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Club ProjectsFrickCompanyMachinery

Frick's 150 Years
of History



On October 4, 2003 Frick Company held their
150th Anniversary celebration in Waynesboro, PA.



Frick hauled Mickey & Brenda Stant's 1927 8-1/2x10 Frick traction engine #30519 (left) and Eric & Pat Harvey's 1899 7-1/2x9 Frick traction engine #7774 (below) to Waynesboro for the occasion. Several members of our organization made the trip to Waynesboro to tour the Frick plant and help Frick Company mark this milestone.

This celebration was two days short of the 76th anniversary of the Stant's engine leaving the factory for the first time - October 6, 1927, #30519 was the last traction engine built by Frick.


#7774 at Waynesboro



The building in the background is the fabrication shop which was built in1929. Even though it is the oldest building in use at the plant today, it is equipped with modern welding and fabrication equipment.

Among our members attending were: Mickey, Brenda & Susan Stant, Eric, Pat & Morgan Harvey, Mr. & Mrs. Bryant Young and son Luke, Mildred Layton, Trisha & Caroline Todd, George L. Jackson, Richard Engle, Timmy & Scott Engle, John DeBoskey, R.T. Legard and John Leck.



Power House Engineer


One of the highlights of the plant tour was the power house which was built in 1904. Here, Stan Haas is posing just as he remembers the power house engineers of years ago. Stan was instrumental in the Frick Company display at our show in August. Many pieces of memorabilia  on display at our show were from his collection. He has also been responsible for keeping the power house intact and available for viewing. See bottom  of this page for photos of the equipment inside the power house.







After the 1929 creation of Minneapolis-Moline Co., Frick Co. was their eastern distributor. The Franz Family of Waynesboro brought their Minneapolis-Moline tractor and the only thresher still in existence that never left Waynesboro. The Franz family bought it new and it is still in working order.


Thresher & Engine



The absence of wheat didn't stop the thresher demonstration. The side panels were removed so visitors could view the inside workings of the thresher (right). In the background are brand new refrigeration compressors waiting for shipment around the world (the white and blue objects visible under the belt between the engine and thresher). A scene of old vs. new.






Portable Frick



Rough & Tumble's  1914  7-1/2x9 portable engine greeting guests at the front gate of the Frick plant. This engine was pictured in Frick Company's 100 Year History which was published in 1953.








The Dedication ceremonies were held at the front entrance of the main office.

Note the  Frick water tower in the background. It stands as the town beacon, a landmark of its own. According to Ed Schinner, president York International North America (Frick), "George Frick believed in never over-representing the product and always giving full measure or more than promised. That basic principle and living by the golden rule have been a way of life at Frick for 150 years."





A plaque was presented by the Frick Federal Credit Union. It read: "We, the Frick Family, dedicate this memorial to George Frick and the generations of employees before us, whose entrepreneurial spirit transformed an idea for a better steam engine into an organization that a century and a half later is a leading producer of machinery to a global community. Our longevity is a testament to our predecessors who embraced the principle that the Frick name proudly embodies the passion, dedication and entrepremeurial spirit of its skillful employees along with the unwavering loyalty of its customers. From its humble beginnings, the history of our Company has paralleled the fortunes of our great Nation, while contributing to its industrial development by supplying machinery to drive its commerce and a commitment to the community to make a better life for all its citizens. As we pay homage to those who came before us, we commit to future generations to build on Frick's founding principle of  "providing products and services which will yield the best possible results at a price consistent with permanence and durability." May God continue to bless this great Company."

Fire Brigade


One of George Frick's biggest fears was fire. He had seen the Geiser plant across the street from the Brick Shops and other factories burn to the ground and had feared the same would happen to him. This is some of the fire equipment from George's day. Today, the little red buildings containing fire equipment, are scattered around the grounds.




Sawmill Building



The old sawmill and thresher buildings remain, the sawmill building is the nearest one on the right and the thresher building is the next one. The boiler and power house is on the left by the famous Frick water tower.





The inside of the old thresher building showing the steel framework and dust collection system. The sawdust was blown to the power house boilers and was burnt in No. 5 and No. 6 boilers as a means of waste disposal and saving on fuel expenses. Photography of the inside of the plant was forbidden due to ongoing technological advances, but since the thresher building is used primariily for storage, these photos  were sneaked in.






The elevator of the old thresher building (left), constructed of steel. All of the old brick buildings were constructed with steel framework. The modern buildings are all steel.

Long gone are the days of the dirty, dingy boiler shops. Today Frick's ultramodern manufacturing facility is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. From its welding, fabrication and machine shops to its brand new climate controlled "clean room" where the screw compressors are assembled, Frick is still a world leader. The plant is busy fulfilling orders from the refrigeration compressors for the local grocer to 1600 hp equipment bound for Saudi offshore oil platforms. Frick employees are not only proud that their products carry the "Frick" name but also  "Made in the USA". One fabrication shop employee summed it up - handwritten with chalk on a partially rolled piece of steel, still in the roller, was
"Frick: 150 Years and Still Rolling."






George Frick and His Company

Frick Company plant from a 1914 catalog.

       George Frick was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on a 500 acre farm his great-great grandfather had purchased in 1733 from the Penns. When he was born in 1826 wheat was still cut with cradles and threshed with flails just as it had been for thousands of years. An engineering genius, George Frick set out to find ways to ease the labor of men and animals with power machinery. He became a pioneer builder of steam engines, grain threshers, sawmills and refrigeration equipment.

       When George was nine years old his family moved to their new homestead near Quincy, Pa. His father, Abraham, operated a water powered up and down sawmill driven by a water wheel. At 17, George was apprenticed to Martin Kendig, a millwright living in Ringgold, Md., a few miles south of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

       In 1848 George began manufacturing grain cleaners and horsepowers. In December 1849 he married Frederica Opennlander. The next fall built his first steam engine. It was a 2 hp stationary engine constructed with his own patterns and built for his own use. In 1851 or '52 he built a shop on their farm in Ringgold. In 1853 he established Frick Co. building horsepowers and steam engines to power the many mills that operated in the area as well as separators under the patents of Peter Geiser. He was a firm believer in advertising and as his reputation grew, people came from other counties and states and his business prospered. ShopPhoto

        In 1857 he rented a larger shop about a mile north of Ringgold. Outgrowing this, he built a 2-story shop measuring 100'x50' at Waynesboro, Pa. Adjoining his new shop, he built a large house in which his family and apprentices lived.

(Right: Old shop photo of engine. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       During the Gettysburg campaign of the Civil War, the Confederates occupied Waynesboro under General Lee. In dire need of shoes and harness, they took all the leather belting from the Frick shop which was closed for a month. Stories go that after the war the south was in such need of sawmills, they replaced the belting. Sawmills were shipped to the south on railroads. Customers had no cash and paid for the mills by placing cants of lumber along the tracks. Frick sent railcars down to pick up the lumber as it was needed at their plants to build more sawmills and threshers.

       After the war, "the Brick Shops" were built across the street and were occupied from 1869-1881. They included a foundry, boiler shop, smith shop, forge shop, pattern department and machine shop. The Geiser Mfg. Co. occupied the previous Frick shops and grew into one of Waynesboro's largest industries. The thresher business was sold to Geiser and Frick concentrated on steam engines and boilers. It was a good arrangement for both companies until Geiser employed the services of the Landis Brothers and began building the Landis Peerless steam engine. At that time, Frick re-entered the thresher business.

A 6x9 6 hp Frick Eclipse traction engine hauling seven Eclipse portable engines and an Eclipse thresher stop to pose for a picture in the Waynesboro town square. They were on their way to the train station which was about one mile away from the factory. The total weight of this was 15 tons not counting the traction engine. Photo was taken approximately 1880. Courtesy of Frick Company.

       The rapidly expanding business was always in need of capital, so in 1870 Christian Frick Bowman, a second cousin of George, became a partner and the firm became Frick & Bowman. A year later Bowman contracted typhoid fever and died. George and his whole family were also stricken. George's oldest son, Frank, also died from the disease.

1884 Frick        George's business was increasing more rapidly than ever, therefore he was seeking more capital. After Mr. Bowman's death offers of help came from Chambersburg, Pa, Greencastle, Pa. and Hagerstown, Md. At this time there were no railroads in Waynesboro. Most of the materials shipped to the Frick plant had to be hauled by horses and wagons from the nearest railroad station at Greencastle. The manufactured products also had to be hauled the nine miles to be shipped by rail. So the towns with railroads were very inviting.

(Right: 1884 factory photo of Frick Company's "Eclipse" traction engine. Courtesy of Frick Company.)

       Facing the possible loss of the Frick Co., thirteen enterprising men of Waynesboro including George's son, A.O. Frick, joined forces to supply capital to keep the company in Waynesboro and see it through the panic of 1873. These thirteen men who formed the partnership became known as "the Lucky 13" because they all became very prosperous and leading citizens of the community. New members were admitted into the partnership from time to time but George Frick continued to serve as general superintendent, manager and treasurer. 1877PortableEngine

        In the mid 1870's Frick started building its own portable circular sawmills which replaced the up and down mills.

        In 1876, the Centennial Exposition was held in Philadelphia, Pa. The Frick farm engine which carried the "Eclipse" trademark for the first time was presented with the highest award in its class. (Engine at left is from an 1877 Scientific American article on the company. Courtesy Frick Company.) In 1880 a Frick engine triumphed over 25 others at the great exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Frick steam engines received numerous awards at exhibitions and fairs all over the world.

       Unable to expand at its current location, new shops were erected on Main Street in Waynesboro adjacent to the railroad tracks. The Frick works has remained at the same location from 1881 to today. In 1883 the "Scientific American" printed an article on the new plant which was "the marvel of its time."


       Frick steam traction engines opened a great new era in power farming. Frick Co. had a network of loyal dealers and branch houses all over the country. In 1882 forty-two Frick engines were shipped in one day to Thomas Camp near Covington, Ga. who was still selling Frick machinery in the 1920s.

       In 1883 Edgar Penney came to Waynesboro to design a line of Corliss steam engines to supplement the Frick line of portable, stationary and traction engines. Frick Corliss engines were built in sizes up to 3000 hp.

(An example of a large Frick Corliss engine is at right. It is being set up in the shop, note the half flywheel. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       In 1885 the Frick Eclipse traction engine "Daniel Boone" was shown throughout the circuit of state and county fairs. It won 39 first premiums that year. "The reason it did not take more is because it could not be shown in more than one  place at a time. Such a stir and shaking of dry bones all along the line in the traction engine business was never seen before or since," according to a 1888 Frick catalog.

1880sThresher(Pictured at left is a thresher of 1880's vintage. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       By that time there were about 150 partners. Therefore the partnership was converted into a corporation. The name was changed from Frick & Company to Frick Company. One million dollars in stock was authorized. The move was so popular there were several hundred stockholders with quite a large amount being bought by employees. Three years later George Frick retired. His motto was "Be sure you are right, then do it quickly!"








(Left: An 1880s vintage traction engine. Above: Same type engine with a steam lift plow. Long before modern hydraulics were even imagined, steam was used to lift plows. Photos courtesy of Frick Company.)



A.O.Frick        George Frick's two sons, A.O. and Ezra worked their way up in the company. In their younger days they took turns rising at 3:30 a.m. to feed the horses, fire the boilers and have the teams harnessed for their daily trips to the railroad. Both men served long apprenticeships in the shops. In 1883 A.O. made the drawings for Frick's first complete refrigerating machine. The success of this compressor brought in so many inquiries Frick decided to enter the refrigeration equipment business. Their ammonia compressors were powered by the new Corliss engine. These early machines set the future of the Frick Company. Long after steam engines, threshers and sawmills were discontinued, Frick refrigeration systems kept setting the standards of the industry. A.O. served as president of the company from 1904 to 1924, Ezra from 1924 until his death in 1942 at the age of 86. (A.O. Frick is pictured at right. According to the calendar on the wall this photo was taken the first week of May 1900. Courtesy of Frick Company.)

       In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Frick continued to improve their products. Engines, threshers and sawmills were enlarged and improved.

LargeRefrigerationCompressor        In 1896 Frick Co. built the largest refrigerating machine in the world for Armour Co. It took an entire train of 15 cars to haul it to their plant in Kansas City. The machine had ammonia cylinders 27"x48" and were driven by a tandem compound Corliss engine. This compressor was in continuous day and night operation for 35 years.

       Public demand for artificial ice increased and Frick continued to improve their machines to make smaller self-contained units run by electricity. In 1910 Frick added the horizontal double-acting compressor. World War I opened up a whole new market for Frick machinery in hospitals, food and powder plants and ships. Automatic controls, introduced in 1922 made the household electric refrigerator possible. (An example of a large refrigeration compressor is shown at left. Note the men standing on the platform and in front. Courtesy of Frick Company.)

       While Frick was supplying the world with refrigeration and ice making equipment, they were also supplying the world with farm and sawmill equipment. Frick steam engines appeared on all fronts in World War I and the Frick equipment at home was working hard to supply food for the troops. Following WWI Frick expanded its works with a new foundry, pattern shop, wood shop and modern departments for crankshafts, automatic machines, grinding and tool making. Sales and service organizations were broadened both in this country and overseas in order to handle the growing demand for Frick equipment worldwide. Frick steam engines were shipped all over the world with 27 being shipped to Tasmania alone. Frick had branch houses in Australia and Cuba. Frick refrigeration equipment was in use in almost every country in the world.



       (At right is a Frick engine suppplying power and steam to a laundry unit somewhere in France in WWI. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       In 1918 Frick developed a gas tractor that claimed to be as good or better than others of its time. Frick continued offering gas tractors along with steam engines, threshers, balers, spreaders, silo fillers, feed mills and later peanut pickers. They provided customers with one of the best rounded lines of  power farming and sawmill machinery offered.




       (A Frick gas tractor plowing with an Oliver plow. From a 1919 Frick Tractor Catalog.)

       Frick gas tractors were discontinued in 1927 and Frick concentrated on their distributorship of tractors and power units for Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. to power the Frick line of equipment. Frick offered The Minneapolis 17-30 Type A and B, 30-50s and 27-42 tractors and power units. In 1929 when Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. became part of the Minneapolis-Moline merger Frick offered the leftover Minneapolis tractors along with the Twin City and MM lines. Frick became Minneapolis-Moline's eastern distributor.



Rig in MarylandTractionEngine






( Above: A threshing rig poses along the road in
Maryland about 1915. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

(At right: A Frick "waterbelly" traction engine outside the Frick shops.  They were so called because the boiler went all the way around the firebox, with water inside the boiler below the grates. The only access to the rear flue sheet to work on a tube was through the firebox door. Models with a removable ashpan and grates made it easier to access the firebox. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

CornishEngine(At left: A Frick center crank engine with slab burning return flue boiler. The firebox ran the length of the boiler so slabwood from sawmills could be burned without cutting up. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       The sales of steam engines reached their peak in the early 1900's with an average of 700 engines sold annually in the first decade of the 20th century. With the sale of all engines declining and Frick's refrigeration business increasing, traction engine sales ended in 1927. During the depression years portable steam engine shipments were in the single digits with only two being shipped in both 1931 and 1932.  The Frick steam engine business came to an end with the shipments of the last two portable engines in 1945 - an 7 1/2x10 and a 10x12. This put an end to the steam engine shipments forever. In the 70 year period from 1876 to 1945 Frick Co. sold 12,944 portable and small stationary engines and 4,572 traction engines. According to the Frick Engine Club approximately 2800 large stationary engines were built up until 1913 but they have no records of their production after that date.

MachineShop(Left: An early photo of the Frick Machine Shop. Note all the pulleys and hoists, today it would be an OSHA nightmare. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       Frick's unit air conditioners were introduced in 1938 which opened up air conditioning to many buildings and offices. Ironically Frick Co. cooled the world but their own offices did not have air conditioning until 1960 when their offices were remodeled.

       Frick continued building threshers and peanut pickers, but their mainstay was sawmill machinery and refrigeration equipment.



StationaryEngine        During World War II heavy refrigerating machines and sawmills were considered unnecessary to the defense effort and the shops were filled with defense work. The succeeding years saw a race to make up for lost time. Ice rinks were becoming more and more popular with approximately half of the country's rinks using Frick equipment. Demand for sawmills was so great that a large new sawmill shop was built soon after the war ended, capable of turning out over a thousand Frick sawmills a year.

(At right: A Frick stationary engine. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)

       Frick peanut combines were placed in production in 1952 and threshers were built up into the 1960s for the Peace Corps and local customers. Frick built a line of farm wagons in the 1960s along with distributing Ann Arbor balers, Rosenthal husker-shredders, Fox cutters and Bearcat grinders. In 1973 Frick Company sold the sawmill business. The introduction of the rotary screw compressor has kept Frick at the top of the refrigeration industry with offices in countries around the world.

        Frick equipment has been notorious for longevity. Many steam engines were in operation for 50, 60 or 70 years. An 1877 7x10 portable was used for 72 years before it was returned to the Frick plant for refurbishing before becoming part of the Smithsonian collection. An 11x16 portable built in 1881 was in use 70 years. An 1897 10x12 engine operated a stone pulverizer until 1951. Many refrigeration compressors were in service for 40, 50 or even 60 years.



       Not only was Frick's equipment known for its longevity but Frick employees were as well. In 1960 the average continuous employment was 17 years. Many people worked for Frick their whole lives with succeeding generations following in their footsteps. It was not uncommon for employees to work there 40 or 50 years or more but no one could match Milt Garland who worked for Frick for 80 years. He started his career with Frick in 1920 and worked until four weeks before his death in 2000. At the age of 104 he was still working 20 hours a week coordinating overseas patents and giving training classes. Known as "Mr. Refrigeration", he held 41 patents all in connection with industrial refrigeration. In 1998 he received the "Oldest Worker in America" award from President Clinton. In January 2003 Mr. Garland was inducted into the American Society of Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning Engineers Hall of Fame.

(Left: Factory photo of  Frick compressor and engine all in one unit. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)




       Frick Company was bought by York International in 1987. Today their plant is still located at the Main Street location in Waynesboro, Pa. The Frick line of industrial refrigeration equipment is still a world leader as well as their line of steam engines popular among collectors.



(Right: Frick No. 00 circular sawmill powered by a Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company 30 hp gas portable power unit operating in Georgia. Photo from a 1928 Frick sawmill catalog from the collection of Brenda Stant.)





(Left: Frick factory photo of an upright engine and boiler. Courtesy of Frick Company.)









(Above: Moving Day! This 8 1/2x10 16 hp Frick Eclipse traction engine is  pulling a 30x22 building which weighs 30 tons. Photo courtesy of Frick Company.)



The above information was compiled by Brenda Stant from various Frick catalogs, 75 year and 100 years histories of the company, Frick Engine Club newsletters and other various articles. Special thanks goes to Stan Haas at Frick for all his help.


       In 1904 Frick Co. built a power house  (left) which they used until 1966. The machines in the engine room provided the DC electrical power to run the factory, compressed air for operating tools and pressure testing. In winter the exhaust was used to heat the plant. Sawdust and shavings from the sawmill and thresher works were blown through overhead pipes to two of the boilers and burned. The other three boilers burned one carload of coal every 24 hours, all hand shoveled by three firemen and two coal passers. Each boiler was rated at 150 hp. It required four boilers to run the power house. The coal fired boilers were shut down in 1961 after almost 60 years of service. They were replaced with two natural gas fired boilers, the last of which was shut down in 2002. Among the engines are a 1902 Frick simple Corliss engine with 16" bore and 30" piston stroke with a 16' flywheel as well as a 1903 Frick 22x40 cross-compound Corliss with 18' flywheel weighing 24 tons. The marble switchboard (below right) is an open panel Edison type. The power house is now a museum at the company and open by appointment.


Stationary Engine

Electric Panel








Above left: A small stationary Frick engine in the power house. Above right: Switchboard panel with open-type knife switches is an Edison DC type. Below left: Frick simple Corliss engine, it has a 16" cylinder and 30" piston stroke. The engine operated at 100 rpm using 90 lbs. of steam pressure with no superheat. The engine was installed in 1902 and cost $1,269. The belt wheel is 16' in diameter with an 18 1/2" face. This engine is belted to a Crocker Wheeler electric generator which cost $977 in 1903, it produced 100 Kw at 700 rpm and 230 volts. Past this engine you can see a vertical steam engine and electric generating unit. This was used at nights and on weekends for lighting when the plant was not operating. Its cost in 1913 was $1,050. Below right: A cross-compound Corliss engine built by Frick in 1903 at a cost of $3,870. The size of the engine is 22"x40"x42". The high pressure cylinder has a 22" bore and 42" stroke and the low pressure has a 40" bore and 42" stroke. The flywheel is 18' in diameter and weighs 24 tons. The direct connected electric generator was manufactured by Crocker Wheeler, Inc. to produce 368 kw at 90 rpm and 230 volts DC. The cost of the engine in 1903 was $5,780. There is also an Ingersol-Rand air compressor of the "H" frame type having two steam cylinders on one side and  two air compressor cylinders on the other. In 1907 it cost $4,680. The large pieces were put in place and the power house built over them. Photos courtesy of Mike Rohrer.

Corliss EngineGenerator

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