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  • old style shops

    anybody know of any places to get stories,pictures,etc. of older machine shops like the one that was shown in hsm may/june 85 bastion of the belts. that was the coolest looking shop,wish they would have had more pictures.i just think they disapearing because everything seems to have to be done so fast now.i wonder why we seem to be in such a hurry to get things made and think maybe we should slow down and start building quality instead of quantity again just a few thoughts from a confirmed dreamer!!

  • #2
    Although I do agree with you....but, unfortunetely I have 3 kids to feed...I can't compete in todays market place by being slow...

    quality is everything, but so Is speed...In my shop, when I hire someone who makes absolute quality parts, but is slow...well, I show him the door...this sounds mean but I have to survive...I need quality in a timely doesn't do me any good to have a perfect functional part that costs $800.00 when it should only cost $200.00



    • #3
      brent i can completly understand you have to be able to compete in a world market that to me seems to be moving faster all the time.not much can be done to slow down i am original post was about starting my own small shop,since you have already done this do you think there is still a place or need for a general machine shop that doesnt have the faster machines and the pressure to produce parts at a competitive rate? or do you think that it is a vanishing market? if there still is where do you think would be a good place to start?sorry to ask so many questions but there is a lot of knowledge to tapped here,any help or comments are greatly appreciated jeff


      • #4
        The reality is we need both quality and speed to survive in the real world and we have achieved it. We, the industrialized world, build the finest cars, aircraft, machine tools, etc. that have ever been produced in the history of the world and we do it faster than ever before. The new CNC machines work at incredible speeds at tolerances only dreamed about just decades ago.

        I've done some blacksmithing and it's a very interesting hobby, but let's get real, how many of us really need something that has been hand wrought? I also like to admire the old belt driven machines of the turn of the century as well as cars built in the 20's and 30's but I have no desire to return to that era.




        • #5

          To start your own shop, I guess it depends on your location in this country(I'm assuming the U.S)..

          I know that if you started your own shop, then automotive parts are a great thing to start into...put an ad in the paper, and I guarantee you will get a lot of people who need stuff resurfaced, or brackets made, or whatever...

          It would take a lot of effort in getting yourself somewhat successful...but most people rely heavily on price...if you can be much cheaper then anyone else, then bammmm...there you go...

          I am a strong believer in the need for manual machinists...which means if you start your own shop, then you would probably only have manual machine..thats O.K...You are not going to get those big contracts...who cares!! just try to get those onesy twosies.....Knowledge and experience in the art of machining is the whole KEY...No one really knows how to run a business,,its a lot of pure luck...If you have faith in your skills as a tradesman, then you will be successful..

          I sure wish you all the luck in the world, and if there is anything that I can do to help you with your potential business pursuit or anything else, please don't hesitate to ask....

          [email protected]


          • #6
            Just for the record...I did NOT start my business...I started working at my shop making minumum wage 15 years ago...I was just a peon...But I did work my way up the ladder to be Part owner of the company...

            So I dont' have experience in starting my own shop...sorry for the confusion....

            Dedication and Sacrificing goes a long way..



            • #7
              Yep, busting your butt has its rewards. One fellow I worked for I made a deal with him to not take over time pay - just staight time. He needed to get work done and I needed the money - we both won, it was a beautiful thing. We were just like family, I loved working there.


              • #8
                I currently work in an old time shop,I don't mean flat belts although we still have a few that see regular use.I have seen the trend to all cnc shops and it is partially to blame for the declining quality of the labor we have today.Real honest to God machinists are still in demand,operators are a dime a dozen.As far as accuracy many people think that cnc macnines where invented to improve accuracy,they weren't it was to allow cheaper unskilled labor to produce accurate parts.While there are many who would argue that nc machines are the end all be all of machine tools the fact is they are not.Many companies have found out that it still requires a machinist to baby sit one.After all you still have to know what you are looking at.There will always be a need for an old time manual shop where a machinist makes parts to spec one at a time one day at a time.The demand has increased in the last few years as people who have the know how retire and none are being trained to replace them.I see this all the time when kids come by and ask for a job you would be suprised how many can't add and subtract with out a calculator.This is not intended to insult any of you cnc guys out there an nc machine has its place, but I have won contracts because my old manual machines are sometimes faster and in one case more accurate.We had a job come in that had a bearing bore on opposite sides of a casting the company that was our compition on this part couldn't hold line bore accuracy so the bearings were failing prematurely due to axial misalignment,I knew the machine that the shop was using was an nc machining center with a rotary platform and knew I could do better.I machined out a sample on our old Lucas 1.5"horiz.boring mill and did both faces without moving the part.Axial misalignment went from +/-.0015 to .00025 total!And part cost fell about 20%,their production foreman couldn't believe that our "old junk"could do that,long story short we got all the work from our compition and two years later they went broke.Heck I could have made the part for half of what I was charging and still made money because our "old junk" was paid for!As for the picture question look up Harold Barker he advertises in HMS and has some excellent books on the history of machine tools that are well worth the money despite being compiled photo copies.

                [This message has been edited by wierdscience (edited 03-17-2003).]
                I just need one more tool,just one!


                • #9

                  I was given this bit of advice by a successful small business owner. He had gone broke a couple of times before he learned this; "Every successful business owner has these two skills, one is the skill pertinent to his own craft or trade and the other is the skill that he shares with every other successful business owner namely, the art and knowledge of being a BUSINESS MAN"

                  I believe that Brent is correct in saying that "we don't know exactly what that knowledge is" but there must be a common thread of knowhow or guiding instincts shared by all good businessmen. Wouldn't you think so?



                  • #10
                    Try this site for some pictures of old machines.




                    • #11
                      I've always thought it would be fun to put together a functioning shop with antique equipment as a museum. So much old equipment just goes out for scrap, and it's really a shame because much of it was really elegantly made. I'll probably never have the financial wherewithal to do it, but it's one of my little pipedreams.


                      • #12
                        There is an old time machine shop here in eastern connecticut. Its a family business in its 3rd or 4th generation. Lots of flatbelt machines and some newer stuff too. IT is about as messy as could be imagined (i was going to say disorganized, but the owner/machinist seems to know exactly whree everything is). Its not a museum by any stretch of the imagination, just an old machine shop that hasnt replaced many of the old machines because they still work just fine.
                        IT is called Wells Machine Shop, owned by Peter Wells in Groton Connecticut. I havent been there is years. I am sure if you stopped by, he'd be happy to show you around.


                        • #13
                          merf23- I know the shop you're talking about, isn't it on Rt.184 near Old Mystic? That guy was some hell of an inventor too, made all his own batteries and generated/stored his own electricity if I recall right. Close to twenty years since I was there, I'd like to check him out again. Another couple of really cool shops in the area were the Thames shipyard shops, in New London. The one South of the bridge was more "modern", great big lathe, etc. They also had a yard North of the Coast Guard Acadamy, with a machine shop and boiler shop, neither of which were in use last I was there (ca. 1988). The place looked like they walked out the door on a Friday afternoon in the '30s and never came back. I was told the shop North of the bridge was demolished, but I don't know for sure.


                          • #14
                            Any one who likes old machinery and line shafts should visit the "oldtimers and threshers Meusem" at Mt pleasent Iowa. Nice bunch of men, very clean shop, lots of stuff to see and lay your hands on. I avoided the big show they have yearly- just spent a few hours at the show, then went back later to tour. Talk about old codgers and getting them to talk!!!! Then when started, there was no stopping them. Don't missthem if you have chance. (usual disclaimers apply here aslo )


                            • #15
                              There is an old completely flat belt shop
                              here in Hartford that made parts for me before I had my own equipment. I believe that the owner has given up as I do not see
                              him open the shop any longer. Ed