Overview & Mission
THE AMERICAN PRECISION MUSEUM
For over 170 years, the men and women of Windsor’s Robbins & Lawrence Armory shaped America’s destiny by pioneering technological innovation, improving manufacturing processes, and increasing the use of labor saving machines.
Using precision metal and wood cutting machines and high standards of accuracy, Robbins & Lawrence proved the effectiveness of developing and producing interchangeable parts that ultimately, would be known as the “American System.”
Housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory since 1966 and designated a National Historic Landmark, APM holds the largest collection of historically-significant machine tools in the nation. The museum seeks to:
- Preserve the heritage of the mechanical arts
- Celebrate the ingenuity of our mechanical forebears
- Explore the effects of their work on our everyday lives
Across America, a powerful machine tool industry developed, flourishing especially in New England and the northern Midwest. Today, even in the age of plastics and microprocessors, the concept of precision manufacturing provides the foundation for modern industry around the world.
To capture the imaginations of young and old with the spirit of innovation, problem solving and design demonstrated through the dynamic story of the machines and people that form the foundation and future of the manufacturing industry in America.
- Preserve, present, and interpret our artifact collections and historic landmark property
- To inspire new generations of innovators
- Build communities that foster a strong manufacturing future
The American Precision Museum combines the atmosphere of an original 19th century factory building with a world-class collection of historic machines. The 1846 armory building, the “Shaping America” exhibition and accompanying programs explore industrial history in the context of innovation, creative problem solving, and the impact of precision manufacturing on American history and culture.
Robbins and Lawrence Armory
The American Precision Museum is located in the Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark located in Windsor, Vermont. In 1846, Samuel Robbins, Nicanor Kendall, and Richard Lawrence took the bold step of bidding on a government contract for 10,000 rifles. Having won the contract, they then constructed a four-story brick building beside Mill Brook. They brought in workers and mechanics, invented new machines, adapted old ones, and perfected techniques for producing interchangeable parts. Within a few years, they were exporting not only rifles but also their new metal cutting machines across North America, to England and around the world. The technology for making guns was quickly adapted to making consumer products as well as parts for many other machines.
The imposing, four-story structure rises from a stone foundation adjacent to a brook that provided immediate and efficient use of waterpower. Inside, power was distributed throughout each floor with line shafting; the shafts were connected to individual machines by leather belts. Abundant windows and the building’s narrow width relative to its length (40’ x 100’), brought daylight into the interior work areas. Outside, the immediate neighborhood is still home to worker housing that was built at various times in the factory’s history. The nearby Connecticut River and the active railroad attest to the importance of transportation in the development of the site.
National Historic Landmark
The armory building is significant for its architectural integrity, which reflects the size, scale, and operation of a 19th century factory. A National Historic Landmark, in 2001 it was designated a special project of Save America’s Treasures; in 2003, APM received a Save America’s Treasures award of $200,000 for installing a new slate roof to replace the deteriorated original. The museum was designated an International Heritage Site and Collection by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1987. For each of these designations, the armory was considered a site where pivotal events occurred in the history of American industry, as well as a place that lends itself to comprehensive interpretation of that history.
Early Manufacturing and the “American System”
The first phase of the Industrial Revolution was introduced in America during the late 18th century and was modeled on the English system of textile manufacturing. In 1846, when the Armory was built, the second phase of the Industrial Revolution—the “American System”—was about to be launched. In the remote village of Windsor, entrepreneurs and artisans had already constructed a series of dams that powered sawmills and a gristmill on the Mill Brook, 18 buildings and shops in total. In these small workshops, inventors developed designs for new products as well as making both new and old items more quickly. In Windsor and other towns up and down the Connecticut River Valley, new industries attracted more people and stimulated the creation of commercial downtowns. Mills, stores, and homes were clustered between the river and the steep hillsides.
American contractors and manufacturing firms such as Robbins and Lawrence and Colt exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851. (This event, officially known as the “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations,” was the first World’s Fair.) A few years later, the British Parliament sent a group to study the ‘American System’ of interchangeable manufacturing and to secure the machinery necessary to introduce the system at the Enfield Armory near London.
What’s the American System of Manufacturing? It depends who you ask, and Generally speaking, these elements are included:
- Division of labor: Instead of one craftsman making each part by hand, machine tools (and jigs) were used for different operations. Semi-skilled workers could then run a machine that would make the same part in the same way.
- Interchangeable Parts: “Component parts of pistols are to correspond so exactly that any limb or part of one pistol may be fitted to any other pistol of the twenty thousand,” is what a US Government Contract (the first to specify ‘Interchangeable Parts’) said to Simeon North. In order to be sure that parts are in fact interchangeable, measurement and quality assurance is required.
- Mechanization: “Machine Tools were designed specifically for each operation. Robbins & Lawrence’s contract for the Enfield machinery included universal millers, standard millers, doublemillers, screw millers, clamp millers, four-spindle drillers and machines for tapping, edging, grooving, squaring, threading, chucking, broaching, saw-slotting, screw-pointing, screw-clipping, punching, index-milling, turning and rifling,” said Edwin A Battison in his book “From Muskets to Mass Production.”
- Machines as a Resource: In his report to Parliament in 1854, a British commissioner stated that Americans use machinery whenever possible. “Wherever it can be introduced as a substitute for manual labor, it is universally and willingly resorted to.” Additionally, “the returns on [machinery investments] are calculated not merely in the narrow sense of money but in the wider sense of adding to the firm’s general resources and improving the working conditions of the staff.” (Freight Handling, 49, 50., cited in The Social Basis of the American System of Manufacturing. )
David Hounshell states in his book “From the American System to Mass Production” that the term “American System” was more often used in retrospect, looking back at the 1800s, than it was used at the time.
The Armory: 1866–1964
The building operated as a cotton mill beginning in 1866 for nearly two decades, before returning to manufacturing machine tools in 1888. Ten years later the property was sold to the Windsor Electric Light Company, before being sold to the Central Vermont Public Service Company in 1926. In 1964, CVPS proposed razing the building, prompting Smithsonian curator and Windsor resident, Ed Battison to formulate plans for the creation of a museum. Battison had a relationship with CVPS, storing various items in the building since the 1950s.
American Precision Museum Founder, Ed Battison
Windsor native Edwin A. Battison founded the American Precision Museum in 1966 and served as its director until 1991. Battison, a curator of Mechanical Engineering at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, secured the Robbins & Lawrence Armory to house the museum and the world-class collection of historic machine tools, related books, and archival materials he had collected during his lifetime.
A New Era
In 1999, new leadership began professionalizing the operations, preserving the physical assets, and marketing to a wider audience. APM undertook a major restoration effort, installing a new slate roof, completing interior structural repairs, restoring two-thirds of the historic wood windows, re-wiring the building, updating security and fire detection systems, and launching a masonry restoration program.
Shaping America: Machines and Machinists at Work
This 4,000 square-foot exhibition focuses on the people whose work made great societal changes possible and the rise of the “American System” of manufacturing. “Shaping America” is the first comprehensive exhibition to examine Vermont’s industrial history in-depth and explores the broad themes of innovation and problem solving, craftsmanship, and the influence of precision manufacturing upon American history and culture. Precision manufacturing reinforced the growth of the American middle class and laid the foundation for the consumer culture that developed during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities helped make this exhibition possible.
Windsor, Vermont and Precision Manufacturing
Windsor, Vermont, the home of the American Precision Museum, played an important role in the development of precision manufacturing and the machine tool industry in America. The Robbins & Lawrence armory served as a breeding ground for innovation in the mid-19th century and as a center for excellence in the high tech industry of its day. Military leaders and industrialists traveled to Windsor to learn about the new “American System” of manufacturing, and workers from Windsor were aggressively recruited by other emerging industries. By continually increasing productivity, the machine tool industry spread the notion that material abundance was possible for a broad cross section of the American people. At its full maturity in the mid 20th century, the machine tool industry provided the backbone of American industrial strength and helped the United States develop into a world power.
Collection and Archives
The museum’s holdings include an unparalleled collection of industrial machinery spanning the first one hundred years of precision manufacturing, along with fine examples of early machined products including rifles, sewing machines, and typewriters. Photographs and archival records provide additional resources for interpreting this critical phase of the Industrial Revolution.
The commitment and generosity of our partners support our efforts in preserving the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, our extensive collection of historically-significant machine tools (largest in the nation), and our exhibits and daily programs—including the new Learning Lab and Innovation Station.
Does your support really make a difference? It does.
Memberships and Donations contribute significantly to our annual operating revenue. With your generous support, APM will continue to expand our educational and career awareness programs.
We are grateful for the dedicated support of our corporate supporters and industry friends, listed below, that have been instrumental in advancing APM’s mission: telling the story of the machines and the people that formed the foundation and advance the future of American manufacturing. These companies carry on the tradition of innovation and excellence developed during the mid-19th century here at the Robbins & Lawrence Armory and by our counterparts in the Precision Valley.
Morris Group, Inc.: One of the largest machine tool distributors in North America, Morris Group, Inc. is a third-generation, family-owned and operated business that serves manufacturers of precision machined parts in the United States.
Daniel Defense is a family-owned and privately held firearms manufacturer in Black Creek, Georgia. We celebrate the liberty of our country, the enthusiasm of our customers and employees, and the quality and accuracy of our products.
Gardner Business Media is the premier publisher for the heart of manufacturing in North America – providing unique, one-of-a-kind, relevant information of keen interest to the people who power plants, shops, and factories.
The Gene Haas Foundation works to support institutions that provide educational opportunities in manufacturing industries today, introducing and encouraging the next generation of manufacturers. “Not only do we believe in supporting the important beginnings of the machine tool industry in this country, but we are also committed to supporting institutions, like the American Precision Museum, that provide educational opportunities about our industries today.” —Gene Haas, Founder
The Association for Manufacturing Technology represents and promotes U.S.-based manufacturing technology and its members – those who design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology at the heart of manufacturing.
“The museum provides a fantastic look at some of the early machine tool technology pioneers whose companies and innovations changed the products that were manufactured around the world and helped position the U.S. as the strongest manufacturing economy in the world.” —Douglas Woods, President
Established in 1969, with corporate headquarters based out of Elk Grove Village, IL, Midaco is a leading full line manufacturer of pallet changers and many other efficient products aimed at saving manufacturing time, increasing productivity and output, and making your company more profitable.
Okuma Corporation was founded in 1898 to produce and sell noodle-making machines. From there, they began manufacturing machine tools in 1904. Today, they are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC machine tools.
For more than 70 years, Royal Products has been designing and building precision metalworking accessories to help manufacturers squeeze every last drop of performance out of their machine tools.
From President Allan Curran: “The American Precision Museum provides a great window into our manufacturing history, and helps us realize how far we’ve come.”
With over 100 years in the precision measurement industry, HEIDENHAIN is setting the future standards of position feedback accuracy today. Our primary industries are metalworking, machine tool, semiconductor and electronics, motor/drive, general automation, and medical, but can be of service anywhere highly dependable precision measurement and motion control is needed.
From President Rick Korte: “The many technological advances we enjoy today are due to the development of the machine tools of yesterday, and there’s no end in sight.”
Caron Engineering’s smart manufacturing products are sold worldwide and interface with nearly any CNC machine tool on the market, irrespective of builder. These products utilize high precision sensors, and high speed data processing units to make real-time automated adjustments, optimize machining, and provide valuable information about the cutting process and health of the machine. All systems have custom drivers for seamless communication with shop floor automation software.
Gosiger is a family-owned and operated machine tool distributor and manufacturing solutions provider headquartered in Dayton, Ohio. We apply the expertise of our engineers, designers, software developers, and systems integrators to develop solutions that address each unique situation. We build these solutions around the industry’s finest machine tools and accessories and provide installation, training, maintenance, replacement parts and unmatched technical support.
NTMA connects our members in the U.S. precision manufacturing industry. We provide opportunities that leverage their collective experiences and ingenuity to improve the capabilities of all members through the accelerated adoption of tools, technologies, and best practices. Speaking and acting with one voice, we advocate for our industry and provide learning resources for our members.
Established in 1919, Mazak has been contributing to the development of the machine tool industry as a leading global company. Mazak manufactures multi-tasking centers, CNC turning centers, machining centers and laser processing machines, as well as automation systems.For industries ranging from aerospace to medical and consumer electronics to construction, Mazak Corporation provides a wide range of machining solutions to suit job shops and major manufacturers alike. Mazak is dedicated to providing industry leading innovative technological solutions and support for customers in the global manufacturing community, providing a safe and enriching atmosphere for associates, and being a good corporate citizen.
Founded in 1983, Mastercam is one of the oldest companies in the PC-based CAD/CAM industry. The company was built on the concept of providing an inexpensive PC-based CAM system at a time when most other systems were expensive CAD-oriented products. We are one of the first companies to introduce CAD/CAM software designed for both the machinist and the engineer.
Lexair was founded in April of 1977 as a manufacturer of high-pressure compressors and stainless steel valves for the United States Navy. Mid-year 1985, we acquired all rights to the hydraulic and pneumatic valve lines from Airmatic Allied. These products are now manufactured and distributed under the Lexair name. In addition to our previously existing products, we have continually expanded our Fluid Power Product offerings as we design and manufacture new or modified items to meet the special requirements of our customers. As a world leader in this market segment, we stand ready to meet any challenge.
For over 15 years, PTR has been committed to making the most reliable and accurate roller-lock weapons in the world. Through precision manufacturing, an unwavering commitment to quality, and exceptional customer service, we are committed to providing the very best overall client experience.
Using cutting-edge technology, advanced materials, and top-of-the-line manufacturing processes, our firearms are constantly being REFINED. Our talented designers, engineers, machinists, gunsmiths, assemblers, and testers work together to make a product that we are not only proud to be associated with; we want to buy it ourselves. We continually invest in new equipment and machinery to ensure we can make the highest quality product at the best possible price.
Starrett, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of industrial, professional, and consumer products worldwide. The vast portfolio of over 5,000 products can be grouped in the categories of Precision Measuring Tools, Saws, Metrology Equipment, Precision Ground Stock, Granite, Job-site and shop tools. Starrett markets its products through distributors primarily to companies in the metalworking industry; and automotive, aviation, marine, and farm industries, as well as do-it-yourselfers and tradesmen, such as builders, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians.
Today, Abbott manufactures more than 4,000 aluminum, steel and cast iron straight and Pie Jaw® brand chuck jaws, as well as master plates, segments, tooling columns, sub-plates, and a variety of accessories. The significant weight and cost advantages of aluminum tooling columns and fixtures have necessitated the emergence of the product line for Abbott with over 120 different sizes and configurations currently in production. Skilled technicians allow Abbott to service requests for special orders that require precise customer specifications. Currently, Abbott’s products are achieving greater industry acceptance than ever before. We have established customers all across North America as well as internationally. With more than $4 million in inventory, Abbott can provide fast, reliable, overnight delivery to most U.S. and international cities.
ABLE Machine Tool Sales Inc.
We will help you think to the future by helping you choose machines that will satisfy your manufacturing requirements now and for years to come. Our technical staff will help you get into production quickly by providing your employees with the support and training they need for smooth installation and operation of the equipment.
What makes Advance Welding different? – a continuous commitment to quality. Quality is not a buzzword here, it’s the constant pursuit to provide the best possible service. Quality to us isn’t something we discuss in meetings, Quality to us is the continuing effort to employ the most highly trained and skilled welders in the industry. Quality is testing state of the art equipment and purchasing the tools that allow us to do the best job. Quality is our long list of certifications. Quality is everything that we do, and shows in everything that we create.
Allied Chucker and Engineering
Since 1948, Allied Chucker and Engineering Company has provided quality machining and assembly of ferrous cast and forged components for a range of industries. Now specializing in complex driveline components, Allied Chucker has in-house design and build capability for tooling, utilizing their tool room facility and extensive CAD-CAM expertise.
Butler Bros. was founded in 1952 by John and Frank Butler to serve the booming footwear industry that was prevalent throughout Northern New England at the time. Our vision then is the same as it is today – to provide personalized service at a fair price. We are proud to remain family-owned and operated with dedicated, hard-working employees who remain the cornerstone of our success.
Concept Components Inc.
Concept Components is dedicated to the manufacture and distribution of quality precision machined parts. Our intention is to build a vital and beneficial link between our organization and our domestic and international customers. Our objective is to provide our customers with a knowledgeable and professional staff capable of consistently providing superior customer service and quality products manufactured to all specifications.
C. Thorrez Industries
C. Thorrez Industries is a family-owned and operated machined products company, producing top quality industrial parts since 1919. The company has the capacity to produce long-run, large quantity productions jobs, along with short-run and prototype work. C. Thorrez Industries are firmly committed to Quality, Delivery, and Continuous Improvement.
Datanomix is the LEADER in Automated Production Intelligence™ for Industrial Manufacturers. If you’ve been let down by production monitoring systems of the past whose fundamental approach is utilization + downtime reason codes entered by operators, you have come to the right place!
The EMUGE-FRANKEN group of companies has been one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tools for threading, drilling, milling, testing and clamping for over 100 years. We are a system provider for cutting tools in standard design or customised special tools for different manufacturing processes.
Founded in 1979, GEOKON has emerged as the world leader in Vibrating Wire Technology .™ Through innovation and experience, GEOKON has developed a line of vibrating wire sensors unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
Founded in 1925, MacLean-Fogg offered one lock nut to North America’s railroads. Through innovative product development and selected acquisitions, the business has grown into a worldwide enterprise with facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia with sales exceeding $1 billion annually
Meyer Gage Company
Founded in 1960 by Albert Meyer, the Meyer Gage Company was the first to commercially introduce Class ZZ gage pins sets. Al Meyer knew from the start that reliable accuracy is essential. At Meyer, our reliability and success is based on dedication to one field – fixed limit gaging, with continuous investments in grinding and inspection equipment, our quality assurance inspection program, and certainly our most important asset of all…. our employees.
Microbest, Inc. was founded in 1960 as a Swiss Automatic screw machine shop. Today Microbest has diversified its equipment and techniques to service clients primarily in the firearms industry, but also working in the electronics, business machines, medical and aerospace industries producing close tolerance machined components from a variety of materials.
Moore Tool Company
The Moore Tool Company has a long history of providing precision machine tools and measuring machines to the world’s most demanding customers.
From Vice President Newman Marsilius: “The American Precision Museum uniquely showcases the historic importance of U.S. machine tools and the role they have played in advancing our society.”
Pilot Precision Products
Pilot Precision Products is the world’s largest supplier of industrial broaches and small, round cutting tools from duMONT Minute Man® Industrial Broaches and Hassay Savage broaching tools, and is the exclusive American distributor of Magafor® and GMauvaisUSATM products.
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of rugged, reliable firearms for the commercial sporting market. With products made in America, Ruger offers consumers almost 800 variations of more than 40 product lines, across both the Ruger and Marlin brands. For almost 75 years, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. has been a model of corporate and community responsibility. Our motto, “Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens®,” echoes our commitment to these principles as we work hard to deliver quality and innovative firearms.
Schütte Corporation’s Michigan facility provides an extensive variety of services, including machine service, spare parts, time studies, process engineering, cam manufacturing, and tool & production demo part grinding et cetera.
For more than 60 years, Southern Gear and Machine has been delivering the highest quality precision gears and gearboxes to the world’s most demanding industries, including aerospace, defense, medical, marine and more. Manufacturing gears at this level requires experience and capabilities that reach far beyond that of your typical gear manufacturer.
Headquartered in Westfield, MA, Savage Arms is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hunting rifles and shotguns. Delivering innovative products for more than 100 years, Savage has built a reputation for continuously improving firearm design while becoming the standard for accuracy and value in the industry.
Starting with consulting for manufacturing and our ability to produce simple 3d printed parts, complex machined parts and tooling and injection molded production, Fedora provides solutions not matched by larger companies and provides customer specific personalized service.
Coastal Safety, LLC
Hannes Precision Industry, Inc
AWT Foundation (Think MFG)
The American Precision Museum has developed strong partnerships with many institutions, organizations, and businesses that support our goal to develop new programs, engage students and families, and improve access to STEM education. We collaborate with a variety of organizations to enhance learning opportunities for our visitors and our community.
Education Partners include:
- Vermont Technical College
- River Valley Technical Center
- Windsor Middle/High School
- Hartford Area Career and Technical Center
- Claremont Maker Space
- Keene State College
- Stafford Technical Center (Rutland)
- Vermont Department of Labor
- Vermont Agency of Education – Office of Career and Technical Education
Community and Memberships
The museum is a member of local, regional and national organizations, including:
- American Alliance of Museums
- American Association for State & Local History
- National Association of Reciprocating Museums
- Blue Star Museums
- Distinctive Destinations of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce
- New England Museum Association
- Vermont Historical Society
- Vermont Curators’ Group
- Vermont Attractions Association
- McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center Partner Program
- Society for Industrial Archaeology (New England Chapters)
- Woodstock VT Chamber of Commerce
Board of Trustees
- Rob Caron, Wells, ME
- Barbara George, Brattleboro, VT
- Christopher Gray, Springfield, VT
- Eric Hagopian, South Deerfield, MA
- Greg Jones, McLean, VA
- Richard Kline, Cincinnati, OH
- Lee Morris, Windsor, CT
- Larry Schwartz, Clear Spring, MD
- Don Thomas, New London, NH
- Greg Kaufman, Washingtonville, NY
Interested in becoming more involved? Give us a call at 802-674-5781!
Steve joined APM as the new Executive Director in September 2019. Prior to becoming the Executive Director he served as both Chair and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee. Steve has held leadership positions in medical device, aerospace, and defense manufacturing. For the past 17 years he has been General Manager and a Partner in a local precision machining company. Steve is committed to volunteerism in his local community where he serves as an elected official and on other local and regional boards. In his free time he enjoys photography, local history, and is a Maker.
Visitor Services Manager
Lisa hails from Brooklyn after a stint down South and ended up in beautiful Vermont. She has a multi-versatile background in banking, marketing, real estate and innkeeping so why not a Museum? Lisa now knows what a Bridgeport is, although the learning curve was pretty steep on that one. She feels she has found her calling as the Visitor Services Manager, doing everything to keep the visitors engaged. Lisa loves to travel, running around on her Scooter and never passes up a Newfoundland Dog that she won’t kiss!
I’ve been in the museum business for about twenty-nine years! At the Montshire Museum, it was almost exclusively in exhibits. At American Precision Museum, it’s been a great variety of responsibilities.
Among my great joys are getting a new exhibit well lit and moving the big machines around. Another wonderful thing has been relating with volunteers. I’ve worked with remarkable people. I’m currently working on recording descriptions and taking photos of all the items in our collections, and that’s exciting too.
Extracurricular activities? Well, I have children and grandchildren in the area. I go out to listen to jazz. Also dance to rock and roll and sometimes swing.
Ten years ago Molly worked as an intern at the museum demonstrating on the historic machines and interacting with visitors. She went on to get a degree in English and Philosophy and taught in public and private schools for a number of years before coming back to teach in Vermont at the start of the pandemic.
In an unexpected turn of events she found herself back at the museum, this time to work as an educator, bringing STEM education to local schools. She initially visited the museum with family and considered volunteering but when she realized there was a career opportunity here she knew she had to take it.
When not at the museum she enjoys sewing and pattern design, singing and playing the violin, and tinkering with mechanical watches. She also speaks a little French which comes in handy with visitors and any time she needs to order food in France.
A South Carolina native and graphic designer by trade, Devon is equally new to New England and nonprofit development. She initially visited the museum as a tourist and fell in love with the building and the collection. Seven months later, in July 2022, she joined the APM team. Excited about the future of the museum, she is cultivating relationships with our donors and members and still designing graphics here and there. She also speaks German, which has come in handy with German visitors to the museum.
When she isn’t at the museum, Devon enjoys knitting, camping, and exploring Vermont and New Hampshire.
A universal dilatant and autodidact of many trades and master of none (his admission), Mike has left his mark in the past few years as an education administrator and outdoorsman. Originally a student of mechanical engineering and an apprentice toolmaker for about 10 years, he got a whiff of the outdoors and pursued running youth and young adult experiential education programs.
As a Technical Specialist at the museum, Mike is now tasked with almost any challenge placed before him to support the goals of the museum in their shared mission to learn from the past, work in the present, and forge positive progress into the future.
Outside of working hours, he enjoys pursuing gastronomy, roaming the woods with his dog, and continuing to do antique auto restorations; building and construction tasks; and generally maintaining mechanical interests, skills, and hobbies.
Jobs at APM
The American Precision Museum in Windsor, Vermont, is looking for talented people to join our team.
Located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a national historic landmark, innovation is at the heart of the museum. Our exhibits tell the story of innovation in manufacturing technology – past, present, and future. Interactive STEM educational programming is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators.
Please take note of how to apply & ask for more information; this may vary based on the position.
The Communications Associate collaborates with Development Associate, Education Specialist, and others to market the museum in various channels. These channels may include social media, internal and external events, print advertising, and other media channels. This position will also collaborate closely with the Executive Director, Development Committee, and Board members to manage all phases of our informational communications. This position will also collaborate closely with outside partners that assist the museum in broadcasting our messaging.
Tools And Technology
APM in the News
APM Featured in Image Magazine
Image Magazine featured the American Precision Museum in the summer 2022 issue.
Thank you, Image! You can see the spread here or pick up a copy of Image locally.
APM featured in Eagle Times: “Dream Big about Their Future”
“WINDSOR, Vt. — Rosie’s Girls Invent, a STEM forward camp for young girls and gender expansive youth alike, has come to Windsor, Vermont. The camp will be held on site at the American Precision Museum once a week until August 23rd and aims to teach young people skills in STEM fields, engineering, and also socio-emotional skills to help propel them to success.”
“Inventors and Innovators” Exhibit at American Precision Museum
April 12, 2022: Windsor, VT – The American Precision Museum is hosting a special exhibit in April, celebrating “Inventors and Innovators,” featuring members of the Machine Tool Hall of Fame. The exhibit is open Monday – Friday, 10- 5. Admission is half-price in April.
The exhibit explores patents, famous industrial partnerships, the development of industrial ecosystems, and how colleagues from various companies often worked together. Archival materials from the museum’s collection include 19th century patent documents from the U.S. and Great Britain, trade literature from numerous companies, and more.
The Machine Tool Hall of Fame is an initiative of the American Precision Museum and the Association for Manufacturing Technology. The Hall of Fame includes 47 individuals and is available online at The Manufacturing Ledger, (ledger.americanprecision.org), a new portal that highlights the stories of the celebrated people behind the machines.
Many biographies are displayed in the exhibit, including member influence and their company affiliations. The machines displayed in the exhibit hall linked with the Machine Tool Hall of Fame, also are highlighted.
“While reading the biographies, you realize that some of these men were notable for their inventions, some for their ingenious business practices, and others for inspiring and catalyzing others,” said Executive Director Steve Dalessio.
APM to Present Smithsonian Poster Exhibition Highlighting the History of Women Inventors in the United States
March 1, 2022: Windsor, VT – Throughout American history, women with diverse backgrounds and interests created inventions that changed lives every day. But women haven’t always had equal opportunities to be inventors or received as much recognition. The Smithsonian and the United States Patent and Trademark Office present “Picturing Women Inventors,” a poster exhibition that explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women. Astronauts, computer pioneers, and businesswomen join athletes, engineers, and even teenagers in this remarkable group of inventors. The posters will be on view at the American Precision Museum March 1 through 31st, in conjunction with Women’s History Month.
“Picturing Women Inventors” showcases the breakthroughs, motivations, and challenges women encountered while pursuing their goals as inventors. The poster exhibition highlights stories of inventors like Marilyn Hamilton, who after a hang-gliding accident in 1978 left her paralyzed, invented a lightweight wheelchair that was easy to maneuver. Diversity of background and age are showcased including inventor Alexis Lewis, who at 12-years-old in 2011 was inspired to adapt a traditional Native American sled, called a travois, by adding wheels to create a simpler way to transport families and their belongings in Somalia.
The exhibit is a natural complement to the stories of innovation and invention already on display at APM. This poster exhibition was designed to educate and inspire young people to see themselves as future inventors. During the winter, when the museum is not heated, admission is free (although donations are welcome). Visitors are welcome to tour the museum, bearing the cold in mind.
“Picturing Women Inventors” is distributed at no cost to schools, libraries, museums and community organizations by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It’s sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies IF/THEN Initiative and Ericsson.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.
The Lemelson Center has led the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian since 1995. The center’s activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation and located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit www.invention.si.edu.
“Patterns and Molds”: Temporary Exhibit at American Precision Museum
January 14, 2022: Windsor, VT – The American Precision Museum’s new temporary exhibit, “Patterns and Molds,” opens at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 14, 2022. This special selection of items is drawn from the Museum’s archives and remains on exhibit from 10 am to 5 pm through Monday, February 14. The exhibit includes video elements explaining molding processes, live demonstrations of thermoforming, and more. Although many of the patterns resemble simple shapes, some are more complex, and all ultimately became parts of machines.
“When we talk about cast-iron, we’re really talking about molten iron being poured into a mold, and the resulting casting,” explained Executive Director Steve Dalessio. “The pattern is the original design the mold is made from.” The museum has hundreds of these patterns in its collection, usually wooden. These patterns were often used in foundries. The patternmaker in the 1800s and early 1900s often learned from a master or from books (and a sampling of these books will also be on display). “The American Precision Museum has so many artifacts in its collection that the public does not get to see regularly,” says Dalessio. “This exhibit is an opportunity for us to share unique objects that have never been put on display.”
During the winter, when the museum is not heated, admission is free (although donations are welcome). This special exhibit takes place in the heated section of the museum. The exhibit is open weekdays from 10-5 pm.
Exhibit links with Education Kit “Achieving Repeatability “
The exhibit also ties in with the museum’s next education kit, “Achieving Repeatability”. This interdisciplinary kit for kids in 4th through 6th grade will be available to local teachers and informal educators free of charge in February. The kit includes lesson slides and all the physical materials a student would need to create a cookie cutter that tessellates, build a catapult that’s both accurate and precise, exchange the parts of a clicking ballpoint pen, and more. The lessons tie in manufacturing, history, and STEM with art and the humanities.
Model Engineering Show Returns, Updates at the American Precision Museum
August 5, 2021 – Since 1999, the American Precision Museum has hosted a gathering of makers and builders known as the Model Engineering Show. The American Precision Museum’s 20th Model Engineering Show will take place at the museum Saturday, October 2 from 9:00am-4:00pm.
The American Precision Museum’s Model Engineering Show has become an October tradition giving visitors the chance to see the work of some of New England’s finest model engineers. Perfection is the hallmark of the model engineering and miniature movement, and visitors to the show will experience some of the best.
In past years, the Model Engineering Show in fact was held in two locations and had over 30 vendors and exhibitors. The 2021 show will be much smaller – only to be held at the museum. And in order to make the best use of the limited space, the show will require exhibitors to apply and be approved.
The show’s date was chosen for several reasons: to better accommodate potential exhibitors during the beginning of “leaf peeper season” in rural Vermont, and also to coincide with National Manufacturing Day. “National Manufacturing Day (or MFG Day) is always held the first Friday in October, and encourages manufacturers, schools, parents, and allies to work together to build a future workforce. And there is no more inspiring way to show the joy of making things than the Model Engineering Show,” said associate director Alice Cable.
The museum’s education strategy introduces young people to “making things” and consider a career in manufacturing through digital resources, classroom outreach and onsite programs that connect history, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, Mathematics), and machines.
The museum also has a major new exhibit for 2021, which tells the important story of how precision manufacturing changed from “Made by Hand” to “Made by Machine.” Displays of early machinery are integrated into the broad story of American industrial history, enabling visitors to learn more of the important role the manufacturing industry continues to play in shaping American culture and society.
For those interested in exhibiting, volunteering, or being a vendor, visit the museum’s web site: www.americanprecision.org to apply online and to obtain general information about this event. Call the museum at 802.674.5781 for more details. The museum exhibits will close for the season October 31st, 2021 but may be open by appointment during the winter.
Updates for the 2021 Season: “Made by Hand to Made By Machine”
March 15, 2021 (Windsor, VT): When the museum opens for the season on May 1st, visitors can expect to see a few changes. New displays will tell the important story of how precision manufacturing changed from “Made by Hand” to “Made by Machine.” In the museum today, displays of early machinery are integrated into the broad story of American industrial history, enabling visitors to learn more of the important role the manufacturing industry continues to play in shaping American culture and society. “This new exhibit will bring to light how products were first made by hand and then made by machine, through the brilliance of Kendall, Robbins and Lawrence,” said Executive Director Steve Dalessio. The new display will feature updated lighting and media, a new hand-tool display, and much more. “We look forward to sharing the new exhibit with you whether you’re here at the museum or visiting us online,” added Dalessio.
Additionally, the Science and Technology of Measurement display has had an update for the new year. As part of the statewide exhibit 2020 Vision: Reflecting on a World-Changing Year,’ the update includes the measurement of heat, due to unprecedented use of forehead thermometers for covid-19 symptom checking. The museums’ collection of pyrometers and thermometers includes devices that can measure up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Beside the measurement of heat and temperature, this display also features devices that measure speed, distance, time, power, and hardness.
Return of the Miniatures: Models & Miniatures Virtual Exhibit
January 13, 2021 (Windsor, VT): One year ago, the American Precision Museum hosted a Models & Miniatures temporary exhibit. The minis are returning, but due to COVID-19 rates, the show will be virtual this year.
Between January 16th and January 29th, a new artifact will be featured daily on the museum’s social media channels and website. Local TV station Windsor-On-Air will also film the temporary exhibit so viewers can experience a walkthrough, as they’ve done for the miniatures and for the Mechanical Arts show, both in 2020.
The show includes many favorites from last year, but also some new items. Several will be hooked up to a compressed air system. “Last year, when we brought out the models and miniatures, we discovered that many of these steam engines should be functional. Compressed air will fulfill the same function as steam, and allow these models to work,” said Executive Director Steve Dalessio. “My favorites are of course the very tiny hand tools that are less than one inch long, but I also like the steam whistle and the engines with flywheels.”
To see the miniature-of-the-day as it’s released, virtual visitors may bookmark this link, or follow the museum on social channels:
@AmericanPrecisionMuseum on Facebook and Instagram
For more information, please contact the museum.
The American Precision Museum is located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, and traces the beginnings of manufacturing to modern technology through exhibits and interactive programs. Open by appointment until April 30th, then open May 1st through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
New Ways to Help the Museum
November 16, 2020 (Windsor, VT): Now when you shop, you can give to the museum through a few different ways. Many of us are getting ready to do some holiday shopping online this year.
- If you shop at Amazon, start at smile.amazon.com and you can send some of Amazon’s profit to the non-profit of your choice – such as the museum.
- Kindle Books: Our out-of-print exhibit booklets are newly available online for Kindle readers! Let us know what you think – we’re starting with these two and if you like them, more are on the way.
- Online Gift Shop at Cafepress: Now you can get exclusive APM products and gifts online! Cafepress prints and ships your order and each order supports the museum. Featured items for the shop launch include new puzzles, sweatshirts, and coffee mugs.
Mastercam Announces Exhibit Partnership with Haas and the American Precision Museum
September 22, 2020 (Tolland, Conn.) – CNC Software, Inc., developers of Mastercam, the world’s leading CAD/CAM software, has announced a new partnership with the American Precision Museum (APM) and Haas Automation. APM combines the atmosphere of an original 19th century water-powered manufacturing facility with a world-class collection of historic machines. It explores industrial history in the context of innovation, creative problem solving, and the impact of precision manufacturing on American history and culture.
The APM factory was first powered by a great water wheel, located in the basement, which drove a drum that carried belts up through the ceiling to the overhead line shafts on the factory floor. Those shafts turned smaller belts that powered the machines. APM is partnering with Mastercam to recreate a waterwheel to have on display in the museum demonstrating how running water was turned into power to drive the building.
The Applications Engineers at CNC Software, Inc. designed a functional scaled-down version of the original waterwheel found at APM. To keep it as realistic as possible, the model design was inspired by a 2009 study of the original factory and wheel. The assembly was designed in Mastercam for SOLIDWORKS® and programmed and machined using Mastercam. Most of the assembly is made from ¾” prefinished plywood and was machined down on a 3-axis router. The mechanical components are aluminum and steel and machined on a Haas VF2 CNC, taking waterwheel power into the 21st century.The scaled-down version has a working drive gear assembly, and for display purposes is not powered by water but instead uses a small pellet stove gear motor.
“CNC Software is proud to partner with the American Precision Museum. APM is helping to tell the story of how mass production changed the world and shaped America,” says Meghan West, CEO of CNC Software. “APM is looking to recreate a waterwheel, and we are honored to help reproduce it with Mastercam. Exhibits like this are intended to spark imaginations and inspire younger generations to get involved with manufacturing. We are 100% behind that.”
Toni Neary, Director of Education for the Morris Group – Haas Division, “We are so thrilled that HFO Trident, Haas, Mastercam, and the American Precision Museum have found this way to partner and build such a dynamic project. Our organizations are committed to growth through education, sparking awareness of careers in manufacturing, and good old American ingenuity. This waterwheel is the culmination of those passions. The team at Mastercam has worked to create a fun and exciting way to discuss the history of the museum and integrated modern manufacturing technologies to replicate parts of our history. We so appreciate the time and craftsmanship in making this vision a reality.”
Steve Dalessio, Executive Director of APM, further states, “Using advanced manufacturing methods to recreate an 1846 device is a great way for us to demonstrate how manufacturing continues to evolve. We’re so grateful to Mastercam for creating this model for us, because our education program will be able to use the exhibit to link science, history, and manufacturing.” The new display will be unveiled for Manufacturing Day 2020.
For more information on Mastercam, please visit www.mastercam.com.
For more information on Haas Automation, please visit https://www.hfotrident.com/about/.
October is National Manufacturing Month; “Full Circle” at APM
August 20, 2020
Local manufacturers are encouraged to participate in MFG Day, an event coordinated by the National Association of Manufacturing. As manufacturers seek to fill 4.6 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade, MFG Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.
For its contribution, the American Precision Museum will highlight ingenuity in manufacturing in the past and in the present with “Full Circle.” The kickoff event for Full Circle, (to be held on Saturday October 3rd) will feature the unveiling of a new working model waterwheel display in partnership with Mastercam. Demonstrations of machines both old and new will happen throughout the day. Visitors can also learn about what careers in manufacturing are like today through displays featuring local employers and training centers.
The museum invites any manufacturing business who is currently recruiting to contact Alice Cable (associate director) at 802-674-5781 to discuss displaying promotional materials as part of their MFG Day efforts.
Space Day at the American Precision Museum on July 19, 2020
Windsor, VT: The American Precision Museum hosts its annual SPACE DAY celebration on Sunday, July 19, 2020 from 10:00AM to 4:30PM with the theme, “SPACE ENGINEERING – THE NEW FRONTIER”. The event showcases advances in aerospace technologies made possible by precision manufacturing and features special projects as well as videos on the latest space exploration initiatives. Model rockets are included free with admission to the Museum. Quantities are limited.
“Our mission includes celebrating innovation in every sector of the manufacturing industry”, says Steve Dalessio, Executive Director. “The Museum offers unique Space Day programming that highlights emerging technology to both educate and inspire visitors. Most activities take place outside, either on site or in nearby outdoor spaces. We are following CDC guidelines and observing COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing, limiting capacity and wearing masks to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Admission to the Museum on Space Day is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors & veterans, and $5 for students. Children under 6 are free.
The American Precision Museum is located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, and traces the beginnings of manufacturing to modern technology through exhibits and interactive programs. Open daily, Memorial Day Weekend through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Exhibit Open Now: The Science and Technology of Measurement
May 23, 2020
Windsor, VT: As the museum prepares to open for the 2020 summer season, visitors will note several changes including an earlier ‘season open’ and a new exhibit. The American Precision Museum is pleased to present “The Science and Technology of Measurement” as part of the Vermont Curators’ Group Statewide Exhibit “2020 Vision: Seeing the World Through Technology.”
Executive Director Steve Dalessio said, “Our spin on ‘seeing the world through technology’ is inspection and accuracy.” Dalessio also noted that precision manufacturing depends on accurate measurement, “so the timing is perfect to participate in this statewide initiative.”
Elements of measurement to be displayed will include hands-on and digital elements. “We want people to realize measurement isn’t just a ruler or a tape measure, but an integral part of the world around us that allows us to be accurate to the micron. When you have industries like aerospace and medical, that level of detail is essential. What’s more, there are a ton of jobs in quality and inspection that rely on this level of attention to detail, so we hope our collection of items from the 1800s to today sparks some interest!”
Items to be on display will include historical items like Edison’s watt-hour meter and the world’s first super-micrometer (accurate to the millionth of an inch), and present day items such as laser micrometers and CNC probes. Augmented-reality and hands-on activities will round out the visitor experience.
The exhibit, and the rest of the museum, plans to open for the season Memorial Day weekend.
For more information, please contact the museum.
The American Precision Museum is located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, and traces the beginnings of manufacturing to modern technology through exhibits and interactive programs. Open by appointment until April 30th, then open May 1st through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The American Precision Museum is proud to be a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to active duty military & their families.
For Museum Day, Windsor’s American Precision Museum Opens Up About Manufacturing
American Precision Museum Appoints Steve Dalessio as New Executive Director
Windsor, VT, September 12, 2019. . . The American Precision Museum’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Dalessio as its new Executive Director. He succeeds Ann Lawless, who retired in 2018 after serving as director for 15 years. Dalessio will implement the museum’s mission and goals in innovative and creative ways, overseeing the daily operations, budget, and fundraising, in addition to refining the museum’s long-range strategy and interpretative plan.
Free “Windsor Day” on August 24 Brings Local History to Life
Windsor, VT – The American Precision Museum will host its first annual “Windsor Day” on Saturday, August 24 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to honor the town’s residents and deepen understanding of the community’s manufacturing heritage. Windsor Day features activities for all ages, including rocket launching, interactive electronic and mechanical assembly areas, an introduction to Tinkercad 3D design basics, robotics lessons, and friendly competitions with Sphero robots. Materials from Historic Windsor Inc., modern milling machine exhibits, and machine tool demonstrations will provide insights into Windsor’s pivotal role in the “Precision Valley” and its significant contribution to our daily lives.
“The Museum is building a library of video-based oral histories that document local industry,” says Scott Davison, Director of Education and Interpretation, “so machinists and engineers who have worked in Windsor are especially encouraged to participate in this event. Bring your family and share your stories! It’s personal memories and real life experiences that make history truly exciting.”
Admission to Windsor Day is free
The American Precision Museum is located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, and traces the beginnings of manufacturing to modern technology through exhibits and interactive programs. Open daily, Memorial Day Weekend through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The American Precision Museum is proud to be a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to active duty military & their families.