows spending trillions on nukes, ICBMs, boomers and other delivery systems.
    I thought of that, busting off the welded up chip. couldn't do that with carbide! wonder if you could even with high speed steel?

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    HSS? ..more than likely it's very forgiving,...….maybe just ''flattening'' the BUE is enough for it to sheer off in the cut???????????? ..and something else to bear in mind, generally speaking HSS lathe tools of that era had much larger radii than we see today - so had much stronger cutting edges.

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    just a bump for your isolation watching pleasure. (makes the 3" AA shells look easy)

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    I recently watched a youtube about the battle for Vimy Ridge in which huge numbers of Canadian soldiers were killed, along with hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds and probably millions of rounds of small arms ammunition being expended. In watching the youtube in Bertram's works, the sheer amount of time to machine one rough forging into a howitzer shell is quite long.

    In watching the youtube about the battle for Vimy Ridge as well as this one, I find myself wondering how many other shops, aside from Bertram's, were turning out artillery shells. The amount of individual operations to machine one rough forging into a finished shell and the amount of hand-work, even to the preserving and crating kept quite a number of men busy. In watching the youtube, I was also struck by the tooling used. Bertram's, being a machine tool builder, likely had quite a toolroom to produce the specialized cutters and thread milling hobs- as well as the thread milling machinery. Bertram's probably had toolmakers going round the clock to keep up with tooling, re-grinding hobs and specialized cutters to sharpen them since HSS was about the only show in town back then. They probably also had an inspection department kept busy checking the various gauges for wear and re calibrating them against standards.

    Of note also are the workmen. They are wearing overalls or shop coats and seem to have wool shirts or sweaters underneath. Since the film was taken in winter, maybe the works was not all that well heated- despite steam heating pipes along the walls shown in the film. The men's overalls appear shiny with oil and shop grunge (having had my own overalls get that way many times). Without modern washing machines, I am sure those men worked in clothing soaked in cutting oil and grunge week-in and week-out. In some of the old shops, as well as aboard the old ore carriers on the Great Lakes, dirty work clothes were sometimes washed in a barrel of water into which lye or boiler water treatment was added and steam then shot in. This got work clothes clean. Otherwise, the overalls and work clothes would likely have been hand washed by the men's wives or a local washerwoman on a washboard and gotten somewhat clean. All I could think of was how those men likely never got completely clean after a shift in that shop. I myself remember in the 1960's, working in a machine shop with soluble oil coolant in use. I got soaked in it from spray off the work during a shift. I'd clean up in the locker room and despite a quick shower, it seemed like I still reeked of that soluble oil. The old sulphur/lard based cutting oils really cling to a person and leave a distinct aroma. The men doing the final preserving of the shells, rolling them on the floor looked to be wearing overalls that were shiny from continued exposure to oil and shop grunge.

    No one seemed to wear safety glasses, and the light in that shop did not look any too good. Still, no one was walking around with bandages or a patch on an eye.
    The sequence at the start of the youtube gives some insight into the hardiness of the workforce. It is obviously winter. That was when winters were really winters and there was significant snowfalls and cold spells. The workforce comes out, some with coats unbuttoned, and no one climbs into a car to get home. The whole workforce seems to leave on foot. It is likely they walked home or rode streetcars (trams). No one had the luxury of sitting in a heated car to get home. No effort seemed to have been made to shovel a path thru the snow and the workforce had evidently tramped down the snow and walked out on it. Nowadays, if there is snowfall, businesses and homeowners get busy clearing the snow and throwing out tons of snow-melters like rocksalt or stuff sold as snow melters which won't stain the walkways and are "environmentally friendly". Schools close with the forecast of snow, let alone a real snowfall. Get a few inches of snow in many places nowadays and the whole area goes nuts. Action reporters ride around in huge SUV's claiming to be in "mobile weather labs" and act like a few inches of wet slush or snow is akin to crossing a polar ice cap. The workforce at Bertram's came out into the snow, walked over it without any problems maintaining their balance, and got on with their lives after what seemed a hard day in that shop.

    A lot can be said about the workforce and Bertram's from that youtube. They all had a job to do, and they did it. Bertram's designed and built the tooling and re-tooled to make howitzer shells. The workforce may well have been men too old or otherwise unfit to be in the armed forces, and they put in a hard day's work and got the howitzer shells out the door. I have to wonder if any of those shells wound up being shot at the battle of Vimy Ridge, which was perhaps the greatest and toughest battle the Canadian forces fought in WWI.

    Plainly, we have it quite soft in our present times, and this youtube shows just how far machine work as well as working and living conditions have come.

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    Joe Michaels ,
    Thanks for posting your reflections .
    A great read as always.
    In recent years the Vimy Foundation has been very active in trying to promote and educate Canadians about the importance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to the history of Canada .
    History Of Vimy Ridge – Vimy Foundation
    Here are some other WW1 links from my files
    From Montreal to Vimy Ridge and beyond; (1917)
    From Montreal to Vimy Ridge and beyond; : Wells, Clifford Almon, 1892-1917. [from old catalog] : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    War Materials turned out by Vickers Co. in England
    Canadian machinery and metalworking
    Len Morrison
    Canadian machinery and metalworking

    There are many accounts of the Canadian industrial activity in the pages of Canadian Machinery from the 1914-1918 period.
    They can be found here
    Internet Archive Search: subject:"Machinery -- Periodicals"
    I have posted links to several in other threads on this forum some time ago.
    I cant find the link at the moment but one of the sons of the John Bertram & Sons Co. family was an officer in the Canadian Army during WW1 and his profile was featured in the pages of Canadian Machinery .
    I may have posted the link in one of the Bertram threads on this forum that may turn up if you use the forum search for" Bertram”
    I’ll see if I can turn it up later.
    Regards,
    Jim

    P.S here is another article about making 75 MM shells in Canada .
    It doesn’t say where but does mention various Bertram made machines used in the process.
    http://www.archive.org/stream/canadi...search/Bertram

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    YouTube
    YouTube link, Bertram’s Works WW-I Artillery projectile

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    Yesterday I was sorting through some family papers, just in case.....

    I came across a short, typed letter dated September 1917, from a Lt. Col. 'somewhere in France' to the mother of my great uncle, to tell her that her son had been killed outright. He was a Gunner (howitzers). I have his 1916 diary, and nearly all the entries are along the lines of ‘Mounted gun at dawn, fired 167 rounds’. No other comments. Sometimes there would be just a handful of rounds fired, other day, more.

    I was looking through a 1918 volume of ‘Engineering’, which contained a description of a shell factory. No doubt fortunes were to be made in Britain in WW1 by those who had the means to start a factory, or preferably to adapt their existing shops to shell production. The article was about a National Shell Factory built and operated by Cunard to make shells up to 8-inch. The photos, and the drawings of machine set-ups naturally show many similarities to the Canadian set-up. There was a mixture of turret/capstan lathes and heavy-duty centre lathes adapted for profiling, etc. For turning the wavy grooves for the copper rings, the adaptation was simple: A large wavy cam was mounted behind the chuck, a roller follower fixed to the carriage, and a very strong spring pressing on the carriage from the base of the tailstock.

    90% of the workforce at the Cunard works was female. I think they would have been less determined to force the go/no go gauges over the diameter than one of the Bertam operators was! Extensive arrangements were made for lifting the shells in and out of the machines. Instead of straps as used at Bertram’s, Cunard used self-closing tongs with wide jaws. The photos show just a few men, engaged in moving stuff around and doing the forging. The men would have had a tough war, surrounded by all those feisty females!

    Looking through various other pictures of British munitions production in WW1 shows a similar high concentration of women. It would have been a revelation, doing men's work, giving them emancipation and money. A photo of munitions work in a book about the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s Horwich Works shows another aspect of production – the reclamation of used shell cases. I couldn’t make out what was involved. Just a few machines required as far as I could see, apart from a hydraulic press and some small lathe-type machines with boxes below the mandrel containing some sort of powder or sand, possibly for polishing.

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    No fortunes were made in Britain,but in the US cartels generally charged four times the UK set price for shells....Every factory in the US capable of making metal was bought up by cartels associated with the J.P.Morgan Co ....who were also purchasing agents for British war materials ,and also Belgian and Russian ,when the British started subsidising them ......Plenty of dirty tricks and chicanery involved ,as many US makers didnt want to be involved in the killing,Morgans would force them .

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    Here is a link to another article that tuned up while I was looking for something else showing other shells being made at Lachine Manufacturing in Lachine Quebec.
    Canadian machinery and metalworking : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    Lachine is now a borough of the city of Montreal
    Jim

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    I found the page I had been thinking of about Brigadier-General Alexander Bertram son of John Bertram that I had mentioned in post #7
    Canadian machinery and metalworking : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    Scroll back one page for another mention
    He is also mentioned here
    Canadian machinery and metalworking : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    Also a large horizontal milling machine used for cutting the shell blanks to length By Newton Machine Tool Works Inc. Philadelphia .
    Canadian machinery and metalworking : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    Lathes for Shell Production
    Canadian machinery and metalworking : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    Many more shell making related pages in this volume.
    Jim

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    Towards the end of the war ,money was short on both sides and gas shells became the munition of choice ...The projectile was simply a hollow casting ,with a driving band and a threaded plug.....the artilleryman ladled out the gas into the casing at the gun position ,to minimize leakage ,which could be damaging ,for sure.There is a short clip of Australian gunners ,wearing shorts ,boots and floppy hats ,running a sort of assembly line for gas shells ,the final operation being to load and fire.

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    The amount of work put into just one of those shells by so many different people was nothing short of extremely impressive to watch. Thank you for sharing!
    A couple of observations: the amount of time dedicated to the final inspection of each shell was clear evidence of just how precise this entire manufacturing operation had to be. There's no way any half-assed time-saving corner-cutting would allow any shell to pass that amount of quality assurance. Just prior to the crating of the shell, a product that was referred to as "Vaseline" was brushed on the outer skin. (I assume it is what we today refer to as cosmoline.) I noticed the "wave rib" that was cut into the base of the shell (somewhere in the middle of the manufacturing process) seemed to be almost completely removed by the time the shell arrived at the final inspection. Is this where the driving band was installed on the shell?

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    This book about high explosive shells turned up when I went searching for something related to an explosives plant that blew up in 1910 .
    I didn’t explore more on that topic but thought I would share the links here

    High explosive shells in the making : a souvenir booklet
    by Maritime Manufacturing Corporation
    High explosive shells in the making : a souvenir booklet : Maritime Manufacturing Corporation : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

    Internet Archive Search: explosive manufacturing

    I noticed the involvement of the McAvity family of St.John New Brunswick here
    High explosive shells in the making : a souvenir booklet : Maritime Manufacturing Corporation : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

    Below are McAvity links some links I had shared with another group in 2013 and a search of this forum doesn’t show that I had posted them here before so I have posted the links below .
    They may cover topics that relate to material on this forum and while they are not shell making related I thought I’d post them here instead of starting another thread.
    An Ad for McAvity here
    Official proceedings

    You may find the other issues for the magazine interesting if you haven't
    seen them before.
    Internet Archive Search: creator:"Canadian Railway Club, Montreal"

    Valves and their manufacture : T. McAvity and Sons, Ltd., brass and iron
    founders ... (c. 1918) St. John N.B.
    http://archive.org/details/ValvesAnd...d.BrassAndIron
    http://archive.org/search.php?query=...ty+%26+Sons%22

    http://website.nbm-mnb.ca/Transition...s.asp?item=128
    http://website.nbm-mnb.ca/Transition.../galleries.asp

    W.J. McShane Chief Draftsman and Patern-making Superintendent .
    https://archive.org/stream/canshipma...search/McAvity
    Some of the marine products they made.
    https://archive.org/stream/canshipma.../n146/mode/1up
    Regards,
    Jim

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