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Manufacturers Index - Cleveland Armature Works
Last Modified: Sep 15 2011 5:07PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Cleveland Armature Works was founded in about 1895 by the partnership of Alvin A. Pifer and James L. Mauldin. The company specialized in repairing electrical machinery, especially rewinding motor armatures. They expanded into the manufacture of motors and, especially, pedestal grinders and disc grinders. In 1919 the company incorporated as Cleveland Armature Works, Inc. The company went under in 1929 or '30.

Ad from 1923-06-28 issue of "American Machinist"

Information Sources

  • The 1907-01-16 issue of Printers' Ink had the following article about a book published by this firm:


    In some of the technico-popular magazines like the Technical World, of Chicago, has lately appeared the advertisement of a book entitled "Practical Electricity." As an electrical handbook it seems to me nothing out of the ordinary. But the volume is published and exploited by the Cleveland Armature Works, of Cleveland, a concern that is not a publishing house, but a repair works—the largest in America, it is said. "Practical Electricity" is advertised by this concern as an advertisement. More than 16,000 copies have been sold to date at $2 per copy, and with the book goes an offer to refund money if it is not found satisfactory. How the Cleveland Armature Works came to embark in the publishing business, and how this book has grown up almost of itself into a valuable form of advertising for the concern, is told in a letter from the president, James L. Mauldin:

    "On the first of July, 1895," says Mr. Mauldin, "Mr. Alvin A. Pifer and myself formed a copartnership and started business under the name of the Cleveland Armature Works. Our business was that of re-winding armatures and repairing electrical machinery. We secured as customers a great many isolated plants throughout the country, and especially manufacturing companies who were operating electrical machinery. In the latter cases, this machinery was naturally in charge of the engineer of the plant, a man who understood the steam engine thoroughly, but knew very little about the construction of a dynamo or motor. Consequently the armatures we re-wound were not, in all cases, handled as carefully as they should have been. So we decided to undertake to instruct these engineers in the art of handling delicate electrical machinery.

    "For this purpose we started a little periodical, the Armature Winder, which was sent out regularly for twenty-four months.

    Each issue contained a lecture on designing dynamos and motors, their care and operation. It took twenty-four issues to exhaust the subject to our satisfaction. Each month as this little paper was distributed the interest grew, and by the time the few last issues were going out the demand for back numbers had grown so greit that we were convinced our lectures had been sufficiently interesting to warrant publication in book form. In the final issue of the Armature Winder we advised readers of an intention to issue the talks as a book, and invited them to subscribe at $2 a copy. We received from this simple notice 450 orders, and the result encouraged us to such an extent that instead of simply reprinting the lectures we called to our assistance several technical men and got up a more complete work.

    "This volume, 'Practical Electricity,' has been a wonder as a money-maker alone, and as each copy bears our name on the cover, title-page, and has also four pages at the back pertaining to our business, giving prices for winding armatures and specifications of our own dynamos and motors, it has also been a wonder as an advertisement for our company. Thus a small beginning has run into a large development. In starting a business, that which in the beginning seems of minor importance may be found after a time to have become cne of the main pillars. It has been so with this book. We feel that it has not only advertised us widely, but that it has really made our business, and we are to-day the largest repair works in America."

    "Practical Electricity" has 472 pages, is bound flexibly in leather, and is six by four and a half inches in size, forming a convenient volume for the pocket. There are twenty chapters. The first starts in with a fundamental talk on electrical principles, written for laymen, and from that on the subject is developed to a point where the reader understands the designing, care and operation of motors and dynamos, and has a good theoretical and working

  • The 1910 book, A History of Cleveland, Ohio: Biographical, by Samuel Peter Orth, has the following biography:


    For the past fourteen years the abilities of Alvin A. Pifer have found congenial scope as vice president and manager of the Cleveland Armature Works. His parents were Christopher and Gertrude Pifer and his birth occurred in the western part of Pennsylvania, January 14, 1868. His father was born in Bavaria, Germany, and on coming to America settled in Pennsylvania, where he engaged in shoe manufacturing and farming until his death in 1897.

    After attending the common schools until his fifteenth year Alvin A. Pifer entered the Mount Union College of Pennsylvania, where he took a two years' course in the commercial department. This was followed by a year's experience as a school teacher in Clarion county, Pennsylvania, after which he came to Cleveland and was employed for a year as deliverer and clerk for Bradford & Company. For the next six years he filled the position of armature winder for the Brush Electric Company and spent another year in the same capacity with the Elliott-Crawford Company, later Elliott & Lincoln. In a short time he found himself in the higher capacity of manager with the Theodore Volman City Repairing Company. When this firm consolidated with the W. H. Elliott Electric Company in 1894, he was made treasurer, and upon its reconsolidation in 1896 with James L. Mauldin, when it became the Cleveland Armature Works, he was elected vice president and manager. ...

  • A History of Cleveland and Its Environsby Elroy McKendree Avery, 1918, has the following biography:

    James L. Mauldin came to Cleveland in 1889... He was born in Maryland, May 9, 1865. ... Coming to Cleveland in 1889 from Baltimore... After several years... Mr. Mauldin started a business for himself, organizing the Eastern Electrical Equipment Company for handling electrical supplies. ...

    However, his principal achievement in business affairs at Cleveland was the founding in 1895 of the Cleveland Armature Works. He has been with his partner, Alvin A. Pifer, guiding this institution from the beginning. It was started with a small plant, limited capital and a restricted output, but has grown to be the largest business of its kind in the United States. In fact it is the only concern in the line which has a national scope and draws its patronage from all sections of the country. In June, 1918, the business was incorporated as the Cleveland Armature Works, Incorporated, Mr. Mauldin becoming president, for the purpose of continuing its large volume of repairing electrical machinery and in addition to engage extensively in the manufacture of new electrical machinery and apparatus. In 1918 an addition was added to the original factory, which more than doubles its previous capacity.

    Mr. Mauldin was also one of the originators and promoters of a process for curing meat by electricity. The process has gained the unqualified recommendation of experts and competent judges, but it was a pioneer proposition, somewhat in advance of the times and has up to this date not been introduced on a successful financial basis. It is not too much to claim, however, that in the near future the electrical- process will supplant all former processes of curing meats and other products by the salt brine method. ...

  • From a 1919 edition of Metal Industry:
    Cleveland Armature Works, Inc., 4732 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, has changed its name to The Cleveland Armature Works, Inc. The company manufactures grinders, buffers, polishers and other electrical machinery and equipment.
  • From a 1929 edition of Automotive Industries:
    September 21, 1929 Cleveland Disk Grinder THE new "Duplimatic" automatic double disk grinder is announced by the Cleveland Armature Works, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. This machine has a separate motor of 7y2 hp. for Duplimatic disk grinder ...
  • From a 1944 edition of Steel:
    James L. Mauldin, 79, retired Cleveland businessman who was president of the old Cleveland Armature Works, died Dec. 15 in Santa Monica, Calif.