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Manufacturers Index - Huntoon & Lynch; R. K. Huntoon

Huntoon & Lynch; R. K. Huntoon
Concord, NH; Boston, MA, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Oct 21 2017 11:14PM by Jeff_Joslin
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From the 1860 Annual Report of the American Institute, in an article on the results of the 1859 Fair

In 1858 Reuben Kidder Huntoon, of Concord, N.H., designed a carving machine for making serpentine balusters, bed posts and the like. The machine was patented that year and the patent was partly assigned to Jacob B. Rand, a local machinist and piano-forte manufacturer. Perhaps Rand commissioned Huntoon to design a machine to make piano legs and the patent carving machine was the result.

Huntoon's carving machine won a major award at the 1859 Fair of the American Institute (the entry was submitted by William H. Cassidy of New York, the "general agent" for the machine) but Huntoon did not have the financial resources to manufacture and market his machine in quantity. He seems to have produced a few under the R. K. Huntoon name but success was not forthcoming and he abandoned the effort. In 1864 the patent co-assignee, J . B. Rand, was manufacturing and selling the carving machine.

Huntoon moved to Boston and turned his inventive efforts to creating a steam-engine governor that would work well even on a ship in motion. He settled on a design with a propeller spinning inside an oil-filled chamber. With careful design of blades and baffles, and with the outer shell of the chamber able to rotate against an adjustable weight, the governor could move a lever when the input shaft speed exceeded a threshold. That lever could be used to control the steam flowing into a steam engine and could exert enough force to open even a fairly large valve. By November 1867, Huntoon and John Augustus Lynch had established Huntoon & Lynch to manufacture and sell the newly patented governor. By November 1870, Huntoon had left the partnership and Lynch was operating as J. Augustus Lynch & Co. By mid-1871 he had been joined by Edwin W. Buckingham, and they manufactured the governors under the name of Lynch & Buckingham. This, also, seems to have been short-lived and this early version of the Huntoon governor disappeared from the market without ever achieving much success. Meanwhile, Huntoon had not given up and continued to improve his governor.

From 1869 Howland's Worcester Directory

In 1871 Huntoon patented his latest improved governor design, and then obtained patents overseas, including Great Britain and Germany. By 1872 he was again selling governors, in a low-key way, under the R. K. Huntoon name. Over the next five years he made numerous trips overseas trying to drum up interest in his governor. He seems to have succeeded in that respect but he once again was not actually making much money.

In 1877 Huntoon designed and patented a new governor for controlling a steam-engine-driven plant for producing "illuminating gas" for gas lamps—a major industry at the time. He sold the patent rights to Stillman B. Allen of Boston, who established Allen Governor Co. and then heavily promoted the "Allen Governor". This governor won a number of major awards, was widely adopted, and achieved considerable success. Huntoon worked for Allen, both on improving the governor and in making sales calls. By 1881, however, Huntoon, having ideas for further improvements to make his governor "absolutely perfect", terminated his employment with Allen Governor Co., designed and patented his perfected governor, and again went out on his own as R. K. Huntoon. Perhaps he now had money as a result of his dealings with Allen, but in any event, as Huntoon made sales calls across the country and in Europe he became well known in the gas production industry; the "R. K. Huntoon gas governor", patented in 1882, was a major success.

In 1889 Huntoon died of a stroke while attending a meeting of the American Gas Light Association in Baltimore. His business did not survive him; the rights, patterns and stock for his governor were purchased by Wilbraham Bros. of Philadelphia, which continued its production. Meanwhile, the Allen Governor Co. wound down its business in 1893. By that time, Wilbraham Bros. had morphed into Wilbraham-Baker Blower Co., and were still making the Huntoon governor. They later (by 1908) became the Wilbraham-Green Blower Co. but we cannot confirm that they were still making the governor.

Information Sources

  • 1859-11-05 Scientific American.
    CARVING-MACHINE—Among the late accessions to the fair, was Huntoon's patent carving-machine, for carving spiral, fluted ballusters, bedsteads, newells, &c. A piece of wood previously turned, is carried along lengthwise, and at the same time slowly rolled, beneath a rapidly revolving cutter with a semi-circular edge, which thus cuts a spiral channel winding around the shaft. Four balusters, or other articles to be fluted, are placed in the machine at once and are all cut at the same time. It does its work very handsomely. Wm. M. Cassidy is the agent, 74 State-street, Albany, N . Y.
  • From the results of the 1859 Fair of the American Institute.
    Huntoon's Carving Machine, Wm. M. Cassidy, general agent, Albany, N. Y.—This machine is for cutting serpentine fluted work, of any desired style or pattern; a kind of work never before done by machinery. The machine is arranged so as to cut four pieces at a time, and taper down to any desired sire, by means of lowering or raising the cutters; doing the work sufficiently smooth, without sand-papering, for ordinary kinds of furniture. A boy can operate the machine. The above engraving represents some of the various kinds of work done by this machine, consisting of bedstead posts, stretchers, and balusters, stool pillars, table legs, stair balusters, piano fort.> and seraphine legs, desk and counter legs, newel posts, &c. A silver medal awarded.
  • The 1860-61 Merrill and Son's Concord City Directory lists Jacob B. Rand as both a machinist and as owning a piano-forte manufactory. Rand was granted a few patents over the years, including one for a composition for welding iron and steel, one for a polishing and scouring composition, and he was co-assigned a patent for transmitting power by the medium of air.
  • Volume 2 of A History of American Manufactures, from 1608 to 1860, 1864, by J. L. Bishop, in a section on the manufacturers of Concord, N.H.
    Piano Forte Hardware is made by the firms of J . B. Rand and Wilson & Blake, who employ 20 hands. Mr. Rand is also a manufacturer of Piano Fortes, and is proprietor of Huntoon’s patent machine for cutting Serpentine Fluted work. Piano Forte and Seraphine legs, bedstead pods, balusters, etc., can be carved or fluted by means of this remarkable machine with as much facility as wood is turned in an ordinary turning-lathe.
  • The 1868 Annual of Scientific Discovery; Or, Year-book of Facts in Science and Art.

    IMPROVED STEAM GOVERNOR.—At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. R. K. Huntoon exhibited and explained his patent governor for steam and water power.

    The centrifugal or ball principle, adopted in the old style of governors, is in this entirely abandoned. The regulating weight is raised in a vertical line, and the valve-lever is sustained as easily at one point as another, by the action of a propeller revolving in a cylinder filled with oil (a mixture of lard-oil and kerosene), whose movements in a horizontal plane regulate the action of the steam valves. The speed of revolution, by this ingenious and novel arrangement, is the same whether the pressure of steam be 30 or 70 pounds, and whether the engine be heavily loaded or running light. The simple removal or addition of small weights will cause the engine to run slower or faster, the adjustment being speedily effected. However violent or sudden may be the changes in the work done by the engine, an experience of several months shows that this governor maintains the uniform speed at which it may be set. It is noiseless and safe, as there are no revolving balls.

    The importance of uniformity of action in steam machinery can hardly be over-estimated, and none of the usual forms of ball governors have hitherto secured it. There are, however, some recent French modifications of this kind of governor, especially that of Farcot, which secure an unvarying height for the cone of revolution, and thereby a uniform velocity in all degrees of divergence of the balls; this, as reported on by Prof. Tresca, bore extreme changes of motive power and load without alteration of velocity.

    The Huntoon governor may be expected to be especially valuable for marine engines, as the rolling of the vessel would not affect its action, and the pitching would hardly be noticed in so short a space as it occupies amidships. It acts equally well in its horizontal and vertical form.

  • The 1870 Sampson, Murdock & Co. Boston Directory lists "Huntoon Reuben K., consulting engineer, 103 State, h. at Greenwood".
  • The 1872 Sampson, Murdock & Co. Boston Directory lists "Huntoon governor for steam engines, office 89 Kilby".
  • The 1872 Boston Almanac & Directory lists "Lynch J. Augustus & Co. 103 State (the Huntoon)" under "Steam & Water Power Governors". That firm is also listed under "Steam Packing", which indicates he was selling "Selden's patent" packing.
  • A February 1872 design patent for a governor case was granted to John A. Lynch. The annual report of the Commissioner of Patents notes that the patent was assigned to Lynch and Edwin A. Buckingham of Lynch & Buckingham.
  • The 1872 Annual Fair of the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association awarded J. A. Lynch & Co., Boston, as winning a First premium and diploma for their "Combined Governor Valve".
  • The book The Boston Fire, November 9th and 10th, 1872, by F. E. Frothingham, lists those who suffered losses in the fire, including J. A. Lynch & Co., 93 Kilby Street, who suffered a loss of $20,000.
  • The 1873 Sampson, Murdock & Co. Boston Directory lists "Lynch J. Augustus & Co. 8½ Oliver" under "Governors".
  • The 1873 A Treatise on the Law of Trade-marks and Analogous Subjects, by William Henry Browne, lists trademarks registered following a change to the law in July 1870. Among those listed are "Lynch & Buckingham, 'Huntoon Governor', Governors for steam-engines" and "Lynch & Co., J. A., Propeller-wheel, bearing the words 'The Huntoon Governor', Huntoon steam-governors".
  • The 1875 Sampson, Murdock & Co. Boston Directory has no listing for R. K. Huntoon or any Huntoon company related to governors.
  • On 1876-09-15, Allen Governor Company was certified with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • 1877-06-23 Scientific American.
    The Allen Governor. The Allen governor, an extended illustrated description of which we published some time ago, is meeting, we are gratified to learn, with the substantial success to which, through its many merits, it is justly entitled. Over 2,000 of these governors are now in operation in this country and abroad, and the demand is constantly increasing. The manufacturers exhibit a series of testimonials, from those who have the machine in use, on all sorts of engines and under a great variety of conditions; and there seems to be but one opinion as to its great sensitiveness and general efficacy. We see from an advertisement in another column that agents are desired for the sale of the governor.
  • The 1880 Sampson, Davenport & Co. The Boston Almanac and Business Directory lists Allen Governor Co., 98 Milk, as a maker of governors.
  • The 1880 Practical Steam Engineer's Guide has a nice writeup on the Allen Governor.
  • The 1884 Resident and business directory of the town of Franklin, Massachusetts lists "Huntoon Reuben K, mfr Huntoon Gas Governor, Central".
  • The 1888 The Railroad, Telegraph, Electric and Steamship Builders' Buyers' Guide lists Allen Governor Co., 98 Milk st., Boston, as makers of steam governors.
  • 1889-12-09 American Gas Light Journal.

    Obituary—The Late R. K. Huntoon, of Franklin, Mass.
    Among the world’s benefactors may surely be reckoned those who by their useful inventions have added materially to its substantial comforts and enjoyments. The discovery of gas as an illuminating agent has been of untold benefit to mankind, since by its adoption in the leading cities of the world homes have been made brighter and happier, the pleasures of social life have been not a little enhanced, the facilities for transacting business of all kinds have been greatly increased, while the streets, which before the advent of gas were by night dark, dismal and dangerous, have become light, pleasant and comparatively safe.

    But while this has been true these many years of our large cities the same cannot be said of the smaller ones. Up to quite a recent period the manufacture of gas upon a limited scale has been attended with so much risk and expense as to practically debar the smaller towns from its use. Hence a long standing problem among manufacturers has been how to make gas of good quality, and at a moderate price, in works of small capacity. To this problem the late R. K. Huntoon, so well known to many of our readers as the inventor of the gas governor that bears his name, devoted much time and labor; and it is believed by those competent to judge that his inventions have materially aided in its solution.

    As Mr. Huntoon’s business for the past few years has brought him into close commercial relations with the manufacturers of gas all over the country, it seems fitting that his sudden death, which occurred at Baltimore, while attending the recent convention of the American Gas Light Association, should receive more than a passing notice in these columns. For the subjoined sketch of his life we are indebted to a correspondent who, as a neighbor and friend, has known him long and intimately.

    Reuben Kidder Huntoon, so well known in gas circles as the inventor of the R. K. Huntoon Gas Governor, was born Sept. 4, 1826, in the town of Unity, N. H. His father, John W. Huntoon, was a farmer in moderate circumstances, and as there was a large and increasing family to provide for, Reuben was put to work, when a mere boy, on the farm. But even at this early age he seems to have shown a fondness for mechanical pursuits, since, according to the testimony of his brothers, we find him “ doing odd jobs of carpenter work for the neighbors,” by whom he was considered quite a genius.

    At the age of sixteen, being desirous of helping his parents, and at the same time bettering his prospects in life, Reuben went to Boston, where he began work as an apprentice in a machine shop, his intention being to learn the trade of a machinist. But for some reason he remained in this shop only a few months, long enough, however, to master many of the details of the business, as his subsequent career fully shows.

    From Boston young Huntoon went to Zanesville, O., where he worked as a carpenter for some six or seven years. During this time he married Miss Mary Pew, who died only a few years after, leaving him one child, Reuben, who is now living in Montreal, Canada.

    Soon after his marriage Mr. Huntoon became interested in the subject of wood carving, and, believing that many kinds could be done fully as well, and much more cheaply, by the use of machinery, he began making experiments in this direction. The result was the "Huntoon Carving Machine,” which was patented December, 1858. This machine was used for cutting serpentine fluted work, for which it seems to have been admirably adapted. A silver medal was awarded to it at the New York State Fair, Oct. 6, 1859. In connection with a partner, Mr. Huntoon began the manufacture of his machines ; but owing to the want of capital the enterprise did not prove successful.

    Shortly after this Mr. Huntoon’s attention was called to the fact that no really safe and reliable governor for steam engines had as yet been invented. This led him to make a careful study of the subject, and after much thought, labor and experiment, and after repeated trials and failures, he finally succeeded in producing the model of a governor that was at once seen to be a great improvement upon the machines then in use. In this governor the centrifugal or ball principle was entirely abandoned ; a new, simpler, and more practical one being adopted in its place. This invention (which is fully described in the Scientific American, May 30, 1874) was first patented in 1870. It was afterwards greatly improved by Mr. Huntoon; and, in 1871, letters patent were obtained from the United States, and also from Great Britain, France, Russia and Belgium. It was awarded the grand gold medal at Moscow, in 1872; at Leeds (England), and Lyons in France, in the same year; at Vienna, in 1873 ; and the first prize at the Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia, in 1876.

    This improved governor for steam engines brought Mr. Huntoon into prominent notice as an inventor, not only in this country, but in Europe. But pecuniarily he derived little profit from it—being compelled for want of capital to sell it to Mr. S. B. Allen, of Boston, who brought it out under the name of the “Allen Governor.” The advantages of this machine over the old style of governors were so apparent that it was adopted at once in some of the largest steam works in this country.

    It was also well received in England, whither Mr. Huntoon was employed to go, in 1872, for the purpose of introducing his governor. Judging from a printed report of the proceedings of a “ Meeting of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers,” held in London, May 1, 1873, in which the “Allen Governor” is highly eulogized by the superintendents of those works where it had been adopted, it would seem that he was entirely successful in the object of his visit.

    Mr. Huntoon’s next invention was an appliance for regulating the apparatus used in pumping gas from the retorts. This was patented Aug. 4, 1877. Its manufacture was immediately begun in Boston under the name of the “Allen Gas Exhauster Governor," by the Allen Governor Company, of which Mr. Huntoon was originally a member. But for some reason he soon dissolved his connection with this Company, and immediately turned his attention to the invention of a new governor, which, to use his own words, should be absolutely perfect. The result of his labor was the machine that now bears his name—the R. K. Huntoon gas governor. This machine is too well known in gas and manufacturing circles to need description here. It was patented in 1882, and has since been manufactured under the personal supervision of the inventor, who has introduced it into many gas works of the country.

    From the foregoing account it will be seen that as an inventor Mr. Huntoon has deserved well of the gas fraternity. As a business man he has also been successful in recent years, having, from small beginnings, built up a prosperous business. For the past few years there has been a constantly increasing demand for his governors. At the time of his death many orders were waiting to be filled, and since that sad event many others have been received.

    Mr. Huntoon was not a member of the American Gas Light Association, but he was intimately acquainted with many of its members; and it was while attending its recent convention in Baltimore that he was stricken with paralysis which resulted in his death.

    As is well known to his friends, the deceased was not wholly unaware of the fate that awaited him. Soon after completing his last invention, the gas governor, he was attacked with acute congestion of the brain, and for weeks his life was despaired of. But after a long and painful illness he recovered so far as to be able to resume his business.

    In 1862, four or five years after the death of his first wife, Mr. Huntoon was united in marriage with Miss Ellen Bachelder, of Mason, N. H., with whom he lived happily until his decease. Two children, William and Luella, are the fruit of this union, both of whom are still living with their mother on the old homestead in Franklin, Mass.

    Mr. Huntoon was a good neighbor and citizen. He was kind and obliging to those with whom he associated, and prompt and punctual in his business engagements. Though somewhat eccentric in his manner, he was tender and kind hearted, especially towards children, for whom he seemed to have a peculiar fondness. He was strongly attached to his home and family, and though of necessity much upon the road, there was seldom a Sabbath that failed to find him at his home in Franklin.

    At the funeral services, which were conducted at the house, many neighbors and friends were in attendance. The body was taken to Milford, Mass., where it was buried with impressive ceremonies, under the auspices of Excelsior Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, of which he was a member.

  • 1890-06-30 American Gas Light Journal.
    The Messrs. Wilbraham Bros., of Philadelphia, have purchased the patent of the late R. K. Huntoon, of Franklin, Mass., for his gas governor, with all rights, patterns, stock, etc., and are prepared to fill orders for same.
  • 1893-01-30 American Gas Light Journal.
    THE MESSRS. WILBRAHAM BROTHERS, whose exhausters, blowers and pumps have won such deserved recognition at the hands of the gas industry, have disposed of their business to the Wilbraham-Baker Blower Company, a corporation organized under the laws of New Jersey. The manufacture of the Company's specialties will for the present be carried on at the old shops, No. 2518 Frankford avenue, Philadelphia, or until the new manufacturing plant at Trenton Junction is completed and equipped. The officers elected by the Wilbraham-Baker Company, at a meeting held at Trenton Junction, on the 9th inst., are as follows: President, John W. Wilbraham; Secretary and Treasurer, John S. Wilbraham; Asst. Secretary and Treasurer, Thomas C. Wilbraham.
  • The 1904 Obsolete American Securities and Corporations lists "Allen Governor Co. Incorporated in Massachusetts. Dissolved 1893."
  • Patent 853,632, issued 1907-05-14, was assigned to Wilbraham-Green Blower Co., which is the earliest mention we have found of a business by that name.
  • 1908-01-08 Progressive Age.
    Gas Exhausters.—The Green gas exhauster, driven by vertical engine, as shown in the accompanying cut, is a standard exhauster for gas works, and is the type which has been manufactured by the Wilbraham-Green Blower Co., Philadelphia, during the last 14 years. This company is the outgrowth of the old firm of Wilbraham Bros., afterwards known as the Wilbraham-Baker Blower Co., and now incorporated under the name of Wilbraham-Green Blower Co. They originally began business in 1854 and up to the present time have devoted the greater number of these years to the manufacturing and perfecting of positive pressure blowers and gas exhausters. The Green positive pressure exhauster, as it is now manufactured, is an improved exhauster being used by the largest gas companies and bi-product coke oven plants in the United States....