Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Vanished Tool Makers: The Bay State Tap & Die Company, Mansfield, Massachusetts


Above, a hexagonal die from my collection of taps and dies.  I'd never heard of Bay State before.

The story begins with the town of Mansfield, Massachusetts, close to Boston.  Now, when you think of "Mansfield" what do you picture?



Ah, Jayne--Miss Magnesium Lamp! (OK, so it's a guy thing.) Moving on.

With the founding of the S.W. Card Company in 1894, the town of Mansfield became an important centre for the manufacture of taps and dies. Machines capable of accurately cutting internal and external threads had only been invented in 1871, so this was still a new industry.  From experience with Card came people who founded other tap and die companies, including the Winter Brothers in Wrentham and the Bay State Tap and Die Company in Mansfield in 1903.  The latter firm took its name from the nickname for Massachusetts:  The Bay State. 



Below, images of their products from the web:



Garage Journal
Lodico.org
The Card Company merged with the Union Twist Drill Company of Athol in 1913.  Bay State remained its own company until the early 1950's, when it was acquired by the Cleveland Twist Drill Company. From the picture of my die, it's apparent that the Bay State brand name was continued, although added under Cleveland's logo.  



The rest of the story is the same-old, same-old of American corporate mergers and sell-offs.  Cleveland merged with the National Acme Company in 1968, forming the Acme-Cleveland Company which, by 1980, had become one of the largest machine tool manufacturers in the U.S. This was their peak, and the rest of the decade showed a rapid decline as a result of an economic recession, Japanese competition and corporate inefficiencies.  From a high of 6300, the workforce declined to 2000 by 1993.  The Cleveland Twist Drill Company was off-loaded to Greenfield Industries in 1994, and a year later National Acme was sold off to DeVlieg-Bullard Incorporated.  In 1996, what was left of Acme-Cleveland was gobbled up by the Danaher Corporation.

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