Progress of Sewell Cushion Wheels
In 1888, thirty years ago, in the early days of the bicycle, W. H. Sewell laid the foundation for what is now nationally known as the Sewell Cushion Wheel. This invention was brought to this country early in 1907, where the first set of Sewell wheels were manufactured and are running today. Mr. Sewell came direct to Detroit, which seemed to offer advantages, as the city had already gained the reputation of being the “Automobile Center of America.” Being a mechanical engineer, he knew that the working life of a fire truck, as well as the cost of operation and maintenance, depended on the care, attention and protection given it. Vibration and crystallization were factors to be contended with, as experience with the passenger car had proven that efficiency and economy are maintained only through the use of wheels or tires that protect the vital parts against damage from jars and shocks. The construction of the Sewell Cushion Wheel consists of a wheel within a wheel; the inner wheel is surrounded with a soft rubber cushion which is completely covered on both sides with rubber flanges that make the space con taining the rubber cushion absolutely proof against dirt, grease, water and light. The first three years of active business was a period of slow progress. In 1909, the business began to increase by leaps and bounds, but toward the end of the year, Mr. Sewell’s health failed, and his death came too soon for him to enjoy the success which his life’s work soon attained, but he laid the cornerstone around which a business in ten years has outgrown three different factories. The first factory was located in the rear of a blacksmith shop, and the equipment consisted of a single drill press, and a few small hand tools. The sales have more than doubled each year, until today Sewell wheels are manufactured in one of the best equipped and most modern factories in the country, of which a view is given on this page. The growth of the business necessitated the purchase in 1913 of the three-story factory shown at the right of the new building, and in 1917 the large five-story and basement reinforced concrete building was added, giving them a total of 50,000 square feet of floor space, every foot of which is utilized for the manufacture of Sewell wheels and their general offices. In the Spring of 1910 the Sewell Cushion Wheel Company was incororated with a capitalization of $60,000. n April, 1912, a new corporation was formed with a capital stock of $300,000. The company is under the management of Herbert J. Sewell, president and general manager; John H. Hammes, vicepresident and assistant manager; Ralph S. Moore, secretary: Walter T. Sewell, treasurer. Fred E. Boylan is sales manager, and James C. Sallee, advertising manager.