View single post by Mike Kearns
 Posted: Wed Mar 11th, 2020 08:00 am
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Mike Kearns



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1918 - Frederick Leinweber dies, and leaves all of his children his patent rights:








Of particular relevance to this story, Singer Manufacturing Co. buys an American electric motor manufacturing concern to provide domestically produced motors for their sewing machines, Diehl Manufacturing Co.: 
  Philip Diehl (one 'l' in Philip - lawyers misspelled it on at least two patents) was born on 29th of January 1847, in Dalsheim; he graduated from the Technical School at Darmstadt and, like Isaac Singer 50 years earlier, emigrated from Germany to the USA. The son of a physician, Diehl had been a locksmith and in 1868, aged 21, became a machinist (engineer) at the Singer factory in Mott Street, NYC. Two years later, he moved to run Singer's Chicago repair department under James Bolton - inventor of the New Family and the parlour cabinet - who must have recognised an ally in the resourceful young Diehl. His first patent was granted in 1873, for improvements to magic lanterns.  

                                                   Diehl and Miller's treadle ends were the first to bear the Singer logo
Diehl's home was one of the thousands consumed by the 1871 Chicago fire and he lost everything. In 1875, after the opening of the Elizabethport factory, Diehl was summoned - on Bolton's highest recommendation - to take charge of Singer's Experimental Division; later, as Head of Mechanical Construction. 

The new factory was one of the largest industrial establishments in the world, covering a 50 acre site which had four miles of its own railway in the yard alone. Also, the company was expanding rapidly and would be relying on Elizabethport for all the special tooling and machinery needed to equip the new plants in Canada and Scotland.

Singer was a victim of its own success: the more production tried to keep up with galloping sales and an ever-increasing catalogue, the more problems it encountered and the more solutions were needed from Diehl and his staff. Certainly, it is clear that for every 'new' invention they patented, there was another for improvements to existing mechanisms. Diehl held numerous patents for improved minor assemblies and parts. Indeed, in a contemporary report of his most ubiquitous invention, the electric ceiling fan, he was described as the man "who designs shuttles for Singer". By 1880, there had been 75 patents for electrical motors to drive domestic machines but none proved powerful enough to replace a treadle. Eventually, in 1884, Diehl successfully adapted a variable speed D.C. motor he'd recently patented for dentists' drills, and produced the first practical sewing machine motor. On the Singer stand at the International Electrical Exhibition that year, there were "several sewing machines run by various electric motors invented by Mr. Philip Diehl". The first integrated motor was fitted to Diehl's own Improved Family sewing machine. In 1887, in a fit of genius, he bolted blades to this motor, hung it upside down and the ceiling fan was born. That year, Diehl & Company was formed; later incorporated as the Diehl Manufacturing Co.
Ten years later, the Singer catalogue had swollen to 53 different models, comprising 360 different varieties and counting. Sales continued to rise uncontrollably but the factory was now efficient and the boom years had begun - largely due to Diehl and his life-long mission to perfect and create.  In the final years of Philip's life, Diehl Manufacturing Co, needed larger premises but Singer, too, was expanding and commandeered the space at Elizabethport. Diehl moved out; its exports were severely curtailed by WW1 and, in 1918, it was taken over and incorporated as the Diehl Division of Singer. Diehl continued submitting patent applications until the end, with many being granted posthumously. He died in the family home at 528 Morris Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ, on 7th April 1913

Last edited on Sat Apr 11th, 2020 07:44 am by Mike Kearns