Ingersoll, Simon

Ingersoll, Simon
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b. 3 March 1818 Stamford, Connecticut, USA
d. 24 July 1894 Stamford, Connecticut, USA
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American mechanic, inventor of a rock drill
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Ingersoll worked on his father's farm and spent much of his time carrying out all kinds of mechanical experiments until 1839, when he went to Long Island, New York, to work on another farm. Having returned home in 1858, he received several patents for different mechanical devices, but he did not know how to turn his inventive talent into economic profit. His patents were sold to others for money to continue his work and support his family. In 1870, working again on Long Island, he by chance came into contact with New York City's largest contractor, who urged him to design a mechanical rock drill in order to replace hand drills in the rock-excavation business. Within one year Ingersoll built several models and a full-size machine at the machine shop of Henry Clark Sergeant, who contributed several improvements. They secured a joint patent in 1871, which was soon followed by a patent for a rock drill with tappet-valve motion.
Although the Ingersoll Drill Company was established, he again sold the patent rights and went back to Stamford, where he continued his inventive work and gained several more patents for improving the rock drill. However, he never understood how to make a fortune from his patents, and he died almost penniless. His former partner, Sergeant, who had formed his own drill company on the basis of an entirely novel valve motion which led to compressed air being used as a power source, in 1888 established the Ingersoll- Sergeant Drill Company, which in 1905 merged with Rand Drill Company, which had been a competitor, to form the Ingersoll-Rand Company. This merger led to many achievements in manufacturing rock drills and air compressors at a time when there was growing demand for such machinery.
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Further Reading
Dictionary of American Biography (articles on both Ingersoll and Sergeant). W.L.Saunders, 1910, "The history of the rock drill and of the Ingersoll-Rand Company", Compressed Air Magazine : 3,679–80 (a lively description of the way in which he was encouraged to design the rock drill).
WK

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

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