Very Old Overhead Pulley System
Close
Login to Your Account
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Connecticut
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    11
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default Very Old Overhead Pulley System

    Does anyone know about an overhead pulley system as to when it was used? My father opened our machine shop in 1940 and I worked there since 1972 for 28 years. I never saw it used at all. I don't have pics yet and the original motor is still connected. I will be selling everything in the machine shop and would like to know if it has any value or is an Antique. I always wondered.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Washington
    Posts
    658
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    265
    Likes (Received)
    478

    Default

    Pictures help a lot

  3. Likes tepym51 liked this post
  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Country
    AUSTRALIA
    Posts
    632
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    33
    Likes (Received)
    147

    Default

    I would guess at prior to the 1930's in the 40s i think most had electric motors, could be a delay of a few years as machines have a reasonably long lifespan.
    thats my best guess as i was not around then.

  5. Likes tepym51 liked this post
  6. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Houston, TX USA
    Posts
    30,221
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Here is a normal counter shaft from 1901 - it went up on the ceiling joists and was driven by the main line shaft - at either two speeds OR forward and reverse

    This particular one drove a lathe below.

    If yours is motorized it is likely much later
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1901-countershaft-l-s.jpg  

  7. Likes tepym51 liked this post
  8. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    200
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    19
    Likes (Received)
    137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tepym51 View Post
    Does anyone know about an overhead pulley system as to when it was used? My father opened our machine shop in 1940 and I worked there since 1972 for 28 years. I never saw it used at all. I don't have pics yet and the original motor is still connected. I will be selling everything in the machine shop and would like to know if it has any value or is an Antique. I always wondered.
    Yes, those overhead lineshaft driven machine tool(s) are antique. Are the Hendey lathes that are in the shop the ones that are lineshaft driven? - It has probably been 70 years since a machine tool has been built with a countershaft designed to be hung off the ceiling?

  9. Likes tepym51 liked this post
  10. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Shandaken, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,362
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    1200
    Likes (Received)
    6973

    Default

    The lineshafting was used when the shop was first built. It was likely used until individual electric motor drives could be retrofitted to the lineshaft driven machine tools, or more modern machine tools with factory-furnished motor drives were installed.

    The age of lineshafting is hard to guess with no photos. Wooden pulleys were available as stock items into the 1930's- large pulleys made of hard maple, many pieces being joined and glued to form the rim, and then built as split pulleys to go onto an existing lineshaft without taking everything else apart.

    People who frequent this forum sometimes post inquiries for lineshafting. Buildinbg a new lineshaft driven machine shop or woodworking shop is something a lot of people like to do. Lineshafting is a catch-all term, as it encompasses the shafting and the "hanger bearings". The pulleys are another matter, and will be a variety of shapes and sizes. Individual machine tools, when ordered new for lineshaft drive, usually were furnished with a countershaft- as John Oder posted. The countershafts were mounted parallel to the main lineshafting and belted off of it. The countershafts often had step cone pulleys matching those on the machine tool being belted from the countershaft. Forward/reverse clutches or tight/loose pulleys (another means of engaging or disengaging power to a machine tool) were on the countershafts.

    Lineshafting came in a wide range of diameters, usually ending in some odd 1/16th of an inch. Sizes like 1 7/16"diameter lineshafting were common. Longer runs of lineshafting meant larger diameter shafting to reduce shaft whip and shaft deflection. Originally, in days prior to electricity, lineshafting was used to transmit power from a single prime mover (such as a water wheel, water turbine, steam engine, or gas engine) so the power could be sent to each machine tool via a combination of belts and shafting. Once electricity and electric motors came into common usage, the need for lineshafting began to diminish.

    When your father started the machine shop, he may well have taken over an existing industrial space which had the lineshafting left from some previous occupant. By the 1940's people did not, as a rule, put up lineshafting. Means to retrofit individual electric motor drives to machine tools originally made for lineshaft drive were readily available by the 30's. These took the form of cast iron brackets which bolted to the existing machine tools. The brackets may have been made to utilize the original countershaft step cone pulleys, or may have utilized a multi-speed gear box. Either way, a mounting for an electric motor was provided on these brackets. Some people did not bother buying the cast iron brackets, and simply fabricated something along the same lines out of structural steel.

    My guess is the lineshafting pre-dates your father starting his machine shop in that building. Getting lineshafting taken down is a whole other matter. The shafting and hanger brackets are a lot heavier than one might imagine. Typically, hardwood members are lagged to the ceiling, and the lineshaft hangers are bolted to the hardwood. In concrete buildings, the millwrights had to drill holes in the concrete overhead (using a star drill and hand sledge known as a "lump hammer" or "drilling hammer"). Once they had the holes poked up into the concrete, they used lead shields and lag screws to anchor the hardwood lagging to the ceiling. After that, a sting line went up, and the millwrights' started getting the hangers made fast to the lagging. Oldtimers told me this was their first job as apprentice boys. No electric masonry drills, no "Genie Lifts" or similar, just working off stepladders or scaffolding built out of lumber.

    The oldtimers all agreed: the cast iron hangers were some heavy, and when they had to climb a ladder and work with another millwright apprentice on another ladder to hold the hanger against the wood lagging so it could be lagged into place, it was a tough job.

    Taking lineshafting down, we live in the wonderful age of things like lightweight chainfalls and comealongs, and in the age of things like impact wrenches to run out the lag bolts or whatever is holding the hangers to the lagging (or to the wood framing of an old building). As I said, the lineshafting itself is not light, and with pulleys on it, it is some heavy. Putting some anchors into the overhead and fastening some pad-eyes and using chain hoists to let the lineshafting down is the way I'd get it removed. As for what it's worth, just the job of getting it safely down is enough for anyone wanting it for re-use. All too often, those split wood pulleys turn up at antique flea markets or as "decorator items". Makes me sad, for sure. I've heard of people taking "porta band" saws and whacking the lineshafting into convenient chunks to get the pulleys for "antiques". Better to leave the lineshafting intact if that is to be its fate. Oldtimers worked plenty hard to get the lineshafting and hangers put up and lined up. If it comes down, hopefully, it will be for re-use as lineshafting, not as decorator or antique items.

  11. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Connecticut
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    11
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default Thanks so much for the info!!!

    Thanks so much Joe! Very informative. My Great grandfather built the building in 1907 and the machine shop was started by my father in 1940. I should have asked him. The things you don't think of. My Great grandfather Truman Smith Skilton started the T. S. Skilton & Sons Fishing Tackle Co. in 1875. Same building. I will post pictures soon. There is so much going on. Thanks again!

  12. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Connecticut
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    11
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default

    The Hendeys are not connected to the shaft.I'll post pics soon. Thanks

  13. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Connecticut
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    11
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default

    Right, I just never know what to expect in this building. The elevator was run by a Model T Ford motor in the attic. Since gone. Thanks

  14. Likes SouthBendModel34 liked this post
  15. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Connecticut
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    11
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default

    I'll get them out soon! Thanks

  16. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada U.S.A.
    Posts
    136
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    15
    Likes (Received)
    46

    Default

    Hello, the shop that I have and use every day was originally built in 1906 by my grandfather, then burned to the ground in 1915. And was rebuilt as I is today, using some of the same equipment from the 1800's that went through the fire. For the tolerances I have to meet they work well. I accidentally tried too burn it again in 2014 but I saved it. I had to replace the flat belts. It can be seen on you tube under. Tonopah treasures number 1, 2, 3 mostly in 3. Have a great weekend. John

  17. Likes cncFireman liked this post
  18. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada U.S.A.
    Posts
    136
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    15
    Likes (Received)
    46

    Default

    Sorry the youtube site is mostly oh tonopah treasures part 2 . Thank you. John

  19. Likes cncFireman liked this post
  20. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    1,903
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    390
    Likes (Received)
    691

    Default

    My grandfather built his machine shop in about 1910 - all the large machine tools (12" lathe, horizontal milling machine, and a camel back drill press) were driven off a 1 HP motor that lived in the shop's attic. He passed on in 1945, and the shop was taken over by his pattern-maker son. When his son died in 1994, the family had to sort out a totally vintage machine shop.

    shop-1032-lincoln.jpg

    We were able to find a tool collector who paid the estate $1000 for all three machines and the lineshaft. He installed them in a new shop that he specifically built for them behind his home.

    I recently found that he recently donated then entire shop to a steam threshing machine museum - they assembled the entire shop and use it throughout the year working on their restorations.

    The money wasn't as important to us as just seeing that someone appreciated the tools.

  21. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada U.S.A.
    Posts
    136
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    15
    Likes (Received)
    46

    Default

    Bob, that is a great legacy, sooner or later there won't be any family interested in this life. I have looked towards a benefactor for our shop and foundry. When I am gone there is no family interested in being in business. John

  22. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,493
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    89
    Likes (Received)
    454

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BobRenz View Post
    My grandfather built his machine shop in about 1910 - all the large machine tools (12" lathe, horizontal milling machine, and a camel back drill press) were driven off a 1 HP motor that lived in the shop's attic. He passed on in 1945, and the shop was taken over by his pattern-maker son. When his son died in 1994, the family had to sort out a totally vintage machine shop.

    shop-1032-lincoln.jpg

    We were able to find a tool collector who paid the estate $1000 for all three machines and the lineshaft. He installed them in a new shop that he specifically built for them behind his home.

    I recently found that he recently donated then entire shop to a steam threshing machine museum - they assembled the entire shop and use it throughout the year working on their restorations.

    The money wasn't as important to us as just seeing that someone appreciated the tools.
    Bob,

    Out of curiosity where was the shop(in Minnesota somewhere?)and who's make is the larger lathe in the photo.

    Rob

  23. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    SW, USA
    Posts
    167
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    32
    Likes (Received)
    52

    Default

    Long ago, and far away... about 1972 I think, when I lived in the East, I remember meeting an old guy. I was painting the house next door to his for a summer job. He showed me his shop. I think I helped him do something, maybe move something or whatever in the shop. The shop was in a longish shed behind his house. There was an overhead line shaft system there. Everything in there seemed ancient at the time, and a little rickety. I don't remember much more about it. Given the opportunity now I would surely hang out there. I am certain the old guy is not getting any older by now, and almost surely all his stuff is gone.

    Now for information marginally more useful: David Richards
    - YouTube
    is a YouTube channel, where the presenter shows an old time machine shop from about the mid 1920's. He tries to do everything in there the way it was done ninety years ago, although I have seen a slip or two. He runs everything off of a line shaft, with a steam engine for power and etc. He evidently has a more modern machine shop also where he does most of his work. In several of the dozen videos he comments on the line shaft for one reason or another, and he repairs one of the pulleys in one of them. In almost all of them it is possible to see the line shaft running. Total viewing time for all of the videos is around six hours. I found it to be entertaining and educational. I recommend it to all who have not seen the old time stuff running.

  24. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    1,903
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    390
    Likes (Received)
    691

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Lang View Post
    Bob,

    Out of curiosity where was the shop(in Minnesota somewhere?)and who's make is the larger lathe in the photo.

    Rob
    The shop was built by my grandfather in about 1910 (+/-). It was located behind his home in St Paul (right off Grand Avenue).

    All his major machine tools were Brown & Sharpe. He also had a large camelback drill press, a tool grinder, 6" lathe and a watchmaker's lathe, but I don't remember the makers.

    After he passed in about 1945, the shop was run by my uncle, a patternmaker. He used the shop until he died in about 1994, when the heirs had to sort out the tools and the residue of 80+ years of projects. We had many little tobacco cans with nuts and bolts in them, plus drawers and cabinets full of misc. tools and parts.

    By the time my uncle passed, there were no assets in the estate, but fortunately we found a lover of old machine tools who purchsed all the lineshaft driven tools from the estate, including the lineshaft, the belts, the belt transmissions, and the attic-mounted drive motor.

    The family saved some pieces from the shop to remember it - I wound up with a light hung from a lazy-tong that was originally over the lathe (the lazy-tong looked like it had originally supported a candlestick telephone) and a drip oiler from his milling machine.

    We found out that the shop had a 3 ft deep crawl space and the remains of an old auto service pit, so all the tools had been standing on a very flexible floor. The property was subsequently sold to one of my cousins, who removed the old floor, dumped in truckloads of sand, and turned the old shop into a very nice garage for his cars.

    My grandfather specialized in designing and making specialized gear trains, as well as designing and building specialized machinery. We found out that the bookbinding machinery he designed and built back before WWII is still in use. The owner told us that they haven't found anything that can do the job better, and that they intend to retain the equipment indefinitely.

  25. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,493
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    89
    Likes (Received)
    454

    Default

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the info.
    The reason I asked is because the 12" swing lathe in your picture sure looks like a William Sellers lathe.

    I have a story to tell you.
    Every year I go to the Le Sueur, Minnesota gas & steam engine swap meet. I have been going for about 35 years.
    About 6 to 7 years ago I found and bought a 12" swing Sellers lathe at Le Sueur.
    It was very badly rusted but looked like it had been in very good shape at one time. Not abused or cobbled up or worn out.
    Sellers machines are hard to find especially in the smaller sizes so despite the rust I bought it.
    I did not have my truck with me at the time to haul it so I arranged to pick it up from the seller after the swap meet.
    He lived about 20 or 30 miles northwest of the Minneapolis metro area.
    I went after work one day to get it. I asked the seller where the lathe came from and why it was so rusty.
    He was not very forthcoming on any info. It seemed like he was a little embarrassed to say.
    I pressed him on it. This is what he had to say.

    He had bought the Sellers lathe(I think he also said he bought a very small lathe too), milling machine(I think he said Brown & Sharpe), large camelback drill press and grinder.
    He bought them, from the family, from a shop in St. Paul that was by the family home. He also bought the lineshaft and motor drive.
    He brought the machines to his home and built a shop just for the machines behind his home.
    He set up the machines and lineshaft in the new shop.
    At some point he moved his ice fishing house into the shop and was charging a battery.
    He had forgot about it and it started a fire. The entire shop burnt to the ground.
    A piece of tin had fallen on the Sellers lathe and partly protected it, but the other machines were lost and he scrapped them out.
    He left the lathe out with no cover in a very shady area which is why it got so rusty(it had moss growing on it).
    He then decided to sell the lathe at the swap meet. He would not say any more about it.

    I am not saying these were your grandfather's machines but there sure are a lot of coincidences.

    Rob

  26. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Country
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    1,414
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    90
    Likes (Received)
    537

    Default

    I work in a textile mill engine museum. From the very beginning of the history of such mills, line shafting was use to drive textile machines - spinning machines, looms etc. The power source was typically a large steam engine, although water wheels were used in a few early mills.

    Our museum concentrated on collecting and rebulding mostly steam engines, although we have other exhibits such as a Lancashire boiler front. We began to realise that when we described lineshafting to visitors they often had no idea what we were talking about, and as time goes on the situation could only get worse. We acquired some line shafting and I repaired an old multi-throw pump that we could drive, just to show what line shafting looked like. We can now demonstrate a steam engine driving the pump via fast and loose pulleys and show some photographs of typical old weaving sheds with a forest of drive belts.

  27. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    938
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    84
    Likes (Received)
    558

    Default

    Back in the 80s, I worked at a lumberyard in Baltimore. The business went back about a hundred years, at the time. The mill building still had a lot of the old machines, which had originally been lineshaft. They were converted to electric motors, but they still used flat leather belts and wide flat pulleys to drive them. A son (or grandson) was still there, and he told me he used to take care of the mule that tuned the main drive. And the room where that had been still stunk in rainy weather!

    All gone, now. Burned down by an employee in about 88 or 89.


Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •