Kingsbury, Inc. is celebrating a century of innovation throughout 2012, which began in 1912 with the first successful installation of Dr. Albert Kingsbury’s invention at a hydro generating station on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Central Pennsylvania. The utility, known then as Pennsylvania Power and Water, had been using rolling element bearings in the Holtwood Generating Station’s ten electric turbines in its early years, and they were wearing out within months under the 220 ton loads imposed on them.
How it started
The utility was on the verge of bankruptcy when, in desperation, the owners gave the young inventor a chance to test his fluid film bearing. So, one hundred years ago, the Kingsbury Thrust Bearing solved a serious limiting mechanical problem: friction. The answer came from solid engineering, and from that started a company.
Albert Kingsbury’s innate abilities, his family history, the tools and education available to him, and the chance to flourish in a century burgeoning with industrial creativity, all contributed to the iconic Kingsbury Thrust Bearing that today makes possible commerce and industries which were previously limited by friction.
Faster speeds, higher loads
Kingsbury’s invention enables power generation turbines and generators to achieve faster speeds and higher loads, and it enables compressors, pumps and other critical rotating equipment in oil & gas and petrochemical industries to meet their production goals. Today, Kingsbury bearings come in a wide range of advanced designs and configurations and are at work all over the world, quietly and reliably,
supporting thrust loads up to 2 million pounds.
The original Holtwood bearing is still operating today with all its original parts. When it was inspected at the 25th anniversary in 1937, there was so little wear that it was determined it still had 1,100 years of life remaining. That bearing type, the Equalizing Horizontal bearing (EQH) still plays a prominent role in Kingsbury’s product line today.
Also celebrating 100 years of Philadelphia manufacturing pride is Messinger Bearings Company, a producer of rolling element bearings started in 1912 and acquired by Kingsbury in 2004. Messinger manufactures bearings for harsh conditions, such as rock crushing and large applications such as giant tunnel boring machines. It is the only bearing manufacturer in the United States that can build up to 25 feet in diameter, using in-house machining and inductance heat treating equipment.