Root, Elisha King

Root, Elisha King
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b. 10 May 1808 Ludlow, Massachusetts, USA
d. 31 August 1865 Hartford, Connecticut, USA
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American mechanical engineer and inventor.
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After an elementary education, Elisha K.Root was apprenticed as a machinist and worked in that occupation at Ware and Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. In 1832 he went to Collinsville, Connecticut, to join the Collins Company, manufacturers of axes. He started as a lathe hand but soon became Foreman and, in 1845, Superintendent. While with the company, he devised and patented special-purpose machinery for forming axes which transformed the establishment from a primitive workshop to a modern factory.
In 1849 Root was offered positions by four different manufacturers and accepted the post of Superintendent of the armoury then being planned at Hartford, Connecticut, by Samuel Colt for the manufacture of his revolver pistol, which he had invented in 1835. Initial acceptance of the revolver was slow, but by the mid1840s Colt had received sufficient orders to justify the establishment of a new factory and Root was engaged to design and install the machinery. The principle of interchangeable manufacture was adopted, and Root devised special machines for boring, rifling, making cartridges, etc., and a system of jigs, fixtures, tools and gauges. One of these special machines was a drop hammer that he invented and patented in 1853 and which established the art of die-forging on a modern basis. He was also associated with F.A. Pratt in the design of the "Lincoln" milling machine in 1855.
When Colt died in 1862, Root became President of the company and continued in that capacity until his own death. It was said that he was one of the ablest and most highly paid mechanics from New England and that he was largely responsible for the success of both the Collins and the Colt companies.
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Further Reading
J.W.Roe, 1916, English and American Tool Builders, New Haven; reprinted 1926, New York, and 1987, Bradley, Ill. (describes Root's work at the Colt Armory).
Paul Uselding, 1974, "Elisha K.Root, Forging, and the “American System”", "Elisha K.Root, forging, and the “American System”", Technology and Culture 15:543–68 (provides further biographical details, his work with the Collins Company and a list of his patents).
RTS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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