The History of an American Icon - Aermotor Windmill
Aermotor Windmill has a very interesting 118 year business history. However, one simple truth stands undiminished by time or geography. Aermotor Windmill has continuously manufactured windmills since 1888 and is the only windmill manufacturer in the USA.
There is only one genuine Aermotor windmill. We take great pride in that simple fact, and we welcome the opportunity to have you as a customer.
LaVerne Noyes, a Chicago manufacturer of dictionary stands and farm equipment, hired Thomas O. Perry, a mechanical and civil engineer, to develop a grain binder. However, Perry had previously worked for U.S. Wind Engine Company, of Batavia, Illinois, and had conducted over 5,000 scientific tests on 61 different experimental wind wheels. These tests had been meticulously conducted indoors under controlled conditions, by mounting 5 ft. diameter steel test wheels on a steam driven arm which provided constant artificial wind. His best test wheel was 87% more efficient than the common wood wheels in use at the time. Although the U. S. Wind Engine Company had shown no interest in utilizing Perry’s discoveries, Noyes recognized the potential and encouraged him to develop a truly scientific steel windmill.
The Aermotor was introduced. Only 24 were sold the first year. The new “mathematical” windmill, as it was derisively called by the competitors, embodied all the principles learned from previous experiments. It also had back gearing which allowed the wheel to make about 3 revolutions for each stroke, resulting in much greater lifting power and smoother pumping action.
Aermotor’s first factory, built in the fall of 1890 occupied only the large building on the right. Aermotor expanded so rapidly the building on the left was added. In 1892, the one story building in the foreground was built and covered one acre.
Aermotor sold 20,000 windmills and the “mathematical” windmill’s image had changed from a joke to a true necessity. Aermotor guaranteed its 8 foot steel mill to do more work than any 10 foot wooden mill. It actually would do more than some 12 foot mills. Aermotor was on its way to becoming the world’s dominant windmill.
Aermotor catalogs listed a wide range of accessories, such as hand pumps, wood and metal tanks, equipment for power mills, such as feed cutters, power saws, corn shellers and numerous specialty items. With their revolutionary mass production methods, Aermotor was able to reduce the price of windmills to about 1/6th of the previous price, 8ft. windmills then sold for about $25 and 20ft. mills for about $300.
Aermotor introduced its auto-oiled windmill with an enclosed gear case, in which all the working parts were continuously bathed in a light lubricating oil. This design reduced maintenance to only once a year rather than previous weekly attention.
Aermotor’s founder, La Verne Noyes, donated nearly two and one half million dollars to establish scholarships at many colleges and universities for veterans of the World War. These scholarships are still available today. The largest benefactors were University of Chicago and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, La Verne’s alma mater.
La Verne Noyles dies.Having no direct heirs, he left the Aermotor Company to a tax paying trust, with 48 colleges and universities as beneficiaries.
“Bilby” towers, named for their designer, Jasper Bilby, were introduced. The inner tower provided an undisturbed instrument platform. This tower was destined to become widely used by the Army Engineer Corps as well as the Coastal and Geodetic Survey for much of the re-mapping of this country. Aermotor also built the first electric transmission towers and were designing and building most of the nation’s forest observation towers. Other products during this period were gasoline engines and electric generators.
Aermotor 702 was introduced, featuring replaceable bearings and screw-type wheel arms. Aermotor dealers and families, attending the “Century of Progress” World’s Fair, were allowed to camp in the Aermotor factory yard and eat in the company restaurant.
Aermotor became a subcontractor for Bell and Howell, and built precision lens mounts for the highly secret Norden Bombsight.
Aermotor’s chief engineer, Daniel Scholes, who had designed Aermotor’s deep well electric pump became president.
Aermotor Company was sold to Motor Products a corporation of Detroit, Michigan, a former supplier of parts to the automotive industry.
After purchasing the Bertram Yacht Company, Motor Products Corporation changed its name to Nautec.
Aermotor’s manufacturing operation was moved to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Aermotor named Wendell C. Dean, who was sales manager during Aermotor’s transitions and growth in the electric pump market, as vice-president and general manager.
Aermotor Windmill manufacturing moved to Argentina. Fabricating was performed by Fabrica de Implementos, Agricuolas, S.A., a licensee.
Aermotor manufacturing named James E. Fetter, former export and marketing manager, as Vice President and General Manager. Aermotor’s headquarters moves to Conway, Arkansas.
Aermotor was purchased by Valley Steel Product Co.
The Brentwood, Missouri operation of Valley Pump moved to Conway, Arkansas to the Aermotor plant and the Valley Pump headquarters was established at this location. Daniel F. Benson was named division president.
Valley Steel and Aermotor canceled their licensing agreement with Argentina and returned the manufacturing of windmills to the U.S.
Aermotor’s manufacturing facilities were dedicated in Arkansas. In that same year 80% of all windmills were built at Conway, Arkansas.
Valley Pump Group was purchased by the Mueller Co. of Decatur, Illinois.
Aermotor was purchased by an investor group and moved to San Angelo, Texas. The name was changed to Aermotor Windmill Corporation.
Aermotor was purchased by Kees Verheul. Aermotor has added new machinery and the entire manufacturing facility and warehouse now total 40,000 square feet.
Y2K compliant since 1888. Aermotor celebrates its second turn of the century.
Aermotor was purchased by a private group of West Texas Ranchers. The name was restored to the original name that was established in 1888…The Aermotor Company.
We're still proudly making Aermotor Windmills in San Angelo Texas. Read about our deep Pride in American Craftmanship here.