Who was Hercules? (lathes)
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    Default Who was Hercules? (lathes)

    Does anyone have a Hercules brochure or other information indicating who this company was? Where they were based? If they did their own manufacturing?

    Every now and again a "Hercules" branded lathe appears on these pages and they are usually a copy (or re-named genuine?) Graziano, Mazak (or Ajax? - who were Ajax?)

    Here are the ones I have seen. The bold names below are cast into the bed:

    Hercules Sag 14 - looks similar to the Graziano Sag 180 which pre-dated the Graziano Sag 14. None appear to have the UCIMU badge (Italian machine tool builders association) commonly seen on Graziano lathes.There was also a Hercules Sag 20 with old design features.

    Graziano Tortona Hercules Sag 14: has a newer flat top tailstock, electrical controls above headstock, but otherwise still looks old design e.g. Sag 180-type carriage and saddle etc. No UCIMU badge (that I an see anyway).

    Hercules Ajax - large and smaller lathes. Who were Ajax? See 2 x photos below. maybe Japanese designs?

    Hercules Ajax Mazak 18: Made in Japan.

    hercules-sag-14.jpg graziano-sag-14-hercules-01.jpg mazak-hercules-ajax-01.jpg b98956fe28f7c4ada14b995807952b88.jpg herculeslesa.jpg

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    Hercules ajax, I think that all the ajax where mazaks rebadged by chicago importer. I have a yamazaki history someplace that they published. They talk about that as the first entry into the US market. First batch was rejected for quality issues.

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    Where is the sn on a sag14?

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    There was a Spanish machine tool maker called "AJAX ".

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    There was a Spanish machine tool maker called "AJAX ".

    Regards Tyrone.
    'Not Only!"

    Was once a sore-common event, pre-internet and Google, to name a company "AAAjax <wotever>" "AAcme <wotever>. so as to be early-up, if not first listing, yellow pages phone directory printing, damned near every category they had.

    Most, not all, were just supplementary 'TA" (Trading As) or DBA (Doing business As) legally-registered "aliases" for the Likes of Stanislaus Kowalksi & Son Plumbing or such.

    Anyone as actually CARES that much, similar papers may have been filed by Graziano's lawsters with a Court somewhere in Italy for the use of that Hercules "Trade Name".

    As a person "aware" of how Italian Courts operate?

    I'd advise going on a three-day drunk before shooting yourself in the head as far more productive than trying to track that information down.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    There was a Spanish machine tool maker called "AJAX ".

    Regards Tyrone.
    Tyrone,
    Thanks for that, I came across my first Ajax mill earlier this year (see photos) and was told it was Spanish. Actually, it was an "Ajax-Cleveland".

    However, Tony's pages say Ajax was a UK company who badged milling machines that were made in Spain (actual makers name not given).

    It looks like they are still in business and still rebadging machines...

    I see Ajax in the UK have also offered Ajax-badged lathes over the years, however my guess it is they are not linked to the mysterious Hercules.

    Ajax milling machines

    Ajax Machine Tools

    ajax-cleveland-mill-01.jpgajax-cleveland-mill-02.jpg

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    I came across an eBay listing for a Summit Hercules Romania lathe. As far as I know, Summit was/is a US company who rebadges imported machinery.


    summit-hercules-romania-01.jpg summit-hercules-romania-02.jpg

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    Hi Peter
    Here is a good book that will tell the story of the US machine tool demise and mentions the Hercules Ajax brand.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 5ec9d023-2fda-4bba-96b4-ab2a0beb970b.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter S View Post
    I came across an eBay listing for a Summit Hercules Romania lathe. As far as I know, Summit was/is a US company who rebadges imported machinery.
    Peter? There is an "organized manner for "mining" the data for the stuff.
    It takes organized effort.

    Case in point: Big Corp about to launch a new subsidiary & product, one of their older, wiser, very "wordly" Directors calls me and says "I'm sure I've heard that "new" name somewhere before".

    Sure enough. Not once, but seven significant size users, world-wide. All with access to IP-rights lawsters.

    When Esso wanted to use "Exxon"? They had to buy some smaller people off.

    This firm? The search cost to vet a "shortlist" of alternative names included $8,000 just for the for-fee, and not for-free database access. We DID find them a name.

    At our cost. Said Big Corp worldly-wise Director was ALSO on my own board!


    Use of a name from mythology - ANY mythology - is EASIER.

    There's "prior use", y'see. And BIGTIME!

    Really hard to claim violation of ANYONE's IP rights to it in the modern era.

    Well..... maybe not if you happen to be Zeus.

    For-real.

    Even so, lightning bolts from the very Gods vs Lawsters?

    I'm betting on the Lawsters..



    WTH.. Google only returns a bit over 27 million uses of "Hercules".

    Don't go there. Trade mark, service mark, logo, body-corporate etc. bespoke registration Databases, rather. That should get it down to ten thousand or so.

    You'll need to be able to read several languages, of course.

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    Mc Donalds search worldwide for people descended from the lord of the isles......and sue them for using the name....So much buying out little people......they scare them off,or ruin them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter S View Post
    Does anyone have a Hercules brochure or other information indicating who this company was? Where they were based? If they did their own manufacturing?

    Every now and again a "Hercules" branded lathe appears on these pages and they are usually a copy (or re-named genuine?) Graziano, Mazak (or Ajax? - who were Ajax?)




    Here are the ones I have seen. The bold names below are cast into the bed:

    Hercules Sag 14 - looks similar to the Graziano Sag 180 which pre-dated the Graziano Sag 14. None appear to have the UCIMU badge (Italian machine tool builders association) commonly seen on Graziano lathes.There was also a Hercules Sag 20 with old design features.

    Graziano Tortona Hercules Sag 14: has a newer flat top tailstock, electrical controls above headstock, but otherwise still looks old design e.g. Sag 180-type carriage and saddle etc. No UCIMU badge (that I an see anyway).

    Hercules Ajax - large and smaller lathes. Who were Ajax? See 2 x photos below. maybe Japanese designs?

    Hercules Ajax Mazak 18: Made in Japan.

    hercules-sag-14.jpg graziano-sag-14-hercules-01.jpg mazak-hercules-ajax-01.jpg b98956fe28f7c4ada14b995807952b88.jpg herculeslesa.jpg
    Peter

    I have a fine example of an early "AJAX HERCULES" in my shop. At least that is what the letters of the cast name plate affixed to the swarf pan reads, It is a MAZAK, made in Japan.

    A very fine machine tool it is also.!

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    Quote Originally Posted by collector View Post
    Hi Peter
    Here is a good book that will tell the story of the US machine tool demise and mentions the Hercules Ajax brand.
    When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America by Max Holland, 1989.

    I bought this book (thank's Collector), this is what it says about Mazak and Hercules Ajax:

    page 120: In the spring of 1962, Yamazaki shipped two lathes to Chicago, where they attracted the interest of Morey Machinery, a trading company. After many discussions, Simon Morey finally laid a proposition on the table. He wanted to buy two hundred lathes at $2,500 each from Yamazaki, and sell them in the American market for $5,000 a lathe.

    Yamazaki was taken aback. Morey's purchase price was 30 percent less than what the same lathe sold for in Japan, moreover, Morey was demanding that modifications be made in order to sell the lathes in the United States. Yamazaki would not even have the benefit of establishing its trade name in America, because Morey insisted on marketing the lathe under his own brand name, Hercules Ajax.

    The source given for this information is Ezra F. Vogel, Comeback Case by Case:Building the Resurgence of American Business. 1985.

    Quite an inauspicious start in the US for the mighty Mazak.

    Additional: page 124: speaking of 1968 - Most significant, the Yamazaki brothers decided to sever their tie to Morey Machinery and do their own marketing and service. For one reason, they were no longer satisfied to see the Hercules Ajax brand on all their lathes. That was near blasphemy to a builder as proud and as enterprising as Yamazaki. That year the brothers opened a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, the Yamazaki Machinery Corporation, on Long Island, New York. (source Vogel as above).

    So perhaps that accounts for the Hercules Ajax brand in the US, but what about the Hercules Graziano? Further work needed.
    Last edited by Peter S; 06-14-2018 at 01:23 AM.

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    IIRC, for a short period of time "Hercules" owned the former "RD&D" here in Erie,
    maker of some of the larger-ish lathes.

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