Frick Company & Stanley Brothers

Steam traction engine

Jack Norbeck

Content Tools

Norbeck Research 117 Ruch St. Coplay, PA 18037

Frick 50 HP steam traction engine, built in 1919 by the Frick Co., of Waynesboro, Pa., owner Ray Herr, Paradise, Pa.; 1918 Stanley steam car 20 HP, built by the Stanley brothers, Newton, Mass., owner Marvin Klair of Wilmington, Delaware.

Photo is by Jack Norbeck at Rough and Tumble in Kinzers, Pa.

George Frick, who established the Frick Company, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on a 500 acre farm purchased in 1733 by his great-great-grandfather from the Penns. George's grandfather, Abraham Frick, was a captain in the Revolution.

When George Frick was nine years old, his father left the home of his Swiss ancestors in Lancaster County and moved the family to the Cumberland Valley, near Quincy, Pa.

In 1848, George Frick began manufacturing grain cleaners and horse powers in a weaving mill at Quincy. There, two years later, he constructed his first steam engine. This was mounted on a wooden frame and delivered two horsepower. In 1851 or 1852 he built a shop on a farm near Ringgold and in 1853, established the Frick Company. George Frick became a pioneer builder for four essential kinds of equipment: steam engines, grain threshers, sawmills and refrigerating systems. Frick sawmills, introduced in 1875, were later built in quantities up to a thousand or more a year. Frick refrigerating, air conditioning, ice making and quick-freezing systems have set the standards of dependability since 1882.

In the mid-1870's the Frick Company began building its own portable sawmills. The Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the engineering event of 1876, gave the highest award in its class to a Frick farm steam engine, which carried the 'ECLIPSE' trademark for the first time. In 1880, a Frick engine triumphed over 25 others from America, England and Europe at the great exposition in Melbourne, Australia. The Frick or 'Eclipse' steam traction engine was built in Waynesboro, Pa., from 1880 until 1936.

In 1894, the East St. Louis Ice and Cold Storage plant, the largest of its kind, installed a 125-ton Frick plate ice making system and two compressors of 36-inch stroke, driven by compound condensing engines. A third engine of the same type drove the auxiliaries through a big jackshaft.

Two years later, Frick Company built for Armour and Company the largest refrigerating machine in the world. This 30-foot giant had a bore of 27 inches and a stroke of 48, and with its tandem-compound engine measured 59 feet long. This big unit was operated day and night, continuously for 35 years and was in reserve service another five years.

Today, the Frick Company is still in business making refrigerating machinery and air conditioning. Their home office is Waynesboro, Pa.

France Stanley and Freelan Stanley built their first steam car in 1897. In 1906, their steamer set a mile-speed world record. The car hit speeds of 127.66 miles per hour. Mr. Fred Marriott drove the Stanley Steamer Car that set the record at Ormond Beach, Florida on January 21 to 28, 1906. The car was demolished on January 27, 1907, hitting over 190 miles per hour.

The Stanley Steamer Car model 76, 20 HP, five passenger, sold fully equipped, for around $1,700 F.O.B. at Newton, Massachusetts. The model 76 five passenger touring cars used a 23 inch boiler and a 20 HP 4 x 5 engine. Lighting outfit consisted of electric dash light, combination oil and electric side and tail lights, electrically ignited gas headlights with Prest O-Lite tank and a Willard 6-80 storage battery. The water tank with outside filler was at the rear and held 45 gallons.

When the car was going 30 miles per hour, the steam engine would make only 420 revolutions per minute. The condensor at the front of the car received all the exhaust steam from the engine, then condensed it back to water, which flowed by gravity down to the tank and was good for about 100 miles. The last Stanley Steamers were sold in 1924.

Information for this article came from the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines and Mr. Marvin W. Klair, Wilmington, Delaware.