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US Patent: 1,252
Mode of making boxes for axles and gudgeons
Isaac Babbitt - Boston, MA

USPTO Classifications:
249/87, 384/191.2

Tool Categories:
transportation machines : railroads : railroad cars and carriages : railroad car axles
industrial machines : industrial machine mechanisms : industrial machine bearings


Not known to have been produced

Lenton Thorn
Thomas P. Jones

Patent Dates:
Granted: Jul. 17, 1839

Reissue Information:
Reissued as AI33 (Sep. 04, 1840)

Patent Pictures:
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At first glance this patent does not look particularly interesting: it describes a method of making journal boxes, especially for the axles of railroad-cars. Almost as an afterthought, however, it specifies an alloy to use, of "about 50 parts of tin, five of antimony, and one of copper". Yes, this is the original specification of what is now known as Babbitt metal. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, the patent does not cover the composition of the alloy; that was a serious oversight by Mr. Babbitt and his attorneys. Mr. Babbitt subsequently obtained patents for Babbitt metal in Great Britain and Russia.

The patent claim reads as follows (after being amended by an 1840 disclaimer to fix a conflict with an earlier patent): "The making of the boxes for axles and gudgeons, in the manner above set forth; that is to say, by the casting of hard pewter, or composition metal, of which tin is the basis, into said boxes, they being first prepared and provided with rims, or ledges, and coated with tin, as herein described and made known."

The patent was extended 7 years, and so ran until 17 July 1860.

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