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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Tune In Tomorrow: 1925

Tune In Tomorrow: 1925

Philadelphia, 1925. Stamping loudspeaker bells at the Atwater Kent radio factory. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

 

Presses

Though there are hydraulic forming presses, they are mostly too slow for high speed production work. Most of the presses I have had the acquaintance of were crankshaft types which are very fast, and quick to mash a finger. I have a two ton press of the crank variety and a local business that repairs punch presses mostly works on the crankshaft types. Some of the crankshafts are several inches in diameter and the presses so huge that they must be partly disassembled for transport on the highway.

On most modern presses I have seen, there are two push buttons to actuate the press. The buttons are placed far enough apart that you have to use both hands to push them at exactly the same time. In the "good old days" many presses used a foot treadle for actuation which was very dangerous for fingers. In case two buttons are not enough for proper safety, there are restraining straps that pull the operator's hands back out of danger as the press closes. I doubt that Atwater Kent worried very much about the occasional mashed finger. Then there are those open flat belts that drove the machines from an overhead lineshaft without a belt guard in sight.

How's that again?

I worked in a noisy factory through much of the seventies and eighties, and even then there was little attention paid to hearing protection. Many of the older guys told me "Don't be a wimp, you'll get used to the noise soon enough".

Most of these guys were deaf as posts.

I don't think it was management attitude in the old days, just lack of knowledge about long term hearing damage.

Drive belt safety

If a person with poor loitering skills paused beneath one of those wheels when it threw a belt . . .

No Ear Protection!

It's ironic that he's making devices to allow others to hear more, while in the process he's insuring that he will eventually hear less!

I want a grommet beanie.

A lot. That is all.

Stamping Press

Many of these old presses are still in daily use. I just left a plant that still had many old Versons similar to this brake press. Although none of our equipment was line shaft driven like this was. Some of our presses were so large that the building was originally constructed around them. And our building went up in 1930.

As far as making these "idiot proof," many of our old timers were missing fingers or thumbs. You don't have to be an idiot to do something careless just once. If you stand in front of a press all day feeding blanks into a die, it gets very easy to let your mind drift off to other places and get careless. All it takes is one careless mistake to leave a digit behind in a die.

Years ago, these plants often weren't heated in the winter and even providing a fan for summer cooling was usually too much of a luxury.

Radio Beanie

Love the hat. Technology hasn't changed much from the presses then to the presses now. Now we just try to idiot proof them.

[Except now wouldn't they be hydraulic, not belt-driven? Nameplate on this one says Henderson Machine Company. - Dave]

 
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