History of Schramm Inc.

Christian Schramm and Henry Schramm began the legacy of Schramm Inc.

Note the fine detail work on the Schramm name on this 1957 Schramm 125 Pneumatractor.

Note the fine detail work on the Schramm name on this 1957 Schramm 125 Pneumatractor.

Photo by Bill Vossler

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According to Schramm: The Legacy of 100 Years by Thomas W. Brientnall, Christian Schramm and Emil Maerky formed a partnership on Jan. 2, 1900 to repair stationary gasoline engines for elevators in the Philadelphia area. “Armed with lots of knowledge, enthusiasm, a lathe, a shaper, a drill press, two vises, a work bench, a few hand tools and a 1 hp gas engine,” Brientnall writes, “the two men set out make money.” 

Elevators broke down regularly. With few competitors, the company became very profitable. Henry Schramm joined his father’s enterprise during a growth period when the workforce was expanded.

Two years later, the Schramms bought out the Maerky interest. Five years later, a Wilmington, Del., concern approached the company about constructing a portable air compressor to use in cutting marble. The result was a gasoline engine modified to produce compressed air for pneumatic tools.

The company produced three sizes of compressors, all popular with stonecutters. Eventually Schramm moved to West Chester, Pa., where it remains in business today.

“In 1918-19, Schramm was largely converted to the manufacture of captive balloon hoists (French balloon windlasses) for the U.S. Signal Corps,” Brientnall writes. “The balloons had a range of 1,600 feet and provided important information for the army.” Schramm also assembled special low-pressure compressors for diving and salvage work.

By 1944, the company was bringing in 250 railroad cars of material a year to manufacture products (including Schramm tractors) for the federal government.

According to the Smokstak.com forums, Schramm conversions were done with other engines, turning them into air compressors like Ford and Continental 4-cylinder engines, Ford Flathead V-8s and other 6-cylinder conversions. With each engine, half of the cylinders were used to provide power to the tractor and the other half to compress air. Other engines included Rock Island, Domestic and Wisconsin 4-cylinder engines, where two were used for power and two for air compression. Schramm made its own engine, as well.

Schramm also produced the Model 60 crawler (known as the Fordair 60), an 8-cylinder machine that used four for power and four for air compression. It appears that just 150 were built. FC