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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by glmoore View Post
    My first visit to the site and I love it. I am a Journeyman Machine Repairman two years out of my apprenticeship working for Chrysler.
    I am sad to see our machine tool builders dying. Standard, R&B, Briddgeport Machine no less! We have a number of Kasper CNC machines in our plant and a factory service man told me the other day that they are done also. Alot of this has apparently been caused by large auto companies stretching out the the time they pay (or do not pay) their receivables, foreign competition and other factors. But what it comes down to is there is soon going to be nothing american to purchase....sad...gary
    How did you get into the machine repairman field? I have been interested in that but currently there is no program / course offered at my local tech college. Were you experienced in manual and or CNC machining prior to becoming a journeyman repairman? Did you have to take classes on hydraulics , industrial electrics and automation ?


    Nevermind, just noticed this is a 15+ year old thread.

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    So I got a bit further into the 1904 RAND report and they do start to talk about specific industry examples (80 pages in!) but I suspect it's a bit from the companies side. e.g Cincinnati Milacron has highly nimble and innovative "Wolverine Teams"? I wonder how that went for them. More on this in a bit, but I'd be curious to hear from automotive people to what extent we have evolved from a lot of process specific machines to more general purpose machines. For example, as was discussed above, when you watch the old videos of engine making, the castings tend to get machined on these gang machines specifically set up for that engine block. I'd be amazed if they weren't using more general purpose machines today, trading a bit of speed for a heck of a lot more flexibility. Anyway, it's clear the traditional american manufacturers completely missed the general purpose job shop type machine, or they made have tried but they got it wrong. And then Haas came along with a real job shop concept where it's generally the case that the workpieces are a lot lighter than most of what the older manufactures were thinking about.

    Fun facts: Did you know the technology that first went into FANUC was American? And in the late 70's TRUMPF actually bought an American company that was making a laser cutter? So that's where that came from.

    So we have an Atek press brake and it's just had a weird glitch in the CNC back gauge controller. I phoned them and a woman picked up the phone, "Hello, Atek.." and I'm like "Thank God you're alive!".

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  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry View Post
    Oh, I get into the machine tool industry just in 2018.
    So your saying you have less than 12 months in the machine tool industry? I can barely await your opinion.
    Your not up to spamming until your English is up to scratch.

  5. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcoope View Post
    So I got a bit further into the 1904 RAND report and they do start to talk about specific industry examples (80 pages in!) but I suspect it's a bit from the companies side. e.g Cincinnati Milacron has highly nimble and innovative "Wolverine Teams"? I wonder how that went for them.
    Cincinnati Milacron was bought by Unova, as was R&B Machine tool that was mentioned in the first post. They also bought Lamb Technicon, Michigan Machine & Engineering, and Landis. I had friends/acquaintances that worked for these companies and most were let go after the takeover. I think Unova was an investment group that eventually sold all of them to MAG(Machine Alliance Group?). I believe MAG also bought Ex-cell-o Machine Tool, Cross Huller, and Giddings & Lewis.

    I could be wrong but I don't think there are many family owned businesses in Michigan that still sell to the automotive industry. Werth, Ollofsson, Kasper, Saginaw(SMS), R&B, LaSalle, Lamb, Ex-cell-o, Cross Huller, Huller Hille are all names that come to mind and have all been bought by larger investment groups or closed. I'm sure you could google these companies and find news articles that would be of interest.

    My opinion is that these companies were not diversified and counted on the auto industry too much. Most were not profitable after the automakers started sending work out of the country.

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    Fascinating. Unova is evidently gone but MAG is here and does look like what you'd expect modern engine making machinery to look like:
    MAG IAS GmbH – Products More like modern general purpose CNC machines with different add on modules.
    No mention of other brands at this stage. Weirdly, Cincinnati machine tools has largely disappeared as an ongoing entity on the internet (Milacron is there but injection moulding machines) except Cincinnati Canada: Cincinnati Machines Canada is this current or has it fallen through a wormhole?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Other Brother View Post
    My opinion is that these companies were not diversified and counted on the auto industry too much. Most were not profitable after the automakers started sending work out of the country.
    A bigger factor was that they were old, had valuable assets in the form of real property, and could be easily taken over by corporate raiders / hedge fund managers / investment bankers / whatever the name is this week for financial vampires.

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    OMG I just got "From Industry to Alchemy: Burgmaster, A Machine Tool Company" and I cannot put it down. My great love is prototyping in machine shops for scientific instruments and medical devices. Did you know, Burgmaster's first sale of their turret drill press in 1947 was to none other than Beckman Instruments of Pasadena, founded by Arnold Beckman, inventor of the pH Meter, and which is still around as Beckman-Coulter, part of Danaher. Arnold Beckman was a great hero of scientific instruments and lived to 104. More soon, it's a gripping book.

    Edit: Oh man you have to love YouTube. the book mentions Burgmaster being on a 50's TV series sponsored by Atlantic Richfield about corporate success stories. Well here it is: Success Story, the Burgmaster Turret Drill 195's Television show. - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcoope View Post
    OMG I just got "From Industry to Alchemy: Burgmaster, A Machine Tool Company" and I cannot put it down. My great love is prototyping in machine shops for scientific instruments and medical devices. Did you know, Burgmaster's first sale of their turret drill press in 1947 was to none other than Beckman Instruments of Pasadena, founded by Arnold Beckman, inventor of the pH Meter, and which is still around as Beckman-Coulter, part of Danaher. Arnold Beckman was a great hero of scientific instruments and lived to 104. More soon, it's a gripping book.

    Edit: Oh man you have to love YouTube. the book mentions Burgmaster being on a 50's TV series sponsored by Atlantic Richfield about corporate success stories. Well here it is: Success Story, the Burgmaster Turret Drill 195's Television show. - YouTube
    Glad to know you're reading about Burgmaster. I read it a few years ago and could not put it down. I'm a diehard for industry and my heart was pounding as I got closer to the end, because I just knew what was going to happen. Tragic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcoope View Post
    Fascinating. Unova is evidently gone but MAG is here and does look like what you'd expect modern engine making machinery to look like:
    ....?
    I see very little difference between the old transfer line and your pointed to MAG cell/line
    Is it what you expect because it is nicely boxed cncs at each station?
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    I see very little difference between the old transfer line and your pointed to MAG cell/line
    Is it what you expect because it is nicely boxed cncs at each station?
    Bob
    In the old films the machines seem to have limited degrees of freedom at each station, so you have as many tools as you have cylinders on that spacing and each station has only one operation with one type of cutting tool. These MAG machines at least on that web page look like conventional modern 5 axis machines with two spindles and lots of capacity for different tools and multiaxis machining. Not that they are actually showing how they would machine an engine block say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    I see very little difference between the old transfer line and your pointed to MAG cell/line
    Is it what you expect because it is nicely boxed cncs at each station?
    Bob
    If you make bazillions of something the transfer line likely would still be the ticket.

    I remember the 2 million dollar transfer line OMC built in the 70’s for the last LawnBoy 2 cycle block. A bunch of Wisconsin drilling or milling spindle heads about half that many turntables. Each machining station had an enclosure with coolant pumped bottom up & out the top. HUGE coolant pumps with a 80,000 gallon coolant pit built like a race track (kept half full the coolant looked to be moving around maybe 20-30mph inside). Bet that made the Trim-Sol guy happy…

    The line itself was a square racetrack about 900-1200 sq ft. Don’t quote me but ISTR it could pop near 6,000 casting to finished per 8 hour shift. Most of the labor involved beside feeding it was the tool grinding & setting. At any rate it could pay for a lot of support people.

    Anyway they closed Galesburg & moved it to Sardis Ms & it took longer to make it run right than it took for the first construction...

    Good luck,
    Matt

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  17. #32
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    I got to the part last night where in 1965 they get bought by Houdaille and the Houdaille CEO requires 50 page status reports every month. I have a bad feeling about where this is going....

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    I can't find the picture I posted years ago of my copy of that book arriving from Amazon packed in Japanese newspaper. Talk about cruel irony.

    Keep in mind when he mentions Yamazaki copying the Burgmaster, it's the company we know today as Mazak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Keep in mind when he mentions Yamazaki copying the Burgmaster, it's the company we know today as Mazak.
    And Niigata had a joint venture with Sundstrand to produce horizontals ... which they kicked Sundstrand out of as soon as they had the prints. Japan, our good buddies.

    Makes me laugh when patriots who have shops full of Jap shit, driving Toyota pickemups, complain about China "stealing" imaginary property. China never beheaded any US pow's, either.

    But they're communists, oooo.

    Farkin idjuts.

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    So I finished Max Holland's From Industry to Alchemy: Burgmaster, A Machine Tool Company a few days ago. What a great book, as long as you are interested equally in machine tools, 68's corporate strategy and management fads, 80's finance and government policy. Holland is pretty clear though, and spends 276 closely written pages plus abother 50 of footnotes and index to argue that really Japan was and is not the problem. His conclusion is that ultimately there is something fundamental in the American economy and political psyche that makes it very hard to do anything complicated in a private company for an extended period of time. I was thinking of trying to summarize but the last paragraphs of the book are just perfect:

    burgmaster.jpg

    There's much to ponder here and it's not like other countries don't have some of the same as well as other problems (I'm looking at you Canada) but it's dispiriting that American cannot organize its economy to be good at real things.

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  23. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffm8622 View Post
    When you're done reading 'The American Machine Tool Industry', could you give a short review telling if it's a good read? If worthwhile, I would buy it. Thanks.
    No, instead I will give you a long review!

    As promised, I got Albrecht's book yesterday and today, against my earlier plans to do productive things, I lay on the couch and read it cover to cover. So I guess I can say it's well worth reading. Now Albrecht is not a professional writer, and I found myself wishing I could have been there to help edit his wonderful book as it has little amateur issues like using too many quotation marks, italics and parentheses which slow the reader down. By contrast, Holland's Burgmaster book is an absolute tour de force of rigorous non fiction writing for a general audience. But this is a quibble. What is brilliant about The American Machine Tool Industry is the way he captures its entire history from the early nineteenth century to the present and across a great many manufacturers in the East and Midwest,so you really get a sense of the industry across the sweep of American history. The book tells the story in several chapters which sort of overlap but in the end you get the feel of the early stages, growth during the war, the golden postwar age, and then the real issues starting in the late 70's and almost demolishing the entire domestic industry by 2000. His analysis actually echos both Holland and the 1994 RAND report, particularly Holland in that notwithstanding Japanese competition, the nature of American capitalism makes it very hard to do complicated things over a long period of time. This seems to manifest itself in the financial transactions around passing a company from one generation to the next, but also that companies could and would be bought by people with no understanding of machine tools, for reasons driven by economic policy, tax laws and just greed.

    Here are some points that stuck with me. The quite detailed history of the NC to CNC transition and what all the companies were trying to do there is remarkable. We laugh about NC and punched tape since it seems so quaint but there were at least 20 years of solid NC machine operation before CNC came along. And it really was at the point of transition to CNC that the American industry really struggled. He has some interesting examples such as 248 Jones and Lamson NC lathes installed at GM Sandusky plant in the late 70's, already late in the NC era, which nevertheless ran for 20 years before being replaced by generic Okuma turning centers. And its not like the industry didn't try but they never settled on the right control and there were big missteps like the Monarch Ultracenter on which YouTube provides a funny albeit sad promotional video.

    The generification of machining is also a key theme and this goes back to my point up thread, which I didn't have the right vocabulary for, that high throughput production seems simpler than before. For example videos of high tech 1950's engine block machining show super complicated and impressive transfer stations where 160 different machines were replaced by 1 machine 150 feet long with about 150 spindles. Albrecht has a whole chapter on the rise and fall of transfer stations and multispindle machines of various sorts and their replacement with pallets and generic machines, such as the MAG centers, which represent the remnants of Cincinnati, Cross and others. And as we know, CNC machining centers especially multiaxis machines, require remarkably little specialized workholding, let alone specialized and inflexible machines like the transfer stations or the outstanding Bullard MultiMatic and its multi-spindle brethren. Further to this, Albrecht proposes four key developments in 20th century machine tools: Electric motors on machines, roller bearings, NC/CNC and carbide tools. Carbide in conjunction with CNC has really driven this move to generic systems as you can go so much harder and faster with each spindle that you just don't need the complicated inflexible stuff.

    Finally, I'm in awe of the fact that he wrote the book, evidently starting in earnest after the 2008 IMTS show and publishing in 2010. I can't find out when he was born, but judging by photos he was long retired by 2008. Anyway, this is the book I was looking for in terms of having an overview of the entire industry and I can highly recommended it. By the way, the book was comparatively expensive to buy used but my copy via the awesome used book clearing house Abebooks.com, came in as-new condition, in hardcover, and it has wonderful pictures!

    Now on to Forces of Production, which I also received and looks at first like one of those books you bought because it was assigned reading in the university humanities class you took as part of your engineering degree. Eek.

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    Thanks...
    More reading.
    No sarcasm implied!

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    To say that it is impossible in the American economy to do anything of any complexity that is also long-lasting is a silly oversimplification. All innovations eventually become old hat; Burg's machine was close to the pinnacle of mechanical semi-automation but it still required a smart operator. Even the earliest, most cumbersome forms of NC held the promise that skilled (and organized!) operators might one day be replaced with lower-cost button-pushers. Holland's book details the attempts at adapting numerical control to the turret drill but that would have had no more long-term viability than any of the other Band-Aids of the time, like Moog-controlled Bridgeports, pnueumatic Hardinge second op lathes and so on. Blaming Houdaille is easy because, yes, they were a bunch of preppies from Wharton who were clueless about machine tools. But Burg Tool would've died out by itself. Nothing lasts forever, at least not in its original, unevolved form. Most companies don't outlive their founders, at least not by much.

    And, speaking of blaming Houdaille, it is inherent in any free economy that an owner has the right to sell his property. Yeah, I know employees might call themselves stakeholders but that doesn't make them shareholders. If they want to prevent the sale they are always welcome to step up and buy the business.

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    Default Newer edition of Albrecht's book

    I just came across this from Modern Machine Shop, 2016: A New Take on Machine Tool History:



    Modern Machine Shop


    Albert B. Albrecht

    I have not been able to find this later revised edition (with a more optimistic title) available for sale online. At the end this MMS article/review gives Mr. Albrecht's e mail address and says the book is available from him for $32.00. I'm going to write him and see if it's still available, not counting on the price still being $32.00. This information is, after all, now three years old.

    David

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