Sunday, November 20, 2011

Made In Indiana

...By a creative niche-market supplier: Y'know those kewl-o New Orleans meter pit covers? The ones halfwitted tourists steal? (PDF) (Don't do that. Not only is it a crime, it's impractical; you can buy nice casts and miniatures of them in the Crescent City, or even just down the road at Yat's, and the copies are lighter, cleaner and have a stand or mounting hook).

Those nifty gadgets are made by the Ford Meter Box Company up in Wabash, IN, and were designed by Edwin Ford, the company's founder, way long ago. He doesn't seem to have been related to either Ford of Ford Motors or Ford Instrument.*

This is, however, not the only nice bit of art Ford MBC has produced; you see, they make "metersetters," that nifty gadget your water meter is plumbed into, more of 'em than anyone else (go check the one in your basement for the FORD brand; I'll wait), and so they'd have something to put in 'em on display, they also make "The Happy Meter." (PDF) It's a little large for a paperweight, but -- do want!

The founding family still owns a good-sized chunk of Ford Meter Box Company, and they've been in Wabash for just over a hundred years. Ponder that, the next time you're feeling hopeless.
* Oh, good luck finding a page for them -- the one I found a few years back is gone. Ford Instrument was picked up by Sperry, soon to be Sperry-Rand, then Sperry Corporation, running Sperry Remington, Sperry Univac, Sperry Marine, Sperry New Holland, Sperry Vickers/Sperry Flight Systems: Typewriters and electric shavers, computers, ship's instruments, farm equipment, airplane traffic control and, I think, instruments. Wherever Ford Instrument ended up in that, other than mechanical odd-jobs for Univac, is anyone's guess. Sperry became Unisys, in a shotgun marriage with Burroughs, while a lot of the little Sperrys got tumbled out of the nest. FWIW, archrival Honeywell -- also a Wabash, Indiana fixture, small world, ain't it? -- ended up taking in Sperry Flight Systems. All in all, I think the not-related Fords of the meter box company had a better time of it.


Dave H said...

Meters - a century old industry, but still a necessary one.

I remember when Sperry and Burroughs merged in the 1980s. There was a story on the CBS Evening News about it, and how employees were invited to suggest a name for the new company. The reporter listed a few, including "Yet Another Computer Company."

The joke inside the joke is that a common piece of software, at least in the Unix world, is called YACC (for Yet Another Compiler Compiler).

og said...

Way cool. I'd forgotten they also did manhole covers. I have a SimTap in the big locker at work, we don't use it very often but when you need it nothing else will do.

BobG said...

If you want to see some interesting manhole covers, check these.