Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thurston and Green (USA)

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or Thurston, Green and Co, of Providence, R.I.

Makers of steam engines, boilers, and related equipment.

Partners: Noble T. Green and Robert L. Thurston. Robert's son Robert Henry Thurston, born in Providence in 1839, joined the business.

In 1845 Green went to England to buy urgently-needed machine tools, after their factory had been destroyed by fire. They were: three large lathes, one gear-cutting machine, one planing machine, one bolt cutting machine, one drilling machine, one punching machine, six pairs of lathe headstocks, two slide rests, and six patent black staple vises. They arrived at New York in the ship 'Liberty', and entered free of duty.[1]. All the machine tools came form Manchester makers, namely: 8 items from Francis Lewis and Sons (shown as Francis Lenes); 4 items from Richard Roberts and Co; 3 items from John Hetherington and Co; 1 item from Thomas Joy; 33 items from Sharp Brothers and Co.

'It is probably not generally known where the first planers in this country were introduced, or how. This, as told me by Mr. Thurston, Sr., was about 1845, when an iron planer was shipped from England to go inland from Providence. It came over in a sailing vessel and landed on a dock below the Thurston & Green shop, now known as Fox Point. It stood on the dock for some time, and they being in want of some quicker method of smoothing iron than the hammer and chisel, took some tools and a patternmaker to the dock and took all the dimensions of the machine so they could build one. This planer was operated by a chain working around a drum at the back end on the same shaft as the driving pulleys, the drum having a spiral on its outer surface for the chain, the slack of which was taken up by a turnbuckle nut.
One of these planers was at work in the shop when I went there in 1861. The work done by it was of the smoothest kind. It was after a time changed to gear action. The company found a sale for many sizes of these planers with gears, and at one time the shop made a specialty of them. One of these planers is now in use in Connecticut which was put in the shop in 1847. It has an 18-foot table and is 4 feet 6 inches between uprights. I erected this machine about twenty years ago, after putting on a friction feed and a down feed that had previously been run with a rope over pulleys; since then double heads have been put on. ....'[2]

The same source contains further information about the company's products, including curious features of large engines made for 'USS Coonticook', whose slide valves were supported on 64 2" diameter steel balls, turned on an ordinary lathe.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Reports from the Court of Claims, 1857-8, Submitted to the House of Representatives by United States Court of Claims. Evidence from Henry W. Gardner
  2. [2] American Machinist, 3 Dec 1903, p.1691 'Reminiscences of an Old-Fashioned Machinist' by John R. Abbe