Inland Manufacturing Company Trial
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook June 28, 2013
CAPTION: E.J. Lobdell's patent for the Socket - Hub Wheel.
As I read over a Court of Appeals Book that covers a lawsuit between E.J. Lobdell and the Inland Manufacturing Company, I find I need to back up and share some information that I find interesting and some information that has been found by this writer in many of my researches.
This book is 370 pages of a lawsuit and two appeals with E.J. Lobdell Jr. and C.H. Kenrick winning all three times. From 1904 to 1909 Lobdell was making their steering wheels from a single piece of bent wood with a malleable iron spider. Truck wheels were made with heavy iron spiders, whereas steering wheels for cars were made with a lighter spider.
About 1909, the aluminum spider was made for most wheels.
It was much lighter and had a better appearance. The lightness of the aluminum spider stopped a lot of the vibration in the steering post.
During the next few years a lot of new ideas and patents were applied for. E.J. Lobdell's Socket Hub Wheel was approved August 14, 1917. A good share of the 250,000 to 300,000 steering wheels that were being made each year were from Lobdell's patent.
O.K. Snyder had a patent approved on April 1, 1919 that we cannot find a copy of. C. H. Kenrick was working on his all wooden wheel patent when it had to be laid aside because of the First World War.
The demand for truck wheels for the military became a priority. Lobdell then went back to malleable wheels for the big trucks.
Prior to the war Kenrick was called to the Packard Motor Company where he was shown a special type of Packard wheel having an aluminum spider with an annular aluminum ring integral with the spokes and covered with wood to make a wooden rim; having in addition strips of wood covering on the outer portions of three of the spider arms.
Kenrick understood that the Packard Company wanted the ends of the arms covered with wood because the wood was warmer to the hands than metal, and because the Packard was a car extensively driven by ladies and the company wanted a steering wheel that would not stain the gloves or leave the hands cold, and which would have a good appearance.
During 1917 when Lobdell was manufacturing its special wheel for Packard, it occurred to Kenrick to make an all-wood steering wheel.
His first idea was to extend the spokes to the center, miter them and connect them up to make a hub construction.
This idea was brought to Mr. Lobdell's attention by Kenrick, but was laid aside because of the pressure of war work.
After the war was over the all-wood wheel was taken up again by Kenrick, who in March or April 1919 built a steering wheel, which was almost a duplicate of the one they finally made for Cadillac.
This wheel Kenrick put on his own Nash car, where he tried it out and later showed it to Mr. Lobdell. This led to the manufacture of the patented wheel, in 1920, for Cadillac.
-From The Onaway Outlook, June 28, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.