Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

History of The Cleveland Formgrader Co.

Jasper G. Tullis during World War I
The Cleveland Formgrader Co. manufactured machinery and hand tools designed especially for road construction. These included edgers, finishing bridges, floats, formgraders, form tampers, rooters, scratch templates, strike-offs, straightedges, subgrade scrapers, and trailgraders. The formgrader, introduced about 1920 by Edward G. Carr of Chicago, IL, was a tractor equipped to prepare road grades for concrete forms.

The Cleveland Formgrader Co. was incorporated in 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio by Thomas W. Dieckman, Jasper G. Tullis, Elroy F. Schumacher, and Henry M. Toole. Jasper Garrett Tullis (1890-1964) was company vice president and head designer, with at least 4 US Patents, all assigned to the company:

US Patent 1929660 Method of making a road tool
US Patent 1952398 Road tool
US Patent 2155571 Road tool
US Patent 2425656 Conveyor mounting for trucks

Another 4 patents by others were assigned to the company:

The Cleveland Formgrader Co. 9½ inch edger
US Patent 2112349 Adjustable connection for tool heads and operating handles
US Patent 2928654 Stake puller machine
US Patent 3063676 Airport form pin puller
US Patent 3251281 Machine for forming and finishing concrete surfaces

Jasper G. Tullis was born in Kansas and worked there as a residential carpenter and as a gas engineer in California. His World War I photograph suggests that he worked in construction in the US Army. He moved to Cleveland after the war, and the 1920 US Census gives his occupation as gas and steam engineer in the machinery industry. His work with Cleveland Formgrader shows that Mr. Tullis had a talent for mechanical engineering. Later in life he moved to suburban Avon, OH, where he operated a small machine shop.        

Mr. Tullis's stepson Maurice E. Robinson (1922-2012) was a mechanical engineer for Cleveland Formgrader, and held one of the above patents.

During the 1930s, Cleveland Formgrader's plant was at 11517 Fruitland Ct., a mixed small industrial and residential area with a rail spur. By 1940, they were in a larger brick building at 6723 Denison Ave., also with railroad service. In 1955 they had moved from Cleveland to Mills Rd., Avon, OH. The company may have closed in the early 1960s. One of their machines is at the Historical Construction Equipment Association.

Cleveland Formgrader
Western Construction, Vol. 32, 1957

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