Does machinery pay in the carriage-shop? This is a question to which we have given considerable attention during the past year, and in the descriptions of leading carriage factories which we have published, we have in each case given a full list of the machinery employed. During the coming year, we hope to ventilate this subject still further.
The following article, from the “Harness and Carriage Journal,” and evidently written by Mr. J. L. H. Mosier, who is already well known to our readers as a regular correspondent of The Hub, is valuable in this connection:
“Let us enter into a review of this question, commencing with the smithing-room and ending with the paint-shop. In the matter of power vs. hand-blast, power-blast is a saving over hand-blast of nearly one man to a fire, and yields a production of fully ten per cent more. Next come the drilling-machines: with the ordinary hand-power machines, we will allow that a good workman can drill forty three-eighth-inch holes through half-inch iron in one hour. With a power-drill, fully sixty of the same holes can be drilled in the same time by any ordinarily good boy, at 50 per cent less wages, showing a gain of 50 per cent in production, at a cost of 50 per cent less for labor, from which deduct about 20 per cent for power.”
“We will next speak of the bolt-cutting machine: a smart man is capable of cutting and nutting by hand thirty bolts in ten hours, for which service we pay $10 per week. With the machine, we can cut and nut sixty in one hour, the machine being tended by a boy, at the wages of $6 per week; or, if we have employment enough for the number, the same boy can attend to working three machines with ease, or, if the same be fitted with an automatic attachment, the same attendant could easily attend to six machines.”
“The next thing to be considered is the lathe. No better auxiliary ever entered the carriage smithing-room. With it we can bore and fit a kingbolt and socket, to perfection, in one hour, while by hand the same is ordinarily accomplished, less perfectly, in not less than two hours at best.”
“Next come the hammers. With any of the improved forge-hammers—‘trip-hammers’—one man can draw down as much iron in one hour as three men can do by hand in twice the length of time, requiring much less coal in generating the heat.
“With the best regulated drills, we can not drill as many holes in five hours as we can punch with a press in one hour. The thousand-and-one little things in iron which have to be duplicated and which occupy half a day in the making of one dozen, no two being alike, may be made by the hundred in an hour, and each one like its predecessor.”
“With the emery-grinder for light work and the grindstone for heavy, we are enabled to clean as much in one hour as any three of the best men can do in two hours with files, while with the emery-belt we can reach the most intricate places, and remove all superfluous material in fully one half less time than by hand and with files. The horizontal emery-grinder will produce a much more even bearing surface upon our fifth-wheels than it is possible to produce with the file, and in less than half the time.”
“We have thus far illustrated only the minor items. The best thing is the forge-drop. By hand, a good smith and helper may be able to produce by steady working one dozen clips in an hour, and no two alike, while the forge-drop will strike out three or more perfect ones in a minute. Where it requires half an hour to strike out two dash-heels, the drop will form thirty. The shaft-heads and couplings, which require two hours to forge by hand, may be made by the five hundred a day. A good, smart finisher may, by working very hard, clean by hand the tires of two sets of wheels in one day, while the horizontal emery-grinder will clean the same in one hour or less.
“We will now leave the smithing-room and enter the wood-shop. With the cross-cut saw, we can saw through, in less than one minute, more lumber than we can do by hand in twenty minutes. With the ripping saw, we can split more stuff in half an hour than could otherwise be done in a day. With the band-saw, we can saw out more intricate sweeps in an hour than can be done in twelve by hand.”
“The planer takes off half an inch of material while we are gauging our jack-plane. The spiral vertical dresser will dress two axle-beds while we are dressing the edge of the drawing-knife, and at the same time will do it with precision. The ordinary dressing-machines and horizontal planers will dress and reduce more work in one hour than we can possibly do by hand in ten.”
“We now reach the wheel-machines. There is not a man at the trade but knows how much labor is required in making the tenons of the spokes the same in every particular, and in boring the outer tenons all on the same line, and how nearly impossible it is to dress the rims to the same size and shape by hand. With the improved wheel-machines, we are enabled to do all this with precision, and in about one third the time.”
“The sandpaper belt will smooth as much stuff in an hour as we can do in a day by hand. The wood-lathe turns out seat-spindles. trace-knobs, and other little knicknacks by the dozens, while with the same tool we are enabled to reduce our hubs to any size. The boxing or hub-boring machine bores out one hub while we are inserting the box in the one just bored, one man doing the work of two men, much more rapidly and with greater precision.”
“Next, the sewing-machine driven by power makes more even stitches than the one driven by foot, and will make more of them, and leaves the operative with legs enough to wend his way home at eventide. An ordinary spindle will twist a thread in half a minute that will require five minutes by hand-power. To grind color for fifty painters will require the constant labor of one strong man. Machinery will do the same in a quarter of a day.”
Note.—The writer of the above has by no means over-estimated the value of machinery in the carriage factory, and there are several important uses to which it can be put which he has not mentioned; for instance, the power-press, by which, in more than one of our leading coach-factories, the felloe-plates are cut out, the holes being punched, and the plates pressed into shape. The same press can be used to cut and punch the many sizes of bolt-washers in use by the trade. Then there is the milling machine, and the shaping-machine, to be used in the smith-shop, and lathes with sufficient swing to turn fifth-wheels.
A correspondent mentions, in this connection, that “a jenny for untwisting curled hair would be a grand acquisition in the trimming-room.” In hoisting or lowering materials from floor to floor, steam is found of great utility, and when a passenger elevator is added, as in the Studebaker factory, South-Bend, Ind., the saving of strength, on the part of the carriage-builder and his foremen, is often of great consequence. The above article also omits to mention that where steam is employed, it may be utilized further by heating the factory, giving a uniform and healthful heat (which is particularly important in the paint-shop), lessening the risk of fires, and thereby lessening in many cases the rate of insurance.
The Hub – April, 1875
Photos from The Carriage Museum in Long Island, New York