LEHIGH VALLEY EMERY WHEEL COMPANY
This industry is one of the most important in the Lehigh Valley, and with a single exception is the only one of the kind in the State. It was established in 1874. the Company being organized but a few months afterward. The plant of the Company is located in the western end of the Borough, in full view from the windows of the cars on the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, which crosses the Lehigh river a short distance above the works The building is of frame, two and a half stories in height, sixty by eighty feet, double addition sixty by forty, storage room eighteen by thirty six in dimensions, and supplied with many new improvements in the way of machinery, the whole run by an engine of forty horse power.
In the manufacture of Emery Wheels, the principal departments of interest are the stock room, where the materials for emery wheels are kept, as Turkey emery and corundum of all grades, the adhesive matter, and the different substances used as bodies; the mixing room where the different materials are thoroughly incorporated; the drying room, where they are placed in trays and exposed to a uniform and peculiar atmosphere indicated by a hygrometer, and a certain temperature varying slightly above and below 120 deg.; the pressing room, where there are hydraulic pumps and presses of great power, a great variety of moulds, and mechanical appliances for the manipulation of the wheels; a testing room, where each wheel is tested before it leaves the manufactory; and a machine shop, for the construction of new machinery and repairs to the machinery on the premise.
The process of making emery wheels is apparently a very simple one, but great experience and good judgment are necessary in the selection of suitable materials and the mixing, tempering, and pressing of the same. When a wheel is ordered for some specific purpose, the manufacturers' formula for such a wheel is sent to those in charge of the different departments. This formula states the kind and proportion of materials to be used, the pressure and heat to lie applied, etc. The first process is the mixing and drying, as already referred to; the second, the pressing. After the composition and adhesive matter have been thoroughly worked and prepared, the mixture is placed in strong cylindrical or other shaped iron moulds and subjected to an enormous pressure.
The hydraulic presses in use are very powerful, one of them having a pressure of 1,000 and a new one of 2,000 Ions pressure. The pressure on the wheels is applied at top and bottom, and the plates between which the wheel Is pressed are healed by steam to certain temperatures. After the wheel has thus been molded and pressed, the molds is taken to a smaller hydraulic press, which removes the wheel from the mold. It is then left to cool and harden, after which it is turned and "trued up" in an ordinary lathe, the turning being effected by the use of diamond turning tools. It is then ready for testing, which is done by putting the wheel on an arbor and driving it at a high speed, about 10,000 feel surface speed per minute. To prevent accident in case the wheel should burst, owing to the great centrifugal force, the wheel and its arbor are enclosed within a strong wooden guard or box, Should the wheel stand this test it is considered safe for use. Emery wheels are made at the works of the above named Company, of all sizes and shapes. It is claimed that a wheel thirty inches in diameter and five inches thick, will wear down nearly to the spindle, and will do just as much work as when large if speeded up.
Hence the importance of using cone pulleys on the spindles of emery wheel machinery.
The Company also manufacture all kinds of emery wheel machinery, and their productions are known all over the United States, Canada and parts of Europe.
From a very small beginning the business of the Company has become one of great proportions, and has more than doubled in the past year. The Company employs at the present time twelve hands, all of whom are skilled workmen. Their wheels are all patented and the patents owned by the Company.
The officers of the Company are, William Lilly, of Manch Chunk, President; Secretary and Treasurer, and General Superintendent of the Works, L. E. Wills, of Weissport; Board of Directors, William Lilly. Dr. J. Q. Zern, W. H. Stroh, W. K. Butler, R. F. Hofford, William, Wagoner, and L. E. Wills.
In concluding our review of this important industry, we will add what was said of their make of wheels, by the Scientific American, a journal that never places credit where it does not belong:
"The wheels made at these works are strong, durable, and of very excellent quality. Being made under a hydraulic pressure combined with heat, we are informed that perfect regularity in their hardness is obtained. There is no clogging or gumming, and the hardest metal when applied to the corners is cut rapidly away without any perceptible wear of the wheel."
- Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources of the Lehigh Valley, 1881, pg. 170