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February 2016

The DuBois Story - Part 2

By Paul Harvey

CPM DuBois Engine

Coolspring Power Museum's 18 hp DuBois engine

Last month, The Flywheel explored the early history of the city of DuBois, Pennsylvania, as well as the legacy of the Dubois family, which was involved in both the lumber business and the iron works.   Noted then, the first DuBois Iron Works was located in DuBois Town, near Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then moved to the present DuBois.  The article concluded with a detailed examination of the museum's DuBois engine.  This month we will see some details of the iron works and the many varied engines it produced, and explore its odd connection with the Lazier Gas Company of Buffalo, New York, as well.

The earliest advertisement for the DuBois Iron Works that I discovered is shown in Photo 1.  Appearing in the New Bethlehem Vindicator on June 19, 1890, it describes a vast array of products from oil well casing to the DuBois lathe.  The next article found appeared in the August 12, 1897 issue of the Altoona Tribune.  Here we learn that a new plant has been put into operation, powered by a 75 horsepower DuBois gas engine. The building, built of brick and stone, was 500 feet long and 80 feet wide.  Employing 300 men, it was the most modern shop of its day.  It is still functional today.

The Iron Works prospered as seen in this 1907 advertisement, Photo 2,  showing a beautiful tandem, double-acting engine.  From my collection of documents, I discovered this interesting 1908 calendar, seen as Photo 3.  I have no idea of the significance of the pleasant picture on it.  Surprisingly, its reverse carries this illustration of the DuBois Iron Works products.  Note Photo 4.  An article in a 1914 issue of  Steele and Iron announced that the Iron Works will build a new type of engine designed by Samuel Steele and will establish an extension in conjunction with the Union Machine Company of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  The engines will be built in DuBois, and some will be marketed by Union in Oklahoma.  It is noted that Mr. Steele was originally from DuBois.

Skipping ahead a few decades, we note that John E. DuBois, Jr. in 1940 is listed as the vice president of a gas meter factory.  In 1947, the DuBois Iron Works became the Ptttsburgh Division of Rockwell Manufacturing Company.  Their product was gas meters, as it still is today.  Photo 5, recently taken by the author, shows the majestic buildings of the DuBois Iron Works in all their glory, now manufacturing Sensus gas meters.  The structure is 119 years old!

An interesting article was found in  a 1909 issue of Power Magazine.  Clarion, Pennsylvania, awarded the DuBois Iron Works a contract to replace their steam water works with a new gas engine plant.  The machinery consisted of a 150 horsepower DuBois tandem gas engine geared to a one million gallon per day pump and a 50 horsepower DuBois engine that drove the centrifugal suction pump and an air compressor.  Amazingly, it pumped against a 685 foot head by means of 4,000 feet of 10 inch diameter pipe.  A local rumor suggests that these engines are still at the bottom of the 110 foot deep Piney Dam, built in 1925 to generate hydroelectricity!  Photo 6, taken from an old postcard, shows the installation.  The dam and hydro plant are still in operation.

In my literature collection, I am fortunate to have a small DuBois catalog from about 1908.  Its cover is illustrated in Photo 7.  This bulletin features their special duty throttling engines - the type K.  Built into large sizes, they were designed for continuous operation.  Photos 8, 9, and 10 show a magnificent DuBois type K engine of 80 hp.  Note the excellent finish work and attention to details.  They featured a ported exhaust and a vertical governor head. Wonder if one of these still exists?  The final page of the catalog is depicted in Photo 11.  From this, we see that the museum's engine is noted as the "General Service Type," and was built in sizes from 5 horsepower to 50 horsepower.  Amazingly, a twin tandem version, built from 100 horsepower to 400 horsepower, was offered!

Photo 12, taken from a 1907 advertisement, shows this unusual tandem engine built for electrical generating service.  Note the very odd - but attractive - frame design, featuring a pedestal under the cylinder.  The single flywheel appears to be very massive.   The design would facilitate a direct-connected generator.  A huge tandem DuBois, available in several power ranges, is seen in Photo 13.  It has two large flywheels, and a long side shaft powering the vertical governor and the valves.  The twin tandem engine, built to 400 horsepower, is illustrated in Photo 14.  It uses a center-mounted flywheel that might have been used to drive the power belt. The DuBois Iron Works production of gas engines apparently utilized so many designs and power ranges; shown are the ones that I found.  Two designers were mentioned, Samuel Steele and Peter Eyermann, but no patents have been found.   My catalog just states that the engines were designed and built by the DuBois Iron Works.

The Iron Works also built a line of gas producers.  These complicated devices heated coal in a retort-like device with limited air and collected the gas given off for use in their engines.  The product was mainly hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Both gases are flammable but of low BTU value.  As DuBois was located in the vast bituminous coal fields of western Pennsylvania, this was very practical.  An installation that burned coal in a boiler for a steam engine could now gain some economy by installing a producer to power a gas engine, both DuBois products.  A 1907 article in The Electrical Age stated that Peter Eyermann, a foremost gas engine designer from Germany, became the chief engineer of the Iron Works.  While in DuBois, he patented a gas producer, number 840,447 of Jan. 1, 1907.  See Photo 15.  After a few years, Mr. Eyermann moved on to Fairbanks-Morse of Beloit, Wisconsin, where he continued in gas producer development.

My 1908 DuBois Iron Works catalog illustrates their gas producer.  Photo 16 shows a photograph of the complete producer and the arrangement of parts.  This is followed by Photo 17, which is an illustration of the complete arrangement, including heat losses.  None of these producers have survived.

There is a long and very confusing relationship between the Lazier Gas Engine Company of Buffalo, New York, and the DuBois Iron Works.  Some of it appears to be conflicting, but I will try to sort out the essentials.  The earliest found was a November 18, 1902 article in the Pittsburgh Daily Post.  It details a suit brought against John E. DuBois by the Lazier Gas Engine Company.  DuBois was to manufacture the gas engines of Lazier's design in sufficient quantities for Lazier to sell.  The suit alleges that DuBois only built 85 of the 125 engines specified in the contract.

It has been known that Arthur A. Lazier was mainly a designer, not a manufacturer.  His engine patent is shown in Photo 18.  It is number 662,730 and granted on November 27, 1900.  The museum is fortunate to display a Lazier of this model; see Photo 19. It has features shared with other Buffalo, New York, manufacturers. Long thought that Close and Caldwell, of Bradford, Pennsylvania, built this engine; however with this information, perhaps they were only the sales agent?  Note the nameplate in Photo 20.  Another mystery!

Surprisingly, an article in a 1905 issue of The Gas Engine notes that an arrangement between the Lazier Engine Company and the DuBois Iron Works has been completed for DuBois to again manufacture the Lazier engine.  Arthur Lazier has assumed control, and the main offices will be in Buffalo, New York.

In a two-year turnaround, the Electrical World of 1907 announces that the DuBois Iron Works have taken over the entire business of the Lazier Engine Company.  Mr. Lazier sold his entire business, including patents and designs, to DuBois, and has retired from the engine world.  All new engines are to have certain improvements and be marketed under the DuBois name.  The line of engines will be from 5 horsepower to 300 horsepower, with the improvements having been designed by Peter Eyermann.  The officers of the company were John E. DuBois, President;  W. C. Pentz, Vice President;  E. A. Badger, Secretary and Treasurer;  and I. N. Hamilton, General Manager.  Mr. C. E. Stuart, responsible for sales and advertising. Now, the head office and management was located in DuBois, with a branch in Buffalo, as well as branches in all principal cities.

Interestingly, Arthur Lazier did return to the engine world and didn't waste any time!  In 1907, Engineering World announces that he sold his interest in the Lazier Gas Engine Manufacturing Company and formed the Lazier Gas Engine Company.  He will now manufacture, or perhaps market, large twin cylinder vertical engines   An actual installation is shown in Photo 21.  Little else is known about his final venture.

And so the DuBois Story and the Lazier connection ends.  Many mysteries yet remain to be discovered!

I wish to thank and acknowledge the following sources from whom I've obtained information. My article was made possible from the information gleaned from them.

Google Books
American Gasoline Engines Since 1872,
by C. H. Wendel
Nick Rowland
DuBois Historical Society
Personal Documents and Photos

Next month, I will cross the Atlantic Ocean to share some photos of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the Anson Engine Museum.  Anson is known as the Coolspring of England!

DuBois 1890 Ad

Photo 1: Ad from the New Bethlehem Vindicator

DuBois Brochure 1907

Photo 2: 1907 ad for the DuBois Iron Works

DuBois Calendar 1

Photo 3: 1908 calendar from DuBois Iron Works

DuBois Calendar 2

Photo 4: Reverse of 1908 calendar showing DuBois products

DuBois Iron Works Today

Photo 5: Former DuBois Iron Works buildings today

Piney Dam Power Plant Clarion

Photo 6: Piney Dam in Clarion, Pennsylvania

DuBois Bulletin

Photo 7: Cover of 1908 DuBois engine catalog

DuBois Bulletin

Photo 8: DuBois 80 hp engine - near side

DuBois Bulletin

Photo 9: DuBois 80 hp engine - back

DuBois Bulletin

Photo 10: DuBois 80 hp engine - off side

DuBois Bulletin

Photo 11: Final page of 1908 DuBois engine catalog

DuBois Tandem 1907

Photo 12: DuBois tandem engine


Photo 13: Tandem DuBois engine

DuBois Twin Tandem

Photo 14: Twin tandem DuBois engine

Producer Patent

Photo 15: Eyermann gas producer patent 840,447

DuBois Producer

Photo 16: Gas producer from 1908 catalog

DuBois Producer Diagram

Photo 17: Illustration of gas producer arrangement

Lazier Patent

Photo 18: Lazier engine governor patent 662,730

CPM's Lazier

Photo 19: The museum's Lazier engine

Lazier Nameplate

Photo 20: Lazier nameplate

Lazier Engines

Photo 21: Lazier twin-cylinder vertical engines


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