I don't own a Bradley Hammer, but someday I hope to have a shop big enough to hold one of these great big beasts! Bradleys were built in Syracuse, which is to the South of me. This one belongs to a member of the Adirondack chapter of the New York State Designer Blacksmiths. James has a great collection of classic Blacksmith's mechanical tools. The Bradley is just waiting for it's turn in the shop for restoration.
The Bradley company made hammers from the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. They were industrial Blacksmithing hammers, and often were used in factories for 3 shifts a day for years, decades, or in some cases most of a century! They are one of my favorites. Original manuals for several Bradley Hammers can be seen here! Follow the link and scroll half way down.
In the U.S few other companies used this kind of horizontal design. The most popular mechanical hammers, like the Little Giant, built a vertical design that was taller than it was long. The LG is a space saver for the small shop, but the Bradley was the King of Industry. Trains, tractors, plows, and thousands of other machines were build using parts hammered out under a Bradley Helve Hammer.
Their earliest and largest hammers are the Wooden Helve Hammers. They were made in a number of weights, but the more common seem to be 100, 200, and even 500lb hammer heads. Michael Dillon is a great Artist Blacksmith with a lot of mechanical and steam hammers. He has the big brother to the machine shown above. Watch the video of him using a 500lb hammer Bradley! He is drawing down a piece of 4 inch square bar to become a part of a sculpture. It is amazing how delicate you can work with a machine that weighs over 8 tons!
Now for something completely different!
The Helve Hammers weren't their only product. An updated helve hammer became a popular tool in small factories. The Compact Guided Helve Hammers were an innovation that made the hammer faster striking, smaller in footprint, and well suited to factory work. Here is a cute little 15lb. head Guided Helve Hammer. I saw it for saw at the SOFA QuadState conference this fall.
The ram is suspended from the helve with a heavy leather strap. The leather removes some of the strain and shock of the hammer from the helve. The hammer head travels up and down in machined ways. These tended to have a much lighter hammer head than the Helve machines. I have heard of these in 15lb. and 30lb. head machines. The lighter head machines could strike up to 300 blows per minute.
The surviving examples of these hammers tend to come out of factories that made many small steel parts. I have heard of them being bought as scrap from Cutlery and Typewriter factories.