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Manufacturers Index - Multnomah Iron Works, R. M. Wade & Co.

Multnomah Iron Works, R. M. Wade & Co.
Portland, OR, U.S.A.
Company Website: http://www.rmwade.com/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jul 4 2018 10:05AM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

R. M. Wade & Co. was founded in 1865 by Robert Marshall Wade. For almost all of its existence—and the company is still in business—it was a supplier of farm equipment. Following Mr. Wade's death in 1915 the business was taken over by his son-in-law, Edward J. Newbegin, who introduced the company's first original product: a gasoline-engine-driven dragsaw. The saw was very successful and was sold all over the world.

The saw was first manufactured by "a company in Wisconsin". In 1927 they acquired the Multnomah Iron Works to take over manufacture. At least some examples of the dragsaw carry the Multnomah name. The saw was also sold under the Montgomery Ward name.

Following Newbegin's death in 1929, son Wade Newbegin became the president of R. M. Wade & Co., at a time when the business was in difficulty due to the mid-1920s downturn in the agricultural machine business followed by the economic collapse of 1929. Wade Newbegin got the company back into a profitable footing

Information Sources

  • 1907-12-19 Oregon Daily Journal mentions "the Multnomah Iron Works, headed by Edwin E. Thomas..."
  • 1930-10-27 The Oregonian, Obituaries section: "THOMAS – In this city, Oct. 25, Edwin F. Thomas, husband of Helen Thomas, father of Byron W. Thomas and brother of F. H. Thomas. Funeral services will be held Monday, Oct. 27, at 4 o'clock in the Colonial Drawing Room Chapel of Holman & Lutz, E. 14th and Sandy blvd. Interment Riverview cemetery."
  • From the January 1931 West Coast Lumberman.
    Lumber Industry Loses Valuable Friend
    By E. P. Armstrong

    Edwin E. Thomas, noted inventor, machine designer, and manufacturer, passed away at his home at 1233 Williams Avenue, Portland, Ore., October 25th, at the age of 76 years. He is survived by his widow and son.

    Mr. Thomas was a noted factor in the development of lumber production. One or more machines embodying features which were originated by Mr. Thomas are in use today in almost every large saw mill in this country. Over one-hundred useful patents were issued to Mr. Thomas during his lifetime.

    Edwin Thomas was born in the state of New York on June 23, 1854. Early in his career he became connected as superintendent with saw mills of the larger type in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the most ideal lumber town in the world in its day. While there, Mr. Thomas met Miss Nellie Cowan and they were married in 1893.

    He was employed mostly as a machine designer by many prominent builders of heavy saw mill machinery. He was with Wickes Brothers, Saginaw, Michigan.

    The Link-Belt Company were among the first to build devices of his design, and which are still in use,...

    ...The M. Garland Company, Bay City, Michigan and the Union Iron Works of Minneapolis, Minnesota both built a number of Mr. Thomas' designs of machines, some of which went into the large famous old mill of the C. A. Smith Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Edwin E. Thomas came to Portland, Oregon in 1904 and designed a number of machines for the Willamette Iron & Steel Works afterwards going into business for himself by buying the Multnomah Iron Works, which he later sold to a Mr. Tenny. Later Mr. Thomas founded the Thomas Engineering Works and brought out for the lumber industry the "Bear-Cat" Portable Drag Saw, which was the first practical one-man outfit in drag saws ever offered the trade and which were made and used in large quantities.

    Later on Mr. Thomas designed a Gang Saw Machine for the Sumner Iron Works, Everett, Washington, but as they decided not to go into that field of saw mill machinery at that time it was not built. Mr. Thomas was also employed at one time by the Clark Brothers Company, Olean, New York.

    Among the machines designed for saw mill use were several types of log sawing band mills, both single and double cutter, several gang mills, steam log turners, loaders and conveyors.

    During the later years of his life Mr. Thomas devoted much of his time to lines which were foreign to the lumber industry and which inventions he sold outright. His consists partly of a number of meritorious inventions, some of which are developed and patented and some of which are designed but not developed, and as yet un-patented. These consist of three different types of hand fire extinguishers which are very meritorious devices; a low built saw mill steam log turner for use where small space is available beneath the carriage and log deck; unique water nozzle for all types of water hoses which when left to itself holds itself in an upright position and will not thrash around and injure people, as in the case of a heavy pressure fire hose when it becomes free from the hands of the operator. This device is of particular advantage to fire departments or wherever heavy high pressure hoses are used.

    Mr. Thomas has invented a most unique power plant for producing electricity, adapted especially for farm and home use, which requires no expense to operate and having extremely few parts requires only a slight lubrication which makes it a very economical outfit to operate and would appeal to anyone requiring or having use for a small individual outfit of this kind.

    He has various types of lock nuts, socket wrenches, etc., which he has developed, also a unique portable gasoline drag saw which weighs but 85 pounds. Mr. Thomas has also developed two types of oil meters, one for measuring oil and one weighing the oil, especially of value where oil is transferred in large quantities as in loading oil tankers, transferring from the tanker, etc. He also has a...

    ...Manufacturers in the market for devices of these natures would find these machines of immediate interest to them if they knew of them. It is claimed for Mr. Thomas that his inventions always worked as he intended them to and then when he had once produced and developed machine or device and pronounced it finished it never turned out to be a failure. A record of this kind out of more than one hundred different devices and machines speaks well for the ability of the man behind them.

    Mr. Thomas will always be held in grateful remembrance and admiration by the writer as being a man of sterling qualities and pleasing personality. We recall several years ago when this department printed a series of articles of the Modern Reciprocating Gang Saw Mill, that directly after appearance of the first article Mr. Thomas paid us a visit and made us a present of blueprints and setting-up plans for heavy gang mills which he had arranged and used in his work of designing and installing such machines. He also gave us a sample of gang saw from a mill at Moline, Illinois on the Mississippi River and gave us facts about its operation, all of which were put to good use in the gang saw article.

    In all major lines of industry with their present wonderful advancement and performance there are a very few men silently behind the scenes who are creating the ideas. They are the men who are giving us much of what we have today and it is with this class of men we are honored to place our old friend Mr. Edwin E. Thomas.

  • The connection between R. M Wade & Co. and Multnomah Iron Works is from an extinct web page of reminiscences by James Edwin DeMoss, who worked at Multnomah Iron Works during World War II.
  • Thanks to BobRR and Michael Schlag for first bringing R. M. Wade and Multnomah Iron Works, respectively, to our attention in a discussion on SmokStak.com.
  • A history page on the R. M. Wade & Co. web site provided the historical information.