Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

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Bridesburg Manufacturing Co.
[East side of Richmond Street between Franklin & Locust, Philadelphia PA]

Edwin T. Freedley, Philadelphia and its Manufactures (1867), pp. 351-351 & 587-592.

"These works, of which we have already given the incidents connected with their establishment and early history, are located at Bridesburg, a flourishing town now constituting a part of the city of Philadelphia. They are built in the form of a bollow square, cover an area of one hundred and sixty thousand square feet, and consist of a Foundry one hundred and thirty by fifty feet; a Blacksmith shop, one hundred and twenty by fifty feet, having eighteen forges and four trip-hammers, for making, in addition to other things, Bolts-of which seven hundred are made and used in the machinery work daily; a buildidg one hundred and ninety by thirty-two feet, containing an apartment used as a Brass Foundry, and also for "cleaning" the castings after they have been subjected to the process of "pickling," and a well-adapted room for storing patterns when not in use. The Machine Shop is a building two hundred and twenty-five by thirty-eight feet, and the large structure formerly used as an armory, occupying the entire southern front, is now fitted up exclusively for making Ring Spinning Frames, and one frame of two hundred and four spindles is turned out daily. A capacious Elevator is employed for raising and lowering castings and other objects between the different stories of the Machine Shop; and a Railway connects this and the Foundry. The Carpenter Shop is a building one hundred and sixty-eight by thirty feet, three stories high; and each of the various rooms and departments is supplied with tools and machinery of the most perfect construction, peculiarly adapted to the purposes for which they are designed. In the Wood-working Room are two of Daniel's Planing Machines, and one of Woodworth's, and Moulding and Sawing Machines capable of facilitating and making more perfect the woodwork required for the Carding Engines, Looms, etc. All the wood used is kept for the space of two years before being shaped by the machinery, so as to properly season it, and after it has been thus seasoned and brought to the form desired, it is placed in a commodious Drying-bouse, entirely fire-proof, and always kept by the heat of steam at a temperature of seventy-five degrees, for the purpose of being still more thoroughly seasoned. The tools and Machinery for performing the work in the several shops are mostly made by their own workmen; among which may be classed several Drills of new and improved construction, Boring Mills, and other self-acting machines, of the most beautiful design and perfect workmanship.

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"To attempt a recital of the various useful and novel Machines made in these Works, the most important of their class in the United States, would transcend our limits. We shall advert to only a few of the most important which are peculiar to the establishment, or which have received the benefit of the improvements of Mr. BARTON H. JENKS, who is one of the most ingenious of American inventors.

Of Looms a large number of different styles are manufactured at these works, ranging from the single Shuttle, or ordinary Loom, through the more intricate forms of two Shuttle Looms for weaving Checks; three, and four Shuttle Looms, for weaving Ginghams and other fabrics requiring a corresponding number of colors in the weft, to the more enlarged Carpet Loom; and all of these embrace, in a greater or less degree, improvements and advantages not possessed by Looms manufactured elsewhere. The several improvements in the Looms are covered by seven distinct patents; and the main features accomplished by these inventions, so far as they relate to the two, three, and four Shuttle Looms, may be said to consist in the expeditious manner of moving the Shuttle Boxes to change the picks of weft; and, by certain new constructions, combinations, and arrangements of parts essential to this operation, and to others of an important character, by which as many picks of weft can be made by these two, three, and four Shuttle Looms, as by the single Shuttle Loom. As an exemplification of this, it may be stated, that so perfect is the arrangement of the various parts of this latter description of Looms, and the principle upon which they work, that they make one hundred and thirty picks of weft per minute, whereas the same class of ordinary Looms only make one hundred and ten. The Muslin Loom will run one hundred and sixty picks per minute, and produce nine pounds of muslin a yard wide, sixty-four picks to the inch, per day.

Is made entirely of metal, thus insuring greater steadiness and durability. The beater, shafts, blades, and feed-rollers, are made of cast-steel; the shafts which drive the feed are braced together in such a manner that the teeth in the diagonal shaft cannot break; and, by an ingenious application of the elastic principle of air, the Machine is constructed to make the lap of uniform thickness, and of such compactness that any portion of it will sustain its own weight. More-over, the whole machine works without producing any dust in the room.

"The product of the Jenks "Spreader" is as follows: The gallows-shaft having four hundred and fifty revolutions, and the beaters eighteen hundred, produce per day two thousand four hundred and ninety-six yards. Doubled on the same machine three times, the produce will be thirty-eight laps, each twedty-two yards long, weighing each eighteen pounds total weight, six hundred and eighty-four pounds. If two machines are used, the produce will be one hundred and thirteen and a half laps per day, each twenty-two yards long, weighing eighteen pounds in total weight, two thousand one hundred and two pounds.

"JENKS' PICKER, as well as the Spreader, has an established reputation for excellence, especially in stopping action at the right point, without making the Cotton "bally and ropy." The product of this Picker is three thousand pounds per day when driven at the speed of twelve hundred revolutions a minute.

The self-stripping Cotton and Woolen Carding Engines, manufactured at these Works, are different from the Carding Machines generally used. In ordinary machines it is necessary to stop every thirty minutes, and with the laborious use of band-cards clean out the secreted Cotton, so as to leave the teeth projecting. Jenks' Carding Engines are provided with a mechanism called a " Self stripper," which constantly picks out the Cotton from the bottom of the teeth, returns it to the Cylinder, and drops it on the points of the teeth, where the combs catch it and pass it out into a can.

"One of Mr. Jenks' improvements which have given his Carding Machines the preference of the market, both in this country and in England, is his method of preparing the wood, of which the cylinders are made. The usual method of preparing it is to dry and season it by long exposure to natural or artificial heat. Wood so seasoned inevitably absorbs moisture of varying temperatures, and the cylinders of which it is made will alternately swell and shrink, and thus make imperfect carding. To prevent this, iron cvlinders have been used, but there are also serious objections to their use. Mr. Jenks' plan is to hew out the wood in the rough, ready to be worked up into Cylinders, and then expose it in a vacuum chamber to extract all the moisture and juices, and also all the air and gases from its spiracles. This he accomplishes thoroughly; then, while the wood is in the vacuum, he introduces caoutchoue, paraffine, or some oleaginous fluid, which the pieces quickly and fully absorb, and the effect is to render the wood completely moisture-proof and water-proof. His Card-Cylinders and Rollers, made of wood thus treated, will not shrink or swell, and the card-teeth applied to one Cylinder will always maintain the same relative position with respect to the card-teeth of another Cylinder.

Is well known, and used in all factories, having the most approved machinery. The productiveness of this admirable Machine is given in the following Table:

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Have the reputation of being the best in the United States, and on the most approved system. These machines are made with different numbers of spindles, the usual size being a machine of two hundred and four spindles. Each spindle will produce six skeins of number twenty yarn, each skein weighing one-twentieth of a pound-all weighing six-twentieths of a pound; velocity of the spindle seven thousand turns per n-iinute, with wooden bobbin. The spindles have a self-lubricating bolster, which will run a month on six drops of oil. An important coneing motion forms the bobbins with taper ends, using paper cones on the spindles, and effecting thereby a great saving of weight, and consequently of power in carrying the wooden bobbins ordinarily in use. The reel is an important machine in a Cotton Factory where the yarn is spun to be sold in the market, and much attention has been bestowed upon this machine by the Bridesburg Manufacturing Company. The reel marks the skeins by an automatic motion, and when seven skeins are marked off at each spindle, the driving-belt is thrown off and the machine stops. By another ingenious arrangement the skeins are removable from the shaft of the reel without lifting the reel, (which is the case in all the reels excepting those made by this Company), thus enabling smaller girls to operate the Machine.

Is, novel for the peculiarity of the construction of the cylinder, which operates in combination with a stationary straight-edge and a spirally- grooved roller called "the agitator." The straight-edge is fixed in a position parallel with, and tangential to the cylinder, with its thinner edge almost in contact with the upper side of the same and the agitator, so as to rotate rapidly at a short distance above and parallel with the straight-edge. The periphery of the cylinder consists of numerous steel-wire teeth imbedded in Babbitt metal, in positions inclined in the direction of the cylinder's motion, so that after the cylinder is "ground" or finished, each tooth presents a separate, sharp, and smooth point, tangential to the cylinder surface. When in operation, the cotton and seeds are carried by the cylinder against the straight-edge, where they are rolled over and over by the agitator, until the teeth of the cylinder have stripped off the fibre, the seeds immediately drop down, through a grating, into a receiving box. The fibre is at the same time being continually removed from the cylinder in the usual manner, by a rotating brush behind the straight-edge. The teeth of the cylinder are made of the finest steel needle wire, rolled into a double razor-edge section, and secured obliquely around the cylinder, with their sharper edges in directions transverse to the axis of the same ; consequently, after the cylinder is "ground off" in finishing, it presents a serrulated surface, or a surface studded over with innumerable sharp and smooth tangential teeth, admirably adapted both for entering and leaving the fibres.

"It will gin any Cotton, however trashy it may be, and take nothing through but the lint; it neither cuts nor naps the fibres in the least, leaving them nearly as long as when separated by band; whilst it will clean as great a quantity in the same time as any other Gin occupying the same extent of space, and run as easy. It will also last as long, if not longer, than the Saw-gin, and cost no more for repairs.

"Besides these special machines, it may safely be said that all of the machinery made at these Works is much lighter, neater, and of better iron, easier to manage, cheaper to run, and will turn off more work of equal excellence than any English machinery ever built. Since the close of the war, and since Cotton-manufacturing has returned to its normal profits, mill-owners have commenced to throw out English cards, drawing frames, slubbers,. and speeders which they bad been persuaded or forced to buy, and are substituting American in their place. The whole range of English machinery is heavy and requires great power. Their cotton machinery, unimproved by the adoption of American inventions, is clumsy and weighty to the degree that might be expected in a are at their minimum value. Besides, many American improvements, for country where steam and human labor cost but little, and iron and coal which patents have been taken out in England, are inaccessible to the British machine manufacturers.

"The BRIDESBURG MANUFACTURING COMPANY has a paid-up capital of one million of dollars, and employs five hundred hands. The principal officers are BARTON H. JENKS, President; JOSEPH G. MITCHELL, formerly cashier of the Mechanics' Bank, in Philadelphia, Treasurer; SAMUEL O. SHOUSE, Secretary. The office in Philadelphia is at 65 North Front street."

"Bridesburg Manufacturing Co., 25th Ward, Philadelphia, Pa.," (1866), Hexamer #75.
"Bridesburg Manufacturing Compy., Bridesburg, 25th Ward, Philadelphia," (?), Hexamer #440-441.
"Bridesburg Machine Works, Wm. F. McGill, Bridesburg, 25th Ward, Philadelphia, Pa.," (1891), Hexamer #2501-2502.