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Manufacturers Index - Lehmann Machine Co.
Last Modified: Dec 26 2018 2:53PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Lehmann Machine Co. was in business by 1917 and from the beginning specialized in engine lathes. The business continued in a modest way until 1969 when the business was forced into bankruptcy. Some of Lehmann's assets were bought at public auction by Smith International, Inc., which in 1976 resumed manufacturing the "Lehmann Lathe" line as part of their Drilco Division. In 1980 they set up a new division, the Lehmann Division of Smith International, Inc. to resume manufacturing modernized versions of Lehmann's lathes. As of 2018. Lehmann lathes are still being manufactured, especially for the oil and steel industries.

Information Sources

  • October 1917 Condensed Catalogues of Mechanical Equipment lists Lehmann Machine Co., 606-612 S. Broadway, St. Louis, Mo., under "Machine Tools" and "Presses, Hydraulic".
  • October 1920 Machinery.
    Lehmann Machine Co., 514 S. Broadway, St. Louis, Mo., manufacturer of engine lathes, is now located in its new plant at Chateau [sic, should be "Chouteau"] and Grand Aves. The new shop was designed by Mr. Lehmann and affords 40,000 square feet of floor space. The offices will be located on the second floor.
  • January 1922 American Machine and Tool Record lists Lehmann Machine Co. as a maker of "Lathe (All Types)" and "Metal Working Machine Tools".
  • March 1922 American Machine and Tool Record.
    L. A. Carter has been made president of the Lehmann Machine Co., St. Louis, Mo. He became connected with this company several years ago, starting as engineer and designer, and advancing to the position of general manager and now to the presidency. He is the designer of the lathes made by this company.
  • April 1922 American Machine and Tool Record.


    The Lehmann Machine Co. of 3560 Chouteau avenue. St. Louis, has just brought out its geared head engine lathe in the portable type, especially adapted for railroad and other shops doing large work where it is often necessary to bring the tool to the job. This lathe, which is built in two sizes, 16/18¼, and 18/20¼-in. swing, is direct motor driven through belt and idler, a 1800 r.p.m. motor being used, which is light and compact and is mounted in the cabinet of the leg at the head end of the lathe. The pulley and belt and other working parts are all fully covered and protected with suitable guards.

    Headstock gives 16 spindle speeds in almost geometrical progression with the use of only 10 gears, all of which are heat treated and of a special grade for the purpose, and some of which are hardened where the service requires. Headstock forms oil tight case enclosing all running parts. All shafts in this headstock run on ball bearings with the exception of spindle which is of alloy steel, hardened (not hardened bearings only) and runs in phosphor bronze bearings amply lubricated. Spindle nose has two diameters both hardened and ground giving two bearings for face and chuck plate, one in front and one behind the threads on spindle nose. Forward and reverse to spindle is obtained through patent friction clutches, running in oil, with control handles conveniently located, one at apron and one at head end of lathe. The clutches positively require no adjustment whatever at any time, and will always pull a little more than the load imposed.

    In addition, these lathes include all the other well known Lehmann features, such as the patent quick change mechanism, tailstock spindle locking device, rod and screw shift, etc., which have been described at various other times in these columns.

  • 1922-06-22 The Iron Age mentions Lehman Machine Co. of St. Louis as exhibiting a geared-head lathe at that year's convention of the American Railway Association at Atlantic City.
  • 1924-10-01 Petroleum Age lists exhibitors at a conference in Tulsa.
    Lehman Machine Co., St. Louis. Mo manufacturers of engine lathes—One Lehmann 24/24? x 17' bed, I6-speed, geared head lathe, complete with standard equipment and arranged for motor drive The exhibit will be in charge of Messrs Paul Lehman and Oliver W. Johaning.
  • The 1947 The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America has a section of "Commercially unsalable special machinery to be disposed of as scrap or salvage", including the Lehmann Machine Co.'s 24" special shell making hydrotel lathes.
  • A 1980 issue of Huebner's Machine Tool Specs has the following snippet.
    The Lehmann Division of Smith International, Inc., has acquired the engineering drawings of the former Lehmann Machine Co., St. Louis, Mo., and is manufacturing new Lehmann Lathes. Most parts for both new and previously manufactured Lehmann Lathes are immediately available from Lehmann, or will be manufactured on request. Lehmann has established separate engineering, manufacturing and sales departments to concentrate on Lehmann Lathes. The engineering staff has further refined and improved portions of the Lehmann Lathe for heavier duty performance and to meet contemporary standards, such as OSHA specs. The new lathes incorporate heavy-duty features in the headstock, tailstock and bed. For quality assurance, all parts are 100 percent inspected—using the most modern electronic equipment.
  • From a 1986 issue of American Machinist & Automated Manufacturing.
    Buyer of bankrupt firm's assets is not liable for injury—A company that bought some of the assets of a bankrupt manufacturer cannot be held responsible for injuries allegedly caused by a product made by the bankrupt corporation. In 1981, Tommy Bourque was injured while operating a lathe built by Lehmann Machine Co., which went bankrupt in 1969. Bourque filed a product-liability suit against Smith International, Inc., which had bought some of the assets of Lehmann in 1969 at public auction, including some blueprints, drawings, and spare inventory. In 1976, Smith first set up a lathe division and began to manufacture what it called "Lehmann lathes." Bourque claimed that Smith was a successor to Lehmann and so could be held responsible for injuries caused by defects in a lathe made by Lehmann. The Louisiana Court of Appeal rejected Bourque's suit. Reviewing the grounds on which a company can be held to have assumed the liabilities of another, the court concluded that Smith was not a mere "continuation" of Lehmann since it had no directors, officers, or employees in common with the defunct corporation . The court then noted that California courts have adopted a liberal law under which a business that buys the assets of another and continues to manufacture the line of products made by the selling company may be held liable for claims arising... According to the court, even if this "continued-product-line" doctrine applied in Louisiana, Smith could not be considered a successor to Lehmann Machine: no state court had ever imposed successor liability on a "partial purchase of a ...