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Manufacturers Index - Richard Dudgeon

Richard Dudgeon
New York, NY, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Metal Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jun 5 2019 5:02PM by Mark Stansbury
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From December 1880 Railway Purchasing Agent

In 1848 or '49, Richard Dudgeon left his employ as scientist/engineer at Allaire Iron Works and opened a small machine shop. Shortly afterward local druggist Eliphalet Lyon funded Dudgeon's development of a portable hydraulic jack, an idea inspired by Dudgeon's observations of the activity at a nearby stone yard. In 1851 Dudgeon finished developing his first viable jack and obtained a patent. The jack was introduced to the market by E. Lyon (later E. Lyon & Co. and then the Watson-Stillman Co. As detailed in that entry for Watson-Stillman, a partnership, Dudgeon & Lyon, was briefly formed but it quickly ended in acrimony and a lawsuit. The partners split and each went into business for himself. Under his own name, Richard Dudgeon began making his patent hydraulic jack along with a series of improved and specialized versions.

In 1855 or '56 Dudgeon built a "steam carriage" whose engine had two cylinders, 3 by 16 inches, that made a speed of 10 miles per hour. It was destroyed in the New York Crystal Palace fire in 1858. The invention was ahead of its time and Dudgeon was unable to find a single customer even though it was a notably successful very early motor vehicle. In 1866 Dudgeon tried again, building a new and very similar version of his original vehicle, which was pitched as a trackless rail passenger car, or what we would now call a bus. Again it failed to attract any commercial interest. The vehicle languished in storage for years but is now in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History.

An ad in the 1867 New York State Business Directory shows that Dudgeon manufactured jacks, punches, locomotives, boilers, shearing and punching machinery and direct acting steam hammers. An ad in the 1867 San Francisco Directory features "R. Dudgeon's patent hydraulic lifting jacks & boiler punches, for sale by Eneas Dudgeon" in San Francisco.

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