The Manufacture of Engines, Saw Mills and Grain Separators

By Staff
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.
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This illustration showing various Frick views, appeared on the March 17, 1883 issue of Scientific American.

The following article is reprinted from the March 17, 1883 issue
of Scientific American. The illustrations have been taken from the
original publications. This article provides a detailed description
of the Frick Company as it existed in 1883.

In the picturesque and historical Cumberland Valley, under the
shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in eastern Pennsylvania, lies
the busy town of Waynesboro, the home of one of our most important
industries. We refer to the extensive business of Frick &
Company, which had its beginning in the year 1848, the present
general superintendent being at that time engaged in the
manufacture of threshing machines and agricultural implements in a
small country shop near Waynesboro, and in the autumn of 1850 he
built from his own patterns and for his own use his first steam
engine, a two-horse power.

From this humble beginning the industry grew, the facilities
were increased, and in due course the business was removed to its
present location, where subsequently a company was organized, and
extensions, changes, and improvements were effected from time to
time, according to the demands of the business. At present the
condition of the company is more promising than at any time during
its long and successful career. The capital has been increased and
working facilities extended, and still the demands upon the concern
are such as to make it difficult to meet the business offered with
entire satisfaction.

At the close of last year $300,000 was added to the capital,
placing the company in an easy financial condition. Extensive
additions are now being made to the works, and the number of expert
mechanics is being constantly increased.

From its foundation the business management of the company has
devolved upon Mr. George Frick, who, though advanced in years,
continues to pay close attention to it, and while he has associated
with himself a large and capable body of assistants, the present
successes of the company are as largely due to his constant
presence and supervision as was the origin of the business to his
ingenuity and unusual mechanical skill.

The aim of the company has been to produce machinery which would
yield the best possible results at a price consistent with
permanence and durability. That these objects have been attained is
forcibly shown in the widespread popularity and the ever increasing
demand for their productions. A better proof than this of the
merits of their goods could not be given.

It is worthy of record, that since the commencement, the works
have not been stopped for want of business, having been kept
constantly engaged even through the period of depression which this
country experienced after the financial disturbances of 1873.
Indeed, for the last five years or more, excepting only when
occasionally shut down for repairs, they have run on extra time,
amounting in the average to thirteen hours out of the twenty four.
The extensive and constantly increasing application of steam as a
motive power for agricultural and other purposes has led them to
pay especial attention to the production of an engine made on the
highest scientific principles, original in design, strong,
powerful, and durable, and this claim to excellence seems to be
well founded.

At the International Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the judges
found, after minute examination, ‘that the ‘Eclipse’
farm engine gave the best results of any that were tested.’ We
quote the above from the report of the award; the highest honors
that could be awarded were accordingly bestowed upon Frick &
Company’s engine.

In the summer of 1880, an engine was shipped by them to
Australia for exhibition at the exposition then in progress at
Melbourne, and there their engine was recommended for the first
award and gold medal of honor. This was a noteworthy victory, the
contest being unusually severe and the competition great, as at
this exhibition there were twenty-nine farm engines from England
and other countries competing for the distinguished award that had
never been won by an American manufacturer.

The highest awards were always won by Frick and Co. when
competing for honors, and the last distinction paid their engine
was in October last, at the St. Louis Fair, where they earned the
first award of $100 in gold over fourteen competitors.

The factory, as shown in our engraving, is, as a whole, an
elegant and imposing brick structure, and its equipments are
unsurpassed: each department is conveniently arranged for the
proper prosecution of its particular business, and the machinery
and small tools employed are of the latest and best designs.

While it is impossible to convey a full and just idea of the
magnitude and completeness of these works, something can be learned
from the dimensions of the buildings, which we give below:


Machine shop, 2 floors …….. 56 x 300 each.
Foundry ………………………… 50 x 120
Smith shop …………………….. 50 x 120
Boiler shop …………………….. 90 x 120
Wood ………………………….. 100 x 120
Pattern, 2 floors ……………… 90 x 180 each.
Paint …………………………….. 45 x 90
Storeroom, 2 floors ………… 30 x 50 each.
Testing shop …………………… 40 x 50

The total floor area, including storage and other buildings not
shown above, is over 100,000 square feet.

The view in the center of the group on our title page shows the
extensive and systematic arrangement of the shops, eleven in
number, which together with ample and substantial sheds, reservoir,
force pump house, and stables, cover an area of over eight

The office, seen in the foreground of the engraving is
commodious and admirably arranged for the requirements of the
business, and although isolated from the buildings, communication
is had with each department of the works, and with the bank and
business centers of the town, either by telegraph, telephone,
speaking tubes, or a system of steam signals with which the works
are provided. West of the offices will be seen the pump house and
reservoir, and in the former is located a large duplex Worthington
steam pump, and a boiler in which fire is kept constantly.
Connected with the pump is a complete system of water mains,
hydrants, and coils of hose, which, with a body of men trained for
the work, constitutes an efficient fire department. The reservoir
is supplied from the west branch of the Antietam, which flows
within a short distance of the works, and on the banks of which is
located a second pump house and pump.

In the machine shop are employed two hundred hands, each being
skilled and practiced in his particular work. This shop, as well as
all the others, is furnished with the electric light, and with
facilities for handling work with ease and economy. About half-way
down the machine shop is located the office occupied by the master
mechanic, together with the tool room, below which is a space
devoted to the erection of machinery, as shown in one of our
engravings. The basement of this entire building is used as a store
room for all the numerous castings used in the business, which are
so classified as to be readily accessible.

Beyond the erecting shop is an area used for temporary storage
of finished work. From this point it is loaded on cars running on a
sunken track, and on opposite sides of this track stand the testing
shop and store house. This is a very convenient arrangement for the
reception and shipment of goods. All engines and boilers are run
into the testing shop for examination and trial. The store house is
a large two-story building, containing all classes of small
finished work, whether made at the factory or purchased elsewhere.
Seven buildings are seen in the engraving, with their ends parallel
to and separated from the machine shop by a railroad track.

The first of these is the foundry, which contains two cupolas,
each of ten tons capacity, also cranes, core ovens, and the
customary appurtenances of a well equipped shop of this

The next building contains an 80-horse power horizontal engine
an excellent specimen of the company’s work the dynamo machine,
pumps, blower, etc., and the boilers, two of 80 and one of 50 horse
power, and the brass foundry. Under this roof we also find an
apartment in which castings are cleaned, also an artesian well, and
at the end of the building there is a wheel and spoke shop.

Beyond this building stands the pattern shop, which is not shown
in the engraving. It is a fine and roomy two story structure,
combining office, shop, and store house. Here is also the flask

Next in line with the engine and boiler house is found the smith
shop, containing twenty fires, steam hammers, Webb’s revolving
bolt furnace, and a large bolt header. The next building is the
boiler shop, having forges, shears, punches, steam riveters, and
rivet heating furnace. A hundred men are here employed, and the
work of the shop averages about twenty boilers per week, ranging in
capacity from 2-horse power to 200-horse power.

At the end of this building a series of racks is arranged for
the reception of boiler iron, and the building is provided with a
system of tracks and turn tables to facilitate the handling of

In the wood shop, which is next, the company’s well known
‘Waynesboro Eclipse’ grain separator and thresher, and
their portable saw mills are made. An interior view of this
building will be found in the illustration.

The next in order is a long metal roofed building, in which are
stored portable and traction engines, saw mills, threshers, and
horse powers, and beyond this is located the paint shop and drying
kiln adjoining the extensive lumber yards of the company.

The buildings are of very tasteful design; they are all
constructed of brick and have slate roofs; each building is
separate from and independent of the others, and a system of tracks
runs through the entire works to facilitate the handling of heavy
machinery and material.

Some idea of the capacity of the works can be formed when it is
stated that during last year they turned out very nearly a thousand
engines alone, to say nothing of the boilers, horse powers, grain
separators and threshers, and saw mills, which they make in great
numbers. Five to seven hundred men here find constant employment,
and the works are being extended for the accommodation of a still
greater force.

The company’s great specialties are the ‘Eclipse’
traction and portable engines, the latter being built both on sills
and wheels. This engine is so widely and favorably known as to
render a detailed description superfluous. The popularity of the
‘Eclipse’ traction engine has grown out of its great
success in accomplishing the work for which it was designed, and in
many important features it is a decided departure from its class.
Much care and attention has been given its construction, with a
view to overcoming the many difficulties which are experienced in
the successful propulsion of a traction engine when hauling heavy
loads through a rough and uneven country. The engine proper is
mounted on the crown of the boiler, but it is fastened to it at the
cylinder end only by an expansion joint, the other or crank end
with its gearing connections being secured to and supported by
wrought iron side plates riveted to the frame or sills of channel
iron that extend partly along each side and under the boiler to the
front axle. The smoke box end of the boiler is carried in a saddle,
on which is cast an arm or bracket supporting the ends of the
frame. Within this saddle casting the fifth wheel, or king post,
for the front axle revolves, the axle being partially covered by a
casting with two spring chambers, thus relieving the front end of
the boiler of shocks while passing over a rough road. The sills are
well braced together. The fire-box end of the boiler is carried in
a saddle or wrought iron band riveted to the sills, and by this
arrangement it will be seen that allowance is made for boiler
expansion without transmitting any strain to the frame, engine, or

Two styles of traction engine are built in three sizes, the
styles varying to suit different sections of the country. One is
made with powerful springs under the main or driving axle in
connection with a universal coupling in the countershaft, to allow
for rocky and uneven roads, the other without these springs and
flexible countershaft for flat or prairie country.

The power in all cases is transmitted from the engine to the
traction wheels through an ingenious patented elastic spring
connection and compensating gear, which allows one traction wheel
to rise vertically without straining the gearing and connections,
and by a novel locking device in the hub of one traction wheel,
both wheels can be locked upon the axle when passing over a
slippery road. By excellent mechanical arrangement, the weight of
the engine and gearing is concentrated over the driving axle, thus
greatly increasing the attractive power.

The traction wheels are of excellent design, light in
appearance, with spokes and fluted rims of wrought iron and hubs of
cast iron. The axle, made of the best forged cast steel, is very
large and heavy, and has long bearings, and throughout the engine
provision has been made to secure bearings as large as possible. A
powerful brake is used upon this engine, by which its momentum can
be controlled sufficiently to bring it to a standstill within its
own length. Another peculiarity of this engine is the high rate of
speed of which it is capable. The advantage of this is apparent
when the engine is employed in hauling a thrashing outfit from one
job to another. Much time is thus gained over an engine that is
capable of making but slow progress with its load, or, where the
roads are unfavorable, can scarcely haul itself. Owing to its
peculiar construction, the ‘Eclipse’ traction engine gives
this additional speed without increased cost.

The patent steering mechanism of this engine consists of a shaft
supported between the sills in front of the fire-box, on which is
wound a chain carried to each side of the front axle and having
elastic links inserted in it, so that no shocks are conveyed when
the front wheels strike obstructions. The chain shaft is operated
from the platform by a standing shaft with worm and worm gear.

It is a great convenience to the engineer when running to have
the throttle, reverse motion, blower, brake, steering wheel, pump,
injector, fire and ash pit doors, whistle, and all bearings within
easy reach. These engines are furnished with a water tank under the
platform and coal boxes upon it, or with a two or four wheeled
tender attached to the rear of the platform, while in some cases
the water tank is carried upon the sills under the boiler and
forward of the fire-box, and the crown sheet is so designed as to
be always under water when going up or down hill.

The ‘Eclipse’ portable or agricultural engine, of light
and graceful design, is mounted on strong wheels, with boiler high
enough above the ground to allow the front truck to make a very
short turn, which is an especial advantage. The engine proper, of
the well known ‘Eclipse’ pattern built by this company, is
simple and compact. Its design is the result of years of practical
experience in meeting the wants of a large number of users. It is
attached to the crown of the boiler by expansion joints and bolts
in such manner as to equally divide the weight between the forward
and rear axles. Special claims are made for improved methods of
mounting the boiler so as to relieve it of all strain. Instead of
passing the rear axle through the fire-box, as is customary with
many builders, it is carried under the firebox and up through
improved spring-chambered brackets, bolted securely to each side of
the fire-box. The weight of the boiler and engine is carried by two
iron rods passing under the fire-box, one on each side of the axle
and extended upward through caps that cover the brackets and
against which the springs bear; in turn the axle bears against
these springs, relieving the boiler and brackets of all strain
consequent upon carrying the weight upon them as is usually the
case, and thus loosening of the bracket bolts and leakage is

The springs are accessible by simply removing the nuts on the
rods and lifting off the cap. Each bracket is furnished with a set
screw to bear against the axle when running the engine, thus
preventing vibration. The front axle is also provided with springs,
insuring safety and ease of transportation, and preventing shocks
to the boiler and engine.

The boiler and engine just described are also furnished securely
mounted on substantial frames or sills, as seen in the cut showing
the portable sawmill.

The company also manufactures stationary engines and boilers of
all sizes, grain separators and threshers, horsepowers, circular
sawmills, mill gearing, and the customary adjuncts of an engine

Situated in the midst of the iron and manufacturing regions,
Frick & Co. have all possible advantages in the selection of
material and as their works are reached by three railroads, two of
which connect with the Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio systems
respectively at a short distance from Waynesboro, it will be seen
that they have every facility for the favorable operation of a
business of the character described.

Mr. John Philips, cashier of the First National Bank of
Waynesboro, presides over the affairs of the company. His office is
elective annually, but has been held by him since 1873, in which
year the company was organized.

Like most of the large concerns of the day, it will be seen that
the firm of Frick & Co. had its small beginnings. Its present
unparalleled reputation is but the natural outcome of intelligent,
persistent, honest effort exercised by its management, the merits
of their productions, and by making quality their first great

With the fairest of reputations, and an adequate capital at
their command, and their determination to maintain the advanced
position gained, it will be no difficult task for them to keep at
the front.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment