Almost every week, it seems, we read of the passing of another member of that greatest generation, our World War II veterans. I am old enough to have worked and learned from some of them. I count many as beloved family members and marvel at the amazing things they accomplished. That age cohort dealt with terrible circumstances and left all of us in a better place.
They also left many important artifacts behind, including some machine tools that still are producing good parts every day. I was reminded of this recently when a reader called me to ask about some of the “veteran” gear cutting machines he was learning to run. He was especially curious of the “war finish” tags on some of the equipment.
Those brass nameplates were affixed to new machine tools built during the “war years” to insulate the makers from complaints about the rough casting surfaces, hurried paint jobs, and lack of ornamentation. The world-wide conflict required a ramp-up of production and the expansion of gear making beyond the specialists.
My caller even had a machine with the control tags in French; probably re-patriated from Canada in the years since. Who knows were some of these machines ended up after the “right sizing” of the American gear industry that has been in progress since the late 1980s.
As an occasional side light to our “origin story series”, we are interested in learning about any “old soldiers” you have in your shop. Send us a photo, model number, and serial number along with any history you know about it. Our publisher has deep roots in the used machinery trade so we might even find a way to publish a few stories in the magazine. I suspect we may even turn up a “Great War” veteran that still “works for a living.”