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Manufacturers Index - Heald Machine Co.

Heald Machine Co.
Worcester, MA, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Jun 26 2019 8:51AM by Mark Stansbury
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This blacksmith shop, foundry, machine shop, and manufacturer could reportedly trace its roots back to 1826. It was known as S. Heald & Sons. By 1899 they were known as L. S. Heald & Son. The name changed to Heald Machine Co in 1903.

In 1974 the company was acquired by Cincinnati Milacron, primarily for its line of grinders. In 1992, Heald was closed and its assets sold off.

During the 20th century Heald was known for its machine tools, especially its grinders. But from 1870 through 1915 (and probably for longer) they also made woodworking-related machinery, such as sawmills and machines for making window frames.

Information Sources

  • The Massachusetts corporate registry database lists this company's first registration as 1903-08-26.
  • A history of the City of Worcester reports that the roots of Heald Machine Co. date back to 1826. A genealogical web site contains this tidbit: "[Leander Heald] owned L.S. Heald Machine Co. after his father, Stephen Heald died. Leander's son, James Nichols Heald moved the company to Worcester, MA in 1903."
  • From ad in a 1915 issue of "Carpenter and Builder," featuring their "American sash trimmer:" a foot-pedal-operated miter trimmer on a floor stand.
  • Worcester Magazine by the Worcesters Board of Trade, Jan 1909 pg 101:

    Heald Machine Co. originally manufactured woodworking and agricultural Machinery and later wire-drawing machinery. Their foundry, when established back in the 1850’s was the only one within a radius of twenty-five miles, and all the iron and coal had to be teamed about that distance from the nearest railroad.

    About 1860 two sons of Stephen Heald were taken into partnership under the firm name of S. Heald & Sons. In 1890, after the death of Stephen Heald, Leander S. Heald and his son, James N. Heald, the present general manager of the Heald Machine Co., carried on the business under the firm name of L. S. Heald & Son until 1903, when James N. Heald bought out the business, removed it to Worcester and formed the Heald Machine Company. For a few years previous to the removal to Worcester, the firm engaged quite extensively in the manufacture of grinding machinery. The American twist drill grinder was one of the first machines to be developed and these have been sold all over the world in large numbers. A wide variety of styles have been designed so that machines can be furnished either belt-driven or motor-driven, and for grinding wet or dry, as may be most desirable, in any particular case.

    After removing to Worcester, this line was increased by the manufacture of the Heald ring and surface grinder, which was designed especially for grinding piston rings for automobile and gas engines, and also for such work as grinding discs, dies, thrust collars, saws and similar work, and this machine has been adopted as the standard be leading manufacturers. The success of this machine led the company to manufacture a machine for grinding automoble and gas engine cylinders for which there was an equally great demand. The production of a successful machine for this work proved to be an extremely difficult problem, and involved a great deal of study and experimental work to achieve success. This machine has proved to be ideal, however, for the work, as attested by the fact that almost all the leading automobile and gas engine builders have adopted it, and there are scarcely any machines of any other make in use in this country for handling this work. The salient feature of this machine is that its construction does not require rotation of the work while the hole is being ground, in which it is distinguished from the ordinary type of universal and other internal grinders. In this machine the grinding wheel is made to travel in a perfect circle, as well as rotate at a high speed, and the work remains stationary, which is a great advantage, especially in grinding cylinders, which are cast in pairs or have three or four holes in a single casting, as is very frequently the case, because it is very evident that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to rotate such a casting and produce perfect results.

    Within the last year or so the company has brought out an internal grinder for grinding holes, either straight or taper, in work which is sufficiently symmetrical so that it can be rotated to advantage, and this machine marks a great advance in the art of internal grinding, because it is made very heavy and rigid, and on a plan radically different from what has heretofore been used in such machines, and by virtue of this change and the novel construction employed, work can be turned off much more rapidly than is possible with the older types.

    The plant is located at Greendale near the Norton Company, and occupies over 28,000 square feet of floor space. It is served by a spur track from the B. & M. B. E. so that cars can be loaded at the door for shipment to any point.

    The management is always glad to welcome visitors who are interested in the work being done, and is pleased to show its methods, equipment and product at all times.

    As grinding machinery requires above all to be accurate to the highest degree, great care is taken in regard to the construction and finishing of all parts entering into the construction of the different machines, and the company's system of inspection extends to such a point that it not only covers the "running in" and "testing out" of the completed machines, but it also follows the individual parts through the factory from the time work is begun on them an 1 through every operation until they are complete and ready to be assembled into the finished machines. The plant is a model one in many respects, and Mr. Heald's hobby, if he has one besides the scientific accuracy o£ his machines, is to make every grinder that he turns out a little better than its predecessor.

  • A web page on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute web site says this about alumnus James N. Heald, class of 1884:
    After graduating from WPI, Heald became the third generation to run the blacksmith shop, foundry and machine shop his family had operated for 60 years in Heald Village, Mass. In 1903, he moved Heald Machine Co. to Worcester. By that time, he had already developed a lathe attachment for both internal and external grinding and a successful drill-point grinder. "In 1905, he invented a rotary grinder for machining the sides of piston rings.
  • This company received over 350 American patents, primarily related to grinding machines.