Bowser, Sylvanus F.

Bowser, Sylvanus F.
fl. 1880s
American mechanic and inventor of the first fuel-dispensing pump.
Bowser lived and worked in Fort Wayne, Texas. In 1885 he was approached by a local storekeeper, Jake Gumper, who had been receiving complaints from some of his customers. Gumper's store stocked both kerosene (lamp oil) and butter, and the two were stored alongside each other; the kerosene cask leaked and tainted the butter. Gumper consulted Bowser, but neither of them considered the obvious idea of moving the two containers further apart; instead, working in an adjacent barn, Bowser set about devising a means of dispensing kerosene in given quantities.
He delivered his invention to Gumper on 5 September 1885. It was a circular tank with a cylinder soldered inside and an outlet pipe attached to the top. A hand-operated piston controlled two marble valves and wooden plungers which were fitted inside the cylinder. When the wooden handle was raised, a gallon of kerosene flowed from the tank into the cylinder, and when the handle was lowered the liquid was discharged.
He formed S.F.Bowser \& Co. of Fort Wayne to exploit his invention, and twenty years later the company was producing pumps for motor spirit. In 1925 the Bowser Red Sentry, which registered quantity on a clock dial, was introduced. The first automatic "Bowser" in Britain was put into operation in a Manchester garage in 1921.
Further Reading
P.Robertson, 1974, The Shell Book of Firsts, London: Ebury Press \& Michael Joseph.

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

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