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Need Some Inspiration: Machine Tools and the Deep South

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  • Need Some Inspiration: Machine Tools and the Deep South

    This semester I took a course in "Southern Culture" and we are required to write a paper on virtually anything about the south. Some students are planning papers about food, religion, music, etc. I thought I'd like to work machine tools into mine, but I'm really not familiar with the "south" in terms of industry.

    Any ideas, suggestions, starting places, etc would be appreciated!

  • #2
    Take a look at the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, AL. I've always wanted to go as it's only about 2 hours from where I am in Huntsville.

    There was also a lot of hardware manufacture in Huntsville during the space program. I'd expect places like Teledyne Brown to come up.

    Good Luck, Tom.

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    • #3
      You could focus on the revolution in agriculture that began in the South. Two elements played a major part. One was of course slavery and it's elimination. I would stay away from that, the topic is just too big.

      However, connected to that is the development of automated agricultural machines and the development of mass production using interchangable parts. Eli Whitney was a key player as he invented the cotton gin and he also was a major promoter of the concept of precision machining which enabled the production of interchangeable parts. Silas McCormick developed the automated horse drawn reaper and that was a huge factor in increasing the productivity of agriculture in the South.

      I even made a model of his reaper to go with the paper I wrote on this in school.
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      • #4
        Don't forget the cotton picking machine. There's one in the Ford Museum in Dearborn as an example of how machinery changed agriculture.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the ideas! How could I forget Eli Whitney? Isn't he the fellow generally credited with "inventing" the milling machine?

          Cameron - thanks for the info! I just looked on their site. I'll have to put it on my road-trip list for places to visit.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Fasttrack
            Thanks for the ideas! How could I forget Eli Whitney? Isn't he the fellow generally credited with "inventing" the milling machine?
            Yes, Eli Whitney is generally credited with building the first milling machine, circa 1810, but as usual with major inventions, there were several contemporaries. The problem with respect to your assignment is that Eli Whitney was a Yankee -- born and raised in Massachusetts, went to Yale.

            The reason he was building interchangeable musket parts on his milling machine is because he was screwed out of the patent for the Cotton Gin, and made almost no money from it.
            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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            • #7
              The fact that Whitney was a northerner doesn't change the fact that his inventions revolutionized agriculture in the deep south. That is the very important change that took place after the civil war.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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              • #8
                Agree completely Evan -- the Cotton Gin radically changed Southern economics, and paradoxically extended slavery, because it enabled an immense increase in cotton production.
                "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                • #9
                  Cyrus McCormick manufactured his first reapers about a 1/2 mile from where I live. the buildings are gone, eventually it was folded in to International harvester co. Reaper ave is still there . The same company invented the cotton picker , it came in to widespred use after WW2. I read old sales literature that said it could replace 80 pickers, I dont know if that is true. I did give picking cotton by hand a try , we had family in the south. I can say it is brutal to pick cotton by hand it tears your hands up.
                  For metal working in the south i would suggest "still" making. It was big part of the old south's economy .
                  scariest thing to hear " I am from the government and i am here to help"

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                  • #10
                    +1 Evan & Cotton Gin. First thing that came to mind.

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                    • #11
                      Check out Richmond Locomotive Works in the Nineteenth century.

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                      • #12
                        George Washington Carver?http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/carver.htm We grow more than cotton down here.

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                        • #13
                          For metal working in the south i would suggest "still" making. It was big part of the old south's economy .
                          I totally agree.

                          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                          • #14
                            Sorry, Evan Williams Bourbon is made in KY just down the road from me, not in the South.

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                            • #15
                              Kentucky, where I have relatives, is south of the Mason-Dixon line.
                              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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