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US Patent: 8,203
Portable hydraulic press
Richard Dudgeon - New York, NY

USPTO Classifications:

Tool Categories:
industrial tools : hydraulic jacks
metalworking machines : metalworking machine mechanisms : hydraulic apparatus


E. Lyon - New York, NY
Dudgeon & Lyon - New York, NY
E. Lyon & Co. - New York, NY
Richard Dudgeon - New York, NY

Thomas Hinwood
Charles Edwards

Patent Dates:
Granted: Jul. 08, 1851

Patent Pictures:
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Wikipedia biography of Richard Dudgeon
"Vintage Machinery" entry for Watson-Stillman Co.
"Vintage Machinery" entry for Richard Dudgeon
This is the first portable hydraulic press. Its development was funded by drugstore owner Eliphalet Lyon, who manufactured this design under his own name, to considerable success. In 1859 Lyon finally assented to taking on Dudgeon as partner and they operated as Dudgeon & Lyon. That only lasted for a year or so until Dudgeon, unhappy with Lyon's unwillingness to share decision-making, sued to end the partnership. In the end, the partnership was dissolved and Lyon formed E. Lyon & Co. (which eventually became the Watson-Stillman Co.), and Dudgeon operated under his own name. Both were successful and the descendants of both business survive today (as of 2018).

This first design for a portable hydraulic jack used water as the fluid, although the patent recognizes that other fluids could also be used. One commonly used fluid was alcohol, often in the form of whiskey—those were the days before heavy taxation of liquor—and so these jacks were once known as "whiskey jacks". The reservoir was in the head at the top of the jack, which made it rather unbalanced, and the jack was not nearly as effective pushing horizontally as vertically. But it was still a useful and successful design that sold well. Dudgeon and others made numerous improvements in the next few decades.

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