Used machinery business history - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Wrench,
    Where I worked, the aluminum furnaces were electric fired, while the zinc machines were natural gas. We had a back-up generator hooked up with an automatic transfer switch in case the power went out. This was tested at least twice a month. This business was one of the best I ever worked for in terms of equipment maintainence and tooling. The central alarm system was also tied in to the electric service. The guy in charge of plant maintainence would get a call at home if the power went out. The generator would keep the aluminum molten until you could get to the plant and put steel (?) bars in the pot. That was 7 years ago, so the details are sketchy.
    Best regards,
    Bob

  2. #22
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    Alan,
    This thread also reminds Me of my deceased father. As a kid I grew up in Lima, Ohio one of the largest industrial bases in the country until mid to late 70's. I left Lima before the the rust set in for sunnery pastures in 1976.
    I remember as a kid visiting all kinds of manufacturing facilaties such as Ohio Steel, BLH (Old Lima Loco Works), Westinghouse, Ford (Lima has largest engine plant in the world), Dana, and of course EX-CELLO which my Father was the plant manager of the Land Turbine Div.
    This finally brings me to the the topic. I moved to Fl and finally came to manage a engraving shop known as Paramount Engravers which was owned by Howard Malina out of Chicago. His brothers ran large used machine company Century. It is with great appreition and respect that I remember Dave and Murry Malina. Murry was an advisor and helped me greatly when I first set-up my shop. Murry knew the engraving bussiness well and was retired at the time but always would help me with equipment needs and suggetions. Dave did the big deals alot of South American. Dave's Sons, I believe Russ and Dave Jr. started Anilam(Malina spelled backwards) I wish I knew what happened to Centurey I could use a used machine tool co. that specializes in engraving machines right now due to the fact I retired and sold all my equipment only to need it a few years later to set up my 21&25 year old sons.
    Fond are the memories of both Lima and Miami's Century machine Tools. I both played cards and listened to the stories of old school machine dealers.
    Mark

  3. #23
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    Nice read, very true.

  4. #24
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    Great tales. My Father and grandfather have related to me many such stories. When my mother would take me through the press shop at the plant as a kid I was terrified by all that noise. (Funny I should become a toolmaker.) The screw machine shop was different, the smell of the oil and those B&S's clicking and clunking away was facinating. Spitting out parts quickly but without hurry. I hope my young ones get the same thrill as they walk through their dad's shop, this time with CNC's doing the job.

  5. #25
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    Reading about the old machine tool dealers reminds me of hearing stories from my grandfather about the old Springs Textile Mill. It is very similar. He served in the Aleutian Islands in W.W. 2 and like so many of the other people that fought had a hard time finding a job after he came home. He wound up taking a job working in the foundry for Springs Industries. Well, the job of the foundry, interestingly enough was to cast parts for the textile machinery. They didn't buy parts, but everything was made in house. They had a huge cupola furnace that stands about 18 or 20 feet tall, and could really crank out some iron. Grandaddy told me about some castings that they had made, the largest one was 15000 lbs. (I don't know what the heck it was, but 15000 lbs. of 2400 degree iron is hot as he--.) It is simply amazing to see the patterns that they had for the textile machinery. They have about 6 or 8 buildings still full of nothing but wooden patterns for parts for textile equipment that are still standing. Each building is about 12 feet wide and about 60 or 80 feet long. Some of these patterns are real works of art; just think some guy has basically spent god knows how long making these patterns. Anyway, I saw the thread on the used machinery salesman and it seems to relate (slightly) to the stories about the old foundry that I have heard. Also, I want to emphasize that if anyone knows some older people that have been around and can tell the tales that it would be worth everyones while to take the time out of their busy schedule to listen about the good old days as they are here today, but may be gone tomorrow. It reminds me of a guy a knew that was a tool and die maker from Greece. He studied in Germany and I kept saying that I was going to see him one day , and I was reading the paper and saw him in the obituaries, at which point it was too late. I'm getting off my soapbox now, but what I am really saying is make the time.

  6. #26
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    I second what Todd Goff has written- anyone who knows or has dealings with the oldtimers had better make a real effort to visit them, learn from them, but above all else- let them know their knowledge, skills and wisdom is apprecaited. The oldtimers are fast vanishing, and not too many like them are coming along to replace them.

    I never thought of myself as an oldtimer, but at age 56 and coming out of an era when kids still went to technical high schools and worked on machine tools with flat belt drives... well, I guess I am on my way to being an oldtimer. I've known for some time that pretty nearly anyone who tauight me the machinist's trade or engine and turbine erecting work- whether in Brooklyn technical HS or in the old jobbing shops or out on any number of jobsites, is retired or dead and gone for some few years. I am coming to realize the way of life I grew up in, and the kind sof machine shops and industry, and the characters associated with it all are nearly extinct. It is up to people of my era to keep some kind of a continuum, and that means learning all we can from the oldtimers while they are still able to pass anything along.

    We had a man in our community, a fine tool and diemaker. He did some incredible work on a Southbend 9" lathe and a Bridgeport, no DRO, no CNC. All his tooling and fixturing was scraped in to get it really "tight" by this man. He fitted a Hamilton railroad movement to a stainless steel watch case he'd designed and machined- it's the pocket watch I wear each day. Anyhow, this oldtimer was a crusty old buzzard, and he held things close. A number of us tried to get closer to him, hoping we'd learn a little something, but he was already at the point where he was tired. Now he's in a nursing home down in Queens, and in a fit of momentary disgust, in failing health, he simply gave his complete shop away to a firm to which he had been a subcontractor. The word is the firm is a CNC shop and had no use for what that oldtimer gave them. This included a Bridgeport he'd bought new, never let anyone else touch or run, and never worked hard or abused. We had all figured this guy would go on forever (he was into his nineties), and one fine day he was going downhill fast and moving out. Not all oldtimers are approachable or even friendly, but we have to make the effort to keep some kind of a continuum.

    This thread seems the place to write the "finis" for the traditional used machine tool dealers in NY City. Grand Machinery vacated their store on Centre Street, moving, I think to Long Island. A combination of factors: high value fo the real estate and lack of customers within NY City were the driving factors. The closure of Grand Machinery and the moving out of their last inventory of machine tools made the news on televison. A video clip of that was posted elsewhere on this buletin board. With Grand Machinery's move out, the last of the breed is gone. I do not know if they moved the mounted marlin, nor do I know whatever became of the little model machine shop that gathered dust for over 50 years in the window.

    Plainly, it's the end of an era. Nowadays, the ethnic origins and rougher sides of life get romanticized on televison or by the motion picture industry. "The Godfather" was a well-known example, working a knowledge of the immigrants and life on the streets and in the slums of NY City into common knowledge. "Gangs of NY" was a more recent, and bad example- a real bad attempt to fuse disparate events and very different elements of crooked politicians and first-generation NYC gangs into some kind of cohesive screenplay. It was a gross distortion. The likes of Ma Mandelbaum, Monk Eastman and Boss Tweed were memorialized in "Gangs of NY". I wonder when the same crew of researchers, screenwriters and similar will dream up a motion picture or mini-series about the likes of the old Centre Sreet machine tool dealers and the oldtime machinery movers and riggers ? That's usually the way with the motion picture industry and television productions- wait till some era has passed and anyone associated with it is dead or nearly so, then glorify it with a script that glosses over or distorts most of the characters and events. When they make a mini-series on TV and show some cigar chomping guys hammering out a deal over a used Chinese engine lathe it will be almost expectable. Leave it to the media to get major details wrong and not use guys like us as consultants. They'll have oldtime machine tool dealers and customers hondeling over a new Chinese lathe instead of a Hendey or Southbend. They'll have the riggers are cleaned up and not cursing and chomping cigars, and driving later model trucks without the oldtime "gypsy heads" and wood horses and planks on the beds. It will really let us know our era has come and gone. I'm glad I am a part of the continuum. I have my Southbend lathes and Bridgeport in the basement (bought used from other sources at a later time in my life)- the realization of the machine tools I only dreamed of when I was a kid wandering into those oldtime dealers. I have the Powermatic drill I bought from Grand Machinery after some decent hondeling, some 22 years ago. There's a mess of cutting tools, some tooling, and small tools that came out of those old dealers on Centre Street in my shop. I pick some of that up in my hands and think back to being a kid of 14 or 15, takign the subway home to Brooklyn, to my parents' house, with a milling cutter or used mike or similar that I use to this day. I suppose I'll go down to my shop tonight, work on a job I've got running, and finish the evening with a hunk of pickled herring and a good belt of whisky out of respect for that vanished breed of machine tool dealers.

    Joe Michaels

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  8. #27
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    I drove up 3rd street in Philly last month, 11/2019, the only hint of the days of the machinery dealers was the old Swanger Bro’s. Machinery sign still hanging on their old building. The neighborhood is filled with fancy and more upscale shops.

    Here is someone’s story from a few years ago, scroll down, there is a photo of the Swanger sign and Samual’s in really run down condition,

    Swanger Bros Machinery | KRIOFSKE MIX

  9. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrench View Post
    This was all a good read... Thanks!

    I find it interesting that all of the dialog here is pretty much from the East Coast. I wonder why, although I can say that there are almost no used machinery businesses in the Bay Area (CA) anymore. Performance and maybe one other, but that is it. EBay has pretty much killed it all.

    One reason that I find all of this interesting is that it brings a real sense of connection to my father. He came out to the West Coast in the early part of WW-II. In the 50's he started working for my uncle as a die maker. In the 50's one of their customers, a lighting manufacturer, basically said that they should start a company to cast parts for the dies being made. That is how a new business was formed. In the end, my uncle and father grew a business that became a fairly sizable entity in the northern CA market. Enough, at least, that it was always fun when I was in college to show people some of the wares. Usually it went something like this:

    "What does your father do".
    "Oh, we manufacturer things"... <look around> "For instance, see that bezel over there?... We made that".

    The business did well enough, I guess. It put 4 kids through school and gave us all a comfortable life. I certainly cannot complain; my parents have always been very generous to us.

    Some of my fondest memories are when, as I kid, I would go down and "help" my dad work for a half day on Saturday. The place was dead quiet then... Just this cavernous building with rows of Bridgeports, lathes, EDMs, punch presses and really ominous die casting machines. Let me tell you, a 700 ton die casting machine in a huge building illuminated by only an odd-ball flourescent fixture here and there is mighty creepy to a 6 year old! But that smell was majestic... Just like at old CAT D5--grease and oil and warmth. Very cool.

    Anyhow, all of this post has really given me an appreciation for how my dad went about the business of, well, just staying in business!

    Thanks!
    --Alan

    P.S. To give you an idea of how wild this all was, I recall my mom taking us out of school when at least one new die casting machine was delivered. That was *really* cool. It came on one of those trucks that has probably 24 wheels or so. Sliding that thing off and then positioning it on its 2.5' slab was just mind boggling for a 9 year old.
    there's that new shop that opened lick tool and die


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