History Of The Aermotor Windmill Corporation

| November/December 1989

  • Aermotor windmill

    Gary C. Pardue
  • Aermotor Factory
    This early Aermotor Factory was built on in the fall of 1890.
    Mark Nedrow

  • Aermotor windmill
  • Aermotor Factory

On a tip from one of our subscribers, we wrote to O'Brock Windmill Distributors at 9435 12th Street, North Benton, Ohio 44449, to get some information on Aermotor Windmills.

Ken O'Brock very kindly responded with a history of the company, which follows.

Chronological History

1883-LaVerne Noyes, a Chicago manufacturer of dictionary stands and farm equipment, hired Thomas O. Perry, a mechanical and civil engineer, to develop a grain binder. However, Perry had previously worked for U.S. Wind Engine Company, of Batavia, Illinois, and had conducted over 5,000 scientific tests on 61 different experimental wind wheels. These tests had been meticulously conducted indoors under controlled conditions, by mounting 5 ft. diameter steel test wheels on a steam driven arm which provided constant artificial wind. His best test wheel was 87% more efficient than the common wood wheels in use at the time. Although the U. S. Wind Engine Company had shown no interest in utilizing Perry's discoveries, Noyes recognized the potential and encouraged him to develop a truly scientific steel windmill.

1888-The 'Aermotor' windmill was introduced. Only 45 were sold the first year. The new 'mathematical' windmill as it was derisively called by the competitiors, embodied all of the principles Perry had learned in his experiments. It also had back gearing which allowed the wheel to make about 3? revolutions for each stroke, resulting in much greater lifting power and smoother pumping action.

1892-Aermotor sold 20,000 windmills in 1892 and the 'mathematical' windmill had definitely changed from a joke to a real threat, which must be imitated by competitors. Aermotor guaranteed its 8 ft. steel mill to do more work than any 10 ft. wooden mill, and it actually would do more than some 12 ft. mills. Thomas Perry's engineering genius had combined with the organizational skill of La Verne Noyes to establish the Aermotor Company solidly on its way to become the dominant supplier of windmills in the world.

1904-By 1904, the Aermotor catalog listed a complete line of hand pumps, cylinders, wood and metal tanks, faucets, and both water pumping and power producing windmills. Equipment for the power mills, such as a feed cutter, power saw, and corn sheller were listed. Hand trucks and other specialty items were also offered. Every item from start to finish, including all castings, forgings, stampings, pump leathers, ball check valves, bolts, and crating and other wood products were produced in the 250,000-300,000 sq. ft. of Aermotor factory space, covering nine acres on the southwest side of Chicago. Both a cast iron and a brass foundry were included in the complex. The mass production methods of Noyes had reduced the price of windmills to about 1/6 of previous competitive prices, with the 1904 catalog listing an 8 ft. water pumping windmill at $25.00 and a 20 ft. mill at $300.00.


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