Hildreth Power Axe
Two additional items of interest are the Hildreth Power axe shown to the left, and the Champion Star Tire and Axle Upsetter and Welding Machine shown below. The Hildreth-Brothers established their business in Harvard, Massachusetts in 1880. They manufactured saw tables, and the wood splitter shown in the photograph. This massive machine weights over a 1000 lbs. and has a height of about 9 Feet. The flywheel is about 5 feet in diameter, the base being about 4 feet square. It is belt driven and looks like it will easily topple over. Actually, it is very stable. Two large knife edges, 1800 out of phase, move vertically as the flywheel rotates. Wood is put on the height adjustable tables and the blades move up and down. An operator on each side puts wood on the tables and remove the pieces after they are split by the wedges. All in all, it is quite an operation to behold. Apparently the Hildreth brothers did not sell a lot of these devices.
The Champion Star Tire and Axle Upsetter and Welding Machine was manufactured by the Champion Blower and Forge Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They are well very known for their blacksmithing forges which are found in many antique blacksmith shops. The sole purpose of this machine was to hold two pieces of metal, e.g. the ends of wooden wagon wheel rims, while they were being worked. It is a lot of machine for a simple task, but they were used at “upscale” smithies of the day and were a large labor-saving device.
The machine came with a seven-part set of simple instructions. The seventh part being: “Do as much heavy pounding on machine as may be necessary”. Good words of advice. How often have you solved a problem by whacking on something with a hammer until it worked? Instructions manuals just aren’t what they used to be.