James Knibbs, 1827-1901 - Inventor

Last updated 4 November, 2011

James Knibbs was baptised at Somerton, Oxfordshire on 14th October 1827. James emigrated to New York, USA in 1840 with his parents Joseph and Hannah KNIBBS and siblings Elizabeth, George and Cornelius.

He was named the first Steam Engineer of Troy, 1860 and was the engineer of the Arbba Read Steam Fire Engine1860-1873. He was paid a substantial wage of $50.00 a month. 

He was best known for his invention of the "Knibbs Run-Around" but also invented and patented other devices aimed at improving the performance and response of the fire trucks to incidents.


Improvement in Pumps.
In 1864, James invented and patented a device called the "Knibbs Run Around" and applied it to the Arbba Read Steam Fire Engine. It's a pressure valve with the main objective of the invention being to allow one, two, three or more discharge pipes or hoses to throw streams of water from the fire engine at the same time, without any waste of water or risk of injury or damage to it's operators or the engine itself. It appears that at James' request, for experimental purposes, the device was installed into an engine constructed by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. Amoskeag then manufactured and sold engines containing James' invention for two years before James eventually applied for the patent. 

Click on the image to see diagram, or download PDF of patent.
James1827b.jpg (866962 bytes)  

Automatic Harness-Suspender.
James' next invention was the Automatic Harness Suspender which he described in 1883 as a new and improved apparatus for operating the suspended weights which cause the descent of the hanging harness, and also open the doors of steam fire-engine and hook-and-ladder-truck houses.
From the description, I understand it's purpose was to simplify and speed up the process of harnessing the horses so that fires could be attended to more quickly.



Click on the image to see diagram, or download PDF of patent.
James1828patc1.jpg (610384 bytes)  

In 1890, James invented what he describes as a Wire-Cutter which was simply an improvement to the long reach tree loppers that are used for pruning the high branches of trees or bushes. The improvements made by James  were aimed at adapting this type of device so that it could be used for cutting electric light, telegraph, or telephone wires, strung from poles, and interfering with the operations of firemen engaged in the extinguishing of fires in burning buildings.






Click on the image to see diagram or download PDF of patent.

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