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Manufacturers Index - Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co.

Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co.
Dayton, OH, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Nov 8 2019 11:58AM by Jeff_Joslin
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The Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co. was created by the 1892 merger of Stilwell & Bierce Manufacturing Co. (established 1866, incorporated 1870) and Smith & Vaile Co. (estalished 1874, incorporated 1886). The combined business manufactured hydraulic turbines and power transmitting machinery. Their 1896 letterhead stated that they were "Engineers & contractors for steam & power pumping plants, hydraulic machinery. filter presses, cotton & linseed oil mills, complete water power plants, feed water heaters & purifiers, Victor turbines."

The Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Company was "one of the largest machinery establishments in the West", employing about 300 workers and claimed to be the biggest maker in the country of both turbine water wheels and seed-oil machinery. Sometime during 1903 the financial wheels fell of this juggernaut of a company. In September 1904 Dayton manufacturing magnate Colonel J. D. Platt, president of the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Co., acquired all of the assets of the Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co., for a price in the neighborhood of $750,000, plus cash sufficient to provide a working capital of $400,000. The resuscitated business was reorganized as the Platt Iron Works Co.

For the subsequent history of the Platt Iron Works, see the well-written and interesting 1976 article on the company.

Information Sources

  • The Dayton Public Library has a photo of a new turbine on a wagon in front of the plant.
  • The National Museum of American History has an undated catalog from Smith & Vaile Co. in its collection. The catalog contains "steam pumps and hydraulic machinery".
  • Circa 1889 Business & Advertisements of Dayton (marketing puffery removed).

    The Smith & Vaile Company
    Keowee Street

    Many of the industries of Dayton have obtained a world wide importance, among them none more notably then the Smith & Vaile Co., manufactures of pumps and hydraulic machinery...

    This enterprise was founded in 1874 by Smith, Vaile and Co., which style of firm continued until 1886 when the present company was incorporated with a capital of $250,000. The possessions of the company comprise about eight acres of ground at the indicated address, three of which are utilized for the plant. This is covered with brick buildings... An engine of 100 horse power is used to operate the appliances, and an average of 240 skilled workmen and others are given employment, this number being increased at times to 400.

    The company manufactures steam pumps and hydraulic machinery of every kind and for every description of work... They have branch establishments in London, Moscow, City of Mexico, and New York, besides agencies in other prominent localities. The officers of the company Messrs. W. W. Smith, President and Treasurer; J. H. Vaile, Vice President, and O.P. McCabe, Secretary...

  • 1890 Seeger and Guernsey's Cyclopaedia of the Manufactures and Products of the United States lists "Smith & Vaile Co., Dayton, O.", as makers of acid pumps; air pumps; ammonia pumps; bleachery pumps; brewery pumps; circulating pumps; combined air & boiler feed pumps; combined air & circulating pumps; combined boilers & pumps; combined injection & refrigerator pumps; combined vacuum & water pumps; cooler pumps; cotton press pumps; crank pumps; distillery pumps; filter press pumps; fire pumps; steam force pumps; high pressure pumps; hydraulic pressure pumps; hydraulic pumps; irrigating pumps; lard pumps; low pressure pumps; bilge pumps; mining pumps; mine pumping machinery; water works pumping machinery; salt water pumps; steam pumps; plunger pumps; syrup pumps; tank pumps; tannery pumps; vacuum pumps; vinegar pumps; deep well pumps; oil mills; oil mill machinery; cotton seed oil presses; filter presses; lard presses; paraffine oil presses; and well sinking machinery.
    "Stillwell & Bierce Mfg. Co., Dayton, O." are listed as makers of quartz mills; feed water heaters; lime-extracting feed water heaters; feed water heaters & purifiers; mining water wheels; turbine water wheels; couplings; clutch couplings; cut-off couplings; friction couplings; friction clutch cut-off couplings; fly wheels; gearing; bevel gears; cast gears; cast racks; friction gearing; gear wheels; mill gearing; mitre gearing; mortise gears; spur gearing; wood cogging; guide pulley stands; hangers; hanger boxes; post hangers; self-oiling hangers; anti-friction bearings; self-oiling journal bearings; journal boxes; pillow blocks; pulleys; balanced pulleys; clamp hub pulleys; clutch pulleys; friction clutch pulleys; grooved pulleys; guide pulleys; special pulleys; split pulleys; rope driving drums; rope sheaves; wire rope sheaves; shafting; shaft collars; clamp collars; shaft pedestals; sprocket wheels; step bearings; wall boxes; wall plates; wall brackets; grain milling machinery aspirators; bolting chests; centrifugal reels; combined break machines & scalpers; combined machine rolls & flour dressers; corn meal bolts; corn meal mills; corn roller mills; dust collectors; flour bolts; flour dressers; flour mill machinery; middlings purifiers; roller mills; round reels; scalpers; cement mills; mineral mills; paint & color mills; and phosphate breakers.
  • The American Engineer, V21, 11 Apr 1891, pg. 143.

    The Stilwell & Bierce Mfg. Co., whose works are shown in the accompanying illustrations, are proprietors of one of the largest machinery establishments in the West. This enterprise dates back to 1866 and was commenced in a small way by G. N. Bierce and E. R. Stilwell, and this moderate start formed the nucleus from which was developed the enormous business now operated by the Stilwell & Bierce Mfg. Co., which was incorporated in 1870. Their shops occupy a frontage of nearly 1,000 feet, with large rear additions. The mechanical department embraces the heaviest and most modern machinery appliances and tools, most of which is of late 1ntroduction, the facilities of the works having recently been nearly doubled in capacity. It is operated by waterpower, with a steam power in reserve, and a force of about 350 skilled workmen are here given lucrative employment. The establishment is divided into three general departments, each manned by an accomplished engineer with a suitable force of assistants. These departments cover the manufacture of the celebrated Victor turbine water wheels, both vertical and horizontal, in a great variety of styles and sizes and power connections of all kinds, their catalogue of gears, pulleys, &c., being very complete and extensive; modern flour mill machinery, including Odell’s roller mills, reels, purifiers, &c., the good qualities of which are attested by the number of large first-class flour mills built by them; and devices for heating and purifying the feed water for steam boilers, prominent among them are “Stilwell’s exhaust heater and filter combined,” of which over 3,000 are in daily use and “Stilwell’s live steam purifier,” a more recent invention, which is very successful in removing from feed water, sulphates of lime, magnesia and other impurities which are beyond the reach of any heater using exhaust steam. Catalogues, fully illustrating and describing their various specialties, will be cheerfully furnished to all interested parties who will states their requirements and apply to Stilwell & Bierce Mfg. Co., Dayton, Ohio.

  • 1893 The Manual of Statistics pg. 253.
    The Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co. was formed in 1892 to acquire and carry on the business of the Stilwell & Bierce Mfg. Co. and the Smith & Vaile Co. of Dayton, O., manufacturers of hydraulic pumping and compressing machinery.

  • 1901-07-04 The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer.

    The Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co.—This company began business in a small way in the year of 1866, and consisted of Mr. R. R. Stilwell and Mr. G. N. Bierce, who rented a small room, hired one man and made a water heater patented by Mr. Stilwell. During all these years, the firm has had a steady growth., until today it has attained its present proportions. After the introduction of the first article Of manufacture was accomplished, new articles were added from time to time, until it has reached its present mammoth proportions. The company manufacture water wheels, and power transmitting machinery.

    About seven years ago, the present corporation was organized, and took over the establishments of the Stilwell & Bierce Manufacturing Company, and the Smith & Waile Co. The last named company was established in 1874, and began the manufacture of steam pumps. This was rapidly expanded to the manufacture of safety valves and hydraulic machinery, and machinery for the manufacture of linseed oil and cotton seed oil. The present company is the largest manufacturer of turbine water wheels in the country. They make a specialty of furnishing complete water power plants. The recent introduction of electrical transmission of power has been successfully accomplished, and gives great value to water power, and has brought activity into that line of business. This company has engineered and installed a number of the largest and most profitable electrical plants by the use of water power, in the country, and some idea of the extent of its business in that line may be gathered from the fact that it now has contracts on hand for more than 100,000 horse power water wheels to be used for generating electricity. The company is also the largest manufacturer of oil machinery, and has equipped a large part of the best mills of that kind with its machinery. It has extended its line of manufacture of pumping machinery until it now ranks among the first in that line, and builds a complete line of pumps of every kind and for every purpose. This company also does a large business in the manufacture of air compressors, and has a very extensive business in filtering processes and also does considerable in ice and refrigerating machinery. It has branch offices in every leading city in the country, and also in London, England, and does a large export business, which is rapidly growing and its various lines of machinery are exported to all parts of the world. In addition to the two large factories known as the West Shops and the East Shops, it has lately leased the McHose & Lyon building, located at the foot of Ludlow street, which became necessary to meet the rapidly growing business. For several months past, the shops of this company have been running day and night, and it now has in its employ much the largest force that it has ever employed in the history of the company. They made an exhibit at the Paris Exposition in 1900, which was a great advertisement for Dayton. They have shipped during the past week one of their size E improved Stilwell feed water heaters and purifiers to the Lone Oak Cotton Oil Company, Lone Oak, Texas, and they have also shipped one of their No. 7 regular Style Stilwell heaters and purifiers to the Clarksville Cotton Oil Company, Annona, Texas. A large amount of Stillwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile machinery is in use in sugar factories and more is going in all the time.

    One of the products of this company is a duplex pressure feed pump of the pot valve pattern, which we give a half tone illustration of here with. These pumps are designed for pressure from 150 to 300 pounds. The Water Valves are furnished either of india rubber, composition rubber or special metal and are located in separate chambers or pots readily accessible for inspection. For extreme pressure the valves will be of bronze OI the wing type and readily controlled.

    These pumps can also be equipped with brass ball valves for handling thick material or for filter press work. As indicated by the cut, all valves are placed above the plungers so that the water cylinders are always primed, insuring smooth operation. This cut, of course, only represents one style of pump built by the Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Company and they also build single pumps, duplex pumps, triple expansion pumping engines, compound pumping engines, vacuum pumps, jet and surface condensers, hydraulic pumps, triplex power pumps, air pressure feed water heaters and purifiers, Victor turbine water wheels, filter presses and cotton and linseed oil machinery.

    They have a branch office at 304 Hennen building, New Orleans, where sugar planters are always welcome and we may add that the popularity of their goods is on the increase among the sugar manufacturers of the whole World.

  • Numerous 1903 mentions in trade journals as well as a patent assignments. The only post-1903 mentions we find are in directory listings that presumably were not frequently updated.
  • 1904-09-17 Street Railway Journal.
    .Fresh Capital and New Name for Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Company—The Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Company, of Dayton, Ohio, all its manufacturing lines, goodwill, patents, drawings, etc., have been purchased by Col. J. D. Platt, president of the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Company, of Dayton, Ohio. Col. Platt has organized a company called the Platt Iron Works Company, to carry on the enterprise. The purchase price was in the neighborhood of $750,000. The new company has a cash working capital of $400,000. The company will take over all the unfinished contracts of the Stilwell-Bierce & Smith-Vale Company. The personnel of the engineering and sales department will remain practically the same as heretofore. Geo. W. Neff is the Eastern manager of the company, with headquarters in New York.
  • 1976 article on the Platt Iron Works, written by Roz Young and originally published in the Journal Herald on December 28 & 30, 1976.