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Manufacturers Index - Sumner Iron Works

Sumner Iron Works
Everett, WA, U.S.A.
Company Website: https://acrowood.com/about-us/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Sep 1 2017 12:48PM by joelr4
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      This company was in business from 1892 until 1963 when they were acquired by Black Clawson, a world leader in pulp and paper machinery. They specialized in machinery for sawmills: band sawmills, gang ripsaws, shingle saws, box-making machinery, etc.

     In 1984, the company’s 92nd year, it was sold to Mr. Farhang Javid, who renamed it, the Acrowood Corp.

     From roughly 1892 to 1946, Sumner made four types of shingle and shake machines. The Standard cut 16-inch shingles. The High-Standard cut both 16- and 18-inch shingles. The Gold Medal cut 16-, 18-, and 24-inch shingles and shakes. Finally, they made a very few Baby Gold Medal machines that were more portable than the Gold Medal machines but could still cut 16-, 18-, and 24-inch shingles.

The following is a short history of the company, submitted by John A. Taubeneck:

This little known builder of steam donkeys was founded in 1892 by Frank and Tom Sumner at the new city of Everett, WA.Located on the east bank of the SnohomishRiver the plant was served by the Everett & Monte Cristo Ry as well as road and water transportation.The first mention of donkey production is late in 1897 when a letter was sent to Mr. A. W. Davison of Woolley, WA informing him that he was behind on the payments for his logging engine.It is likely that this machine is the one shown in an 1897 photo reproduced on page 66 of Kinsey Photographer by Bohn and Petschek.

The most distinguishing feature of the Sumner roaders was their horizontal return flue boilers.These boilers were built by the Oil City Boiler Works of Oil City, PA.While this type of boiler was more fuel efficient and stable than a vertical boiler they were never popular for donkey use because they made the machine longer, more expensive, and harder to maintain.For reasons unknown these donkeys were called the MILLER’S GIANT.The yarders were typical one and two drum machines of the time with cast iron frames and vertical boilers.All three models had the words SUMNER IRON WORKS cast in large letters across the front of the frame.

The mainstream of Sumner’s production was saw and shingle mill machinery.Marine work and repairs for local industry also helped fill the order books.Incomplete records list eight donkeys built in 1906 and one in 1908.In 1910 Sumner signed an agreement with Washington Iron Works to the effect that Sumner would get out of the logging machinery business and Washington would get out of the mill machinery business.This would indicate that both companies were willing to give up their unprofitable lines.

A plant fire in 1913 prompted a move across the river to Lowell where a successor company exists today.While almost no company records survive there is a large collection of photographs of Sumner products at the Everett Public Library.

Information Sources

  • Correspondent John Rinkes, who has a shake and shingle mill in Oregon, provided the information on the models of Sumner shingle mills. Anyone interested in Sumner or other shake and shingle machines can eamil John: cbeetle(at)pacifier.com, or call him at (503)755-2778.
  • Listed in 1955-56 Hitchcock's Wood Worker's Digest Directory as a maker of band resaws
  • A web site shows a vertical band resaw with wheels 10' in diameter. Another site lists this company as a supplier for the U.S. Maritime Commission during WWII
  • Sumner Iron Works was mentioned in a 1919 issue of The Waterways Journal.
  • History of the company submitted by John A. Taubeneck from his personal research.