Littlestown Foundry was one of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company’s suppliers. They were founded in 1916 and are still in business today. From the archives, I can see that ribber castings were being supplied by them as early as 1917, so the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company was one of Littlestown Foundry’s first customers. These facts and more are coming to the surface as I dig deeper into the supply chain for the company, and I’m sure I’ll find more suppliers still in business as I continue looking.
The photo above is the machine room of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company. You can see a table of brand new ribber castings waiting to be fitted to brand new knitting machines. Those castings look pretty good!
I found a nice video on the foundry process used by Littlestown Foundry, and have attached it here (click on the image). The video is 1 hour in length, and is a tour of the facility as well as a narrative of their process for aluminum castings. I’m pretty sure the ribber casting for the 1920’s Gearhart Knitting Machines were 100% primary aluminum, or a primary aluminum alloy. My 1925 machine has a shiny ribber which still looks brand new. Not a scratch, dent, or pit anywhere.
I like aluminum as a material. I’ve heard about brass machines, nickel machines, and even steel machines. I suppose there’s a case to be made for various metals, but there’s also a price to be paid as well for favoring other material over aluminum in spite of the quality of aluminum castings using today’s manufacturing processes. In other words, I’m not the type to get caught up in style over substance when it comes to producing an attractive and affordable machine.
Its nice to see Littlestown Foundry promoting Made in the USA, especially in the manufacturing industries, most of which have gone oversees. I used to live near Baltimore, Maryland, and believe me it was awful to see the huge Bethlehem Steel Mill at Sparrows Point close after so many successful years, only to be bought and turned into a scrap yard for old rusty ships. It was also sad to learn from a recent tour of the USS Wisconsin Battleship in Norfolk, that the US is no longer capable of producing a steel casting for a 16-inch gun turret. So, if we (the United States) ever want to produce steel on a large scale, or build a Battleship, we’ll have to buy it from Asia. But, now I’m wandering…
Back in 1917, all of the Gearhart Knitting Machine parts were made in the USA. Its rare to see the same thing today. Running across a successful US manufacturing company which was affiliated with the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company and which is still in business today is a very nice thing to discover.
As soon as I have time, I’ll plan to contact the Littlestown Foundry to see if they have any records dating back to 1917. It sure would be interesting to discover information about the ribber castings and any other parts they may have manufactured for the machine.