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Blank & Buxton (Wells Index) 40-H Miller

It is suspected that Blank & Buxton were based at 3100 East Michigan Avenue, Jackson, in Michigan and were one of the many local machine-tool distributors - and not a manufacturer. Millers branded Blank & Buxton all appear to have been made by INDEX, a company located in the same town, with other, identical machines,  also found with "Index" badges and distributor tags such as "James W. George Machinery Co. Detroit MI". Blank and Buxton advertised their "40-H Index" swivelling-head vertical miller under the premise of, "versatility at 1/3 the cost you have in mind "
Similar in general layout to the American Columbia miller (and the British "Zenith") the Blank & Buxton was also advertised directly by Wells Index* as their Model 40, and appears to have been designed as a machine capable of light jig boring and jig drilling. With an overall length of 30", the table had a working area of 22" x 8" with rest pads at either end so that index centres could be mounted at the maximum possible distance apart. A slightly longer table, at 34", could also be ordered with both types having three 1/2" T-slots on the top and one at the front to carry travel stops. Some tables, such as the one shown below, were fitted with demountable vernier scales that allowed accurate setting for jig boring work.  Unfortunately there were only four gib-strip adjustment screws on the table's longitudinal support bracket - when double that number would really have been preferable. Table travel was 16 inches longitudinally, 9 inches in traverse and 16 inches vertically with (as an optional extra) four rates of  power-feed available: 5/8", 1", 1
5/8" and 21/2" per minute. However, if required, perhaps for production purposes, other (unspecified) rates could be ordered. The distance from the centre of the spindle to the column (the throat) was 9.25 inches and the maximum clearance between spindle nose and table 16 inches.
Fitted with a worm-and-wheel driven fine feed (but no quick-action drill facility) with 3.25" of travel, the swivelling head contained a ground-finished, chrome-nickel steel spindle with six hard-chromed splines and a No. 9 Brown and Sharpe taper. It ran in super-precision, pre-loaded and grease-sealed ball bearings
guaranteed to give service for one year without attention. With a hole some 33/64" all the way though, the collet capacity was 3/4 inch; it was claimed that holes up to 3 inches in diameter could be bored in steel vertically, horizontally or at angles.
Mounted at the back of the head, the 2-speed, 1/2 h.p. motor was fitted with a double-step V-pulley and drove forwards to an intermediate 2-step pulley and hence to the head proper with its 3-step pulley. Combined with the 2-speed motor, a total of twelve spindle speeds was available, advertised as: 120, 180, 200, 300, 380, 515, 570, 770, 895, 1340, 1635 and 2450 r.p.m. As an option, a special high-speed pulley set was available to give a top speed of 3700 r.p.m. - and the factory also offered to engineer and fit, should they have been required (and of course at extra cost) pulley sets to give even higher speeds.  A power down-feed attachment was also available with rates of 0.002", 0.004" and 0.008" per revolution or, optionally, a special set that gave 0.001", 0.003" and  0.006". What appears in the first picture below to be a second head-mounting bracket, machined on the rear of the main column, was actually the housing for a worm-and-wheel mechanism to tilt the head over. In addition there was an arm, pivoting from the centre of the worm wheel, that gave support to the motor bracket when the head was angled over.
Standing 76.75" high the Type 40 weighed approximately 1250 lbs.
*Unfortunately, no other details of the Blank & Buxton company are available - other than a connection with Wells Index in the same town -  and, should any reader be able to help with additional information, the author will be delighted to hear from you.

Catalog picture of the Blank & Buxton 40-H vertical milling machine

A 1942 Index Model 40-H. This example was originally sold to the Douglas Aircraft Corporation in Long Beach, California. This machine, with a cast-iron sub-base to lift the machine to a more favourable working height, is an early model with the front of the knee casting left open.

Motor drive and intermediate pulley

A ratchet arm was used to set the belt tension

De-mountable vernier ruler for jig boring

Remnant of the War Production Board sticker beneath the Index nameplate. Marvin & Bakewell were machinery brokers in Los Angeles who handled sales to the U.S. Navy and defence contractors.

How to move a top-heavy, unstable milling machine: extreme care backed by a well-thought-out approach

email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Blank & Buxton (Wells Index) 40-H Miller