Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Crane

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John Crane Inc. is a subsidiary of the Smiths Group

John Crane designs and manufactures mechanical seals (including gas lubricated seals), sealing support systems, gland packing, asset management systems, power transmission couplings, bearings and bearing isolators for the oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper and mining sectors. The business has 20 manufacturing sites and more than 6,400 employees located in 50 countries (2012).

1910 John Crane, a US engineer, patented a flexible, lubricated metallic packing (#956,042).

1915 Crane patented the manufacturing method for flexible metallic packing (#1,151,344). He discovered that wrapping his flax packing in metallic foil increased its longevity and kept the cylinders’ surface smooth and uniform. Frank Payne, a sales representative for the Warren Packing Co, recognized the potential of Crane’s innovation.

1917 Company founded as John Crane Packaging Company. The company initially manufactured packing and gasketing, which is still offered today.

1922 Condenser Tube Packing was introduced

1928, Metallic water pump packings were used on Chevrolet and Ford cars. An estimated 25 million cars were using Crane Packing materials by the mid-1930s.

Prior to World War II, Crane Packing sold its British-operations to Tube Investments - see Crane Packing

By 1938, all Chrysler cars used Crane Packing mechanical seals on their water pumps

1939 the company invented the first automotive mechanical seal.

Early 1940s: John Crane developed and introduced patented end-face shaft seals and an elastomer bellows seal. The U.S. Navy relied on packing solutions from Crane Packing for a host of applications, including expansion joints, stern tube service, cargo pumps, rotary steam and air compressors, water-tight closures, metallic condenser packing and pipe fittings. In recognition for its service, Crane Packing received a U.S. Navy "E" Award.

Betweem 1941 and 1949, Crane Packing applied for and received 24 patents, the majority of which were for mechanical seals designed to handle high-pressure and corrosive applications.

1948 Crane Packaging developed its own seal face-lapping machines and processes, which evolved into Crane Packing's Lapmaster division. Another advance in sealing and packing technology during this period was the commercial availability of PTFE (Teflon). Crane Packing introduced its "CLEMLON" line of Teflon-based packing material for use on pumps, valves, hydraulic fittings and cylinders, coaxial cables, and gaskets in 1948.

1950 Crane Packing purchased 26 acres (110,000 m2) of land in Morton Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Construction began on the new company offices the next year and continued until the main office, laboratory, and cafeteria were completed in 1956. John Crane’s Morton Grove facility comprises five manufacturing buildings totalling 453,000 square feet (42,100 m2).

1980s, John Crane introduced the Type 28 non-contacting, gas lubricated gas seal, designed for centrifugal compressors.

1987 through a series of acquisitions and divestitures, the US company and the British company were reunited, this time under the name John Crane Inc.

Beginning in the 1990s, John Crane applied non-contacting technology to pumps handling liquids that are hazardous to the environment.

2000 Smiths Industries merged with the TI Group and, as a result of that merger, the company name was changed to Smiths Group plc. John Crane became a subsidiary of the Smiths Group

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