RE: "Cross Pollination", or Vernon Lathe pretending to be a Hendey
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    Default RE: "Cross Pollination", or Vernon Lathe pretending to be a Hendey

    Rather than hijack a thread of send it off on a tangent, I think starting a new thread was the better thing to do. I had been following various threads on this 'board over the years and, like many of us, have scratched my head as to the design similarities between various machine tool builders. This head scratching is nothing new, and dates back to my teenage years when I first saw a Seneca Falls lathe and realized the basic similarities to a South Bend. A few years later, at Brooklyn Tech HS, I started noticing the basic similarities in geared head engine lathes made in the 30's and 40's. Working in machine shops in summers and part time during my school years, I kept noticing how similar in overall size and mass a "generation" of US built engine lathes seemed- whether it was Reed & Prentice, Lodge and Shipley, Sidney, Bradford, and a few other makes, these lathes seemed outwardly quite similar. I know there were differences inside the headstocks and aprons, and some differed a bit in design and material of the beds and bedways, but overall, there were a lot of similarities.

    In 1973 or 74, prowling the Calamari Brothers Junkyard in New London, CT, I came upon an intact Flather lathe. This lathe should have gone home with me, only I was living in a small rented place. The Flather lathe had a quick change box on it that struck me as very much like the design of what South Bend used over their entire line and over many years.

    I kept that in the back of my mind, and began noticing camelback drills. In bad light and a short distance off, IMO, it is difficult to tell one maker's camelback drill from the next. US built radial drills have a number of similarities from one maker to the next. Whether this is an unofficial standardizing of controls or this "cross pollination" is something to think about.

    A few years later, working on medium speed diesel engines, I started noticing similarities there as well. I worked on the startup of a Baldwin 6 cylinder diesel driving a generator in a stationary plant. I also worked on some 539 series Alco diesel engines. I saw a lot of similarities in the design. Once again, I was scratching my head and wondering how two competing manufacturers would have diesel engine designs that were so similar. Both were going after the same market (railroad switch engines), so the diesels would have had similar horsepower ratings and overall size to fit in the envelope of a switch engine. That being said, and using pretty much the same American Bosch fuel injection pumps and injectors, I still wondered at the similarities.

    The use of what appears to be a solid Hendey design of quick change gearbox and apron on lathes from other manufacturers is the latest design enigma to get me thinking about this sort of "cross pollination". It brings to mind a story a mining engineer told me in about 1977. He was an old man at that point in time, and we were working on a powerplant in Marquette, Michigan. The oldtimer took a liking to me, and told me he had started his career with the copper mining companies up in the Keewanaw Peninsula, at the tip of Michigan's UP. The mining company he worked for operated the Quincy Mine, and was in need of a new high capacity mine hoist for it. They contacted Nordberg in Milwaukee, WI, and went to contract for what was to become the biggest Corliss engine driven mine hoist in the world for a time. Nordberg had a mechanical engineer who was the lead on the design of Corliss engines and mine hoists. About the time the ink was drying on the contract between Nordberg and the Quincy mine, this engineer jumped ship and went to work for Ingersoll Rand in their New York City offices. This threw Nordberg and Quincy Mine a curve. The old mining engineer told me that he travelled by train to NYC with another couple of engineers and managers from Quincy Mine. They had set up a meeting with Ingersoll Rand, Nordberg, and this particular engineer. What came out of it was Nordberg signed a contract with I-R for the services of this particular engineer for the duration of the Quincy mine hoist project.

    The story stuck with me, and a few years later, I came upon the name of William Woodard. Woodard was a mechanical engineer who designed a number of steam locomotives in the USA. Woodard is probably best remembered for working for Lima Locomotive Works and developing the Berkshire class locomotives. In actuality, Woodard worked for American Locomotive and probably did some design work for Baldwin.

    Getting back to the question of how Hendey's design of quick change box and apron wound up used on the Vernon lathe and the Edlund-Mulliner lathe, it would open a few possibilities:

    -the two manufacturers (Vernon and Edlund-Mulliner) signed licensing agreements with Hendey and paid a royalty on each lathe using Hendey's designs. Hendey's designs were likely protected by patents, so the lesser lathe builders may well have signed an agreement and paid royalties on each lathe using the Hendey patents.

    -an engineer or designer who had worked for Hendey jumped ship and became a "free agent", similar to William Woodard, or that Nordberg Engineer. He had worked on the designs of the lathes or at least the quick change boxes and aprons, while at Hendey, so was able to help other manufacturers set up production of them. He may well have had a roll of drawings for all of the parts and assemblies, made while he was with Hendey.

    -copying another manufacturer's machine tool would not be hard to do. It would have been easy enough to have a "third party" order a new Hendey lathe, move it to Vernon or Edlund's plant, take it apart, and "reverse engineer" all the parts. It is what the Japanese did with great success, and now the Chinese are doing it.
    The danger in this gets back to whether Hendey's designs were unique enough to be protected by patents. If Vernon or Edlund-Mulliner were able to change a few details, they might have been able to get around the Hendey patents.

    In a region like the Cincinnati, Ohio area, there were many machine tool builders. Some rose to be giants, some faded into obscurity after building a few machine tools. Some of the smaller ones were absorbed into the giants. In a place like Cincinnati, engineers and designer/draftsmen went from one machine tool builder to another, so some "cross pollination" and commonality in the designs would be expectable. New England was the cradle of the US Machine Tool Industry, and a few firms hung on there into the 1950's. Notably, these were Hendey, along with Reed and Prentice. Edlund-Mulliner was in Syracuse, or Cortlandt, NY (if I am not mistaken). Not as many engineers and designers of machine tools, and not as many machine tool builders in the great Northeast, but enough to have some movement of engineers and designers between the firms.

    My own guess is that Vernon and Edlund-Mulliner people may well have been using Hendey lathes in their own toolrooms. They may have said: "We are building a basic engine lathe, but it is not up to current standards. We need to get a good quick change gearbox and we need to improve and strengthen the apron..." With that in mind, they realized Hendey was making a fine lathe. I'd like to think some ethical behavior was the rule of the day, and that the principals at Vernon or Edlund-Mulliner worked out a licensing agreement with Hendey. Hendey was never a big player like the Cinncinnati firms (LeBlond, Lodge and Shipley, American Tool Works). Hendey was a business, and if they could make a few extra bucks licensing the other firms to use their designs, they did.

    In a modern and more common example, think of some automotive patents and parts. In the early years, into the 50's and 60's, smaller car makers and smaller truck makers bought engines and transmissions and rear ends from other manufacturers. Chrysler had their New Process division making transfer cases for four wheel drive vehicles. Those transfer cases were purchased from Chrysler/New Process and used in great numbers by their competitors in similar classes of vehicles. GM builds a bullet proof automatic transmission. From what I have heard, a few other manufacturers of automobiles buy their automatic transmissions from GM.

    In the auto industry, various designs of engines and other systems on a car or truck were patented by their original manufacturers. Competing manufacturers often went to contract and were licensed to use those designs.

    Using the auto industry as an example, my guess is Hendey licensed the other lathe builders to use their designs of quick change box and apron. Knowing something of machine tools, I would think that Hendey, as well as the other lathe builders, knew what it took to design a quick change gearbox, as well as to make it work on their design of lathe. There may be subtle differences requiring different castings than what Hendey was using, so the other lathe builders were on their own to adapt the design- once they had the license- to work on their design of lathe.

    It's all food for thought, and as the oft-repeated saying goes: "Dead Men Tell No Tales". Anyone who might have known the details of how Vernon or Edlund-Mulliner came to be using Hendey's designs is probably long dead. Unless someone saved the business records of Hendey going back into the late 1800's-1920's, the details of any licensing agreements are lost to history. The focus with preserving machine tools is on parts or drawings of them, and the business end and records of it are not something anyone has a real interest in once a machine tool builder is long gone.

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    Would this Hendey patent apply to QC box and be early enough to support a suit against Vernon? US Patent: 1,415,515 - Change Gear Mechanism

    Link is from this page on VintageMachinery: Hendey Machine Co. - Assigned Patents | VintageMachinery.org

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    Default Norton or Hendey-Norton Quick Change Gear Box ?

    Isn't the gearbox on a tie-bar Hendey lathe properly known as a "Norton" or "Hendey-Norton" gearbox?

    This is what Tony's :athes.co.uk website had to say about this:

    " In 1892 a quick-change screwcutting gearbox, designed and patented by Wendell P. Norton, was added to the engine lathe; this single feature did more to promote the machine's fame, as the "Hendey-Norton", than any other. The Norton box was not the first of its type, a similar arrangement of gears, of different sizes, placed in a "cone" on a common shaft, having been patented in 1868 by Humphreys. If Hendey were not the first to fit such a gearbox then their adoption of the design was, arguably, the first (and most successful) successful commercial exploitation of the idea. "

    The similarity in gearboxes might be because companies besides Hendey licensed the Norton design. I've certainly seen cone pulley lathes whose gearboxes look remarkably like the one on a Hendey!

    Anyone got Ken Cope's lathe book handy?

    John Ruth

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    A interesting book about cross-pollination among machinists and machine tool builders is Networked Machinists. It covers the early American industrial age. It's quite amazing how many machinists/founders of big name companies had worked together at some point in their careers.

    Quite spendy through Amazon unfortunately.

    http://www.amazon.com/Networked-Mach...ked+machinists

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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthBendModel34 View Post
    Isn't the gearbox on a tie-bar Hendey lathe properly known as a "Norton" or "Hendey-Norton" gearbox?

    This is what Tony's :athes.co.uk website had to say about this:

    " In 1892 a quick-change screwcutting gearbox, designed and patented by Wendell P. Norton, was added to the engine lathe; this single feature did more to promote the machine's fame, as the "Hendey-Norton", than any other. The Norton box was not the first of its type, a similar arrangement of gears, of different sizes, placed in a "cone" on a common shaft, having been patented in 1868 by Humphreys. If Hendey were not the first to fit such a gearbox then their adoption of the design was, arguably, the first (and most successful) successful commercial exploitation of the idea. "

    The similarity in gearboxes might be because companies besides Hendey licensed the Norton design. I've certainly seen cone pulley lathes whose gearboxes look remarkably like the one on a Hendey!

    Anyone got Ken Cope's lathe book handy?

    John Ruth
    Indeed, the gearbox on my Vernon lathe is without a doubt a Norton gearbox. Interestingly enough, the patent was granted to Wendell P. Norton of mount vernon New York back in 1892. The link to the vintage machinery website given a couple posts back, mentions that Wendell's gear box was manufactured by Hendey, and also the American Tool Woorks company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Since the Vernon manufacturing company was such a short lived venture, started over a decade after the Norton patent was issued, it's quite possible they were granted a license for use of the design, or they were buying complete gear boxes from Hendey (only a couple hours away from them), or in a blatant disregard for patent rights, just copies the Norton design. I personally doubt this last possibility. For one thing, my vernon's gear box is an almost perfect copy of my hendey's gear box. Even the brass data plates, and speed chart are identical except for the manufacturers names being different.

    Regards,
    Steve Watroba.

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    Having grown jp with a Vernon mill (started making parts on it when I was 12), I'd be interested in seeing what a Vernon lathe looked like. Googling isn't showing much.

    L7

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    Joe,
    I just got done watching a video on machine tool history from this post here. History Of Machine Tools - history vidio

    The narrator stated that in the early days, I would guess late 1700's to mid 1800's that the US government said machine tool builders could borrow another ideas without penalty as long as the idea was used in manufacturing arms. How long this practice continued or if it is even legitimate remains suspect in my mind, however maybe some of this carried forward despite patent protection. Perhaps some companies were not on sound enough footing to protect any patents. Nevertheless it is food for thought and something for the scholarly types to ponder. Good thought provoking post as always Joe.

    Cheers,
    Warren

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky7 View Post
    Having grown jp with a Vernon mill (started making parts on it when I was 12), I'd be interested in seeing what a Vernon lathe looked like. Googling isn't showing much.

    L7
    Well, I have over 60 videos on YouTube of my Vernon lathe being disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, repaired, adjusted, leveled, and used. But rather than bore you with all that, here's another guys brief video.
    His is a different model than mine. I'll try and get a few pics of mine posted.

    More importantly, and of relevance to you, there were 2 Vernon companies, completely unrelated to each other. One on the west coast that made milling machines, and the one in Worcester, Massachusetts that was much older, short lived, and made lathes.

    They also supposedly made drill presses, but I've never seen even a photo of one.

    Regards,
    Steve Watroba

    1916-192 Vernon Lathe - YouTube

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    Thanks for explanation, Steve. I was searching Vernon Los Angeles, which is cast into the mill. Had wondered why so specific about Los Angeles. Two seperate companies makes sense. The Vernon lathe is nicely proportioned and looks user friendly.

    Regards,
    Stan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky7 View Post
    Thanks for explanation, Steve. I was searching Vernon Los Angeles, which is cast into the mill. Had wondered why so specific about Los Angeles. Two seperate companies makes sense. The Vernon lathe is nicely proportioned and looks user friendly.

    Regards,
    Stan.
    The Vernon is like most pre war machinery..... ..user friendly in a kind of "respect me, or I'll rip your arm off!" Sort of way : )

    Steve.

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    Have you seen this link about the Vernon Jig Borer ?
    Vernon (Sheldon) Vertical Vertical Miller/Jig Borer
    Try searching using the forum search engine for Vernon Mill or Jig Bore since I think there have been some posts about them on here before.

    Regards,
    Jim

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    If I were a machine builder I would want the financial benefits of my design. I have noticed similarities in design also. It not hard to get around design patents on basic mechanics as early machines were fairly basic
    . Very unique designs were probably harder to get around. I think this practice of borrowing or stealing ideas was what advanced the machinery industry at the speed that it advanced. One idea sparks an improvement in the mind of another.
    In the end the operators of the machinery decide which is best and that company wins. I'm sure many inventors got a raw deal. I would bet more money was spent on patent litigation than was reaped from winning law suits.
    I do quite a few patent searches and see names of engeneers that have moved from one company to the other. Just job changes.
    I'm sure collaboration was done between manufacturers any time it was profitable. Why not? The world's a lot more complicated today. Today's cars are a huge mix of manufacturers. With today's technology one company can't afford to design and manufacture all their parts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Christie View Post
    Have you seen this link about the Vernon Jig Borer ?
    Vernon (Sheldon) Vertical Vertical Miller/Jig Borer
    Try searching using the forum search engine for Vernon Mill or Jig Bore since I think there have been some posts about them on here before.

    Regards,
    Jim
    Yup, that's the California company again.

    I've only been able to find a few advertisements for Vernon manufacturing of Worcester, Massachusetts, and those only showed lathes. I think there was an obscure right up in an early publication that mentioned the then new company's plans to manufacture lathes and drill presses. Maybe they never even got around to making any dp's.



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    Porter Cable also made or sold a lathe with a Hendey Norton style quick Change
    Canadian machinery and metalworking
    There is more info. in this thread.
    Porter-Cable
    I think there was also some lathes under the Edlund name from New York State as well with this as well that I have seen advertisements for as well but can’t find them now .
    I don’t know what the connection there is if any to Hendey ,Vernon or any of the others .
    Regards,
    Jim

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