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Full text of "History of the J.P. Friez & Sons Co."

I 



HISTORY OF THE J.P.FRIEZ & SOUS 00, 



A Thesis Prepared for the 
PHI MIT HONORARY ENGIITERING FRATERNITY 



by 
George R. Phipps 



May 1929. 



HISTORY OF THE J. P. FRIEZ & SONS CO. 

In 1876 the Ottmar Mergenthaler Co., manufacturers 
of linotype machines and precision instruments of all kinds, 
moved their offices and factories from Baltimore, Maryland, 
to New York City, New York, and specialized in the manufac- 
ture of linotype machines. 

Julian P. Friez, then superintendent of their fac- 
tories, took over the scientific and precision instrument 
branch of their work. He established his own factory on 
the corner of German and Grant Streets, Baltimore, Maryland, 
under the name of Julian P. Friez & Sons, Manufacturers of 
Weather Instruments, 

The Friez Co., from the first, has been unique in 
that, unlike the other factories of today which employ auto- 
matic machines and strive for mass production, they still do 
all of their work by hand. They believe, (and the reputa- 
tion that their instruments bear seems to carry out their 
supposition) that hand made instruments are more accurate 
than those which are machine made. They receive all their 
materials in the raw state. They turn down the rough 
castings on hand lathes, make and. fit all the small intricate 
parts, calibrate and check all instruments and turn out 
their finished product, all operations having been performed 
by hand. 




THE BELFORT METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATORY 
of JULIEN P. FRIEZ AND SONS 

Northwest Corner Baltimore Street & Central Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland, U. S. A. 



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One of the first and most widely known of the 
Friez weather instruments is the Cup Anemometer for the 
direct reading of the wind movement and the electrical 
transmission of such to the Velocity Recorder giving 
directly the miles per hour of the wind. 

(Fig. I) 
This instrument, as manuf acturered by J, P. Friez, was 
first used in the U. S. Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C. 
in December, 1885, and now can be found not only in the 
weather bureaus all over the United States, but wherever 
people are interested in the velocity and direction of the 
wind. These instruments are put out today in much the 
same way as they were first designed, the only change 
having been made at the request of the Weather Bureau at 
Washington, which was the change from a 4 cup anemometer 
to a 3 cup anemometer in 1926. 

The photographic Sunshine Duration Transmitter 
and Recorder is another set of their old standard instru- 
ments. This instrument was used in the Weather Bureau 
at Washington as early as the year- 1896. 

(Fig. II) 
By 1900 it was electrified. Now essentially it consists 
of a differential air thermometer enclosed within an 
evacuated glass shath with platinum wire electrods fused 
into the column at the center. When connected electrically 



- o - 



to a Sunshine Recorder 

(Pig. Ill) 
the duration of the sunshine is recorded at any convenient 
location. The chart cylinder makes one complete revolution 
everj six hours. 

The Thermograph 

(Fig. IV) 
an instrument graphically giving a continuous record of all 
the variations in atmospheric temperature for extended 
periods of time, is installed in almost every Government 
meteorological station. The temperature registering 
element of this instrument is known as a Bourdon tube, 
of phosphor "bronze containing alcohol, and situated well 
outside of the instrument proper. The bending of this 
tube under changes of temperature due to contraction and 
expansion of the liquid, operates the recording pen arm, 
through a link control. The use of this Bourdon tube is 
limited to the Priez Instruments. The recording chart 
can be adjusted so as to give a daily or weekly record, 
that is the chart makes either one revolution per day or 
one revolution per week. 

Through the ingenuity of the Friez Co. their 
instrument has been adapted to use in storage plants, 
agricultural experiment stations, green houses, and in 
many other industrial plants where records of temperature 
changes are indispensable. In the case of the agricul- 




Fig- I 11 
Electric Sunshine Recorder 




Fig. rv 
The Thermograph 



_ 4 - 



tural Industries, the thermostatic element is a copper tube 
1" in diameter and 12" long filled with a non-freezing 
liquid, which can be brought into direct contact with the 
ground. The tube is connected to the recording pen through 
a capillary tube, which is also filled with liquid, and 
both tubes hermetically sealed. As this liquid is incom- 
pressible, its action on the diaphrams is constant and 
positive. 

Another difference which adapts the instrument 
to either air or liquids and makes it more sensitive for 
remote readings is the change from one single tube to a 
series of tubes in the shape of a grid, which employs four 
tubes of smaller diameter, giving more surface area and 
less amount of liquid, giving a more instant response to 
rapid changes of temperature. 

The Hygrograph, 

(Fig. V) 
because of its simplicity, has been adopted as the stan- 
dard wherever a graphical record of the humidity of the 
air is required, such as steel mills, textile mills, 
chemical laboratories and paper mills. The registering 
element is 50 strands of human hair of equal length. No 
other device approaches this peculiar one in unvarying 
sensitiveness, As the humidity increases, there is 
a corresponding increase in the length of the stands 
causing the pen to rise on the chart and a decrease in 




Fig. V 

Tie Hygrograph 




Fig. VI 
Belfort Obseryatory 



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humidity causes a shortening of the stands and a fall 

of the pen on the chart. The charts are timed for either 

dally or weekly periods. 

The Friez Co. was completely v/iped out in the 
devastating fire of 1904, which swept that whole section 
of Baltimore. J. P. Friez then bought the old McKim 
Place on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Bal- 
timore Street. This old house, dating back for at least 
150 years, is still an integral part of the Friez Co.'s 
plant. They named this new location the "Belfort Obser- 
vatory," after the birthplace of the elder Friez. 

(Fig. VI) 

In 1906, Friez Water Stage Recorders were used 
in Panama in great numbers to show the drainage of water 
into the prospected G-atun Lake, and today at Conowingo, 
Maryland, and in most of the other hydro-electric plants 
these instruments are used. 

During the World War, the Friez Co. in conjunc- 
tion with the naval authorities at Washington, D. C. 
developed an intricate device to be incorporated in 
the wind apparatus for moving ships. It is called a 
"Wind corrector." This corrector apparatus takes account 
of the speed of the moving vessel and the direction of 
its travel, and computes the actual and true wind veloc- 
ity and its direction independent of the vessel's direc- 
tion or speed of travel. 



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It was while he was working on the "wind cor- 
rector" in the year 1915 that Julian P. Friez died. The 
manufacture and distribution of the scientific instruments 
was then taken over the youngest son, Lucien L, Friez. 

(Fig. VII). 

In the year 1920, under the direction of 
L. I/. Friez, the company began the manufacture of still 
another type of instrument, the Nephe scope. This instru- 
ment was designed for the study of clotid movements and 
velocities and is most important in the field of aviation. 
In connection with this latest field of research and 
experimentation, namely aviation, the Friez Co. has de- 
veloped an instrument known as the Aero-Meteorograph. 

(Fig. VIII) 
which compiles upon one chart simultaneously the records 
of Barometric Pressure, temperature and humidity. The 
great dirigible Shenandoah carried one of these instru- 
ments on its last flight and this instrument, recovered 
from the wreckage, is kept in the archives of the Navy 
Department. 

In 1927, again working with the U. S. Navy, the 
Friez Co. perfected a new method and system of recording 
and indicating wind velocity and wind direction. The 
first instruments of this type were designed for the two 
airplane carriers, the Lexington and the Saratoga, and by 




LUCIEN L. FRIEZ 



ifig. VII 

Lucien L. Friez 




No. 710 



Fig. VIII 
Aero-Meteorograph 



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means of seven dials placed at various points on ship- 
board, the speed of the wind and its direction across 
the ship are known. 

In the same year (1927) the Priez Co. developed 
and put on the market a long distance-indicating gage 
for all kinds of liquid levels, as those of gasoline, 
crude oil, alcohol, water in reservoirs, etc. The gages 
show accurately such level changes to the thirty- second 
part of an inch, and will operate without any care for 
many years. 

They have also in the year 1927 designed and 
perfected a Bacteria Colony Counter, which has been 
adopted in many Health Department Laboratories, dairies, 
and filtration plants. 

So, here on the corner of Central Avenue and 
Baltimore Streets, in a quaint set of buildings, is sit- 
uated a manufacturing instiution of nation wide and 
almost world wide importance, of which Baltimore, and 
even the whole of Maryland may be justly proud, for not 
only does it lend its aid in the time of war in support 
of the country, but it concentrates its power on the 
development of the great peace time industries as well. 



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-:- CONCLUSION -s- 

The subject matter for this thesis was obtained 
mainly from personal interviews with Mr. Aubreck, super- 
intendent of the Friez Meteorotogical Instrument Company, 

The dates of the introduction of the instruments 
into the Government Departments were gotten from the 
U. S. Weather Bureau files at Washington, D. C. 

Explanation of the workings of the instruments 
was gotten from an inspection trip through the Friez plant. 

This thesis is not my idea of what was desired 
by those assigning the subject, being sadly lacking in 
historical data. This deficiency is mainly due to the 
lack of cooperation on the part of Mr. Moore, the business 
manager, to whom I was referred for the desired information, 



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- : - BIOGRAPHY - : - 

Julian P. Frlez was born in the city of Bel- 
fort, on the eastern "border of France. He came to this 
country when still a young man and went to work for 
the Ottmar Mergenthaler Company of Baltimore, Maryland. 

While working for them as superintendent of 
the factory, he, in collaboration with Ottmar Margen- 
thaler the inventor, built the first linotype machine j 
the disc -phonograph and the Rowland Multiplex Machine, 
the latter used for dividing the inch into parts the 
thickness of a hair, were products of his enterprise 
and mechanical genius. He rendered untold services 
to his country through his research and inventions, 
during the Spanish American and World Wars. When he 
died in 1915, the city of Baltimore sustained a real 
loss, for no one person or company has spread the name 
of its city more widely or made its name so well known 
throughout the scientific world.