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Albert Kingsbury

Born: 23-Dec-1863
Birthplace: Morris, IL
Died: 28-Jul-1943
Location of death: Greenwich, CT
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Quaker Cemetery, Spring Mills, PA

Gender: Male
Religion: Quaker
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Engineer, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Kingsbury thrust bearing

Mechanical engineer Albert Kingsbury designed the Kingsbury thrust bearing, a tilting pad thrust bearing which uses a thin film of oil to support weights up to 220 tons. Rolling bearings, used for similar applications prior to Kingsbury's invention, lasted about two months before needing to be replaced. Kingsbury's bearings, in contrast, have an estimated lifespan of more than 1,000 years, without any maintenance. Kingsbury's bearings provided a cornerstone of American industrial dominance in the 20th Century, by allowing the design of enormous hydroelectric works such as Grand Coulee and Hoover dams, and the Tennessee Valley and Bonneville Power Authorities.

He was employed at Westinghouse when he developed the bearing, but had great difficulty convincing his supervisors that his invention had value, and he had to cash out his life insurance policy to pay Westinghouse for the machine time necessary to build prototypes. The company he founded, Kingsbury, Inc, licensed manufacturing rights to Westinghouse, and remains a leader in bearings, engineering, and lubrication. The first Kingsbury bearings, installed in 1912 at the Holtwood Hydroelectric Station on the Susquehanna River, remain in operation.

Wife: (married, five daughters)

    High School: Cuyahoga Falls High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH (1880)
    University: University of Akron (dropped out)
    University: Ohio State University (dropped out)
    University: BS Mechanical Engineering, Cornell University (1889)
    Teacher: Mechanical Engineering, University of New Hampshire (1889-91)
    Professor: Mechanical Engineering, University of New Hampshire (1891-99)
    Professor: Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1899-1903)

    ASME Medal 1931
    National Inventors Hall of Fame
    Westinghouse (1903-12)
    Pennsylvania Water & Power Co.
    Kingsbury, Inc. Founder & President (1912-44)
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    English Ancestry (paternal)


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