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Manufacturers Index - Franklin Machine Co.

Franklin Machine Co.
Providence, RI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery, Metal Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jul 16 2019 8:55PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

This manufacturer was one of at least four that made the Wilson radial arm saw design; the other companies were Burke Miller Manufacturing Co., Media Machine Works, Inc., and A. W. Harris Co. Based on the sparse evidence available, Burke Miller was the probably first manufacturer, starting during or immediately following World War II. By 1946 it appears that both Burke Miller and Franklin were manufacturing the saw. It is likely that the two makers handled different territories. By 1950 it seems that Burke Miller was no longer making the saw, and in March of that year Franklin sold the line to Media Manufacturing Works, Inc. of Media, Pa. That company only made the saw for three or four years before the Wilson saw disappeared for good. We also have a report of a Wilson saw labeled as manufactured by A. W. Harris Co. of Providence, R. I., but we have no idea how they fit into the picture. We have not been able to find any other evidence that they manufactured the saw.

The Franklin Machine Co. claims that it was established in 1798. Before the Wilson saw era, they primarily made textile machinery. In the early 1920s they made improved Harris-Corliss engines. They were assigned a handful of 1920s patents for drop hammers. During WWII they made pumps and engines for ships.

Information Sources

  • From a radial arm saw, labeled as "Wilson / High Speed Cutting Machine / Manufactured by / Franklin Machine Co. / Providence Rhode Island / Patent # 2,291,999". The patent dates from 1942. Thanks to correspondents Patrick Applegate and Mike Armstrong for providing us with labeling information on their Wilson radial arm saws.
  • Robert Bernstein has provided us a scan of an undated advertising brochure for the "Sensational! Wilson High-Speed Radial Cutting Machine". The text, "Manufactured by / Franklin Machine Company / Established 1798 / Providence, Rhode Island, U. S. A." has been overprinted with, "Manufactured by / Media Machine Works, Inc. / Established 1922 / Media, Pennsylvania, U. S. A."
  • Wood: The Magazine of the Forest Products Industry, in a 1946 issue, briefly describes the Wilson saw and says, "For the illustrated booklet write Franklin Machinery Company, Dept. W., 55 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence, R. I."
  • The American Lumberman & Building Products Merchandiser for 1947 mentions that "the Wilson saw" was manufactured by Franklin Machine Company of Providence, R. I. The saw's capabilities are briefly described.
  • A 1950 issue of The Southern Lumberman carried the following notice.
    MEDIA, PA., March 28—Media Machine Works, Inc., Pennsylvania, has announced that they are now manufacturing the Wilson radial arm high speed cutting machine, formerly manufactured by Franklin Machine Company of Providence, Rhode Island. Production on 2 HP, 3 HP, 5 HP and 7 1/2 HP Models has already begun, with deliveries...
    The rest of the notice is truncated in Google Books.
  • The Civic and Architectural Development of Providence, 1636-1950, by John Hutchins Cady, 1957, says, "...At Charles and Nichols streets, on the west bank of the river, were the works of the Franklin Machine Company (incorporated 1886), first established as the Franklin Foundry and Machine Company in 1836." This contradicts the 1798 date mentioned earlier. We can only assume that Franklin Foundry and Machine Company grew out of a predecessor, and Franklin Machine Co. chose to define their genesis as that predecessor.
  • Wilson radial arm saws have been discussed a few times in the OWWM discussion forum, i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Thanks to the various posters for providing information on their machines.