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Dake Engine Company (1887-) | Historical Construction Equipment Association

Name: Dake Engine Company (1887-)

Historical Note:

Grand Haven, Michigan was prospering in 1887. The fishing and shipping industries were flourishing. Visitors came by rail and boat for the sandy beaches and to relax at the numerous elegant spas.

On January 7, 1887 the Dake Engine Company was founded by a group of ten local businessmen. A new invention, the double reciprocating, square piston steam engine recently patented by William F. Dake, had caught the interest of the principals of the lumber firm of Wyman and Cairns. It was the lumbering industry that brought prosperity to the region and by 1887 the forests were largely depleted to rebuild Chicago after the fire of 1871.

The Dake engine quickly gained worldwide acceptance and by 1893 was awarded a medal at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Because the engines were powered by steam and there was no danger of sparks, Dake engines were used in coal mines and for the extensive subway and railroad tunnel construction that was transforming the country at the beginning of the 20th century.

Perhaps it was Dake’s river front location and proximity to Great Lakes shipping, but soon marine equipment such as steam-powered steering gear, anchor windlasses, capstans, and hoists became a major portion of Dake’s business. In 1911, Dake gained a foundry in a merger with the Campbell foundry.

As the 1930s drew to a close, company management became aware that the original square piston steam engine could no longer support the company. The steam age was ending. A new era lie ahead.

World War II gave Dake the surge of orders it needed to stay afloat and soon the company was operating at full steam again. New 50 and 100 hp air and steam engines were developed for the war effort. Dake

manufactured more than 10,000 steam engines, steering gears, windlasses, and capstans for the Liberty ships, the cargo ships that were mass produced to replace merchant ships destroyed by the war.

At the end of the war, Dake purchased a line of arbor presses and hand-hydraulic presses. By the mid-1950s, the small line of presses had expanded to 170 models. A move to a new factory in 1957 gave Dake room and capacity to expand into larger custom-engineered hydraulic presses. Soon Dake was shipping 250 to 600 ton presses all over the world for a wide variety of manufacturing applications such as straightening props in shipyards, compression molding jet engine components, die tryout, steel rule die cutting floppy disks, and straightening steel bars and plates.

In 1985, Dake purchased the Johnson metal cutting band saw product line from Kysor International of Cadillac, Michigan. The new product line featured horizontal and vertical band saws. The next year, 1986, Dake also began selling circular cold saws. In 1988, Dake added mitering and fully automatic horizontal band saws. The Parma line of gravity feed vertical band saws was added in 1999.

Dake was a pioneer on the web and participated in early test sites on the internet. Since then, Dake has made many new friends and kept up with old acquaintances on the Dake web site.

A whole new generation is learning about Dake by watching Dake presses and saws used regularly on such popular television shows as Orange County Choppers, The Great Biker Build-Off, Trucks, X-treme 4x4, Muscle Car, and Horse Power.

The heritage of the iconic Dake cast iron, steam engine lives on in the Dake products for the 21st century. Wherever people use their hands to work with metal, there is a need for a Dake product. The families at Dake, both past and present, appreciate the unique opportunity to work with the good people who use Dake products to write more chapters to the Dake story.

Sources: Adapted from http://www.dakecorp.com/company.asp

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