Frederick Ellsworth Sickels
Born September 20, 1819 – March 8, 1895
Valve for Steam-Engines
Patent #: 424,581
Frederick Ellsworth Sickels is considered one of the pioneers of steam
engines. Sickels, born in Gloucester County, New Jersey, invented an
improvement on the valve gear of steam engines that permitted them to run
far more efficiently, and thus helped spur the widespread adoption of steam
engines in American industry.
While working in a steam-engine shop in 1842, Sickels developed his most
important invention, a valve mechanism that closely regulated the entry and
exit of steam into steam cylinders. He sold his patent rights, and engines
based on his design began to appear by 1845. The patent royalties from his
valve gear made Sickels reasonably wealthy, but he spent most of his profits
on an ultimately unsuccessful patent infringement lawsuit.