As a copy writer for Hans Von Der Heyde, a team of industrial engineers who design and build cutting edge machinery, I often come across beautiful photographs of old, derelict machinery when looking for imagery of more modern machines. This contrast between new and old has sparked an interest in what happens to once-advanced machines once they become redundant in the wake of newer, more efficient machines. To this end I’ve collected a selection of my favourite photos and present them here:

Turret Lathe

Turret Lathe

Image by Dennis Larson

The Vulture Mine in Arizona began in 1863 and quickly became the state’s most productive gold mine in history. This lathe was likely used for a form of metalworking that repetitively produced duplicate parts.

Steam Donkey

Steam Donkey

Image by Avi Dolgin

A common-yet-silly nickname for a steam-powered winch, the Steam Donkey was widely used in logging operations, but was also applied in the mining, and maritime industries. Even stranger still, an operator of such a winch was referred to as a “Donkey Puncher”.

Refrigerator Generator

Refrigerator generator

Image by Ken Fager

Produced over 100 years ago, these fridges were manufactured in 1902 by De La Vergne Refrigerating Company, New York. These machines revolutionized the meat industry by keeping meat fresher for longer. Now smaller, more energy-efficient models are used.

Adding Machine

Adding machine

Image by meilev

These outdated mechanical calculators were made especially for bookkeeping calculations. Adding machines were ubiquitous office appliances until they were phased out in favour of smaller, faster calculators in the 1970s and eventually personal computers in the mid-1980s.



Image by Nick Sherman

Used in printing, the linotype was a popular type-setting method that was used for newspapers, magazines and posters from the late 19th century up until the 1960s and 70s, by which time they were phased out in favour of lithography and computer typesetting.

Log Mover, Potentially Road Grader

Road grader

Image by photogramma1

Due to excessive damage and rust, it’s hard to say whether this machine was used in logging operations to move timber, or if it is a road grader, used to flatten out roads when laying tar.

Slot Machine

Slot machine

Image by Ben Salter

These were once known as “One armed bandits” because they “took all your money” and only had one arm: the lever. Newer models of slot machines (which, as a matter of interest, constitute 70% of the US casino income) forego the lever for a shiny plastic button, though some keep a “legacy” lever in addition to the button.

Refrigerator Compressor

Refrigerator compressor

Image by SnaPsi Сталкер

Found in an abandoned butchery, this compressor formed part of a rudimentary refrigerator. The pressure gauge of the compressed gas is visible in the lower right corner of the photo.

Washing Machine & Dryer

Washing Machine & Dryer

Image by James C Farmer

After patient numbers dwindled and the main building was closed in 1994, Hellingly, a former mental asylum in Sussex, has become a source of inspiration for urban explorers. Much of the machinery that was once used has been left to rust and ruin.

Warp Drawing Machine

Warp drawing machine

Image by slworking2

Historically this machine helped to make the Barber & Colman company the largest manufacturer in Rockford, Illinois. Through textile inventions like the warp tying machine, they became world-wide leaders in the design and manufacture of a wide range of products.

Mobile X-Ray Machine

Mobile X-ray machine

Image by Justus Hayes

This abandoned X-ray diagnostic machine in an abandoned hospital in Antwerp, Belgium looks like the type of machine used in emergency rooms and in surgery.  These days, X-ray machines are far smaller and easier to operate in conjunction with the computer.

Cloth Roller

Cloth roller

Image by Shaun Root

This old cloth roller looks like it was abandoned in the middle of a job. Whether it was part of a larger loom or was simply a cloth press is hard to discern, but given its size, it was likely part of a much larger factory that now lies abandoned.



Image by Paul-Henri S

As with the first photo in the series, this boiler is also in the Chateau Miranda. According to the specification found near these old machines, they were capable of heating a surface of up to 4500 square meters!

Logging Machine

Logging machine

Image by A.Davey

This abandoned logging equipment was spotted in West Thurlow Island in British Columbia, Canada. Many coves in the area are littered with old rusty equipment from the logging that took place in the early 20trh century.

Milling Machine

Milling machine

Image by Darron Birgenheier

This horizontal milling machine was likely used in war efforts during the Second World War Although it weighs around 4000 pounds, it’s still considered a baby in its class.

Diesel Generator

Diesel generator

Image by arbyreed

Diesel engines, once known for their good fuel efficiency and clean emissions, are being phased out in favour of the latest breed of petrol engines which are tuned to produce higher output at lower RPMs, making them more fuel efficient. Machines powered by diesel engines, like this generator, are soon going to be a thing of the past.




Image by Paul-Henri S

Sometimes confused as a stencil duplicator, a mimeograph was the most efficient form of low-cost printing for magazines and flyers. They were phased out in the 1960s along with hectographs and stencil duplicators once photocopying technology started to take off.

Sewing Machine

Sewing machine

Image by Gillie

Although the sewing machine is very much still in use, treaded ones like this are out-of-date. The treads can actually be removed from older machines in lieu of newer, electrically-powered machines, but whoever owned this old Singer decided to leave the whole thing to ruin.



Image by Tracy

The mangler is a rather rough name for a clothes washer and presser, but these machines did do their fair share of mangling. Although the rollers that you would squeeze your clothes through to dry was once hand powered (as is seen in the crank in this photo), they eventually installed powered presses, and numerous reports of hair, hands and clothing getting pulled in arose. Nowadays, tumble-dryers provide a far easier (albeit more costly) method of drying out your threads.

Rail Winch

Rail winch

Image by Lawrence Wong

This machinery was likely once used to pull trams up a hill in a mining operation. What made these machines especially useful was that, with the use of pulleys, they could be used to pull locomotive carts and trams on rails other than the one which they had been installed on.