Friday, February 17, 2017

Big Machine Tools

This is a posting I plan to add to as I come across additional pictures of big machine tools.

John Abbott posted
Craven 42
Brian Thomas Look at the motors behind it! Wow.
[Steam engines in the late 1800s became quite large with big flywheels. I assume this is the type of machine that made those flywheels. I remember the Ford Museum had some engines with really big flywheels when I visited it decades ago. The biggest I have seen since I bought a digital camera after I retired in May 2014 is a 1920 Vilter 250 HP Tandem Compound and a 1917 Allis-Chalmers 350 HP Engine.]
Robert Eddleman posted
180" BETTS
Robert Eddleman I machined a set of those gears for a press 4 years ago, this pic popped up on my timeline this morning, so I thought I would share:-)Robert Eddleman That is a SCHEISS gear hobber behind me.

Lots of interesting comments and pictures, two of which I include below. And a video of the South Side Machine Works in St Louis.
Bill Bauer commented on the above posting
This was our Farrel VTL , machining an approx 30 ft dia turbine , for the Sanxia 3 gorges dam in China.
Bill Bauer commented on the above posting
this was the finished product , i'm infront on the left ,holding the actual prototype( that we also made ) turbine , with the finished big boy behind us

Chris Morre posted three photos with the comment: "King Vertical Lathe still making me money almost every day! 72" four jaw chuck."



Jeff Antinori commented on the above posting
I run this mammoth. I named it one armed Willy. We also have another this old, same size as the one you posted.
I've roughed out some parts taking .300 a side. Very impressive and satisfying.
Jeff Antinori This table is 16'...... Plus, the whole machine can be moved back, making more clearance for table. I haven't used them yet but there are extenders for the table. Could probably fit something 25' wide on there. I am in no hurry to try it.
Chris Moore comment on his above posting
Not really sure of it's age. It's pre WW2. Last time the 50 hp motor was rebuilt was 1953. Here's what it ate Thursday morning.
Chris Moore I think you're right. Early 40's would be my best guess. King is no longer around but Bourn & Koch still sells parts. They might know based on serial number? Might have to check that out....
Chris Moore comment on his above posting
I can easily take .500" depth of cut on forged steel. Stay around .300" on forged stainless. You are usually limited by your tool size. We now run carbide inserts on it 600 series SNMG. We can run bigger but it's cost vs tool life. We hit a hard spot on the forging crust and the insert will just explode. Last weeks graveyard.
Jason Baker added four comments on the above posting:

1   Chips off my KING VTL, 9' table


Chris Moore It has a side arm like a Bullard. I don't have that option on mine...Jason Baker There was 17,000 lbs of material to come off each one of those partsJason Baker You have 2 rams making it a vertical boring mill, mine has a ram, Pentagon turret and side jack making it a VTL.

Derek C.Bryant Look at all those chips get the shop vac. And a big barrel or ten.

Chris Moore Too hot for a shopvac. They melt to the hose. We use shovels straight into a dump bin usually and then to the big bin. I only barrel the special alloys I don't want to mix up with regular steel. I typically run three machines at once so shovelling becomes half the work! I wish chip conveyors were feasible for me to put in.

Derek C.Bryant Oh ok. That sounds like a idea to prototype a stainless lined shop vac hose. To make that a easier job. Because there is a shop vac suction head for A 55 gallon drum.


Chris Moore Heavy apron. Ha ha. We do have chip guards on the Bullards cause they turn a faster rpm and spit chips at you. Typically the King just piles them up neatly on the left of table. I will jog the King fast to clear the table to load a new part.

Mike White I miss running stuff that big. Love big parts making big chips.

Robert Eddleman commented on the above posting
 Love the Vertical's, my favorite machine to run!
Troy Davis can't run vtl's ,gives me vertigo.tried many times to no avail.

Spencer James added three comments on the above posting.



3   That was a10 ft Cincinnati 1.000 cut on both head..
Jason Baker 1" D.O.C. ????? I can see .500" D.O.C per head but 1" I don't by that. You would run out of horsepower and you need heavy duty turning tools for heavy roughing like that.

Dan Adamchick posted
Unknown big old lathe.
John Abbott posted
Bob Gaston posted
Armstrong-Whitworth lathe
John Abbott posted
Jerry Fleischman This is called a pit lathe, used primary for fly wheels and the like.
Chance O'Neil Had a couple of these at the navy shipyard. The pits were all that were left when I worked there.
Sean McKnight + -.0003
Graham Harris Very cool. It looks like the edge is being turned. The ratchet wrench on the feed is interesting, maybe big cuts due to a very slow turning speed? there'd be auto feed surely. I wonder how long to do a face cut?
Alan Lestikow Guess that would be how they machined the flywheel assembly on this too then. . .

Bob Gaston posted
40" dia x 76' with a through hole
[It is a public group so I recommend following the link because there are a lot of interesting comments.]
I've seen a picture of a lathe in a Caterpillar plant that was so long and big that the operator rode in a cab on the tool holder. I wish I could have copied, or at least referenced, that picture.

About an hour after I wrote the above sentence, I came across the following picture of a long lathe.

John Abbott posted
This is Not an Old Lathe ... They just Needed a Telephoto Lens to reach the Other End of the
John Abbott posted
Are you sure that Truck is Long Enough?
Perry Locke I have seen these expandable wheel base fork trucks in action by riggers. Super heavy machinesRobert Hagar That hi load lifts about 24000 lbs. Max.
John Abbott posted
Lou Tucci That might have been his whole week right there.Jason Baker I have cut long sections of threads like this. Rough in using a follower rest, then finish half the length at each holding half the length of screw with steady rest and using follower rest at tool post. We had to grind our own tools to finish each side of the thread acme or buttress, once we started finishing the the thread had to run rpm dead slow and peel out thread flanks with hand ground high speed steel tools running coolant and I would get a polished finish. 
John Abbott posted
Gauging Diameter Tail Shaft
Just like woodworking --- measure twice, cut once. A link to another machinist measuring the diameter of another large shaft.

Hesham Eladawi posted
The biggest lathe in the world, supposedly, in 1931. Built in Westphalia Germany. It has a length of 10 m and is powered by a 100 HP motor. Workers surround and admire the giant machine.

John Abbott posted
James Miller I have setup and ran Wernier lathes that were 80 ft between ctrs and had 4 compound slides to turn spin-cast tubes that weighed 25,000 lbs that would in turn be cut down into lock rings for pipe unions; sand would destroy the inserts!
Chance O'Neil I think they are Betts-Bridgeford lathes. Hard to say for sure but they are very similar
John Abbott posted

John Abbott posted
Anthony Garner Looks like that roll got strip tooled .The steady rest isnt for rigidity of setup as much as for sag . Hard to measure when your part goes banana on you.
John Abbott posted
Bill Sparling Is that the micrometer hanging up in the air there ? way coolAllen Butler I'm not sure if it's a mike, but it does look like a gage
John Abbott posted
fairly large machine
[It took me a while before I spotted the two guys standing in the background. There were a few comments about the open gears and OSHA.]
John Abbott posted
Can you say Boring Bar.... Holey ... wow...
John Abbott posted
Early Boring Mill...
Kenneth Rose ha, the operators are probably the one standing in the back. The man in the suit is probably the boss, and probably doesn't even know what lever or wheel to turn. But I could be wrong. I know how I like to wear a suit to work. LOLRay Cook No chips,'prolly right.

Steven Palmer posted
Slooow Ride!!
John Abbott I love big long cuts ... needs a carrier seat with a back rest...
Carl Steensma ...and a coffee cup holder.
Steven Palmer Its a biggy 84" swing 34' bed
Robert Chave Bath Iron Works had one like this, but longer. You could turn the propeller shafts for a quite substantial ship on it.
Tanner Remillard My old German teacher told me back in the 60's he did a job on the lathe where his 8 hour shift was 2 roughing passes.
Randall Nick Wegman Heard a similar story about GE turbine blades in New Castle, DE. Whole shift was just watching it cut.Ron Spokovich Some in our Roll Shop were that size, and did have seats on them when you're roughing and had lots of time. If you had a double insert tool in, you could take 6" off in one pass. I think they were 200HP to 250HP!
Ron Spokovich Robert Chave Yes, 6" on the diameter. The tool had two inserts each, one slightly ahead of the other and down from it and both were on a slight angle. The inserts were about the size of a domino, and about 3/8" to 1/2" thick. The lead tip cut first, then the second after a few revolutions, resulting in a 6" cut off of the diameter, as each tool cut 1 1/2", making 3" to-the-side, and 6" off the diameter. Those chips were capable of damage!
Ian Wilson My old instructor told me that as an apprentice during WWII he would finish a parting off cut on large diametre turbine shafts by straddling the groove and driving hardened steel wedges with a sledge hammer down the parting cut untill the shaft was detached, for this he got an extra shilling in his pay.
Anthony Garner Its not bad in the Lathe . The slow ride comes when it goes to grinder . 12 hours a pass .
Rex Whinery I had to turn .220" off of a 15.25" x 29 ft piston rod and had terrible problems with taper. That forging sagged 1/4" when supported on the ends.
John Abbott sometimes the heat from the cut tends to swell up the shaft length ... causing a bow effect cutting leads to a tapering effect mostly in the middle .....long shafts can be a real pain... that is where your skill comes into play ...
Rex Whinery I had indicators set up showing how it was sagging and cutting tool was pushing it away. I ended up marking the difference on the ways and adjusted the depth of cut as it was going. Luckily I had a .020 tolerance as it was being ground after that.
Ryan Darragh commented on the above posting

John Abbot posted
Chad Fisher When a ladder is needed you know it's freaking hugeJohn Abbott At least they put the Start and Stop buttons on the Ground Floor ....Peter Bartell Must take one hell of a chuck keyDavid Stapleton If your cutting at max diameter, bet you could go take a piss before it made a full rotation.
John Abbott posted
Big Planer... Sorry GIGANTIC !!! Planer says: ...Built in 1908 by the Niles - Bement - Pond Company of Philadelphia Pennsylvania this was likely, at the time the Largest and Heaviest Metal Working Planer ever made... The huge machine weighted at 845,000 lbs. and had motors totaling 207 HP for driving table, slotter bar, lift and so forth...
John Abbott posted
Planer Mill ....this is going to take all day...
Paul Baygents That is the largest piece of stock I've ever seen.
Grant Alexander Smith Hammer base
John Abbott posted
Planing Joint Flange Bed plate
John Abbott posted
Loyd Boydigan Did an apprenticeship at Wean-United in Youngstown, Ohio. Had to learn these mills as part of it. We had 7 of them, from 5' to 14' between the columns. Very high seniority job, paid the most and a lot of prestige. These guys that ran them had a lot of respect. Still keep a picture of myself running the 14 ft in my toolbox. My diemaker buddies at my current job just shake their heads.
John Abbott posted
Craven Planer
[Note the guy standing next to the tool holder.]

John Abbott posted
Lots of Parts waiting for this Bad Boy to fire up !!!
Jason Baker At the old Wean United plant here in Youngstown, Ohio they use to like 6 of those big Ingersoll planers. That place was huge.Loyd Boydigan Actually, the Wean plant I'm Austintown had 7 at one time. 5',6',7',8',10',13',and 14' between the columns. I ran the 7,10,13,14 ft at one time another. The United plant downtown had even bigger ones, gantry style. Only paid about $15 an hr to run these things. We all had to learn them in the apprenticeship.

John Abbott posted
Put out the Safety chains and watch your head...
A Ship rudder Casting...They weld plates to the sides after turning it.
[Unfortunately, I don't know enough about machine tools to understand some of the comments. And I can't figure out what and how is being tooled. The tips of the rudder frame?]

John Abbott posted
Hey go grab me that micrometer over there >>>>
[When you are machining big parts, you need to be able to make big measurements!]
Robert Hagar As thin as the frame is it seems that the heat of your hands would throw it off by .010".
Mark Beam A breeze blowing through the shop will do wonders too , and keep an eye on your parts temp. too . Best advice place them beside the standard you are using , check to standard , use them , then check to standard again . Keep in mind that the standard and part temperatures must be as close to each other as possible .
Chance O'Neil They are very heat sensitive. Can't hold them for more than a few minutes. Gravity also makes a difference. When checking them with standard, you check them in the same manner you will take the measurement. If you will measure with the mic laying horizontal, then you check the standard while horizontal. If measuring vertically like measuring a shaft od while it's in the lathe, then check it on standard vertically. You have to really developed your feel to use these big ones accurately.
John Abbott posted
...A look at the Future of Machining...3 Jobs once ...???   Gantry-Milling-Machine-BQ2-B2-
[It wasn't did not appreciate the size of the tool and the work until a comment pointed out the "tool operator cage."]
John Abbott posted
Taneleer Tivan We had one of those even 2 times bigger at Votih-germany. Hard to imagine and even harder to belive but it's true.Tyler Sienkiewicz Now that's a VTL
[I have concluded that VTL means Vertical Turning Lathe.]
John Abbott posted
John Abbott posted
Niles VBM operator platform
John Abbott posted
Jason Beaver That's a huge widow maker. Lol.

John Abbott posted
Ray Smith Would have loved to run this one. Looks like a pivoting axis mill.
John Abbott posted
Chuck Larkin Similar to the huge vertical boring mill at Mare Island
[The comments decided it was a Niles after some specullation on Bullard and Cincinnati.]
Obviously a big lathe was needed to turn this after big machines forged it.
Paul Fisher posted
I'm new to this group. I like every one else here learned a long time ago in shops with over head drive belts from a pony motor. I collect ww2 antiques on the side and am exposed to tons of pictures from the era. I don't know if the picture was ever shown here. If so disregard.
Brad Piatt Rough turned steam turbine rotor maybe.Donald Towne Think you hit the nail on the head,Brad. Worked on a lot of these at G.E. Think this may be a GE or Westinghouse Shop. Schenectady,NY maybe?Carl Steensma Honestly, it looks like ALCO Schenectady. They did a lot of war work.Brad Piatt Yes it does look like ALCOCarl Steensma I was last in the ALCO shop in Schenectady in about 1988. A lot of it was occupied by GE. We made a special Stator Core alignment fixture that was used in that building. At least that's what it looked like in there when we delivered it and showed the guys how to use it.

John Abbott posted
John Abbott If you will Notice this... me being a welder ...the Lifting Lugs Welded to the Plate end lift it out of the roll with a overhead crane ...when finished ...
[That is a thick plate that is getting bent!]
John Abbott posted
Robert Phillips AHhhhhh, somebody knows how to roll a cone:):):):)John Abbott You need that extra roller on the plate edge nice machineMichael Pahl It's a pretty good-sized one
[It must be a good-sized one for cone rolling. The boiler shops for steam locomotives would have to have really long rollers. I'm still looking for a picture of one of those.]
Dan Rasure shared
Buy American, buy Bertsch. American made since 1879.
Look at this huge old Bertsch Roll. They started making machine tools in 1879 in Cambridge,IN
Dan Rasure They made some rolls so big for nuclear plants they had to be assembled on site.
Chuck Larkin posted
The plate roller at American Bridge, US Steel in South San Francisco. Worked in the machine shop until 1971. Sorry I didn't take pictures. Very interesting work.
Chuck Larkin That machine would easily roll 2' thick plate into pipe up to 20' diameter. Wish I had some pictures of the other equipment. There was a plate beveling machine that would cut a bevel on the edge of 40' long 2" thick steel plate. The operator would ride in a carriage with a series of tool bits, each set a bit deeper at 45 degrees drenched in a bath of cutting oil. It would take about 15 seconds to complete the beveling operation.
There were several huge plate positioning machines. These would hold and rotate curved, pie shaped segments of plate, allowing the welders to easily weld all of the segments together to form the end cap for the 20' diameter pipe.
The machine shop had Lathes, Mills, Radial Drills, Vertical Boring Mills, and many others. 
Both Bethlehem Steel, and U.S. Steel closed in 1971. Had they not, I would have retired from there. Great job with great people.

John Abbott posted
[Note the blade at the bottom of the member that moves vertically between the side rails. This machine obviously shears metal plate to length.]
John Abbott posted
John Abbott posted
Guillotine Shear Steel Car Shop... Capacity 10 ft. x 7/8" in. Plate
Aug Blanchat Bet that made quite a thump when it sheared 7/8 thick steel plate...customarily the concrete slabs beneath those shears in the old steel plants were 6 and 8 feet in depth - lots to contend with...

John Abbott posted
[I assume that is an engine block that is being machined. Notice it has tool holders from the side as well as from the top.]
John Abbott posted

John Abbott posted
Counter Boring
Philip Zalewski commented on the above posting
It's a larger bore at the top.
Doug Kennedy posted
Van Norman 477 crankshaft grinder. I'm grinding a D8 cat crank.
John Abbott posted
I was wondering about the scale of this bandsaw. Fortunately this comment answered my question.

Daniel Warner commented on the above posting
Here's from when I was there back in 2008. My old college bud, Kevin, and I are both 6 foot tall. The band mill is a Sumner Iron Works. It's a double cut band, meaning it can cut when the carriage (missing) is traveling in either direction.

If anyone is ever in the Portland, OR area I would highly suggest that they take the 1 hour road trip West to Camp 18 and get some breakfast. The restaruant and the whole yard around it is full of this kind of eye candy.
Ben Stalvey posted
Hard at work on the 4100W. Blast from the past. Someone has to preserve all that unique Manitowoc Crane history and that's me
[This would be machining the base for a crawler crane housing.]
Steven Palmer posted
Bob Gaston The reactor vessel head for the Energy Research and Development Administration's Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) at Hanford, Washington. c. 1974.Jason Stolszek This machine was probably built for this one job and then scrapped. I'm not entirely sure what they do with these.

John Abbott posted

Ross Ibold commented on a posting
Horsburgh and Scott here in Cleveland makes gears that big.

John Abbott posted
A Video
John Abbott posted
Marcus Samson Bottoms of tanks
John Abbott posted
I need too do a little grinding.
Seth Marsh Now that's a blanchardChance O'Neil Wow! I've ran some really big grinders in my time, but that thing makes them all look like childs toys! That is awesome!!
Spencer James posted three pictures with the comment: "Hahn and clay, Houston Texas."



John Abbott posted
Craven Bros Electrically driven B size circular saw for iron or steel c1911.
John Abbott posted
Bill Porter Finally get to see the entire device, lotta partial views, hate to get a finger in that thing.
By Moonlight0551 from Australia (Cockatoo Island Giant Lathe HDR) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
[The world's largest lathe is for sale.]
Randall James Marquis posted
Craven Vertical Mill
Kevin Clark General Electric in Lynn
Gerald Hounchell How do they maintain rigidity in the tooling arms? Must be a problemCraig A. Hornbeck Sheer mass !

Niles Bement Pond did not make machines as big as some of the others, but I include this link because I want to record the name.

Other big machines in the blogs: