WICKE V. OSTRUM, 103 U. S. 461 (1880)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wicke v. Ostrum, 103 U.S. 461 (1880)

Wicke v. Ostrum

103 U.S. 461


l. The invention embraced by letters patent No. 38,924, granted June 16, 1863, to George Wicke, for an improvement in machines for nailing boxes, is a new combination of old elements, all of which are necessary to the validity of his letters.

2. The fourth and fifth claims of those letters, fairly construed, are for the combination of the cam, gate, and treadle of the adjustable carriage, table, and slide, with the elements of the other claims, and they are not infringed by machines manufactured substantially in accordance with letters patent No. 172,579, granted Jan. 25, 1876, to Henry P. Ostrum, for an improvement in machines for nailing boxes.

This is a suit by William Wicke against Henry P. Ostrum to restrain the alleged infringement by the latter of letters patent No. 38,924, granted June 16, 1863, to George Wicke, for an improvement in machines for nailing boxes, of which letters the complainant is the owner. The defendant denied the infringement and alleged that the machines made, used, and sold by him were manufactured substantially as specified and claimed in letters patent No. 172,579, granted to him Jan. 25, 1876, for an improvement in machines for nailing boxes.

The specification and drawings of Wicke's machine are as follows:

"To all whom it may concern:"

"Be it known that I, George Wicke, of the City, County, and State of New York, have invented a new and improved machine for nailing boxes, and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the same, reference being had to the accompanying drawing forming a part of the specification, in which"

"Fig. 1 represents a sectional side elevation of my invention."

"Fig. 2 is a front elevation of the same."

"Similar letters of reference in both views indicate corresponding parts. The object of this invention is to drive the nails which hold together the several boards constituting a box for cigars or for other articles. The nails are generally driven by a hammer, each

Page 103 U. S. 462

nail for itself, which obviously is a very tedious operation."


"This invention consists in the employment of grooved spring jaws for the purpose of holding the nails and to guide them to the proper place, and it consists further in combining with said spring jaws a corresponding number of rising and falling plungers for the purpose of driving each nail singly and all at the same time, and also in arranging said plungers with globe- or disk-shaped collars in such a manner that they spread the grooved spring jaws at the proper moment and allow the heads of the nails to pass; also in arranging the cam that serves to depress the plungers with a circular portion in such a manner that the plungers cannot be depressed any further than necessary to drive the nails; finally, in the general arrangement and combination of all the parts, so that the plungers and jaws as well as the table which supports the boards can be adjusted according to the different sizes of boxes to be made."

"To enable others skilled in the art to make and use my invention, I will proceed to describe it. "

Page 103 U. S. 463

"A represents a frame of cast-iron or of any other suitable material. Secured to the upper part of this frame by means of angular guidepieces a is the rising and falling gate B, which is operated by means of a cam C on the end of a shaft D, which connects by an arm b and rod c with a treadle d."

"The cam C, on being turned in the direction of the arrow marked on it in Figure 2, depresses the gate B until the circular portion e f bears upon the gate. This portion of the cam is made to form part of a circle described from the centre of shaft D, so that the cam may be turned more or less without depressing the gate B any further than desirable."

"The gate B acts on one or more plungers E, each of which moves up and down in a carriage F and a spring g, has the tendency to raise the plunger after the same has been depressed or to keep it up when not exposed to the action of any power. The carriage F slides in a lateral direction on ways G, and it is adjusted at the proper point where the nail is to be driven by set screws h. A series of plungers to correspond to the number of nails to be driven simultaneously may be so arranged that, by depressing the treadle, all the plungers are depressed and consequently all the nails inserted at the same time."

"The lower end of the plunger E is turned down, as clearly shown in the drawing, leaving them just large enough to cover the heads of the nails to be driven, and a disk-shaped collar i is formed at a short distance above the lower ends."

"When depressed, the plunger enters the spring jaws H, which are secured to the sides of the carriage F. These jaws are provided with grooves j to receive the nails (see Figure 1), and they are so formed that when the plunger descends, the disk-shaped collar i spreads the same, allowing the head of the nail to pass freely through the grooves j."

"The nails are fed through an inclined tubular channel I one after the other, and if several plungers are used, the whole series are depressed by one motion of the cam C."

"A table J on the lower portion of the frame A serves to support the boards to be nailed, and this table is adjustable by means of screw spindle K; said boards are adjusted in the correct position by a slide L, which is adjustable in a groove l. A small recess in the frame A allows the horizontal boards to project very little beyond the edge of the vertical board, so that the rough edges of the boards can be removed by the aid of a plane after the nailing has been accomplished. "

Page 103 U. S. 464

"The table J, the slide L, and the plunger or plungers can thus be adjusted to suit boxes of different size, and the nails are driven simultaneously by one motion of the foot."

"What I claim as new, and desire to secure by letters patent, is:"

"1st, the employment of the grooved spring jaws H, substantially as described for the purpose of receiving the nails and to guide them to their proper places."

"2d, the combination with the spring jaws H of the rising and falling plunger E, constructed and operated substantially as and for the purpose described."

"3d, arranging the plunger E with a disk-shaped collar i or its equivalent to operate in combination with the spring jaws H, substantially as and for the purpose described."

"4th, the arrangement of the circular portion e f on the cam C to operate in combination with the gate B and treadle d substantially as and for the purpose set forth."

"5th, the arrangement and combination of one or more adjustable carriages F, table J, and slide L, constructed and operating in the manner and for the purpose substantially as specified."

Ostrum's specification and drawings are as follows:

"To all whom it may concern:"

"Be it known that I, Henry P. Ostrum, of the City and County of New Haven, State of Connecticut, have invented an improvement in machines for nailing boxes, and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the invention such as will enable others skilled in the art to which it appertains to make and use it, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, forming a part of this specification, in which"

"Figure 1 is a direct end view or elevation of the end of the machine. Figure 2 is a perspective view of the machine."

"My invention relates to that class of machines which are used for nailing together the sides and ends of boxes, in which any required number of nails may be simultaneously driven by a treadle or other means, and consists in a novel construction and arrangement of parts hereinafter more fully set forth and claimed."

"The letter A, Fig. 2, indicates a platform of cast-iron, having projections on its underside in which the rod y, screws p p, and rockshaft G turn, and on which the ratchets o o move back and forth. This platform, with the legs attached, constitutes the frame of the machine. The rest B is a straight bar of metal extending

Page 103 U. S. 465

across and beyond the platform A, and has pins x x passing through holes in the same, which are forced down upon the ratchets o o by"



Page 103 U. S. 466

"springs attached to the rest. It is also provided with the guides i i, which slide between the side edges of the platform and the ratchets o o. The ratchets o o are straight bars of iron with notches on their upper sides, and are movable back and forth on the projections from the undersides of the platform and extending beyond it. Each of these ratchets has a nut attached to it in which the screws p p turn and by which the ratchets are moved. Only one of these screws is shown in the drawing. In the front projection from the underside of the platform are two screws or threaded bolts p p, Fig. 2, which turn in the projection and in the nuts attached to the ratchets and have a bevel gear wheel attached by which they are turned. The shaft y is also made to turn in the projections from the underside of the platform, and is furnished with two bevel gear wheels, which mesh in the bevel gear wheels on the screws p p, and is also furnished with a crank on one of its ends. The elevated straight bar r, supported on two posts attached to the platform, is arranged so that its front side and the front ends of the dies m m m are in the same plane, and serves to hold one of the pieces to be nailed at right angles to the other piece resting on the platform. The dies m m m vary in number with the nails to be driven; are made with slots on their upper sides, which are enlarged at their ends nearest the hammers, to correspond with the size of the heads of the nails placed in them, and to allow the nails to lie parallel with the platform, or nearly so, and are fitted into the dovetailed slot in the platform. They are loosely held in their places by the hammers, and may be, when desired, securely held by a wedge in the dovetailed slot, moved by a screw on its outer end."

"The head a is a bar of cast metal, extends across the platform, and has on its ends enlargements or crosspieces, which slide on the platform. It is held in its place by the pieces f f, screwed to the platform, and has a slot in which the hammers are held, and a pin e in each of the enlargements or crosspieces which fit in the slots in the short arms d d of the rockshaft G, by which the head is moved back and forth. The hammers n n n vary also in number with the nails to be driven, and are in the form of a threaded bolt with a head, from the front ends of which small road, a little larger than the nails to be driven, project into the enlarged end of the slots in the dies. They are provided with nuts, by which they are held in the head a and by which they may be adjusted at any distance apart. The rockshaft G, arranged under the platform, is made to turn in projections from the platform, and with a long arm

Page 103 U. S. 467

E extending nearly to the front side of the machine; also with two short upright arms d d, having slots in their ends. A spiral spring extends from the long arm and is attached to the underside of the platform, and draws the arm upwards, while the short arms move the head a backward."

"The treadle D is a part of or is attached to a bar extending to a shaft pivoted to two of the legs of the frame, or is otherwise suitably constructed; it is also suitably connected to the long arm of the rockshaft."

"With the above description of the parts of my machine, its operation will be readily understood. As the pieces to be nailed together are placed, the one perpendicularly against the front ends of the dies m m m and against the elevated bar a and the other on the platform against the first, and as the rest B is adjusted against it by the pins x x, operating on the ratchets o o as pawls, the pieces are then screwed together between the dies m m m and the rest B by turning the rod y, geared to the screws p p, moving the ratchets o o and the rest B. The frame A, the dies m m m, and the rest B, adjusted by the pins x x, acting on the ratchets o o and moved by the screws p p, cooperate to tightly hold the pieces to be nailed. The pieces being thus held, as the treadle D is forced downward, the head a with the hammers n n n is forced forward, driving the nails placed in the slots in the dies m m m to their places, nailing the two pieces together."

"I am aware of the patent granted to M. Blaser, No. 155,284, Sept. 22, 1874, and hereby disclaim the same."

"I claim as my invention:"

"The combination of frame A, treadle D, rockshaft G, head a, provided with one or more adjustable hammers n n, one or more adjustable dies m m, and the rest B, all the said parts constructed and combined substantially as set forth."

The court, on final hearing, dismissed the bill, and the complainant appealed.


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