Allis-Chalmers in 1922



Of the various products associated with the name of Allis-Chalmers and upon which the reputation of that company has been built, several of the principal lines of machinery owe their early development to the companies which united to form that organization. In the year 1901 the Allis-Chalmers Company was organized through a consolidation of the following four large manufacturing concerns: the Edward P. Allis Company of Milwaukee, which was recognized as the leading manufacturer of Corliss engines and one of the pioneer builders of modern flour mill and sawmill machinery, as well as of mining machinery; the Fraser & Chalmers Company of Chicago, a leading manufacturer of mining and metallurgical machinery, pumps and air compressors; the Gates Iron Works, Chicago, large manufacturers of rock crushing, cement and mining machinery; and the Dickson Manufacturing Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania, important manufacturers of Corliss engines and special machinery.

Recognizing the importance of electrical machinery, not only in relation to its other products but with a vision of the part which electricity would have in the future development of the country, the new company acquired in 1904 the Bullock Electric Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. This company had a long record of successful installations, not~ only of direct current machinery but of alternating current apparatus which was then finding an important place in electrical development. Thus began its electrical business which has brought the company to the forefront as one of the largest builders of this class of apparatus.

The development of other lines of power machinery has been one of the outstanding features of the company’s growth until today it holds the unique position of being the only organization in the world building practically all types of prime movers, steam engines. steam turbines, hydraulic turbines, gas engines and oil engines, including complete electric power units in each of these types. Its ability to turn out complete power units of very large size together with its numerous lines of industrial machinery and electrical equipment has given the ,company an unusual advantage in handling complete installations of power and industrial machinery.

Only within the past year the most powerful complete hydro-electric unit ever built was placed in operation at Niagara Falls but the company now has under construction several units of even greater capacity. Within the past few years the company began the manufacture of farm tractors on a large scale. Extensive additions to the West Allis plant, including the most modern machinery, enable it to handle this new line in which it now ranks as one of the largest manufacturers.

The part taken by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company in assisting the United States Government in the prosecution of the World war is evidenced by the fact that during that period a large percentage of the company’s plant capacity was devoted to direct and indirect government orders and contracts. Many of the company’s regular products were of a character which readily fitted into the government’s requirements so that the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company was in a position to accept many large government orders in these lines without material changes in its equipment. facilities and personnel.

The name Allis-Chalmers, and that of one of its predecessors, the E. P. Allis Company, have been closely linked with the history of Milwaukee not only on account of the location there of its principal plants but also in the solution of several municipal engineering problems. One of the most unique of these was where the genius of Edwin Reynolds, recognized as one of the great mechanical engineers of the country, who came with the E. P. Allis Company in 1877, originated the use of the screw pump for handling exceedingly large quantities of water against low heads. The first installation of this type was made in 1888 to force water through the Milwaukee river in order to accelerate the sluggish natural current and insure the removal of the large amount of waste matter entering this river before the same became objectionable. A similar installation was later made in the Kinnickinnic river.

The first vertical triple expansion pumping engine was designed and manufactured by the E. P. Allis Company and installed in the North avenue pumping station of the Milwaukee water works in 1886. The high economy of this pumping engine shown by the official test and which was maintained in actual service attracted the attention of water works engineers all over the world, and this type of machine has been generally adopted by the larger municipalities in the extension of their water works systems.

Shortly after the consolidation of the four companies in 1901 the construction of the West Allis Works was begun, the first three units being completed and manufacturing started in 1903. Two years later three additional units were commenced and these were placed in operation in 1907. The unique arrangement of this plant attracted marked attention as it was one of the first plants constructed on the “unit” plan with definite provision for routing the work. As will be seen from the accompanying photograph, this arrangement permits all parts of a machine in the process of manufacture to move in one direction until completed and shipped, thus avoiding delays incident to parts traveling in opposite directions. Specific products are made in each of the six machine shops extending east and west and at right angles to the three long buildings, each machine shop having its proportion of pattern shop, foundry and erecting shop. From the west end of the plant patterns travel in one direction to the foundry and the finished castings through the machine shops in the direction of the erecting shop, where they are assembled, loaded and shipped out at the extreme opposite or east end of the plant.

An idea of the size of the West Allis plant is obtained from the following: Total floor area of plant, square feet, 2,452,000; total ground area, acres, 116; plant boiler horsepower, 10,700; miles of railway track, 17; reservoir for condensing water for power plant—capacity, 4,650,000 gallons; number of traveling cranes, 155; foundry day capacity (tons), 350; and heaviest casting produced (tons), 120.

Later there was added to this plant a large forge shop, nut and bolt shop. heavy plate shop, malleable iron foundry and farm tractor buildings. A large club house is maintained for the use of its employes. In addition to the plant at West Allis the company is operating the Reliance Works in the city of Milwaukee and the Bullock works at Cincinnati, Ohio, to which extensive additions have been made. The three plants have a total ground area of 146 acres and employ about 10,000 persons.

The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, as the company has been called since 1913, maintains offices in more than thirty American cities and through its foreign offices and representatives carries on an extensive export business. The important products now manufactured by the company include the following: Electrical machinery, steam turbines, steam engines, condensers, hydraulic turbines, pumping engines, centrifugal pumps, gas engines. oil engines, mining machinery, metallurgical machinery, crushing and cement machinery, flour mill machinery, sawmill machinery, air compressors, air brakes, steam and electric hoists, farm tractors, power transmission machinery, forgings, perforated metals, timber treating and preserving machinery, etc.

**Bruce, William G. History of Milwaukee, City and County. Vol. 3. Milwaukee: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922. Google Books.

1 thought on “Allis-Chalmers in 1922”

  1. Wish to see a detailed article on Allis Chalmers Transformer Manufacturing history. Also story on W C Sealey who was Chief Engineer ,Transformer Design at AC during 40’s &50’s.

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