Sunday, July 27, 2008

Edison's Menlo Park Machine Shop

It is truly unfortunate that, except for the Sarah Jordan Boarding House and the glass house, the Menlo Park buildings were dismantled for use elsewhere or were simply torn down. Fortunately, Henry Ford was able to locate much of the material used to construct the original buildings.
This machine shop, an authentic replication of the original - which was built in 1878, after he received financing from Wall Street - was run by around a dozen journeymen machinists and numerous apprentices along with general laborers.

The lathes, drills, milling machines, and planers were powerful enough to cut and shape iron and steel with great precision. The power to run such equipment was generated by a 75 horsepwer, sixteen foot long boiler that provided the steam for the steam engine, originally made in Massachusetts. It is located behind the paned glass seen in the above photo.

The foreman, a Swiss-trained master machinist named John Kruesi, ran the shop with an iron hand, directing the workers , monitoring the progress of specific projects, and keeping track of materials and tools. When Edison or one of his assistants had an idea, it was Kruesi that figured out how to make it.

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