TSGS Cruiser Blog

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"I invented them, so I know there is no such thing."


When I was a child, I was recruited by my father, Wesley Raymond Goss, as his "go fer" on the annual project to make the rounds through the house, garage, and barn to oil the bearings in all the electric motors that provided comfort and services for us in our modern farmstead. Dad was an electrical design engineer at General Electric. It seemed like he was always fitting a spare motor to some other hand cranked or otherwise un-powered device. On the old motors, he would flip the oil reservoir open, give it a shot of oil, and move on to the next. But on the modern motors that had no reservoirs, he would carefully drill a small hole in the end cap, and work a few drops of oil into the felt that was inside. In the middle of this process, I had the timerity to ask why we were doing that -- since they were permanently lubricated? He stood up, squared his shoulders, and said, "I invented them, so I know there is no such thing."

Being a kid, I thought he was just giving me a quick answer. We went on about our work, and I didn't think much more about it. Many years later, I found that he was telling me the absolute truth. He had taken a job with the Fort Wayne works where GE made their refrigerators. As a new college graduate in 1927, he was assigned as one of four engineers designing the Monitor-top refrigerators that had the first hermetically-sealed compressors in the industry (1928-1932). By the following summer, he had his first patent on the sintered bronze sleeve bearing that is used universally on electric motors. That bearing made the hermetically-sealed refrigeration systems we all live with in our refrigerators, heat pumps, and air-conditioning systems possible. Prior to that time, compressors were driven by open belts; the shafts needed lubrication; and the seals allowed the refrigerant to slowly leak into the atmosphere. Mom and Dad had one of the Monitor-top refrigerators when they lived in the city, but by the time I was born in 1937, they had moved to the farm and had one of the Coldspot refrigerators that was made in Evansville. It was not hermetically sealed, and the unit had to be recharged on a rather regular basis to keep it working.

Many years later, we moved to Evansville when I was hired at USI to teach in the Engineering Technology department. On one of the early visits that my parents made to Evansville for a Thanksgiving celebration, they were here when I needed to read a census microfilm that had been ordered. I hauled them down to Willard library, and sat them down in the second floor reading room with several books that I pulled off the shelves. I gave them a list of names, dates, and places to keep them occupied while I spent time at the microfilm reader. I found nothing of interest in the film I had borrowed. On the other hand, my parents discovered three people in two generations of the family on that afternoon. That success was all it took for my parents to devote a major amount of time in their later years doing genealogical research. They spent every Thursday, all day long, in the Reynolds collection of the Allen County Public Library, and they extended our known family back to the 800's and 53 to 55 generations.

-Written by Larry Goss

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