Fox, Samson

Fox, Samson
b. 11 July 1838 Bowling, near Bradford, Yorkshire, England
d. 24 October 1903 Walsall, Staffordshire, England
English engineer who invented the corrugated boiler furnace.
He was the son of a cloth mill worker in Leeds and at the age of 10 he joined his father at the mill. Showing a mechanical inclination, he was apprenticed to a firm of machine-tool makers, Smith, Beacock and Tannett. There he rose to become Foreman and Traveller, and designed and patented tools for cutting bevelled gears. With his brother and one Refitt, he set up the Silver Cross engineering works for making special machine tools. In 1874 he founded the Leeds Forge Company, acting as Managing Director until 1896 and then as Chairman until shortly before his death.
It was in 1877 that he patented his most important invention, the corrugated furnace for steam-boilers. These furnaces could withstand much higher pressures than the conventional form, and higher working pressures in marine boilers enabled triple-expansion engines to be installed, greatly improving the performance of steamships, and the outcome was the great ocean-going liners of the twentieth century. The first vessel to be equipped with the corrugated furnace was the Pretoria of 1878. At first the furnaces were made by hammering iron plates using swage blocks under a steam hammer. A plant for rolling corrugated plates was set up at Essen in Germany, and Fox installed a similar mill at his works in Leeds in 1882.
In 1886 Fox installed a Siemens steelmaking plant and he was notable in the movement for replacing wrought iron with steel. He took out several patents for making pressed-steel underframes for railway wagons. The business prospered and Fox opened a works near Chicago in the USA, where in addition to wagon underframes he manufactured the first American pressed-steel carriages. He later added a works at Pittsburgh.
Fox was the first in England to use water gas for his metallurgical operations and for lighting, with a saving in cost as it was cheaper than coal gas. He was also a pioneer in the acetylene industry, producing in 1894 the first calcium carbide, from which the gas is made.
Fox took an active part in public life in and around Leeds, being thrice elected Mayor of Harrogate. As a music lover, he was a benefactor of musicians, contributing no less than £45,000 towards the cost of building the Royal College of Music in London, opened in 1894. In 1897 he sued for libel the author Jerome K.Jerome and the publishers of the Today magazine for accusing him of misusing his great generosity to the College to give a misleading impression of his commercial methods and prosperity. He won the case but was not awarded costs.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Royal Society of Arts James Watt Silver Medal and Howard Gold Medal. Légion d'honneur 1889.
1877, British Patent nos. 1097 and 2530 (the corrugated furnace or "flue", as it was often called).
Further Reading
Obituary, 1903, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers : 919–21.
Obituary, 1903, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (the fullest of the many obituary notices).
G.A.Newby, 1993, "Behind the fire doors: Fox's corrugated furnace 1877 and the high pressure steamship", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 64.

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

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