Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We used to make things in this country. #20: The Lufkin Rule Company of Canada, Ltd., Barrie, Ontario

Edward Lufkin founded the E.T. Lufkin Board and Log Rule Manufacturing Company in 1869, Cleveland, Ohio. The Lufkin log rule was made of flexible hickory and, contained scales that provided quick board-foot calculations.   He sold out his interests in 1883.  The company went on to eventually enter the precision measuring instrument market:

They even made machinist's tool boxes to house these lovely tools!  Below, from the web:

The Lufkin Company first built a Canadian plant in Windsor, Ontario in 1907, moving it to a larger facility in Barrie in 1948.  

Popular Mechanics, February 1951

In 1963, the Lufkin plant production was large enough that foreign exports were possible, although only components were shipped to Australia for final assembly there.  Lufkin was acquired by Cooper Industries in 1967, and somewhere in the next decade or so the Barrie factory was quietly closed.  In its heyday, one forum contributor reported, "I grew up in Barrie Ont. and there was a Lufkin plant there. Any time you had a tape measure break you could walk in to reception and they would hand you a replacement no questions asked."  I guess you didn't even need to talk to Packer No. 52-659.  Those were the days.


Mister G said...

When I was about 6 years old, My civil engineer-father called upon me to help him to measure out lots in a new subdivision. I don't know why we were doing it on evenings and weekends or why he was using me. It was my job to run out the end of the 100 ft Lufkin tape while he wrote down numbers on a clipboard. I grew very intimate with the tiny windup handle on that tape. Finally I grew lazy and crossed the street dragging the tape behind me. Of course, that very moment a car came around the corner, drove over it and broke it. My father was much less angry then he should have been.

It wasn't all bad, he let me drive the car- sliding off the front of the seat to depress and release the clutch pedal, then scrambling back up onto the seat to steer- in the unopened subdivison streets while he proudly watched and freaked out invisibly in the passenger seat.

Brenda Budd said...

I don't know if you have any knowledge of a tape measure that we have. It looks like a yard stick somewhat, but has a flat pointed piece on one end. It has many numbers on it, and I wondered what it was used for and how.

The Duke said...

Send Mister G a photo and we'll see what we come up with. At the very least, we can post it and appeal to the larger knowledge base of our visitors.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lumber scale, used by timber cruisers to determine how many board feet will be cut from a log.

westnear said...

I worked at the Barrie plant for a short time in the early 70's. I still have some of the tapes that were made there. I was a material handler and brought finished tapes in trays to the inspection ladies who carefully checked them over. It was a good place to work and the people there were good people. Their were some interesting stories. We had a 'foreman' who considered himself a womanizer and hit on the good looking (mostly married) women who as far as I know ignored his moves. It was know by everyone he was married.
I was there when they had an awful industrial accident. There was a big machine that cleaned the steel tape before it was printed and cut. A young man in maintenance saw a problem, reached in and got his hand caught. All of a sudden I heard screams that everyone heard. I had two women faint that I had to hold and let down. There was a mad scramble as people tried to turn off the machine. There was no red safety switches. Eventually someone was able to turn off the breaker. Meantime he is standing there with his hand in the machine and weeping. They had to disassemble a part of the machine to get him out. A month later he came back to work and showed me his hand. The steel tape starting with his wrist had slowly peeled the skin off his hand to just about the fingers. The pain must have been just awful. The doctors were able to pull the skin back and re-attach it to his hand, but it was numb. There were then safety red shut offs installed all around that and several other machines. I will never forget his screams. I moved away after that, and am sad to hear that they closed the plant. It had provided a lot of employment.