The LEES-BRADNER CO. (1906-67) was organized in 1906 as a partnership between Ernest J. Lees (1870-1937) and Hosea Townsend Bradner (1872-1963) of Cleveland and incorporated in 1909. Lees, a cofounder of the Grant-Lees Machine Co. of Cleveland, held basic patents in gear hobbing (cutting) machines. The partners intended to design a smaller diameter, very heavy pitch capacity gear hobbing machine aimed at the automotive market.
Their first successful product, introduced in 1907, was the No. 5 Gear Generator for hobbing spur spiral and worm gears and threading worm. In 1907 the company developed the first successful reduction-to-practice means to grind gears after hardening, the No. 10 Gear Tooth Grinder. Other developments included a hob-styled thread milling machine for the British government during World War I, the first successful gear tooth grinding machine in 1919, and in the 1920s a rotary gear finisher. LBC patented the rotary hobber in 1924 and the rapid differential in 1934, creating the rotary hobbing machine principle. During World War II, Lees-Bradner manufactured about half of the thread milling machines required for the Allied war effort.
H. T. Bradner retired after World War II; the company was reorganized and his sons, John A., George T., and James H., took over management of the company, which was then producing gear hobbing machines for standard and special applications, including horizontal machines, vertical machines, and high production machines for the automobile industry, as well as thread millers and gear cutters. The most advanced product was the dual differential, the Universal 5A, which could play two roles: gear (spline) hobbing and threat (worm) milling.
In 1966 Lees-Bradner had over $5 million in sales, with over 200 employees, represented by Mechanics Educational Society of America (MESA) Local 19 AFL-CIO. By 1967 some 90% of automotive cam shaft gears were hobbed on LBC machines. WHITE CONSOLIDATED INDUSTRIES of Cleveland purchased LBC in 1967; the manufacturing plant at Elmwood Ave. and W. 121 St. in Cleveland was closed in 1975 when operations were moved to White's Fayscott Division in Dexter, ME. When the Fayscott Division was sold in 1986, it reinstated the Lees-Bradner name and the machines marketed today incorporate the latest technology and electronic controls.
Finding aid for the Lees-Bradner Co. Records, WRHS.
Finding aid for the Lees-Bradner Co. Photographs, WRHS.