"N. Weldon Flinchbaugh and His Engine." "This is probably the smallest gasoline traction engine in the world. It is only one and one-half horse power. N. Weldon is the son of F. T. Flinchbaugh, president of the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company of York, Pennsylvania." (Photo and caption from July 1908 issue of the trade publication "Gas Review," page 26.)
Flinchbaugh Companies of York County
In 1900, two brothers formed the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company in York to produce gas and gasoline engines of their own design. The company quickly added gasoline tractors to their product line; producing their first tractor in 1902. A host of Flinchbaugh Companies in York County sprung up from this seed.
There are a few dated explanations of the various Flinchbaugh companies in York County, and how they are related. This post brings those accounts up-to-date and expands the stories of the companies using Directories; along with period accounts in Newspapers and Trade Publications.
One such Trade Publication utilized was “Gas Review” which featured developments in gas and gasoline engines, along with gasoline traction tractors. On page 26 of the July 1908 issue of “Gas Review,” a neat photo is titled and captioned: “N. Weldon Flinchbaugh and His Engine.” “This is probably the smallest gasoline traction engine in the world. It is only one and one-half horse power. N. Weldon is the son of F. T. Flinchbaugh, president of the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company of York, Pennsylvania.” N. Weldon Flinchbaugh is about 10-years-old in the photo.
Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company
Frederick Taylor Flinchbaugh (1872-1948) and Eli Daniel Flinchbaugh (1875-1953) formed the company in 1900, with the financial assistance from their father, Noah Flinchbaugh (1841-1902). The Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company was occasionally informally known as Flinchbaugh Brothers. Master Mechanic Eli Flinchbaugh took change of production. Frederick was the inventor and designer of many of the products the company produced. The earliest engines were developed by Frederick prior to the establishment of a company to manufacture them. Besides the engines and tractors, Frederick held patents for an under-the-tub electric household washing machine, cream separator, wheat cleaner, oil burner, and auto re-boring tools.
In 1914 the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company opened a second factory in Greencastle, Franklin County, Pa. The Greencastle facility became the primary manufacturing location; with the York plant utilized for new and specialty product production. The people and businesses of Greencastle largely financed the Greencastle facility. A few years later the Greencastle plant had dire financial issues, which is when the Quincy Engine Company acquired patents and rights of the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company; causing that initial Flinchbaugh Company to go out of business in 1917.
The Sons of Frederick T. Flinchbaugh
Frederick T. Flinchbaugh had four sons: Noah Weldon Flinchbaugh (1897-1977), George Frederick Flinchbaugh (1903-1986), Henry Kindig Flinchbaugh (1908-1990), and Donald Eugene Flinchbaugh (1912-1979). They all were involved in later Flinchbaugh businesses in the York area.
Flinchbaugh Machine Company
Frederick T. Flinchbaugh started another company in 1917 with his oldest son Noah Weldon Flinchbaugh. This company specialized in cylinder boring machines and was known as Flinchbaugh Machine Company. It operated in the former Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Company plant at South Penn Street and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Their company was formally incorporated in 1923 with Frederick T. Flinchbaugh as president, Clinton C. Sheely as vice president, and N. Weldon Flinchbaugh as secretary and treasurer. Clinton C. Scheely (1885-1950) is the son-in-law of Frederick; being married to his daughter Esther Elizabeth Flinchbaugh (1895-1974).
Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company
As an off-shoot of Flinchbaugh Machine Company, in 1940, N. Weldon Flinchbaugh founded Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company in a shop off of the East Berlin Road in East Manchester Township. Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company designed and produced hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic presses. One of the most publicized projects of the Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company was designing a specialized hydraulic cylinder used for testing the nose cone of the Apollo spacecraft.
George Frederick Flinchbaugh
George Frederick Flinchbaugh, the second son of Frederick, worked as a foreman, at various times, in the various companies of his brothers.
The Flinchbaugh Company
Henry Kindig Flinchbaugh, the third son of Frederick, founded The Flinchbaugh Company in 1936 and operated it until his death in 1990. Henry invented and produced an inexpensive gearbox known as the “Men-E-Uses Power Drive”, and a line of dumbwaiters and stair lifts.
The company started at 480 Salem Avenue and moved to 750 South Court Avenue in 1940. In 1948 a move was made to a new plant at 390 Eberts Lane in Spring Garden Township, where, in addition to manufacturing their own products, the shop began producing machined parts for local companies. The Flinchbaugh Company now operates at 245 Beshore School Road in Manchester Township.
Flinchbaugh Products, Inc.
Donald Eugene Flinchbaugh, the youngest son of Frederick, started Flinchbaugh Products, Inc., along with his brother Henry. Their company produced large-caliber projectile metal parts at a plant in Red Lion and at Henry’s facility on Eberts Lane. The Red Lion facility is now operated as Olin Corporation, Flinchbaugh Operations at 200 East High Street.
Weldon Hydraulics, Inc.
Third generation James Donald Flinchbaugh (1943- ), the son of Donald Eugene Flinchbaugh, purchased his uncles’ Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company, in 1971. The company was re-named Weldon Hydraulics, Inc., and moved to an existing larger factory at 1800 West King Street. The name change was due to a stronger focus on new and innovative approaches to hydraulic cylinders.
Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc.
James D. Flinchbaugh, his father Donald Eugene Flinchbaugh, and Daniel Meckley began Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc. in 1978. Located in Hellam Township, at 4387 Run Way, this business is involved in heat treating and machine shop work. They partner with many large companies to produce selected parts used in products manufactured throughout the country.
Weldon Machine Tool, Inc.
In 1983, James D. Flinchbaugh, re-named Weldon Hydraulics, Inc. as Weldon Machine Tool, Inc., since the focus had changed to producing CNC grinders. In 1991, Tsugami Corporation, a major Japanese machine tool builder, IBC, a Japanese trading company, and REM Sales, a Connecticut-based importer for Tsugami and others, acquired Weldon Machine Tool. James D. Flinchbaugh remained as president.
ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan)
In 1998, the Japanese economy was foundering and Tsugami was looking to sell off Weldon Machine Tool. Stating in November of 1999, the assets of the company and the name Weldon Machine Tool were acquired by the local employees. The ESOP plan borrowed the money to purchase the company via a seven-year loan being repaid with proceeds from operations. Each year one-seventh of the stock in the company was distributed to the employees at no cost to them.
Weldon Solutions remains an employee owned business; as is Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc. Employee stock ownership plans is one way to keep local businesses in York County.
Weldon Machine Tool had a name change to Weldon Solutions in 2003 to emphasize their extensive capabilities of integrating automated solutions using robotics. In 2008, Weldon Solutions moved into a new 40,000 square foot facility at 425 East Berlin Road in East Manchester Township. It is not far from where N. Weldon Flinchbaugh founded Weldon Flinchbaugh & Company in 1940.
Weldon Solutions continues to produce cutting edge grinders and robotic automation systems. Click here for a YouTube video of some of their robotic grinding systems in action.
Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.
Links to posts for History of a few other York County companies:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts