Bethlehem Steel Plant

In the number of times I have been to the once mighty Bethlehem Steel I have seen the now empty #2 Machine Shop and always wondered just how much machinery used to be there, but is no longer. The #2 Machine Shop was the place that gun barrels were made and turned on huge lathes for the battleships of WWII. These lathes must have been the biggest ever seen. So, I surfed the Internet to see what I could find out about them.

Horizontal Lathe

Since I worked in the Machinist Trade for more than 20 yrs. I can look at this picture and tell every part of this huge Lathe. This is a huge piece of machinery. Something I’ve never worked on. It shows a gun barrel being turned to size using a “taper attachment” that cuts steel at a angle. This must have been one long job to complete. With something like this you don’t get a “set-up” part. You have to do it right the 1st time or it’s scrap! I would venture to say it took a few day’s to make this. I can only imagine what it was like.

Vertical Turret Lathe

Again, this Vertical Turret Lathe is huge! What you see here is 2 men standing on a round table that spins at different speeds to turn large tube casters for housing’s, etc. I have never, ever operated such a huge lathe. Cutting tools must be located in the area above the men’s head. They also must have been very large. Catwalks around and above is probably where you went to change tooling, but not sure on that. Parts that were turned on this probably cost thousands of dollars to make.

A Bullard Vertical Turret Lathe.

Now, this is what I’m used to. This Vertical Turret Lathe has a 42″ table that turns to machine big parts, but not anywhere as big as the Lathe pictured in the previous post. I used to run this type of Lathe. I machined large bearings for Youngstown Steel. They were 38″ in dia. with a 32″ I.D. They cost over $5000 to machine. I never got a “set-up” part to work with. I had to machine it right the 1st time or it was scrap! I could describe every part of this lathe in detail, but I’d just bore you.

Working in the Machinist Trade for those years and holding tolerances that were tight took a heavy toll on my nerves over time. After doing things like this I found I just could not take it any longer. My nerves were shot! Decided, after 8 more years to get out of the Trade and never go back. I retired from Polymer Corp. after 30 yrs. of working. However, to this day I still use the same Machine Shop Practice that I learned many years ago in school. I even have a small machine shop in the back of the house.

Thanks for stopping by.


Published by Les

I am 75 yrs. young and now retired. I worked in the Machinist Trade for 24 yrs. Served in the US Navy with a Tour of Duty in Vietnam. Being retired I do enjoy Photography with my Nikon and Pentax Camera's, snooping around in Historic and Abandoned places, using my Scroll Saw, Reading, Travel, riding a bicycle on the many Trails that are around my area, and what-ever else will interest me at the time. Come with me and see where I go, where I have been, and my Life surviving Retirement.

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