Centenary Bulletin 4 – Industrial Products in the 1960’s

July 25, 2018

Horton ‘Air Champ’ Clutches & Brakes

Textiles and Rubber had been the key industries for Norman G Clark in the first fifty years, but a significant development occurred in the 1960’s following John Clark’s visit to the USA to attend a textile machinery show in Atlanta, Georgia.

An article in the Textile Journal of Australia alerted John to the possibilities of an interesting drive arrangement – which could solve a lot of textile industry quality problems in roll to roll tension control. These products were designed and manufactured by the Horton Manufacturing Company, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and John was able to have a good look at these Horton products in Atlanta.

Hugh K Schilling President – Horton Manufacturing Company

Hugh K Schilling President – Horton Manufacturing Company

John quickly travelled to Saint Paul, MN, to meet Hugh Schilling, owner and President of Horton Manufacturing Company. Horton had developed an excellent range of air-controlled tensioning clutches and brakes, principally aimed at the rubber and textile industries. The application of these units in roll to roll tension control in Australia was instantly recognised. John immediately placed an order for some clutches and brakes, and successfully sold them to the textile industry. Horton also had a range of smaller air pressure-controlled clutches quite suitable to general industry.

The Australian market reaction to Horton’s products was enthusiastic as to the product – but not price. The price became excessively high after costs of freight, import duty and exchange were considered. Consequently, John had written to Hugh to tell him that the only way we could sell his products in Australia was if we manufactured them here – and promptly asked for a licence agreement! Hugh subsequently agreed, and on 4th April 1963, Norman G Clark became the Australian licensed manufacturer of Horton Air Champ Clutches & Brakes. This arrangement still exists today over fifty-five years later.

If chemicals were the backbone of Norman G Clark for the first fifty years, then Horton’s Air Champ range of air operated clutches & brakes certainly underpinned the second fifty.

Air Champ products are simple – but very effective. They not only have exceptional stopping and starting drive characteristics but can also be used in constant slipping applications. They are ideally suited to the tension control requirements of industries with continuous roll winding processes, where high levels of heat are generated. Air Champ performs exceptionally well in these situations.

Horton Air Champ Clutch with Batch Spear Holder (on a re-wind stand)

Horton Air Champ Clutch with Batch Spear Holder (on a re-wind stand)

They were particularly well suited to the tyre, rubber & textile industries where Norman G Clark already had a good presence. The developing Australian manufacturing industries in plastics, carpets, steel, board & paper also needed a simple but effective drive system. Horton’s Air Champ was indeed the answer and locally made Air Champ products provided NGC with an entrée to many other opportunities.

Deublin Rotating Unions

The Air Champ product used a simple & unique O-ring air seal on most models. However, in certain special high-speed applications, an external seal was required. This sealing device was the Deublin Rotary Union. Consequently, with Horton’s blessing, John Clark approached Luke Deubler in Chicago and sought to represent the Deublin Company in Australia.

Luke Deubler

Luke Deubler – President – Deublin Company

Hugh Schilling & Luke Deubler were well known to each other, and with Hugh’s endorsement, Deublin did not hesitate to immediately appoint Norman G Clark as its Australian Distributor. Rotary unions are sold wherever a fluid medium needs to pass through a rotating joint. Textiles, rubber, tyre, paper & steel are just a few of the industries needing steam, water, oil, air or any number of other fluids to be securely transferred.

Deublin unions are designed to seal against leakage by using the pressure of the fluid being transferred to force two ground faces together. The theory was, that the higher the pressure of the transferred fluid, the better the seal. This worked fine when the union was new, but high pressure meant higher face wear, and much higher torque as pressure increased. Consequently, if the union could be sealed effectively, the torque required to turn it would destroy any tension control in textile and other common applications. To overcome this, Deublin designed a very special rotating union with a balanced seal, where the fluid pressure has no effect on the torque of the union. The balanced seal could still seal the union all the way from minimum to maximum pressure.

Deublin Rotating Unions

The very efficient Deublin balanced seal was to become an industry standard.

Luke Deubler was a brilliant practical engineer, and a fanatic for quality-controlled production. The company which he founded has maintained this standard right up to the present day – and has earned a worldwide reputation for innovation and quality. They have been a wonderful company to represent, and our association with them has been both cordial and rewarding. Over fifty years later, Norman G Clark still proudly represents the Deublin Company and its superb range of rotary unions.