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British Industrial History

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Gay, Silver and Co

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of North Chelmsford, MA, USA

Machine tool makers.

1830 Brothers Ira Gay and Ziba Gay went into partnership. Ira Gay (b. 17 October 1790) had been the chief mechanic of the Nashua Manufacturing Co.

1837 Ira died and Ziba went into partnership with Harvey Silver as Gay, Silver & Co.

1857 Ziba Gray died, and the firm was renamed Silver, Gay & Co. with Ziba Gay Jr. as the new partner.

See here for the source of this and more information.[1]

At some point the North Chelmsford Machine & Supply Co took over the premises and machinery. A writer for the American Machinist visited the company in 1908 and found some of the very early machines still in operation. These included a planing machine said to have been made before 1840, and what was 'supposed to be the first milling machine made in this country.' The planing machine had cast iron ways bolted to granite beds. The one V and one flat way were chipped and filed to straight edges. The table, 39" wide and 12 ft long, was driven by a pitch chain. There were two sets of columns, the larger ones being added much later. Description and illustration here [2].

Another article in the American Machinist also features the planer, and states that it was the first built by the company, in 1836 [3]. A number of other old machines in the factory were featured, including several 'grinding lathes' for finishing small diameter shafts with a large diameter grindstone; a large lathe of about 4 ft swing, with a granite bed and a chain-hauled carriage. The swing was maximised by the expedient of 'dishing' the carriage; A particularly interesting machine was a 16 ft diameter vertical boring mill with three tool-holding heads, all power fed, with the centre head able to undertake slotting to cut the keyway of flywheels. The writer gave the date as 'about 1840', and if this is correct, it is a remarkably early example of the type.

Gay, Silver gear cutting machines from 1841 and 1855 were featured in Machinery in 1896[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Vintage Machinery website: Gay, Silver & Co.
  2. [2] American Machinist, 15 October 1908
  3. [3] American Machinist, February 1896, pp.167-9
  4. [4] Machinery, May 1896 p.263