RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 15 . . Export . . Part 4
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 4 of Chapter 15 . . . Export. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 15 . . . EXPORT . . . Part 4
A worker wanted ad appeared in the April 15th, 1880 issue of The Evening Dispatch:
Three or four good Machinery Moulders, Address Frick & Company, Waynesborough, Franklin Co., Pa.
Billmeyer & Small Company and A. B. Farquhar each lost two of their experienced machinery moulders as a result of this ad. Frick was paying machinery moulders ten percent above the going York rate for moulders. Business was very good at these, two-of-the-largest, companies in York County. Billmeyer & Small Company and A. B. Farquhar soon adjusted pay scales accordingly, to retain their expanding workforces.
David E. Small had significantly reduced his involvement in the daily activities at Billmeyer & Small in recent years due to health issues. This did not prevent him from reacting to articles attacking Narrow Gauge Railroads. The Narrow Gauge movement was David’s passion, even though Standard Gauge railcars continued to be the greater part of Billmeyer & Small’s business.
The economics of Narrow Gauge allowed many branch railroads to be built to a host of remote communities across the country. David Small reasoned that was good for the country. Without the cost savings of Narrow Gauge, many of these branch railroads would have never been built.
The fallacy of Narrow Gauge lay in the costs associated with incompatibility of rail spacing between Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge Railroads. At first, the cost for the transfer of goods between Narrow Gauge railcars and Standard Gauge railcars at junction locations was not significant compared to the overall cost savings of operating a Narrow Gauge Railway. As rail traffic increased and workers pay increased, the transfer cost had increased to the point of the decision to build a railroad Narrow Gauge instead of Standard Gauge was no longer an easy choice.
David E. Small decided he had to devise a way to reduce the transfer cost. David would sit for hour on end near the York Car Works, watching cargo transfer between Narrow Gauge railcars of the Peach Bottom Railway and Standard Gauge railcars of the Northern Central Railway.
David bounced ideas off John H. Small and George S. Billmeyer daily, however nothing approached the simple solution that David was after. Then one day, inspiration struck. David suggested a simple universal rub-iron that would be installed on railway car trucks; i.e. the wheeled assembly mounted under each end of a railcar.
George Billmeyer and John Small liked the idea so much that they encouraged David Small to apply for a United States Patent. An application was made September 30th, 1880 and on November 16th, 1880, David E. Small was issued United States Patent No. 234,621 for his Rub-Iron for Car-Trucks.
David E. Small describes the object of his invention, within his patent, as follows:
The object of my invention is to provide an ordinary car-truck with an improved rub-iron which will adapt the truck to carry either wide or narrow car-bodies, or such bodies as are used upon broad or narrow gage roads, in order that the car-body, with its cargo, may be transferred from the truck of a wide-gage to the truck of a narrow-gage road, by which means the cargo need not be unloaded and reloaded in changing from one track to another.
David Small gave permission for all other Narrow Gauge railcar manufacturers, around the world, use this patent; royalty free. His goal was never to get rich on the patent; only to dissuade talk against the Narrow Gauge movement. With the improved rub-iron in place, a host of methods sprung up to transfer trucks under fully loaded car-bodies.
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