Powermatic Millrite MVM/History

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Eli Whitney and Connecticut contemporaries are credited with creating the first milling machine around 1818 to help produce his cotton gin. In 1884, a Cincinnati company made their own version of this machine to make better screws and taps. That company This particular Millrite was made in Cincinnati, in the Oakley neighborhood, on Brotherton Avenue at a company that was founded in 1915. It is serial number 711226. It was the 1226th machine made in 1971,

This is JimD's personal machine. It is on indefinite consignment to Hive13 for gentle use by considerate members. Jim bought it from a small machine ship in the New York state finger lake area in 1980, It has been in JimD's home shop for the past 40 years.

It features an essentially simple but strong construction. It was offered in several sizes with multiple alternative head, ram, and power configurations.

The product line was intended as a low-cost competitor to the established (and somewhat larger) Bridgeport machines made in Connecticut.

Evolution of the Cincinnati company that made this machine:

  • 1915: The United States Machine Tool Co. was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • 1947: United States Machine Tool Co. became the US Machine Tool division of Ransohoff Co.
  • 1948: US Machine Tool division of Ransohoff Co. merged with Burke Machine Tool and became US Burke Machine Tool Co.
  • In the 70s: US Burke became part of the Powermatic/Houdaille conglomerate
  • 1979: following in a KKR leveraged-buyout, the Houdaille company went bankrupt and was lost to history.

The company's history is mentioned in From Industry to Alchemy: Burgmaster, A Machine Tool Company by Max Holland. This book was named by Business Week as one of the ten best business books of 1989. We highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the decline of the American manufacturing industry. The book's focus is Burgmaster Corp., which was also acquired by Houdaille; because of the Houdaille connection there is some information on Powermatic as well.

Evolution of the product line:

  • Millrite model MV (1960-’64)
  • Millrite model MVI (1965-’67)
  • Millrite model MVN (1967-’75)

This Millrite is a versatile manual machine. It has hand-feed on the X (table) Y (cross-feed), and Z (knee) axes. The standard model had a table with a working surface 7" x 27" with 16" of longitudinal travel. The feed screws are of generous proportions, a full 7/8" in diameter, of Acme form and run through bronze nuts. The cross feed travel of the table was a useful 8" - whilst the head could also be moved in and out of its swivelling support through a range of 12.5". The combination of these movements means it can bring its cutter as close as 4" to the main column yet reach as far away as 16.5". With the head set to swivel, the cutter was able to sweep along an arc with a maximum radius of 25" (12.5" minimum) and cover, in conjunction with table's longitudinal movement, a length of some 62". With the quill retracted, and the knee lowered, a maximum clearance of 17.75" was available between the spindle nose and table - although 5-inch raiser blocks were available to increase this as required.