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Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian  
Explore the ExhibitionView the ObjectsInnovators Gallery



Introduction
Working It Out
Convincing
Controlling
Recording
Credits

Detail Images: (above) Ocean Pacific Apparel Corp.T-shirt production plan (detail), 1995 ; (upper right) Lake Erie & Western Railroad splice bolt standard (detail), 1980-1904

CONTROLLING

In the 19th and 20th centuries, many firms devised extensive systems of drawings that detailed every aspect of their work. Drawings like those in this section of the exhibition (and related standards, gauges, and templates) moved organization and control of work from skilled workers to engineers, who designed the machine, and to draftsmen, who worked out the details. The workmen's job was to follow the drawings. Standardization also allowed manufacture by interchangeable parts, reducing costs and facilitating repair.

Baldwin Locomotive Works
Shop drawing cards
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1857 and 1860.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Shop drawing cards

Shop drawing cards, 1857
Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ink on board
Baldwin Locomotive Works had one of the earliest complete systems of shop drawings of any firm. By 1872, the firm had in place a system of drawings that standardized design and controlled production. This system moved control from the shop floor to the engineers’ office. Along with an extensive group of preprinted forms, it made Baldwin one of the most efficient locomotive producers.

When a locomotive was ordered, a draftsman would produce drawings for the shop floor, using information contained in Card Books (collected copies of every drawing the shop had ever done for every component of a locomotive) and Law Books (general guidelines for drawing, design, and production capabilities). The draftman’s shop drawings, along with the appropriate gauges, would then be sent to the machinists who did the work.


Brown Instrument Company
Brown Pyrometers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: about 1924.

Images courtesy Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Brown Pyrometers

Brown Instrument Company, Brown Pyrometers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about 1924
Catalog No. 14 offers potential customers advice on choosing different models of pyrometers (electrical thermometers that measure high temperatures). Not surprisingly, the catalog claims that these devices save fuel, labor, and furnace linings. Surprisingly, they also “raise the morale of your workmen.” Closer control over the heating process—both more accurate temperatures and less dependence on the skills of workers—were among the appeal of these new devices.


Company Unknown
Gears for lathe tool #16
Place unknown: Date unknown.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Gears for lathe tool #16

Gears for lathe tool #16, date unknown
company unknown
ink on varnished paper
Varnished for durability in the shop, drawings like this preserve knowledge required to build machinery. The note, "Return to Draw[ing]. Room,” shows that management, not the worker, is in charge. The greasy fingerprints at the top left are residue from machinists who used the drawing to produce the gear specified here.


Ericsson LM
Can Efficiency be Measured?
Stockholm, Sweden: 1946.

Images courtesy Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Can Efficiency be Measured?

Ericsson LM, Can Efficiency be Measured?
Stockholm, Sweden, 1946
“Time Is Money” intones the text advertising the centralograph, a device that tracks the operations of a company’s machinery. By always knowing which machines are working, which are not, and why, managers can improve the efficiency of their plants and factories.


Erie Meter Systems
Modern Sales Equipment for Modern Stations
Erie, Pennsylvania, and Tulsa, Oklahoma: 1930s.

Images courtesy Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Modern Sales Equipment for Modern Stations

Erie Meter Systems, Modern Sales Equipment for Modern Stations
Erie, Pennsylvania, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1930s
“Lean and hard as a thoroughbred,” the Erie Cash Computing Pump - the featured product of this sales catalog - computes gasoline prices accurately and instantly, “even to a fraction of a pint.”


Erie Railroad Co.
Standards
New York: December 1904.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Standards

Drawing: Standard Tack Spike, December 1904
Erie Railroad Co.
India ink on linen
The engineering departments of most U.S. railroads provided standard plans for everyday items used throughout a particular rail system. Uniformity helped create a distinct company identity and produced cost savings in manufacture and purchase. Everything from items as simple as fence posts to a structure as complicated as a station building were standardized. Among the equipment drawn up in standard plans were sheds, shovels, road bed, turntables, signals, simple bridges, and the track spikes shown here.


Hamilton Watch Company
Watch assembly
Lancaster, Pennsylvania: 1922.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Watch assembly

Watch assembly, 1922
Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
ink on linen
This assembly drawing of a cross section of a pocket watch movement was used to record the clearances between the various wheels. An inspector would use this drawing to determine if the assembled watch was within tolerance.


I.P. Morris Co.
Nameplate design for Leavitt “Mackinac” compressor engine
Philadelphia: 1898.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Nameplate design for Leavitt “Mackinac” compressor engine

Nameplate design for Leavitt “Mackinac” compressor engine, 1898
Made by I.P. Morris Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ink on linen
Erasmus Darwin Leavitt, Jr., (1836-1916) was the consulting and mechanical engineer for the Calumet & Helca Mining Company from 1874 until 1904. During that time he designed a number of enormous machines used in the company's Michigan mining operation. Each huge stationary steam engine was named, in much the same way that steam locomotives and ships were. In addition to the Mackinac, there were engines with such evocative names as Marquette, Chippewa, Frontenac, Superior, and Arcadia.

The plate, drawn full-size here, was mounted at the center of a gauge panel where the operating engineer monitored the giant engine’s vital signs on instruments that recorded time, pressure, vacuum, and revolutions.


Maidenform Co.
Sewing instruction card
New York, New York: 1958.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Sewing instruction card

Sewing instruction card, 1958
Maidenform Co., New York, New York
printed ink on paper
Maidenform started as Enid’s Frocks, a small New York dress shop. In 1922, owner Enid Bissett and her hired seamstress, Ida Rosenthal, decided that the appearance of their custom-made dresses would be enhanced by improvements to the bandeaux-style bras then in vogue. The Rosenthals called their bra “Maidenform” in counterpoint to the boyish form then popular.

Eventually the bras were in such demand that Bissett and Rosenthal stopped making dresses altogether and shifted to full-scale brassiere manufacturing. By the 1950s, the family-owned firm was a pioneer in the mass production of brassieres and other undergarments.

Mass production meant that every item in a model needed to be identical as well as produced in an identical way. Cards like these outlined every step that a worker took to produce these complex constructions quickly and cheaply.


Maidenform Co.
Pattern pieces for pigeon vest
New York, New York: 1944.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Pattern pieces for pigeon vest

Pattern pieces for pigeon vest (center), 1944
Maidenform Co., New York, New York
printed ink on resin-impregnated cardboard
During World War II, Maidenform embraced a less buxom market: carrier pigeons. These pattern pieces were used to cut cloth for a pigeon vest, which, when complete, was wrapped and laced around a bird’s body and feet, leaving its head and tail feathers exposed. Attached by a strap to paratroopers parachuting behind enemy lines, the vests protected the birds during their descent from plane to earth. After landing, the birds flew back to home base to deliver word of the paratroopers’ safe arrival.

Maidenform also made a more conventional contribution to the war effort by manufacturing silk parachutes.


Mather & Company
Serigraph Posters
Chicago, Illinois: 1923.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Serigraph Posters

"Spoiled work hurts everybody," 1923
serigraph on paper
In the 1920s, many companies displayed work incentive posters like these on the factory floor to encourage workers to conserve materials, work hard, and, generally, see things from management’s point of view. Mather & Co. produced dozens of posters in this series, more notable for their design than for their rather traditional messages.


New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.
Assembly line instructions
Fremont, California: about 1989.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Assembly line instructions

Assembly line instructions, about 1989
New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., Fremont, California
computer print on paper
New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), a pioneering joint venture of Toyota and General Motors formed in 1984, applied Japanese production methods in an American setting. Kanbans, or computer-generated placards like these, were attached to the windows of Toyota Corollas and Chevrolet Novas as they went down the assembly line. The codes indicate, in language legible to line workers and computers, every detail of each car.


New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad
Standards
New York: 1890-1893.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Standards

Drawing: Standard Splice Bolt, November 1891
New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad
India ink on linen
The engineering departments of most U.S. railroads provided standard plans for everyday items used throughout a particular rail system. Uniformity helped create a distinct company identity and produced cost savings in manufacture and purchase. Everything from items as simple as fence posts to a structure as complicated as a station building were standardized. Among the equipment drawn up in standard plans were sheds, shovels, road bed, turntables, signals, simple bridges, and the four items shown here.


Ocean Pacific Apparel Corp.
T-shirt production plan
Irvine, California: 1995.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

T-shirt production plan

T-shirt production plan, 1995
Ocean Pacific Apparel Corp., Irvine, California
machine copy
In the garment business, drawings dictate every step of production. Even putting the label in a T-shirt requires a drawing.


Pratt, Read and Company
"On production it’s smart to dress the part, like this, not this"
Deep River, Connecticut: 1940s.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center


“On production it’s smart to dress the part, like this, not this,” 1940s
Pratt, Read and Company, Deep River, Connecticut
colored pencil on paper
While many firms bought professionally-designed work incentive posters, an artistically inclined Pratt, Read and Company employee made this wartime poster to illustrate the proper attire for women workers on the production line. During World War II, the company switched from manufacturing piano keys to producing wooden-frame gliders for transporting troops.


Providence Engineering Works
Lifting cam
Providence, Rhode Island: 1907.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Lifting cam

Lifting cam, 1907
Providence Engineering Works, Providence, Rhode Island
ink on linen
A cam precisely controls the operation of a mechanical device, the exact dimensions regulating the speed and distance another part is moved. Note the precision to which the cam is specified.


Waltham Watch Co.
Stopwatch tester hook
Waltham, Massachusetts: 1943.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Stopwatch tester hook

Stopwatch tester hook, 1943
Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, Massachusetts
pencil on paper
Everything had a control drawing at a modern manufacturing company, even the hook used to hang stopwatches for testing.


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