University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Bridgeport,   pp. 434-439


Page 438

MANUFACTURES OF BRIDGEPORT.
parts-the legs, bed plates, balance wheels, etc.-are of cast-iron, a
large portion of the factory is devoted to iron work. The pig metal
direct from the furnaces is run into the immense foundry on a side
track of the New Haven Railroad, and thence taken on small railways
to the first floor of the main building. This large room, five hundred
and fifty feet long, with its lines of shafting from end to end, transmit-
ting motion to three tiers of machines, presents to the visitor, when he
first sees it, a bewildering maze of machinery, and his astonishment is
not lessened when he witnesses the wonderfully automatic action of the
machines, rendering the attendants mere feeders to supply the food, or
superintendents to watch the operations. But when he once compre-
hends the system prevailing throughout, the absolute accuracy of con-
struction required, the repeated tests by standard gauges, the rigid in-
spection of every part, the final trials before approval, his astonishment
will be lost in admiration at what may be called the perfection of me-
chanical precision.
We shall not attempt to follow the separate parts as they are fash-
ioned into shape, but glance at only one which is peculiar to this Com-
pany's machine. It is generally known that in the Wheeler & Wilson
Sewing Machine the shuttle is dispensed with and a rotating hook sub-
stituted therefor. This hook, during its manufacture, passes through
more than one hundred different operations and the hands of many
workmen, aided by some of the most curious machines ever invented,
of which the most remarkable one was originated in the establishment.
This beautifully polished and most deftly automatic contrivance for
casting off the loop in making the interlocking stitch is fashioned, with
great economy of material, out of rods of steel an inch in diameter.
These are submitted to machinery which accurately measures and cuts
it into proper lengths, to the action of steam hammers which partially
shape the instrument, and to successive processes of turning, sawing,
cutting, carving, and polishing, etc., until it assumes the desired con-
tour and beautiful polish of the finished article.
The Wood working department of this manufactory is scarcely less
interesting than that devoted* to the metallic work. Though less ex-
tensive, it employs upward of one hundred men and exhibits the same
systematic management and use of labor-saving machinery, utterly
precluding competition on the part of manufacturers of limited capital.
The tables are formed of some five or more layers of vencers or sections
of wood cut across the grain and firmly glued and pressed together, so
that they can neither split nor warp. The cases, which are made of
polished black walnut, mahogany, and sometimes of rosewood and
other costly materials, are made in the same way, and when elaborately
438


Go up to Top of Page