Buff and Buff Transit Theodolite
Serial Number 6437 which is circa 1906. The repair label inside the box lists the transit as a type 1B.
The information below is an excerpt from an article by Philip Smith in The Chronicle, pg. 76 and 80 and referenced through the Davistown Museum site. I have included it on my webpage as I consider it to be so relevant to scientific instrument manufacturing in the early days.
I have also included a link to the site to provide more interesting reading.
Notes on a visit to the Buff & Buff surveying instrument factory, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Monday, 3 June 1968
The combination of Buff & Berger was dissolved on 18 October 1898, whereupon Berger organized C. L. Berger & Sons, and Buff immediately began his own company, Buff & Buff (which included three sons), and built a new factory in Jamaica Plain. After an especially distinguished history, the company finally went out of business in 1982.
Buff & Buff is a large, long building set back in a courtyard with a steep flight of steps up to a tiny vestibule where there is a Dutch door with a cluttered double office beyond. Beyond the office is a small storage room with low doorways, shelves, cubby-holes, trays, and drawers of instrument parts. Other dark alcoves jut off this room and under the stairs, and other cabinets and parts storage can be seen within.
On a corner shelf in a rickety box is an instrument for testing level bubbles. Transits and surveying instrument telescopes, all dusty, are stowed around. Off this room is another very small room, barely large enough for one man to work. A shelf is built along one wall on which stands an ancient looking instrument with two electrified brass light cylinders on each side and a pivoted magnifying tube in the center rear and a circular clamp in the center. There is a device at the right for holding horizontal over the central clamp a pair of large tweezers, the ends of which are coated with tallow.
Around the shelf and on other shelves packed into the corners of the room are old chewing and pipe tobacco cardboard boxes of the sort that haven't been seen for forty years. The boxes hold eye piece rings to be worked on at the instrument mentioned above. In a covered wooden box below the shelf are racks of wood 2 inches wide by 12 inches long, with a short wooden peg in the center of each short end to allow the racks to be twisted between the fingers of two hands. On these, neatly stacked, with wood strips dividing them like a lumber pile, are spider webs used for the cross hairs applied to the eye piece rings.
Spiders collected once a year from "country" areas around the Charles River or under bridges are put in boxes (one to a box) and taken back to Buff & Buff, where the spiders are allowed to calm down overnight. The next morning the spiders are put on the racks which are then twisted as the spider tends to drop to the floor and thus the webs are wound up on the rack. Good spiders will provide three or four reels each. The web thickness varies from reel to reel, but is fairly uniform on any one reel.
The eye piece rings are carefully scored to show where the cross hairs made from the webs are to be placed. One is carefully aligned on the central circular clamp and the tallow on the tweezers ends is softened. The tweezers are then touched to opposite sides of the rack, which lifts off a length of cobweb. The tweezers are then secured in the right hand clamp and lowered into the correct position so that the web exactly aligns with a set of score marks on the eye piece rings. A few drops of lacquer applied with a toothpick to the ends bonds the web to the metallic part. The web is stronger and more elastic than steel wire of the same diameter.
Behind these two rooms is a long, narrow workshop with four or five parallel tiers of work benches and machining equipment, principally lathes, all powered by a 19th-century system of overhead spindles, pulleys, and leather belts, all humming and thumping together. Only three or four men are at work in this room. One works on aligning two parts of a transit vernier, demonstrating the charcoaling of the vernier scale with a small wooden reverse clamp to hold the divided vernier scale solidly. First, oil is applied to the scale, then a stick of charcoal is rubbed over, and excess oil and charcoal wiped away with a rag.
Other men are turning exact pieces, all individually fitted, although the pieces are received rough from the foundry and successively refined and polished in this room. Trays of parts on the benches and under the benches are everywhere. Some pieces have just been received from the basement where black enamel has been baked onto the surface of various pieces.
Upstairs there is a room where optical lenses are ground. There are cakes of grinding rouge, grinding forms, grinding wheels, and slugs of uncut flint glass. Next, also upstairs, is a repair alcove where instruments sent in for fixing are tended to. On a table is an iron oven where various work is performed (in the old days sometimes lunches were cooked there). There are also two vats of acid to eat off enamel on instruments to be refinished and a coffee pot over a Bunsen burner. More rows of lathes and other instruments, more belts and spindles, more trays of parts and racks of unassembled instruments are found here.
In the basement is a small, locked, double room. It's concrete and musty, containing four dividing engines of various sizes and capabilities, the largest of which is probably in the vicinity of four feet in diameter. These were not in operation while I was there. The rest of the basement is a paint shop and a woodworking shop where instrument boxes are produced.
This purchase also came with a 1909 booklet printed by the Buff and Buff Manufacturing Company for " Adjustments and Instructions" for a Buff Precise Transit. I have included a copy of the first few pages that covers a bit if the company history together with lots of words that extol the benefits of buying one of the Buff theodolites.
Page 10 shows the transit ( without the vertical circle ) and a bit of a brag about where the Buff theodolites are being used
"Nearly ninety of our transits are building the Rapid Transit Subway of NY " and " Other large users are The Penn. Exten. Tunnels, U.S Engineering Corps, Imperial R.R.( Railroads) of China and 6,841 others".
The booklet was signed by Everett H Kimmell who was a surveyor of particular note:
"In 1931, Everett H. Kimmell, U.S. Surveyor, General Land Office, Department of the Interior, on field work in cooperation with a party of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Department of Commerce, identified the Page and Lentz stone, and a marked stone deposit, finding the larger stone again broken. Kimmel constructed a concrete monument with a brass tablet marking the Corner of the Four States of Utah,Colorado,Arizona and New Mexico."
Everett Kimmell and his cousin Keith were surveyors as was Everett's father, A.N. Kimmell and his brothers Anthony C. Kimmell and William B. Kimmell. There are numerous other references to Everett, as a surveyor, on the WWW.