Oliver J. Bollinger and his initial Patented Bollinger Turbine Water Wheel
The company lineage of today’s Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency operations in York goes back through the following business names:
- York International Corporation (1986-2005)
- York Division of Borg-Warner Corporation (1956-1986)
- York Corporation (1942-1956)
- York Ice Machinery Corporation (1927-1942)
- York Manufacturing Company (1874-1927)
It all started with the establishment of the York Manufacturing Company in 1874. Other posts in this series on The Origins of the York Manufacturing Company include:
- S. Morgan Smith’s Success Washing Machine; Origins of the York Manufacturing Company
- S. Morgan Smith, patentee Success Washing Machine, at 436 West Market Street in York
- S. Morgan Smith learns a valuable lesson about patents; at the hands of McGinnes & Carter
- Jacob Loucks; Family History of a Founder of the York Manufacturing Company
- Jacob Loucks learned the Paper Making Trade near Hunt Valley, Maryland; P. H. Glatfelter followed in his footsteps
- Jacob Loucks affiliations with Four Paper Mills make him Relatively Wealthy; prior to providing Start-up Cash for York Manufacturing Company
- Oliver J. Bollinger brought Manufacturing Experience to the York Manufacturing Company in addition to contributing his patent on a Turbine Water Wheel
- O. J. Bollinger & Co. plus S. Morgan Smith and Jacob Loucks form the York Manufacturing Company in 1874
In 1874 six men in York, Pennsylvania, contributed resources to jointly form the York Manufacturing Company. Stephen Morgan Smith contributed two washing machine patents valued at $20,000; since it was an already established product. Oliver J. Bollinger held a patent on a turbine water wheel. Bollinger shared the rights to his invention with three investors; George H. Buck, Robert L. Shetter and Henry H. LaMotte. As a group, Bollinger, Buck, Shetter and LaMotte contributed the Bollinger Turbine Water Wheel patent for a $4,500 stake. Jacob Loucks invested $10,000 in cash. Henry H. LaMotte also gave the new company the use of a machine shop he owned on North Penn Street in York for an additional $7,000 stake in the company.
In this post I’ll examine the initial Turbine Water Wheel patented by Oliver J. Bollinger on June 28, 1870. The drawing at the beginning of this post shows a cross-section of that water wheel.
Note that in 1870 Bollinger patented an Improvement in Water-Wheels. Oliver J. Bollinger did not invent this type of Water Wheel, he devised improvements that were deemed novel and unique enough to be patentable. This is just as, fellow York Manufacturing Company founder, Stephen M. Smith did not invent the washing machine in 1870; he devised an improvement to box-type washing machines that was deemed novel and unique enough to be patentable.
The figure at the beginning of this post is Figure 2 in the Patent 104,697 Drawings. It represents, on an enlarged scale, a vertical section through the penstock C, water-wheel F’, and gates B. This turbine water wheel type is known as a center-discharge wheel; i.e. the water enters from all sides and exits downward at the center of the wheel.
The most important sentences of a patent are the claims. These are the patentable claims taken directly from the Oliver J. Bollinger patent:
The upper and under plates, curved beyond the gates, as at b h, for the purpose of making a flaring and rounded inlet for the water, as and for the purpose described.
Also, in combination with the crown-plate and its flange h, the deck-plate and its flange k, for rounding off the junction of said plates, as and for the purpose described.
Also, in combination with the series of gates and their studs m, (said gates being arranged between the stationary plates and the studs m projecting through the upper plate of the two,) the movable deck-plate G and its cams r, for opening said gates, substantially as described and represented.
To give you an overall idea what Bollinger’s Turbine Water Wheel looked like, I’ve included the whole sheet of drawings in miniature. The whole text of the patent can be summarized into two short paragraphs.
First–Bollinger describes how he achieved rounding of the inlet surfaces to make the water flow in a more streamlined manner; to get greater efficiency from the water wheel.
Second–Bollinger uses water pressure to continually attempt to close the gates, and uses cams to hold them open; in a manner such that the gates are all independent of the other in closing. This is a nice feature if one or more gates get clogged; by anything getting in and remaining there, while other gates continue to operate.
Turbine Water Wheels did not have their beginnings in the 19th Century. Evidence suggests that the Roman Empire used a crude type of turbine water wheel. However this Roman Water Wheel was the rare exception to the traditional water wheels, such as those used on Grist Mills. These “Grist Mill” type water wheels, on a horizontal shaft, were the established method of extracting useful work from flowing water for Centuries.
It took advances in the understanding of hydraulics coupled with new materials and manufacturing methods during the Industrial Revolution to advance the turbine water wheel into the forefront. This advance did not happen overnight, it took almost 100 years for the turbine water type wheel to dominate. It was through the inventive efforts of men like Oliver J. Bollinger and S. Morgan Smith that resulted in this shift to the smaller and more efficient hydraulic turbine designs.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts