S. Morgan Smith, patentee Success Washing Machine, at 436 West Market Street in York

Drawings of U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by S. Morgan Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Drawings of U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by S. Morgan Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

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:

Stephen M. Smith’s Success Washing Machine was the first product manufactured and sold by the York Manufacturing Company.  In this post I’ll examine the United States Patent on the Success Washing Machine.

Reverend Smith obtained the patent in 1870 and at 31-years-old started to earn a living as a washing machine manufacturer while living in Ohio.  After a move to York, Pennsylvania, where his wife’s relatives lived, he continued producing these washing machines and working on improvements while his family resided at 436 West Market Street in York.

 

 

 

In the previous post, in this series, we learned that Moravian Preacher Stephen M. Smith developed a serious throat ailment while leading a congregation in Dover Canal, Ohio.  This ailment persisted, making it nearly impossible for him to preach; he grudgingly resigned as pastor until he could regain his voice.

It was during this period of convalescence that Stephen M. Smith started to explore ways to ease the housekeeping burden of his wife.  He tinkered with an improved device to mechanically wash clothes.  He applied for a United States Patent on this Improvement In Washing-Machines and was granted Patent No. 108,646 on October 25, 1870.

Header to U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by Stephen M. Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Header to U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by Stephen M. Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Stephen M. Smith began to build and sell this washing machine, which he named the Success.  Smith appears to have been rather successful, in his first year of earning a living as a manufacturer in Ohio.  In late 1871, his whole family moved to York, Pennsylvania, where his wife’s relatives lived.  He lived at 436 West Market Street in York until 1879.  The following is his 1873 York Directory listing:

Listing on Page 95 of Eisenhart’s 1873 Directory for The Borough of York (York County Heritage Trust)

Listing on Page 95 of Eisenhart’s 1873 Directory for The Borough of York (York County Heritage Trust)

436 West Market Street in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

436 West Market Street in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

The notation “r same” is an indication this is his business AND residence address.  Smith was likely producing these washing machines and working on improvements in rooms of this residence and/or the building at end of his back yard along West Mason Avenue.

I made the comment that Smith appears to have been rather successful, in his first year of earning a living as a manufacturer in Ohio.  I reached this conclusion based upon the rather nice house he moved into at 436 West Market Street in York.

Lets take a look at Stephen M. Smith’s United States Patent No. 108,646 is greater detail.  First of all, Stephen M. Smith did not invent the washing machine; he devised an improvement to box-type washing machines that was deemed novel and unique enough to be patentable.

Zooming-in on Drawing Figure 2 of U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by S. Morgan Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Zooming-in on Drawing Figure 2 of U. S. Patent No. 108,646; by S. Morgan Smith (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Most of the alphabetical letters in the following description, quoted directly from the patent, refer to this Drawing Figure 2 of U. S. Patent No. 108,646; however a few letters refer to Figure 1 (see the drawings at the beginning of this post).  Stephen M. Smith’s own words in describing his patent are as follows:

I prefer to employ an oblong-box, A, at one end of which is attached a shaft, B, which carries a cog-wheel, D, gearing into a pinion, E, upon another shaft, C, provided with a balance-wheel, F.

This shaft C has a crank, C’, fig. 2, to which is attached a pitman, G, at the opposite end of which is a roller, G’, which is pivoted to the arms of the upper rubber, H.

Two Levers, K, are pivoted, below their centers, to the sides of the box, at L, and at their ends to the arms of both rubbers, as seen in fig. 2.

The lower rubber, I, rides upon the bottom of the box, while the upper rubber floats free above the clothes, or may come down on the bottom of the box when small articles of clothing are being washed.  This upper rubber may rise high enough to receive large articles, like bed-clothing, and yet it may work low enough to come very near the lower rubber in washing small articles.

In a working machine, the levers K may be made of wood, and, as the shafts and wheels are outside of the box, the clothing is not liable to come in contact with any metal to stain it with rust.

Usually I make the lower arms of the levers K one-half as long as the upper arms, in order to give the upper rubber the greater motion.

Motion is given to the machine by crank O.

The clothes being placed between the rubbers, the lower rubber, in working, thrusts the upper part of the clothes away, while the simultaneous stroke of the upper rubber brings the upper portion of the clothes in the opposite direction, and knocks the top down.  Thus the clothes, in being washed, are continually rolled over and over, and also squeezed by the repeated strokes of the rubbers.

Having thus described my invention, I claim—

The above-described arrangement and combination of the rubbers H and I, the levers K, pitman G, and shaft C, as set forth and shown.

It is the last sentence, the claim, which is Stephen M. Smith’s improvement to box-type washing machines that was deemed novel and unique enough to be patentable.

On Monday I’ll look at a further enhancement to this washing machine.  It is the Success Washing Machine with an additional patented enhancement that becomes the first product manufactured and sold by the York Manufacturing Company

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

About Stephen H. Smith

Stephen H. Smith is a design engineer who worked at York International Corp. for 33 years before retiring several years ago to research and write books full time; his second career. The initial emphasis was on family history when he won a national award during 2002 for his first book “Barshingers in America." Positive feedback and that award were influential in his decision to retire early from engineering and start a retirement career.
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