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Adams-(F O) Farwell Co
21 Athol St
Dubuque IA


The Roberts & Langworthy Iron Works, located at 57 South Main Street in Dubuque, were manufacturers of "fine light castings" like grave crosses and park benches. Eugene Adams invested in the company in June, 1883 when Roberts decided to retire, and Adams took the position of a secretary and manager. A change of the company name to Langworthy and Adams Iron Works followed in 1885. When Langworthy retired in 1892, Eugene's brother Herbert bought his share and the company was re-organized as The Adams Company, foundry and machine shop. The plant burnt down the same year in a disastrous fire, and the company opened new facilities at East Fourth Street. Now, machine castings and household devices like a patented floor heating vent with inner rotating portion that distributed warm air in upper level rooms, or laundry stoves were added. In 1895, Fay Oliver Farwell (1859-1935) became manager of the company.

Also about 1895, Farwell begann experimenting with an internal combustion engined automobile, for which he conceived a horizontally mounted rotary engine with three cylinders. The vertically standing crank shaft was fixed in the chassis. Farwell felt this configuration was lighter than conventional engines as it used neither a flywheel nor radiator. He completed the first prototype in 1898. Basically a horse drawn carriage, he mounted his engine between the front wheels.

Like another builder of rotary engined road vehicles, Stephen Marius Balzer of New York, the Adams Company offered light gyrocopter engines which successfully powered experimental flying machines by Emile Berliner in 1909-1910 and J. Newton Williams in 1909. A modified 1907 Adams-Farwell engine powered three man-lifting experimental helicopters designed by Emile Berliner.

Engine production lasted longer than automobile manufacture although it is not clear when this stopped, too. The Adams Company then relied on their iron foundry and manufacture of gears, shafts and parts for power transmissions which it does until today.

When F. Oliver Farwell left the company in 1921, he had about 20 patents on his name and tried to build up a business on one he held for a novel transmission for merry-go-rounds. Later, he worked again in a gear-cutting company in Toledo, Ohio.


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