Sunday, December 18, 2011

Machine Tools We Had At The Southern Museum Of Flight.

A few years ago I used to volunteer at the Southern Museum of Flight here in Birmingham. It was a lot of fun and we did some great things. Unfortunately they got some new folks in charge and almost all of us volunteers ended up leaving because of issues with the new guys. Lots of things have changed there since this happened, but I still remember getting to play with all of these great machines while we were working on restorations or sneaking in a little custom chopper work on the side. I was digging for some other pics when I stumbled on these so I figured why not share them and let y'all see some of these cool toys.

This monster American Pacemaker was used in WWII to machine barrels for .50 cal. machine guns. The bed on this beast is huge. We didn't use this one much because it was basically overkill for most of our projects.

Here's another view of the beast.

I never got to use this one so I can't tell you much about it.

Never got to use this Van Norman either.

We made some neat stuff on this one though. It's pretty cool to use these old machines instead of relying on the computer to do it all for you. CNC's are great, but the skills to do it manually need to be kept alive.

This was our workhorse. It was used by the City of Birmingham for decades and then finally donated to the museum. The bench it's on is the same one it's sat on forever.

Anotehr small lathe we used. It seemed to have issues sometimes so it didn't get used as much.

Nice big sheet metal brake. I spent WEEKS cleaning rust of the various pieces of this one before it got painted and ready to use. A lot of these machines were donated straight from a shop floor and sometimes from storage so they needed a lot of cleaning and repainting to be ready to put in the restoration shop. I hope all of these machines are still being used somewhere. It would be a shame if they ever get scrapped.

1 comment:

  1. That third pic is a shaper, one machine tool I've never used. Let's hope they keep that shop going. I have a friend who teaches a continuation school machine shop class, in the school district I work in.For awhile he taught an Adult Ed. night class that I attended, but the district cut that as funds dried up. Other than his class, there is only one metal shop class at one of the High schools. Years back, as computer classes came on, they pretty much shut down most of the wood, crafts, and metal shops. It was a crying shame, as now they are crying about the lack of skilled workers available. Not everyone will be able to be a computer geek. Someones got to make and repair the stuff. The district finally shook loose some cash to get him a small CNC Milling machine set-up. Most of his machines are like the ones in the shop you volunteered at, old but good vintage machines. More young people need to learn what is slowly becoming a dying art. O.K. I'll relinquish the soap box to someone else...