Content Tools

Frick Company, Waynesboro, Penna.

With the exception of windmills, the Clore plant has used, in turn, all the recognized forms of power. After beginning with hand-and-foot-power tools, the pioneers in the business constructed a huge slanting wheel, over 30 feet in diameter, which was turned by a bull, and later a horse.

With all its size, this treadmill developed considerably less than one horsepower continuously. Four horses were later hitched to the wheel by means of sweeps, and cogs were used to multiply the turning speed.

A dam was next thrown across a nearby stream and the fall utilized for water power to drive the sawmill, a planer, lathes and other machinery. This served for a good many, years, until a boiler and steam engine were installed outside the plant, with a long belt running to the shafting.

This served until about 1895, when a vertical boiler and engine were placed inside the factory. Sparks, rising straight upward through the tubes of the boiler, caught the roof on fire in April, 1901, and burned down the plant.

When it was rebuilt, the Frick engine was put in service. Steam from the horizontal boiler was used for heating the building in winter, operating a kiln for drying lumber, and bending pieces used in chairs and other furniture; at the same time the engine drove the machinery. Later, gas-engine power, was tried, and finally electric motors were installed.

The 1877 engine was kept for reserve power, and steam continued to be drawn from the boiler for various heating purposes. When the big power house at Riverton, Va., was submerged by flood waters, a few years ago, the Frick steam engine was put back on its load.

The engine has a bore of seven inches and a stroke of ten inches; it was originally rated at about ten horsepower. The boiler has the old style cone-shaped 'expansion' band at the waist, and was one of the first pieces of Frick equipment to carry the 'ECLIPSE' trademark, which later became known the world over.

For some years the boiler and engine were mounted on a concrete base at the Clore factory, where they remained in service until November, 1949. The wheels have now been replaced and the outfit can be easily transported. On February 7, 1950, Clore wrote, 'I did not care to carry over 75 pounds of steam, knowing that the engine was old; however, it might be made to carry 100 pounds or more'.

George Frick, who founded Frick Company in 1853, had begun building light farm machinery and the turntables called 'horsepowers' in the late 1840's. His first steam engine was constructed in 1850.

The early Frick engines were used chiefly in small mills, as an adjunct to water power; later they were mounted on wheels and made portable, for driving threshers and sawmills. In the 1880's and succeeding years many thousands of Frick steam traction engines were also produced.

In 1950 F. Hal Higgins published in the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine the statement that, 'No name in American agricultural implements stands higher or has survived longer than that of Frick.'

In the early 1880's Frick Company started making Corliss engines and refrigerating machines. The life of the heavy engine-driven ammonia compressors was also remarkable; many of them were in continuous operation, day and night, for forty or even fifty years, and some ran sixty.