A Brief History of the Alliance Machine Company

Alliance Machine Company logo overlaid on warehouse crane

/ Blog

The early 1900s saw the wave of the Industrial Revolution come to a close. With a new version of the world established, former Morgan VP of Manufacturing W.H. Purcell founded Alliance Machine Company (AMCo) 30 years after Thomas Rees Morgan moved his company to the same area.

These next-door neighbors developed a friendly competition as they continued to innovate. The next millennium brought about further change as Morgan Engineering acquired the assets of AMCo in 2002. This permanent collaboration is still providing the heavy machine industry with a wealth of knowledge today.

How Alliance Machine Company Found Its Start 

W.H. Purcell founder of Alliance Machine Company
W.H. Purcell, 1901. AMCo. Founder

W.H. Purcell was born in 1864 in Crestline, Ohio. At the age of two, his family moved to Alliance where he attended Alliance schools before apprenticing under Thomas H. Morgan Jr. at Morgan Engineering in 1880. Purcell worked for Morgan and was promoted to general manager. In 1901, he left Morgan to help found Alliance Machine Company.  

The newly founded Alliance Machine Company designed and manufactured heavy industrial machinery with a focus on overhead cranes. As it progressed, AMCo and Morgan became 1A and 1B in domestic large overhead crane manufacturing

AMCo’s biggest projects in their storied history include a 420-ton hot-metal handling crane, industrial service cranes, and a gantry crane with a rated capacity of 310 tons. 

A 200 Ton Capacity ladle crane
A 200-Ton Capacity ladle crane produced by Alliance Machine.

In their last decade of operation, AMCo would come to design and build a variety of products, including: 

  • Roll Changing Cars
  • Hot Mill Runout Tables
  • Billet Conveyors
  • Walking Beam Plate Transfer Table
  • Plate Furnace Handling Equipment
  • AGV Cars (Automated Guided Vehicle) 
  • Transfer Cars for Handling of Hot Metal and Scrap up to 1,000 Ton Capacities
Alliance Machine sales flyer

Archive of Alliance Machine sales collateral depicting their motto, “Give Us the Runway and We’ll Lift the World.”

Alliance on the Rise

Alliance’s dense history mirrors Morgan’s own as they took the world to be their own before improving it as a whole. 

  • 1901: Alliance Machine Company is founded by W.H. Purcell
  • 1905: AMCo was growing fast and patented the four-girder ladle-crane which most steel companies quickly considered essential to their production.
  • 1912: Alliance crane was already well-known worldwide and was working on developing a strong reputation.
  • 1914: AMCo created many material-handling products. Notably, two 336-ton gun barrel relining cranes for the U.S. Navy.
  • 1930’s: Alliance’s team earned international acclaim by designing and providing a coal-loading facility for the South Manchurian Railway of Manchuria.
Alliance machine receiving Navy E 4 Star-Award
Alliance Machine is presented the Navy E 4-Star Award for their dedication to production post WWII.
  • 1940’s: The company earned the Navy E 4-Star Award by primarily producing special cranes for steel companies. AMCo was also presented with the Presidential “E” award for dedication to exports.
  • 1969: Alliance makes the largest gantry crane of its time for Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. The crane towers nearly 19 stores, 2 city blocks wide, and weighed over 4 million pounds. 
1969 World’s largest gantry crane built by Alliance Machine
Alliance Machine made history with the production of the world’s largest gantry crane of its time for Newport News in 1969.
  • 1990s: On average, AMCo provided approximately $4 million in crane replacement parts each year and embraced the new wave of automation in their storage and retrieval systems.
  • 2002: A little over one hundred years after its creation Alliance Machine Company’s assets were sold to Morgan by Reunion Industries.

This company used innovation in the purest sense as they created products that did not exist before. At Morgan, we are proud to embrace that definition in addition to bringing their designs into the modern day with the supply of OEM replacement parts and upgrades such as DC to AC. Overall, their company was able to produce over 7,000 cranes in 98 years, averaging 10-12 cranes per year in the last 4 years of operation. 

The first overhead crane Alliance Machine manufactured
The first overhead crane Alliance Machine manufactured. This crane is still in use today on the Machinist floor at Morgan’s headquarters in Alliance, OH.

How the Companies are Balanced Today

Morgan continues to service over 6,900 AMCo cranes and other projects. Any customer with an Alliance crane can give us the crane or equipment serial number so we can locate the drawings and information to properly service it. 

“Give Us the Runway and We’ll Lift the World” was AMCo’s company motto and it’s just what the company did. Thanks to several other former Alliance Machine employees who joined the Morgan team, we are able to carry on their legacy while continuing to define our own.

Alliance machine crane in use today
Alliance Machine crane still in use today on Morgan’s assembly floor.

Multiple buildings AMCo used for their plant still stand on Morgan’s campus today, adding 460,000 square feet of manufacturing space to Morgan, and although they have been updated, inside an Alliance crane still runs where it was created. 

Mark Fedor P.E., Morgan Engineering CEO, says, “Alliance Machine Company gave us world-class manufacturing capacity. They helped to propel us back to the front of innovation. Today, the acquisition is yielding the upgrading of 50-year-plus technologies to newer Morgan designs. It speaks to the quality of Alliance’s excellent designs from decades ago”.

Historic alliance machine grounds compared to Morgan’s current grounds
Original Alliance Machine grounds pictured to the left. On the right, a photo of Morgan’s current grounds as of 2023.

Keep Your Alliance Crane in Service

The acquisition of AMCo has become another mark on our storied timeline. It makes our single line of history more of a system of branches within our community. Morgan continues to service Alliance Machine cranes today. 

Whether you need routine maintenance or a specific repair, Morgan’s team is dedicated to providing top-quality service for your Alliance crane. Contact us to schedule a service appointment.

Fred Horning

Fred Horning

Fred began as a design engineer with Alliance Machine Company in 1981 before his current position as the estimating manager for Morgan in 2002. Fred will celebrate 43 years in the industry next year.

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