2021 marks the 115th anniversary of Balcrank Corporation. Below you will find topics and images celebrating Balcrank’s achievements from its inception, products and more throughout the year
Balcrank Then vs. Now
The Cincinnati Ball Crank Company was founded on July 12, 1906 by Thomas L. Pogue, Clifford Gren, James A. Forbes and Henry and Louis Wessel in the heart of Cincinnati, Ohio’s “Machine Tool Colony”. The first products produced by Balcrank were hand wheels and cranks used by the machine tool industry. The Cincinnati Ball Crank Company got its name from the production of ball-sockets and hand cranks and was commonly referred to as Ball Crank.
Balcrank is one of the oldest manufacturers of automotive lubrication products. Since its beginning, we have been providing our customers with the best products for the ever changing Automotive Commercial and Industrial markets. Our products service automotive quick lubes, dealerships, fleet, and commercial vehicle centers. Our product line has expanded, encompassing the heavy-duty market, which includes: trucking, municipalities, railroad, marine, industrial and mining. Our new line of Lion pumps, large hose reels and high volume control handles allows us to dispense oil products up to 32 gal per minute and grease up to 88 lb per minute.
115 years later, Balcrank Corporation provides system solutions for all types of vehicle maintenance facilities and industrial manufacturing. Our goal is to continue our traditions and evolve in markets and applications that make sense for our continued growth.
From humble beginnings in 1906 to being one of the oldest manufactures of automobile lubrication products, Balcrank continues to be focused on high quality, fast delivery and excellent service to our customers.
In 1906, Ball Crank was the first to mass produce “balanced” three-ball cranks, cast steel and aluminum hand wheels for the machine tool industries. The innovative three-ball design kept the cranks balanced after adjustment to lock it in place to prevent it from moving. Today these ball-cranks are still proudly made in the USA.
Shortly after the three-ball cranks introduction to the market, a line of control handles was created. These control handles became the high-quality choice for demanding builders of machine tools, valves, actuators, instruments and control systems. Balcrank controls are strong and reliable enough to be found in the most sensitive applications – medical and military – where precise machine response is imperative.
The leading company of firsts and innovation, Ball Crank also became the first mass producer of starting cranks for automobiles. In 1908, Ball Crank introduced the steering drag links to the automotive industry. Almost every automotive manufacturer adopted these drag links and for the first time, steering a car became an easy task. The ball and socket technology behind the steering drag links would then be perfected and officially patented in 1931.
Growing into the Lubrication Markets
Always looking forward, in 1922 Balcrank entered the lubrication field by inventing and producing the first electric grease gun. The following year Balcrank was the first to patent the hydraulic coupler and fittings which are still universally used today. In 1923, Balcrank introduced the foot operated Model D grease gun into its fast-growing grease gun line.
The early 1920’s was a busy and prosperous time for Balcrank as they continued their pattern of “firsts”. In 1924, the first air operated high-pressure/volume grease gun was developed and then just 2 years later, the first air powered lubrication pump was developed. These pumps came in high and low pressures with a “DeLuxe” shell. DeLuxe pumps were finished in red and black enamel with highly polished chromium trim. Portable Deluxe units were also available with large noiseless composition casters and chromium handles.
After these successes, Balcrank began to branch out into more industrial markets by introducing its “AA” Air Lubricator specifically designed for trucks, busses and other large industrial vehicles.
Then vs. Now: Product Evolution – Hose Reel
In 1930, the Model R-20 Balcrank hose reel with hose stops made its debut, marking it as the first Balcrank hose reel developed. It was an air reel that was adaptable to ceiling, wall or floor installations. The standard unit was finished in black enamel with white lettering.
Starting in the 1940’s and into 1950’s, as more types of hose reels were developed, the Lubette was created. The Lubette was a special cabinet that would fit between the bays of a typical 2 bay service station that would house hose reels, meters, and then later, the famous “Jet Power” pump which was introduced in 1948. The cabinets would be mounted on the floor and came in a variety of models.
Fast forward to today, and the Balcrank hose reel line has grown to accommodate all matter of installations and applications with its Signature Series Reels.
Balcrank Signature Series hose reels are built for the toughest environments and applications. The Evolution is lightweight but extremely durable. The Classic reel offers over a decade of proven performance and is an excellent choice for general duty, automotive dealerships, and service garages. The Premium reel features improved serviceability and advanced design features for long life in the toughest environments while reducing overall weight.
For heavy duty environments choose the EV, EVX & EVX+ reels. These reels are designed for larger hoses, higher volume and flow requirements in industrial, construction, and mining environments.
The Cincinnati Ball Crank Company got its name from the production of ball-sockets and hand cranks and was commonly referred to as Ball Crank. In 1933, 27 years after Ball Crank’s inception, the Board of Directors voted to officially change the name Ball Crank to Balcrank, Inc.
Throughout the century of Balcrank’s history, the company grew and changed not only in size and product offerings, but in its brand and marketing image. The company rebranded 8 separate times before landing on the most current logo being used today.
Below is an estimated timeline of the evolution of Balcrank’s logo:
Here is a closer look at each logo with an estimated time of how long it was used as its branding image. More often than not, the logos listed below have a transitional overlap in which two logos were used at the same time.
The SHOTT Chair & WWII
During 1940 Balcrank began the mass production of steel outdoor furniture/chairs.In a short time Balcrank was producing over a thousand complete chairs per hour, packed and ready for shipment. Balcrank installed its own mill for the manufacture of steel tubing used in the chairs. These chairs are marketed under the trade name of “SHOTT”.
Due to an increasing demand for aluminum chairs, a new building was erected in 1953 giving an additional 60,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space. In less than one year the metal chair division was producing 6,000 aluminum chairs a day in addition to the steel furniture.
In 1955 a hydraulic extrusion press capable of producing 25 miles of seamless aluminum tubing a day was purchased and installed for use in the manufacturing of aluminum chairs. The operation of this extrusion press enabled Balcrank to manufacture aluminum chairs of the finest quality at the lowest possible price to the customer.
SHOTT chairs and furniture were categorized into 6 groups: Deluxe Webbed, Economy Webbed, Luxury Padded, Umbrella Table/Chair, Steel All-Weather and Tables. The production of the SHOTT chairs slowed and ended in the 1960s.
Balcrank and its employees played an important part during both World Wars by producing various war materials of precision in highest production. During WWII, May 29th, 1943, Balcrank was awarded four Army-Navy “E” awards for outstanding production and construction work.
The Army-Navy “E” Award was an honor presented to companies during World War II whose production facilities achieved “Excellence in Production” (“E”) of war equipment. The award was also known as the Army-Navy Production Award. The award was created to encourage industrial mobilization and production of war time materials.
The award was presented with a pennant (to be flown) to the company and the employees present would receive individual pins.
Balcrank Then vs. Now: Product Evolution – Air Operated Pump
In 1948, Balcrank engineered and released the new Jet Power air operated pump. The Jet Power pump has been called the “heart and soul” and also the “bread and butter” of Balcrank, especially during its debut into the market. The idea that sparked the creation of the Jet Power came from engineer Mr. Butler while flipping on a light switch one day after rigorous research
and development. The simple switch motion resulted in the poppet air valve which helped propel the creation of the new Balcrank Jet Power air operated pump.
Early literature has stated that the Jet Power “pumps the greatest volume of any lubricant at any temperature at highest pressure” making this a huge seller of Balcrank for many years with its simple design remained heavily unchanged until its discontinuation in 2002. This heavy-duty pump with a 45:1 pressure ratio offered several features: no dirt or foreign matter can enter, simple construction, easy servicing, lowest cost maintenance, no air bleeding necessary, lightweight and an automatic visible oiler that gives oil film with air supply. Other pressure ratios offered were a 4:1 version and a 15:1 version.
As Balcrank was phasing out the Jet Power pump, the newest direct replacement become the Panther® Series pumps. In 1999 the Panther® HP 3:1 and 5:1 air operated pumps were developed and launched into the market.
Pride Series pumps are manufactured with a mechanical air valve and piston design which is more forgiving to environments with contaminated air.
The 3:1 version is a medium pressure pump for supplying higher volume than the 5:1 version but at lower operating pressures ideal for medium pumping distances and overall flow rates of 4-5 gpm.
The 5:1 version is a medium pressure pump for supplying higher pressures and for longer pumping distances than the 3:1 version but at lower volume ideal for longer pumping distances and overall flow rates of 4 gpm.
A few years later in 2002, the Panther® HP 50:1 grease pump was developed. These pumps are designed for lower volume users up to 2 dispense points. Designed for 25-35, 120 and 400 lb. drums and ideal for lower volume grease fittings on trucks and farm implements. Panther® pump is a double acting positive displacement capable of delivering up to 3.4 lbs. per minute.
|MODELS AVAILABLE||EXTENSION TYPE & NOZZLE||EXTENSION CODE U/M|
|Verify ID of ATF fill port for compatibility.|
|3330-205||Flex-memory | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-093||QT|
|3330-206||Flex 90 | 1/4 turn – ATF||3332-104||QT|
|3330-207||Rigid | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-091||QT|
|3330-208||Flex 90 | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-092||QT|
|3330-212||Flex-memory | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-093||L|
|3330-213||Flex 90 | 1/4 turn – ATF||3332-104||L|
|3330-214||Rigid | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-091||L|
|3330-215||Flex 90 | 1/4 turn – OIL||3332-092||L|
• 6-digit totalizer; keeps lifetime record of volume dispensed in gallons
• Meter with odometer display, works without batteries and performs well in all environments
• No calibration required; precision machined metering chamber assures repeatable accuracy
• Ergonomically designed grip handle for optimum comfort
• Unique 1/4 turn manual non-drip tip; fast, simple
• Included swivel hose-end cover, protects vehicle or machine surfaces from scratches
• Synthetic and mineral based lubricants
• Gear Oil
• Hydraulic oil and fluids
• Anti-freeze (Glycol) and anti-freeze water solution
• Car and truck dealers
• Fast lube and maintenance shops
• Mining and construction
• Lube trucks
|Units of measure
(in 0.01 increments)
|Quarts & Liters (totalizer Gallons)|
|Flow range||0.25 – 8 gal/min (1 – 30 l/min)|
|Max pressure||1,000 psi (70 bar)|
|Swivel inlet||1/2” NPT (F)|
|Dispense Nozzle OD||Auto=0.605″
Manual 1/4 turn for Oil =0.705″
Manual 1/4 turn for ATF =0.315″
Verify the ID of ATF fill port for compatibility
|Operating temp||14ºF-160ºF (-10ºC-70ºC)|
|Battery||2 x 1.5 v alkaline “AAA”|
|Weight||4 lbs (1.80 kg) (meter)|
|Compatible fluids||Oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, and anti-freeze|
|Wetted materials||Acetal, aluminum, stainless steel, NBR, Zinc plated steel, TPU, Polyamide|
Standalone tank controller with 4 channels capable of controlling up to 4 different tanks or fluids. Each channel can connect to a solenoid valve, remote alarm or strobe light.
The TM Control can be used as a high or low-level control to prevent overflow, or as a pump shutoff to prevent the pump from running dry, and allowing air to enter the system.
|Function||Stand alone tank controller|
|Requirements & Limitations||4 tanks or 4 fluids|