looking for machinery reference book recommendations

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    • #133313

      We are assessing a collection of belt-driven machinery for potential accession, but we need to date the items. We have lots of reference books on our shelves for early American handtools, but nothing for more complex machinery. Does anyone have any reference books or online sources to recommend?

    • #133327
      Peter E. Durbin

      I suggest you contact Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio. They have had some of these machines. They are a very reliable group dealing with early machinery and farm life.

    • #133326

      Peter – Thank you for the suggestion. I should have been a little more specific. Though there is some farm machinery in the collection, I am primarily looking for sources dealing with metal-working. It is likely that most of what we are looking at was used in the railroad shop here in town. Examples include a drill press, a metal roller, engines rigged to drive belts. . . It’s possible that some of this equipment was used later on, perhaps 1950s or 60s as well.

    • #133325
      Leslie Fried
    • #133324
      Ron Kley

      Given the railroad-specific nature of much of this machinery, I’d suggest contacting the nearest railroad or trolley museum and getting in touch with their maintenance department. Odds are that they can put you in touch with an old-timer volunteer who can provide “chapter-and-verse” information about the items in question — and may also be able to suggest good homes for any of the equipment that falls beyond the scope of your own collection.

      Good luck!

    • #133323
      Carolyn Frisa

      I would also suggest you contact the American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT. They have a large collection of belt-driven machines, several of which are still operable in their exhibition space. I am sure they would be happy to share their recommendations with you!


    • #133322

      Take a look at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum site; they might be able to help you: http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/

    • #133321
      Tom Braun

      I am aware of one book (an industrial catalog actually) that might be useful to you, though it mainly deals with chain-driven machinery, sprockets, conveyor belts, speed reducers, transmissions, bucket elevators, and ball bearings, among other misc industrial processing and manufacturing machinery. It is titled “LINK-BELT CATALOG 1050”, and the copyright date can vary; my copy is from 1962, and I have heard about others from the 1950’s. Copies can be found online for around $40.00. Good luck, Tom Braun

    • #133320

      You might try your local railroad fan club. We have several in our area and they are very knowledgeable about anything connected with the railroads, especially the local railroads.

    • #133319
      Deena Sasser

      Depending on which RR line it is, you may also contact the historical association of that RR. If it’s Norfolk & Western, I believe they house all of our paper resources.

    • #133318

      Thanks all! The railway in question is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad here in Skagway, Alaska. We are processing a very large collection full of mechanical items and are already working often with local residents to tap their knowledge. Sometimes, however, we find that it is good to have a written source to back up oral information, especially when the objects are large and will require significant resources to preserve. It’s kind of interesting that there don’t seem to be as many source books for more complex machinery as there are for early handtools, bottles, ceramics, silverware, etc.
      Thanks again and a shoutout to Leslie Fried! Welcome to Alaska!

    • #133317
      Laura Wahl

      At Hagley we have a wide variety of industrial trade catalogs, as well as records of belt producing companies like Link-belt and Rhoades
      Search our catalog and contact our staff if you have questions.

    • #133316

      You may want to try getting in touch with the Connecticut Antique Machinery Museum ctamachinery.com. They collect, restore and run Gigantic Combustion Engines and Stationary Steam Engines and are pretty knowledgeable about belt driven machinery and may know of books that would help.

    • #133315

      I am the Hagley’s new biggest fan. Your catalog is the jackpot! Thank you!

    • #133314
      Laura Wahl


      Glad to help! I hope you find some of what you’re searching for. Of course alot is not yet online.

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