The Cincinnati No.2

Brett's Cincinnati No. 2, with Roger at the controls.

Brett’s “Cincinnati No. 2”, with Roger at the controls.

If you know Brett Flemming, you know that he can tell a great story, so it makes sense that he would surround himself with machinery that have great stories to tell. Enter the Cincinnati No.2 horizontal milling machine. Brett’s machine, Serial Number 128, is a rare example of the mill in excellent working condition.

Brett’s mill was extricated from a Victory ship that was built in Portland, Oregon in ’45 or ’46. Victory ships were cargo ships built during WWII to replace losses caused by German submarines. Victory ships each had their own complete machine ships, which were necessary in case part of the ship had to be repaired at sea. The ship mechanic was expected to be able to machine any part that the ship needed, right then and there. At the heart of many of these on-board machine shops was a Cincinnati No. 2 milling machine package. The machine was sold to the Navy as a package, a sort of “ship repair kit” (a bunch of accessories specific to ship maintenance).

A Cincinnati vertical mill in its heyday. Photo credit: VIR History.

A Cincinnati vertical mill in its heyday. Photo credit: VIR History.

The kit included:

  • “Gigantic horizontal rotary table”
  • All-angle universal milling head
  • Vertical shaper attachement, “which allows you to put keyways and splines inside of stuff”, square a hole, etc.
  • Dividing head can rotate your workpiece “to thousands and thousands of different pre-set increments” (perfect for machining gears)
  • Gearbox that fits onto the side of the mill. The gearbox slowly rotates the dividing head (to create a helical bevel hear, for example).

The victory ship at the port of Portland never sailed. After the war, the Cincinnati was bought by an eccentric shop owner outside of Seattle, Washington. From there, it found its way to Brett. “It’s the bicycle frame builder’s ultimate tool. Turn this gigantic table to any angle you want and miter your tubes perfectly,” says Brett.

While the mill was capable of pretty dramatic repairs, like the ability to fix torpedo damage, Brett says, “I don’t think EVT will sustain damage like that any time soon.” He mainly uses the Cincinnati No.2 to miter, cope and slot various tools he manufactures like the Trigger wheel dishing tool, the Right Arm repair clamp, and the EZ Lift Repair Stand.

1 Comment

  1. clyde leitold

    Brett, Clyde on this end. I was pleased to see a 2 MH being used and in operation. I recently acquired a 2 MH myself, serial number 5 A2U1J-15. I would love to discuss in general the machine, vintage and capabilities. Mine has a factory vertical head as well. There is an overhead gib to help support and guide the vertical head as you move it in or out. I am new to the machine and am excited to learn as much as I can about it. Maybe if you have the time you could help me familiarize myself with the machine. Mine came with a ton of tooling. 6 collets, number 40 taper, facemill and many cutters. I am weak in the arbor department. I will close for now and looking forward to hearing from you when it is convienent. Thank you, Clyde My e-mail is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search this Blog