Cincinnati Machine Tools in the Great War
Posted On: 12/13/2017 - 12:22pm, Posted By: David Conzett, Curator of History Objects & Fine Art
April 6, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I. Every other Wednesday, we will present items from our collections that highlight life in Cincinnati, around the nation and from the battlefields during the war.
Milling Machines and Lathes were two of the most important machine tools manufactured by Cincinnati’s machine tool industry during World War One.
Several Cincinnati milling machines, LeBlond lathes, American Tool Works shapers, G.A. Gray Company planners and Lodge & Shipley vertical drills are part of Cincinnati Museum Center’s permanent history collection.
Dating from the time of the Romans, the Lathe was one of the first machine tools to be invented. Used to fashion and finish round pieces such as pistons, wheels, axles as well as rifle and artillery barrels – a work piece placed in a lathe spins around while a sharp steel cutter applied to the edge produces a perfect finished piece. A cutter used on the inside produces a finished interior cavity. The R.K. LeBlond Company and American Tool Works were among the leading producers of lathes in the country.
Milling machines were used to cut and shape parts for firearms. The cutter, attached to the horizontal spindle, rotating at high speed, would cut and shape the part. The Universal Head, mounted on the adjustable table, would hold the part at the proper angle against the cutter for a precise cut. Hundreds of Cincinnati produced milling machines were sent to U.S. firearms manufacturers – Colt, Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Remington and the Springfield Arsenal – to make millions of pistols, rifles and machine guns for the U.S. Armed Forces.