This post will go in the off-topic category because it has nothing to do with home improvement. It was inspired after going through some old photos of my grandfather’s machine shop, and my ever increasing admiration of his skills.
I come from a family of machinist–several generations, in fact. My great-grandfather started a machine shop in the early part of the last century, which my (paternal) grandfather and his brother carried on until they closed it in the mid-1980’s–they were both pushing 90 years of age when they closed the doors, and their shop was an echo of years gone by. Not unlike my grandfather, who refused to change with the times.
The building that housed the shop was also built my great grandfather. (I’ve been told that he poured each brick by hand in a mold). Even though the building had electricity, the lathes and other machines that were purchased in those early years, were not wired for it. Instead, they were run on a line shaft, which is a system of belts and pulleys that drive the machines. Here is photo of the ceiling of the shop that was taken shortly before the shop was closed.
I can remember my grandfather going over to a circuit box and pulling this huge lever, which would start the belts and flywheels whirring overhead. Once those were running, they could operate the machinery. OSHA would probably shut this place down today, but this was from a different era.
Norton Crankshaft Grinder
24″ American Lathe, which they purchased from the Ashcroft Cotton Mill when it closed
My grandfather was a perfectionist when it came to his work. Every job was “the meanest job he ever did”, but it was perfect. He also refused to be bound by deadlines. If a potential customer said he needed something completed by Friday, Grandpa would hand it right back and tell him to go elsewhere…(or, told them where to go). Here he is at work. Doesn’t he look cold?
The shop was heated by a single pot-bellied stove. They did not believe in modernizing. (We used to laught about it. Remeber that SNL character that Dana Carvey used to play–The old man, who, when talking about the hard times from the old days would say: “That’s the way it WAS and we LIKED it!”– Remember that character? That was grandpa, but I loved him dearly–negativity and all.
Uncle Floyd grinding a crankshaft
My father is also a machinist. He is retired, now, but still has a shop–AND, the machines are electric! (The things we take for granted). I don’t have any photos of his place to share today. I will soon, though. Dad is going to have a “shop course” for my son and me. I can’t wait. It must be in the genes…
(The above photos were taken by the late Gene George.)