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Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co

Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co. (HOR) was formed in 1882, according to a 100th anniversary booklet, General Machinery Corporation, Hamilton, Ohio, 1845-1945. "In 1876, as the result of a most severe business depression, Owens, Lane & Dyer went into the hands of a receiver, Clark Lane," the book said.

"Owens, Ebert & Dyer -- later Owens, Lane & Dyer -- made nearly everything in metal -- from waffle irons to papermaking machinery, stationary steam engines, road traction engines, horse and steam driven threshing machines, sawmills, etc.," said the GMC history. "In 1882 this firm was reorganized by the original George A. Rentschler and his associates, J. C. Hooven, Henry C. Sohn, George H. Helvey and James E. Campbell (who later was governor of Ohio) and became the Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co." "In 1883 the first of a long line of Corliss steam engines rolled out of the door -- and the number totaled over 700 by the turn of the century," the GMC history continued. "The present shop with its very high bays was completed in 1902." "In 1928 the present George Adam Rentschler merged the Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co. -- of which he was the present -- and the Niles Tool Works into the General Machinery Corp.," the booklet said. "Job E. Owens, born in 1819 in Morganshire, Wales, arrived at Columbus, Ohio, in 1824 and came to Hamilton in 1845 -- the end of a long depression and the beginning of 10 years of prosperity. Hamilton was planning to build a new jail and Owens bid on the iron and steel portions of the building and was awarded the contract in February 1846. The site chosen by Owens for his plant was adjacent to, but west of the hydraulic," according to the GMC history. "George A. Rentschler, a young man of about 30 years of age, had come to Hamilton -- after having served his trade in the foundry business in Newark, N. J. -- by way of Indianapolis and Cincinnati, where he had been superintendent of foundry operations considered large for those times. He had come to Hamilton determined to go into business for himself, and had established his own foundry business. . . . Together with his partner in the foundry business, Henry C. Sohn, they brought about them J. C. Hooven, an outstanding young commercial man, and George H. Helvey. "Hooven had been marketing his own Monarch Portable Engine and Monarch Thresher by subcontracting the work. His boilers were built in one shop, his engines in another, and his thresher parts were farmed out. "George H. Helvey who had, as a young boy, served his apprenticeship as a machinist in Hamilton. To gain experience, he became a journeyman machinist working in various parts of the country. Finally his travels brought him back to Hamilton about 1873. He was ambitious and worked in the shops by day and studied at nights, and soon George Helvey had developed into an outstanding mechanical engineer," said the GMC history. 

The 1891 book, The Centennial of the City of Hamilton, Ohio, identified Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Co. as the Hamilton Corliss Engine Works. It said "in November 1882 it was decided to enter upon the manufacture of the highest class of stationary steam engines known to the trade, and the engine of the Corliss type was adopted as being far ahead of anything in this line yet devised in steam engineering. The first engine, with a cylinder 18 inches in diameter and 42-inch stroke, was started early in 1883 and produced results as to economy of fuel and close regulation of speed which were up to the highest standard. The business of building these engines was then, and has been since, continuously pushed with the utmost vigor with such success as to crowd out of the shop every other line of manufacture. Nothing has since been built in the shop but these high class Corliss engines, and not only this but the shop has been many times enlarged and its facilities greatly increased in every way, and for years the shop has run 24 hours per day. The extent of the business may be judged from the fact that 750 of these magnificent engines have been constructed, varying in size from single cylinder 35 horsepower engines having cylinders 10 by 24 inches, to massive 2,000 horsepower engines having compound cylinders and running as condensing engines. These engines will be found installed in all of the important power centers of the country, running factories and mills and furnishing the motive power for cable railways, and electric railways, and electric light stations."

George Henry Corliss (1817-1888), a mechanical engineer working in Providence, R. I., improved the steam engine and patented the fuel efficient Corliss steam engine in 1849. (See General Machinery Corp., Niles Tool Works, Rentschler House and Walden Ponds for additional details.)

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