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  #1  
Old 06-04-2008, 10:02 PM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Century old metal shop closes

A family member sent this to me tonight, seems this Tom De Lorenzo is actually *COUSIN* De Lorenzo!


Farewell to a SoHo Metal Shop

By Corey Kilgannon

http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_stor...a154ddfe43c5ef
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/16/nyregion/16metal.html


If you want a visceral feel of how SoHo has cleaned up over the past decades, stand for five minutes in the noisy shadows of the De Lorenzo’s metal shop on Grand Street near West Broadway and watch the well-to-do world go by.

After 101 years of doing business in SoHo, the family-owned shop had its last official business day on Thursday, as we reported last week, and now the De Lorenzos will need a good few weeks to sort through a century’s worth of tools, machines and metal products, to sell or give away or throw out.

Standing in the shop with the workers and the dusty old machines, the sparkling patina of the new SoHo seemed slightly surreal.

There are a lot of tourists from foreign countries and foreign suburbs, with neat little shopping bags from designer shops. There are plenty of designer-dressed people dropping lots of money in stylish cafes, and browsing galleries. Against the backdrop of the sooty, old-world shop, the area seems somewhat sanitized. Maybe it’s just nostalgia for the bad old days.

As Tom De Lorenzo Sr. says in the accompanying video, it is a very different neighborhood now than the old manufacturing district that the De Lorenzos used to serve.

“This place is really the last of its kind in an area that used to have so many manufacturing businesses,” said Robert McDougle, a designer who has worked in SoHo for 30 years. He said he enjoyed and benefited from having a small metal shop with an experienced staff fabricate his designs and suggest methods and materials that expanded his vision as a designer.
“They helped many, many artists in SoHo,” he said, as the De Lorenzos and three longtime employees rushed to finish their last few projects.



Thursday was the last working day for the century-old shop, and some of the remaining artists and designers in SoHo dropped by to pay their respects.
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  #2  
Old 06-04-2008, 11:42 PM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

This is sad.
Late last year, the last machinery dealer in Manhattan, Grand Machinery, also closed for the same reason- I think they got something like $12 Million for their building.

When there are only services for rich people, and only rich people can afford to be there, New York will be a much less interesting place.
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2008, 01:10 AM
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Aaron Schroeder Aaron Schroeder is offline
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Seems like there's a huge vacume to be filled in New York. Tommorrow I'm meeting with a client about doing a big Clock for a restruant in NY. Somethings wrong/right when folks in that city have to employ someone in Ohio to do work for them. I'm not complaining, shut down/buy out every handy establishment in every city ...every where. The few that remain will benefit and the rest that are forced to the country ( like me ) will be happier.

Living downtown was OK but it sucked.
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  #4  
Old 06-05-2008, 09:45 PM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Aaron, if you or Ries or Underfoot, Iron ant lived anywhere near Manhattan you would be booked solid at least a year ahead and you'd be naming your price. You'd have to turn work away. But the overhead is shattering and theres no peace to be had. Sure, you can console yourself with meseums and good food but when you write checks they're ALL BIG ones. You'll have to work twice as hard, and it aint no fun...believe me, it just works out that way. So enjoy taht NYC commision and be glad that most of that money will stay with you. Everyone like us there is VERY busy.

By the way. I used to dig in that fab shops garbage all the time when I was in college (late 80's) in college...I'd re-sharpen their drill bits and re-use thier power-hack blades. Nothing all that great ever came out of the place though that I saw - easy stuff for artists and designers that didn't know how to make anything. But they did have some NICE old gear.

Last edited by evaldart : 06-05-2008 at 10:10 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-05-2008, 11:59 PM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

The video shows a real old metal working machine- the first of it's kind in the city when it was bought, it does everything, cuts, bends and more, would be a cool artifact for someone who can use it, otherwise it could wind up being destroyed for scrap.

Tommy- the owner- is related to me by his mother Rose being my dad's sister.
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Old 06-06-2008, 12:44 AM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Its a Pels mechanical Ironworker.

There are a fair amount of similar machines out there used, in the $2000 to $5000 range. They are heavy and dangerous, but do the job.
Pretty much illegal in an OSHA inspected shop- but okay for a one man band.

I am a little suspicious of the dating, as I was just looking in a 1913 catalog, and the ironworkers of that era were a bit cruder, and overhead shaft driven with HUGE flywheels- 3 or 4 feet in diameter.
I would date that Pels at about ten years newer than they think it is- late 20's.
Pels was a german company, from Berlin, and they did indeed have a US office as early as 1905 or so, so it is possible it was that old, but just from the lines of the machine, a bit unlikely.

For the right person, its a cool tool.
It will shear round, square, angle and flat, and punch holes.
I would guess it to be about a 50 ton, which will do a 1" diameter hole in 1/2" plate.
Doesnt bend, though.
New punches are available from Cleveland Punch and Die.

Probably weighs 2500lbs or so, and runs about a 3hp, probably 3phase, motor.
Here is a link to a very similar one.
http://www.usedequip.com/q/showdlist...05700,20120891

I have a new, hydraulic model, and the basic tool is indeed one of the handiest tools in my shop.
But one that old, from a company long out of business, is not worth a lot.

In most industrial areas, they would be a small shop- but since there is little left in NYC, they look bigger.

There are still bigger fab shops in jersey and long island, that are perfectly capable of doing stuff 3 times as big and complicated, including at least a couple in long island that specialise in fab for artists and architects.

So its not exactly that NYC is a desert- its just that Manhattan is way too expensive to do metalworking in anymore.
The neighborhood they were in used to be full of factories, jewelers, stamping shops, machine shops, and dealers in used tools- On Grand Street, in the 60's, there were at least a dozen used machinery dealers.

I used to buy stampings from a company who, when I started buying in the 80's, had only recently moved to Jersey from Soho- moving a dozen huge punch presses, and hundreds of dies, weighing tons and tons, to make ornamental sheet metal trims, leaves, candle cups, lamp parts, ashtrays, and other small stampings.
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2008, 01:32 AM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ries View Post
... There are still bigger fab shops in jersey and long island, that are perfectly capable of doing stuff 3 times as big and complicated, including at least a couple in long island that specialise in fab for artists and architects.

So its not exactly that NYC is a desert- its just that Manhattan is way too expensive to do metalworking in anymore. ....
This is exactly what crossed my mind while reading the earlier posts. I didn't comment then as my knowledge of NYC is limited.
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  #8  
Old 06-07-2008, 02:32 AM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Quote:
Originally Posted by evaldart View Post

By the way. I used to dig in that fab shops garbage all the time when I was in college (late 80's) in college...I'd re-sharpen their drill bits and re-use thier power-hack blades. Nothing all that great ever came out of the place though that I saw - easy stuff for artists and designers that didn't know how to make anything. But they did have some NICE old gear.
You remember a sculpture place not far from there around 1980? It was on I think the West side of maybe Allen street just South of Houston street, maybe a little further South.
I had a mold made there for $400 back then but can't remember the name- probably long gone now.
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  #9  
Old 06-07-2008, 08:13 AM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Sorry Landseer, doesn't ring a bell. I always did my own casting and moldmaking - bought everything at Cementex on Canal street - and dragged it back to Brooklyn. Not sure if that is still there either.
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  #10  
Old 06-07-2008, 12:37 PM
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Quote:
Originally Posted by evaldart View Post
Sorry Landseer, doesn't ring a bell. I always did my own casting and moldmaking - bought everything at Cementex on Canal street - and dragged it back to Brooklyn. Not sure if that is still there either.
I did/do as well, but way back then I decided to see about having a professional mold made for me- only one I had done, they used black tuffy, it was a good mold. They were a small shop and had a bunch of plaster statues and stuff all around, was just curious to learn more about them as I only went there once for the one mold.
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  #11  
Old 06-08-2008, 07:10 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Century old metal shop closes

Black tuffy - thank the heavens that's gone. It was THE material to use during my first sculpture classes about 1965. Probably the only flexible material available, but WHAT A MESS!
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